This site functions as an archive of Conner's Blog, which was a blog from 2006-2014 located at http://connermccall.com. Images and links are likely to be broken.

I Am Alive

I am alive, in case anyone who doesn't follow me on Twitter or hasn't run into me offline was wondering. I'm having a blogging mid-life crisis apparently and nothing I write or do seems interesting to me. I'll get over it soon I'm sure but thought I would assuage any worries.

Egg Salad

I got home yesterday and immediately decided I had no interest in grocery shopping even though my cupboards were getting pretty bare again. I had plenty of lunch and breakfast items available but my dinner options seemed a bit limited. At first I was thinking oatmeal, but thoughts of breakfast turned me to eggs and suddenly I decided egg salad was going to be my dinner, well more specificly an egg salad sandwich.

Normally I wouldn't write about something as simple as egg salad, but this batch was very good and I needed to save the recipe* for future use.

  • 5 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 3-4 tablespoons thinly sliced and chopped onion, sweet onion preferred
  • 1-2 teaspoons Salad Elegant or Salad Supreme
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • add mustard to taste - around 2 tablespoons

Add ingredients to bowl and mix. I'm making guesses as close a possible as I didn't measure last night. So I've shared my egg salad recipe, now it's your turn, anything you do differently when making egg salad?

*Recipe is of course used loosely here since I didn't measure anything.

Friday Five 6/12/09

Today's theme is Flickr searches. Flickr is my favorite website when I'm looking for something to do when my reader is empty and I don't feel like putting a lot of effort into things. Here are five searches that never disappoint.

Have a great Friday everyone, hope your weekend is splendid.

Some Thoughts on Food

Those who know me are aware I enjoy cooking and baking. Whether it's making strawberry jam in an attempt to save the berries from spoiling, making ravioli, or putting together a pizza, I usually cook something three or four nights a week. Over the last year and a half, I’ve started to pay a lot more attention to my food choices. It started out as just looking at the nutrition info on boxes, but it’s slowly evolved into a life style change that I’m happy I made. Along with my lifestyle change, I’ve started to think more and more about how our food system works. I hope to share some of my viewpoints in this post.

Trying to eat healthy started almost two years ago. I finally decided I wanted to lose some of the freshman fifteen I gained in college and started changing my diet. After years of eating processed dinners and very few fruits and vegetables, I almost completely changed my diet in the course of a three-month period. I went from eating an English muffin for breakfast, to eating whole grain cereals, fresh fruit, or eggs on a daily basis. I stopped buying cheap white bread and focused on getting bread with plenty of whole grain and fiber.

By the end of last summer, I had lost almost twenty pounds. Weight loss wasn’t the only benefit I saw. I stopped having to take Tums or Xantac whenever I ate anything remotely spicy or drank too much. I had more energy, was sleeping better, and this started before I lost a single pound. The noticeable health improvement was shocking to me. This led me to make further changes in my lifestyle.

The more I cooked the more frequently I found myself reading food blogs. I started reading about sustainable agriculture, organic produce, local food, and other terms that are becoming more and more prevalent in our culture. This Christmas my brother bought me The Omnivores Dilemma. I really enjoyed it and after finishing it, I started looking even closer at my food choices. Unlike most cries to change the food system, Pollan didn’t just take up a cause and say “save the animals”, “buy locally”, or “support the little guy,” instead he researched his topics and presented the evidence and his viewpoint but in the end he left it up to the reader to draw their own conclusion.

Along with things I’ve read, my food philosophy is colored in many ways by how and where I grew up. I grew up on a family farm. We raised chickens, pigs, and cows. We grew durum and some feed grain. I've experienced butchering cattle, pigs, and chickens. I've picked eggs, bottle-fed calves and piglets, baled hay, and branded calves. We had a small farm but it was just a cog in the wheel of big agriculture. We shipped the cows and pigs to a feedlot and the durum ended up in some other state. The chickens on the other hand were a local product. We butchered them ourselves and kept the meat, we picked the eggs daily and my mom spent many afternoons delivering eggs around town.

I’ve seen how hard it is for a small farmer to make it. The one thing I’ve come to realize is that small farms that focus on growing a variety of produce can survive. However, these can only survive if there is demand, and in most areas where agriculture is the main economic driver, there are not enough people to buy the products from the farmers. There isn’t enough farmable land in Minnesota to feed the people in the Metro, and we live in a very large state, New York couldn’t come close to feeding it’s entire population. This isn’t to say we can’t all buy some things locally. Our food problems won’t be solves just by purchasing our food from a local producer, this isn’t the magic bullet. .

That being said, I don’t have a solution to the food crisis, and we do have a crisis, it’s evident in the obesity “epidemic” we’ve declared in our country, in the increase in food related diseases, and the panic that a single bad batch of ground beef causes. Food production and distribution uses more fossil fuel than home heating does. We need a solution that puts the environment and our national health first. When our economy isn’t floundering most of our country feels health care is our greatest problem. Why can’t we focus on cleaning up our food system? The health benefits of moving away from a system based on corn and fast food would make the problems solved by a single payer system seem minuscule.

Buy locally: As I said before I do not think this is something that can solve all of our problems. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt. Even if it is just one or two items, decide to buy something only from local farmers. Personally, I consider items grown in state or in a bordering state as locally produced. For starters, I suggest buying your meat, eggs, and milk locally. I think the difference in quality is noticeable and makes spending the extra money worth it.

Buy whole foods: I don’t mean shop at Whole Foods, in fact I don’t shop at Whole Foods at all, I don’t think they are doing the world any favors, I’ll buy organic produce from Target or Cub if I want to buy organically from a huge grocer. At least I know my dollars are going back to an MN corporation. By whole foods, I mean not processed beyond a certain point. That point is kind of up to you. Buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself, buy whole heads of lettuce instead of bagged and washed, buy carrots that haven’t been peeled, and yogurt that hasn’t been flavored. Try making your own yogurt, tortillas, or bread. Force yourself to do more with your food, it’s rewarding and it’s usually cheaper.

Go Vegetarian: I don’t think you should go completely vegetarian but I do think most people have too much meat in their diet. Try going a few weeks without eating meat. Doniree gave up meat for Lent and her experience was fun to follow. Some people choose one day a week on which they don’t eat meat. I don’t think there is anything wrong with eating meat but learning to prepare other forms of protein and supplementing your diet with them is a positive step.

Eat Whole Grains: This one is tough for me; things like tortillas and pasta just don’t taste right unless they are made from white flour. Still, I stopped buying cheap white bread a while ago, I usually buy Brownberry 12 grain bread, and if I want another type of bread I buy it from the Wedge where they use simple ingredients, usually just flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and water. Increasing your fiber intake is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Stop buying processed foods: This is one of the more difficult things to do. It means no more Mac N’ Cheese, no more frozen dinners, and no more Chef Boyardee. You can still buy prepared foods using this mentality. I don’t know how I define processed foods, the FDA probably has a definition, but the FDA’s definitions usually suck. I think it pretty much comes down to being able to look at the ingredient list and pronounce or know what every ingredient is.

Grow your own food: Even if you live in an apartment, you can at least grow some of your own food. I currently have a bunch of different herbs growing and can’t wait to start using them. You can grow tomatoes, potatoes, and many other things indoors using the amazing knowledge of the Internet.

try to follow most of what I suggested, but I also give in occasionally and completely disregard the things I mention here. Part of it is that when I have a bad day the last thing I want to do it put any effort into cooking, but part of it is a comfort food thing. My mom used to make me Mac N Cheese and frozen pizza so it makes me feel better when I eat them. I hope that if and when I have children that instead of reaching for white bread and Kraft American cheese they turn to whole grain bread and locally produced cheese and make themselves a, if not healthy, at least healthier grilled cheese.

This post isn’t meant to preach to you about how bad big agriculture or how you should never shop at Cub or any other big grocer. I’m just hoping you do some research and make your own decisions. We focus too much energy in the country worrying about calories, fat, carbohydrates, and other numbers. We need to train ourselves to worry less about those things and more about what our food is and where it came from.

MN Reading List Update

There will be no Wednesday Where? today. I've been home most evenings and couldn't find anything in my photo archives that seemed like a good candidate. Sorry about that. Instead I give you nine new blogs to peruse. They have been added to my Minnesota Reading List page. Please add any comments over there.

  • All Those Possible Worlds - A tumble blog in the truest sense, lot of updates so subscribe with caution. (They are good updates though, so it's worth it)
  • insights outsights - Another tumble blog, lots of inspirational content.
  • MNStories - Video's by Minnesotans about Minnesota.
  • Blog, Blog, Blog - Kassie's new site, replacing Mmmmmm, Dinner. Following her 101 in 1001 journey.
  • Name Taglines - Name tags not found at your last convention.
  • That's how we do it in the T.C. - Replacing We Have Mixed Feelings about Sven Svengaard.
  • The Punsultancy - Brought to you by the same guy who brings you Hey Look it's Art. If you enjoy groaning give it a try.
  • T****y Photoblog - I refuse to write the whole title here, but even with a name that isn't fit to print the photos are stellar.
  • a simple exchange - Only 50% Minnesotan but 100% fun and inspirationa.

The Funnies

I have to admit that I had never heard of J. Robert Lennon until I picked up one of his books at the library. Now that I've read one of his books though, I've decided I need to go back and make sure that The Funnies wasn't a fluke.

The Funnies is a good book. It's inspirational, full of weird stories, great characters, and just a bit of humor. It's basically tells the story of a family of a comic strip author in a sort of roundabout way. It start out quickly and Lennon keeps you engaged throughout the entire story. I would say the biggest knock against The Funnies is it's a bit predictable. Very few of the plot twists come as a surprise but this is fine because you wait in anticipation for it to happen.

The Funnies is an easy read, I read this after reading Anathem and it was the perfect way to decompress. I actually read The Funnies from start to finish in one day.

Rating on scale of 1-10: 6

Anathem

I have decided to start doing short book reviews of the fiction I’ve recently read. I thought this would be a great way to help my readers find new books, and a great way of cataloging what I’ve read throughout the year.I’m going to start with the three most recent books I've read and should be posting the reviews today.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson. This is a book I almost bought the week it came out but for some reason decided to hold off. I finally picked it up at the library a few weeks ago. I should mention that I'm a huge Stephenson fan, Crytonomicon is probably one of my favorite books of all time, and I own all three books in the System of the World series. Anathem was a Neal Stephenson book through and through. Anathem is a giant book filled with really interesting ideas. One of the great things about all of Stephenson's books is that you learn something new. It may be just a theory that hasn't caught hold or historical ancedotes, but you walk away from his books having learned something.

In Anathem the major idea is intriguing and plays a pretty major part in the story. The story itself is giant yet attached to one character. At first this seems odd, the story takes a while to really get going, but once it does you realize that having more than one character telling the story would be too much. The story is wonderful and complex and throws a bit of action, suspense, and yes even love at you. My one complaint is that some of the major characters don't get the treatment they deserve and you never truly get to know them. Still it's a wonderful book with great characters, ideas, and story.

do leave you with one warning though, Anathem is not for those who like a light summer read. I can usually plow through most books very quickly. Anathem took me almost three weeks to finish, it gets so complex and the characters get into so many discussions on interesting topics that I had to step away from the book for a night once just to let my brain catch up. I don't recommend this book if you are sleep deprived.

Rating on a scale of 1-10: 8.5

Friday Five 6/5/09

Because I'm lazy and hate coming up with new post ideas, I'm starting a new feature to compliment Wednesday Where? It's Friday five. It's five items that have something in common. It may be five things that drove me nuts this week. Five funny words, five posts I think you should read. Basically the only rule is I limit it to five items and there has to be a common thread. Today I give you five things that made me smile this week.

  • Via Flickr user blueintheburge a lion who is a caption just waiting for writing. (She does a damn good job on her own.
  • Art and Emily review U Otter Stop Inn and I agree with everything they say. In fact I was there on Tuesday night this week. Don't worry though I didn't dance like Art did.
  • My friends Marissa and Adam got a new family member, if that photo doesn't bring a smile to your face I can't help you.
  • Kaeti shared this letter and after I got done being misty eyed, I took it as a challenge to see the good in things.
  • I doubt you will find this inspirational poster on many office walls, but I think the point should be noted.

I should mention that this idea was stolen in part from Bob Collins who authors the News Cut blog for MPR. His Five at eight feature is never a disappointment and is a must read if you enjoy learning new things or getting the real story behind the headlines.

Thoughts, Links, and Photos 6/4 Edition

I have a pretty big post I was working on this week but I just can't get it finished. I'm hoping to get it finished over the weekend, but it's something I'm pretty excited to publish so I may take a little longer than normal to write it. So today you get some thoughts and some links. Photos are minimal but that's okay.

  • If you haven't seen this mashup of the Brat Pack dancing to Lisztomania yet you're missing out. I've watched this video multiple times and it still gets to me.
  • An onion tart is featured over at Orangette
  • I never finished my post on seeing Solid Gold at the Lynlake Streetfest but here is a photo. More can be found here.

  • Simple, Good, and Tasty writes about a school in Newark that put growing lunch into the students hands. I love this idea, I think everyone should grow their own food at least once.
  • Do you restrict your hi-res photos on Flickr, read this please. (via Deets after Dark)
  • The lock and dams in Minneapolis are pretty prominent features on your river, still I can't help but wish we had this. (via kottke)
  • No smoking in the Metrodome gives up the best thing I've seen in a while. A Twins logo outside that will soon overlook real outdoor baseball. Related: Look at that view!
  • A completely valid use of an ad. Tim Olson, I agree with you.
  • Freshtopia.net has a recipe for a virgin ginger mojito. I tried it and it was good, and you could even ad rum if your feeling rebellious. (found via heidiohlander)
  • And because I'm posting this an hour before Friday, always remember, the Flickr: Last 7 days interesting photos link is always, always, always worth a click.

Have a fabulous Friday and enjoy the heck out of your weekend.

Wednesday Where? #25

I'm late, I know. This completely slipped my mind this morning. But hey, I had a photo all ready to go earlier this week. It's not my fault I was kept out until 1 in the morning last night.

Last week's Where? was guessed corrrectly by John. It's a lovely church, just wish the sun would have been shining when I drove by it.

This week's Where? should be pretty easy for some of you. Take a guess and then reward yourself with the ice cold beverage of your choice.

Have a great evening everyone.