25 June 2009

Tsarina's Black Bean Stew

I was going through my pantry the other day and discovered that I had some dried black beans that I hadn't used yet. I thought I would make a stew since I also had some beef in my freezer. But what else? I searched for a recipe and finally decided to just make one up.

FYI - though I used beef, any kind of meat could be used. If you are vegan or vegetarian, omit the meat and feel free to add the equivalent amount of TVP or Kale or Spinach or anything else you might like, but wait until the beans and potatoes have cooked thoroughly.

1 T Olive Oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped peppers (green/red/yellow/orange - whatever you like)
3/4 lb. meat in chunks (for vegans - substitute an equivalent amount of vegetables or TVP)
4 cups sliced potatoes
4 cups drained & rinsed black beans (dried beans should be 4 cups AFTER soaking)
1 cup mirepoix (diced onions, celery & carrots)
1 qt vegetable stock
1 t garlic powder
3/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 t dried thyme leaves
1 cup wine (whatever you're drinking with dinner)

In stockpot, saute onions, peppers & meat in oil (for vegans - omit meat) until onions are clear and meat browned. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover & Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Vegans - add additional vegetables or TVP near end of cooking time) Add Salt/pepper/parsley/chives to taste. Serve w/sourdough bread & green salad.

Makes 6 meal-size servings.

12 June 2009

The Employment Discouragement Department

Well, that's not really their name. But the EDD - the dispenser of unemployment benefits in the state of California is quite a discouraging group of people.

Here's my latest story - My last check from them only paid for one week and not two. I received no notice of any kind. I'm not sure I would have agreed with their reason, but I did expect them to have one! I emailed them and asked for an explanation stating that I was not sick and I was available to work. That was Monday of last week. I had planned to give it until Tuesday of next week before physically going to the Jobs Center to use the Magic Red Phone. (I wanted to wait five business days and I have an interview on Monday.)

Today, my roommate came home from work early and she said "You have mail from the EDD and it's from the Adjudication Center so it's probably not good." She knows whereof she speaks as she was unemployed for two years and had many letters from the EDD.

I opened it and they have scheduled a telephone interview for me for July 1st. So that means 5 weeks without any money if they hold my benefits until after the interview! On the back of the notice are the questions they plan to ask. All of my questions have to do with my ability to work. HUH?

  1. Do you have a health condition that keeps you from working?
  2. Have you been under a doctor's care?
  3. What kind of work are you looking for?
  4. Can you accept work now?

I emailed them back and, accepting full responsibility for the confusion, stated that I must have mis-marked my continued claim form for that week as I have been ready, willing, able & available to work every single day since becoming unemployed.

So I will be going to the Jobs Center on Tuesday and using the Magic Red Phone (the only way to talk to a human). Because I certainly can't afford to wait until after July 1st to get any more money.

The good news is that I had an interview yesterday and I have another one on Monday so it's entirely possible that I will be employed by July 1st.

07 June 2009

Mea culpa

I am so sorry, Gentle Readers, that I have been neglecting my blog. I didn't even finish telling you the stories of my trip to Ireland. The big reason is that I lost my job unexpectedly and after that didn't feel much like blogging. Then I decided to write a blog about looking for work and I have been writing there and not here.

So I am sorry.

But something happened this weekend that I definitely wanted to share with you.

I was with a friend on a long drive and we hadn't seen each other in a while and we were catching up on all of our news. I was talking about some of the jobs I have been applying for and especially about my trouble writing cover letters for some of the positions last week. I decided to recite the letter I had written for a job at one of our local museums. All of a sudden, my friend shouted "Stop! Enough! You're Hired!"

Then both of us laughed so hard. It felt so good.

And that's when I remembered that I hadn't written anything in this blog since I lost my job. I will try to do better in future.