A refreshing, healthy twist on salsa for those who don’t like salsa. Adjust all ingredients to taste. I like mine spicy!

1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1/2 red onion
1 tomato
1/2 jalapeno pepper
lime juice
chili powder
cayenne pepper
tortilla chips

Mix all ingredients together, sans tortilla chips. Yummy, yummy, be careful or you’ll eat the whole batch in one sitting!


Adapted from two Rachel Ray recipes.

Servings: 2 – 4 depending on your hunger


1 bottle white wine
1/2  package of your favorite dried pasta
1 bag frozen scrimp (a small bag of tiny, cheap ones – think BUDGET shrimp)
1 tablespoon chopped or minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-2 vine tomatoes
1 lemon
1 handful parsley
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep: Thaw scrimp overnight in fridge.

First, open bottle of chilled wine. Pour yourself a glass, consume as needed, and set aside about 1/2 cup for cooking. Boil large pot of water for cooking pasta. While water heats, chop tomatoes, parsley, and garlic. Zest your lemon and juice it, removing all stray seeds. When water is at a full boil, add pasta, then begin heating large skillet on medium-high. Add olive oil (approx 1/2 cup, less if you want to cut calories) and roll around pan. Add scrimp, garlic, and crushed red pepper and heat until scrimp is pink. Don’t forget to check and stir the pasta occasionally! Mushy pasta is gross. When pasta is cooked to your desired tenderness, drain, reserving about 1 tablespoon pasta water. Put pasta back in large pot and remove from heat. Add tomatoes and white wine to scrimp mixture and let reduce for 1 minute. Add parsley, lemon, and pasta water, to scrimp mixture, heating all slightly. Finally, combine scrimp concoction to pasta and mix thoroughly. Serve. Delicious!

Too busy to post

Ahhh! Inauguration and an out-of-town visitor this week has left me without an entry to post on Friday. Since I’m dead set on sticking something in the vacancy, I’ll link to another blog that never fails to inspire. Graphic artists (not just web designers), this one’s for you:

Web Designer Wall
Graphic tips, tricks, news, and contests for all illustrative junkies.

Monosodium Glutamate

Monosodium Gluamate (MSG)

The MSG Asile

(Grocery store items containing MSG)
Ramen Noodle Soup
Taco Seasoning Kits
Cheddar Cheese Sour Cream Baked Lays

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that stimulates nerve cells, and can be found in foods like tomatoes, mushrooms, and milk.


MSG is a sodium salt of the amino glutamic acid and a form of glutamate. It looks a lot like salt, without the splendid taste, although it is said to be a “taste enhancer.” Research is not clear how it enhances taste, but it is believed to stimulate receptors on the tongue. MSG is made by fermenting sugar cane, molasses, starch, or sugar beets.

According to the FDA, glutamate is harmless when consumed by humans, although the injection of the substance in rats has caused brain cell nerve damage. In 1959 the FDA classified the substance as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). However, in 1995, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) conducted a safety assessment of the substance and submitted a 350-page report to the FDA.

Some of the findings are as follows:

* An unknown percentage of the population may react to MSG and develop MSG symptom complex, a condition characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
* burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms and chest
* numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back
* tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms
* facial pressure or tightness
* chest pain
* headache
* nausea
* rapid heartbeat
* bronchospasm (difficulty breathing) in MSG-intolerant people with asthma
* drowsiness
* weakness

There are gobs of blogs on the internet that boast of a hatred of MSG and skepticism of the FDA’s GRAS rating. A popular health-related website on headaches reports, “…Monosodium glutamate can cause headaches or other symptoms in susceptible people. It is often added to Chinese foods, with wonton soup a frequent offender. However, it is also found in many processed meats and tenderizers. Symptoms occur within 30 minutes of ingesting MSG, as it is rapidly absorbed by the stomach. Although the headache chiefly affects the temples, there may also be perspiration, tightness, and pressure over the face and chest. ” Another states, “Diseases which may be caused by MSG are obesity, Type II diabetes, and high blood pressure… Consequently, if you think you are immune from the effects of MSG because you don’t have the autism genes, or the Alzheimer’s genes, or high blood pressure, note that free glutamic acid acts on the pancreas to secrete insulin and acts to stimulate hunger by targeting the amygdala and hypothalamus and creates valium-like GABA in otherwise HEALTHY folks.”

My two cents:

MSG, whether harmful or not, is simply another chemical additive used to get me to munch away mindlessly on another handful of potato chips. I find it funny that all of the “MSG Aisle Items” on the above list are foods that I, at one time or another, found extremely irresistible – and all portion control efforts were vehemently overlooked during ingestion.

I have not yet found out why monosodium glutamate, although listed in the ingredients section of packaged foods, does not have its amount listed on the label. Curious.

Please share any items you have found with MSG in them as I am planning a half-hearted boycott of the items as soon as I have finished my Costco-purchased, bulk supply of Baked Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream Ruffles.



Gaza Strip

Location: Middle East, Western coast of Israel
Size: Twice the size of Washington, DC
Population: 1,500,202
Religion: Predominately Sunni Muslim

The Gaza Strip, once a part of Palestine, is 25-mile long strip of land next to the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt that is under Palestinian Authority (PA). Due to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli controls the borders to Gaza, severely limiting economic activity throughout the area.

In 1987 the Hamas, a branded terrorist organization, formed as a defense movement against Israeli occupation, setting up social welfare charities to win the acceptance and loyalty of Gaza residents.

Israel claims that their first attacks on Gaza this past December were an effort to stop the firing of rockets by Palestinian militant groups. Coincidentally, these Israeli attacks occurred not long after Hamas declared they would not be renewing a ceasefire that was set in June of 2008.

After Israel’s attack, Hamas attacked Israel claiming retaliation for the killing of three militants the day before by Israeli troops. The militant group also threatened more attacks in response to what it called Israeli aggression in Gaza.

My Two Cents:

Hamas is a cult-like organization that prays on the weak with acts of care and kindness laced with decietful aggression. Israel doesn’t have any idea how to stop these aggressors, so they make a pitiful attempt of controlling them by blocking their borders and killing Hamas lackeys as well as innocent Gaza bystanders.