Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!!!

Of course, the truth - as I see it, the subject is not really sex. The bad behavior of men that causes them to use sex as a weapon is about power and privilege, and I believe this to be true regardless of whether the man is in or out of the military, at the highest levels of society in terms of power and access or a working class stiff; on the grid and technologically savvy or a luddite. Control is control. Power is power. Privilege - perceived or actual - is privilege. 

There has been much hand wringing about the deplorable behavior of men in the military, up and down the command structure, and the sexual abuse of women and men under their command as well as their trainees and protegees. It is beyond disgusting. All agree something must be done. 

I was thrilled when a female Air Force three-star General's promotion was held up because she overturned the sexual assault conviction of an officer under her command. While there is a chance she was ill-advised by her male colleagues that "that is the way things are done" if she wanted to get ahead - like a lot of people, I didn't care. Yes, it is unfortunate that a woman would be scrutinized for this behavior in a way that a man had not and I don't care because it is time for the military to stop viewing sexual assault as a hazard of the job and to fully embrace there is no room for abuse of power in the military. After all, the appearance that one's commander does not have the best interest of the men and women under his/her command firmly in his/her sights undermines unit cohesion. 

I know this because I am the daughter of a former Marine. Over its history, the military has been a microcosm of how to address a variety of social issues in our country, including "racial" integration, "don't ask don't tell", the integration of gay people and the inclusion of women in combat situations.

It is therefore fascinating for me to watch members of Congress express outrage over how the military is and is not handling the sexual assault of women when some of those same members of Congress opposed and weakened the original Violence Against Women Act and delayed the most recent renewal. If Congress wants to truly transform how sexual assault is handled in the military, then Congress needs to be willing to transform how sexual assault is handled in the our society as a whole. Too many men (and some women) are more concerned about the reputations of "good men" being spoiled than they are providing justice for those harmed. Men assumed to be "good" have used that assumption to betray social trust time and again; and still the powers that be (read those who identify with those good men) hold victims accountable for the bad behavior of their perpetrators.

Let's face it, the women and men in the military are our sons, daughters, nieces, nephew, and cousins; brothers and sisters; generational aunts and uncles; and mothers and fathers for some. We have every right to expect them to be the best of us. Yet, precisely because our society continues to maintain antiquated values regarding the rights of women in terms of sexual assault,  in particular, and equity in general, we have exactly the military we deserve: one that delivers above and beyond the call on one hand and breaks our hearts on the other. 

Sexual abuse of men or women is abhorrent. Period! There are those parsing the statistics from the most recent report to make the case that gay men are responsible for most of the assaults against me. This is clearly an antigay canard. Sexual abuse is about power, control and humiliation; not about sex, sexual orientation or gender identification. 

Unlike racial integration and the integration of gay people in the military, I believe that the military cannot be depended upon to lead the way to end sexual abuse. If we really want them to change, we as a society need to change. We need to take sexual abuse seriously, particularly when the perpetrators come from among the privileged classes. 

(c) Copyright Sabrina Sojourner 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Baking: The Perfect Antidote for Cloudy Day

Spring is almost gone and summer keeps peeking out for a day or two before returning to gloomy, rainy days. So, I've been working on my gluten free bread recipe. I like this one better than the previous one because it's moisture and has a structure closer to regular bread. Additionally, the dough can be used to make any of a number bread products, including cinnamon rolls and pecan buns. 

The original recipe came from www.glutenfreegirls.blogspot.com. This recipe has more eggs, oil, yeast and xanthan gum than the original. Additionally, I use two Bob’s Red Mills products instead of a combination of several different gluten free flours. No, Bob’s Red Mills has not paid me or given me free products to mention them. Frankly, I do NOT recommend their gluten free bread mix because it includes soy flour and does not produce a tasty product.

Note: I found a standing mixer to be my best friend for making gluten-free products. If you have a relatively new variable speed hand mixer, use a deep bowl and only one beater. Though this is a wet dough, it is thick. If you are ready to get a new hand mixer, this will kill your old one. I also prefer the silicone challah molds to the metal one. However, use a Misto oil sprayer and spray it well.

Gluten Free Challah Bread - A Better Recipe
Prep Time: approx 3:05 (includes rising time)
Total Time: approx 4:05 Yield: 2 loaves or 12 to 20 rolls

2/3 cup lukewarm water (hot tap water)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (two packets)

3 1/2 cups Bob Red Mills GF All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oat Flour
1/4 cup Brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons xanthan gum
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional if on low sodium diet)
1 cup lukewarm water (hot tap water)
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
8 large eggs room temperature (1 cup egg substitute)
1 egg plus 2 tablespoons water for egg wash (optional)

If you did not pull your eggs out to bring them to room temperature (30-60 minutes), place them in a bowl of hot tap water (DO NOT use boiling water or water above 120F degrees).
  1. If you did pull the eggs out, crack eggs into a bowl and set aside.
  2. If you have a new oven (without a traditional pilot light), turn oven on 375F degrees. Allow to come to temperature and leave on while you create the dough.
  3. Dissolve the 2 tablespoons brown sugar in the 2/3 cup of lukewarm water, mix in the yeast and place on stove top in a warm but not hot spot (DO NOT place in oven).
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, 1/4 C brown sugar, xantham gum, and salt. Whisk by hand for about 30 seconds (machine 15); set aside.
  5. Crack eggs into a bowl and set aside.
  6. In the mixing bowl combine the olive oil and vinegar with the additional 1 cup lukewarm water and vinegar and mix on low speed until blended. Note: if using a Kitchen Aid or other standing mixer, used the whisk for this step, then switch to dough hook
  7. Add the dry ingredients a third at a time. Blend in the eggs, 1 to 3 at a time. The dough should feel slightly warm. Pour the yeast mixture into the ingredients in the bowl. Blend on low until incorporated.
  8. Turn off and scrape bottom and sides of bowl, then beat at high speed (8 or 10) for approximately 2-3 minutes. I find a silicone spatula works best.
  9. Turn oven off.
  10. Loosely cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, using a spray bottle or your fingers to oil the center; then cover with a kitchen towel.
  11. Place the bowl in a warm spot and let rise for 1 hour, 30 minutes.
  12. Remove bowl from stovetop and preheat oven to 375, again.
  13. Return the dough to the mixer and beat on high for 3 minutes. Note: If you plan to use the dough for some kind of bread that requires additional handling, beat at 7 or 8 for not more than 2 minutes; just enough time to get most of the air out. See additional directions below for Cinnamon or Pecan Rolls
  14. Spray Olive Oil in challah molds or bread pans, including the outside edges. Alternately, you can grease with coconut or palm oil. If kosher is not an issue or the bread is for a dairy meal, you can use butter.  
  15. Using a silicone spatula, scoop approximately 1/2 to 2/3 of the dough into oiled challah pan or greased and loaf pan. If needed, use wet fingers to even out or shape. Note: You may divide and bake the remainder as rustic rolls by dividing dough with spatula, or wet hands, and use wet fingers to shape. You can also place in greased muffin tins, etc. Or make all rolls into about 18.
  16. Turn oven off when you are ready for the second rising. Cover as before and let the dough rise for 60 minutes.
  17. Preheat the oven to 325F and bake the Challah loaf for approximately 40 to 55.
  18. Bake the rolls 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon size. 

Cinnamon or Pecan Rolls 
There are lots of great recipes on the web. The instructions below will help you work with the gluten free dough which is wetter than a regular dough.
  • Prepare your mix and pans as directed about 20 minutes before the end of the second rising. 
  • Turn dough out on clean floured surface. 
  • With floured hands work enough flour into dough to make manageable and shape into rectangle not more than 1/2 inch thick and 10 to 14 inches wide. The length will be determined by whether you use all or only a portion of the dough.
  • Spread the mix fairly evenly over the dough.
  • Pinch one end and carefully roll to other end. Use a metal spatula to "encourage" the roll.
  • Use serrated edged knife to cut rolls and place in pan 1/4 inch apart. If using circular pan, place rolls along outside edge and work to center.
  • Along to rise for 1 hour.
  • Bake according to instructions.