Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Recipe Wednesday: Sour Shchi

Earlier this year, I posted a recipe for the Russian (technically Ukrainian) staple borscht. Today I'll be continuing the Slavic theme with something that might not be quite as familiar to many readers: shchi, specifically sauerkraut or sour shchi.

Shchi is a cabbage soup, and is such a part of Russian culture that there is even a old saying about it: "Shchi da kasha – pishcha nasha" which translates to ”Shchi and kasha are our staples”. There are countless ways of making shchi.  My recipe is pretty simple, and is inspired by one by Muscovite Victoria Logunova.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thought of the Day, March 20, 2015: Rainer Maria Rilke on Spring

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” 

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Philosophy Friday: On Nihilism

I was thinking to myself, "What does this blog need more of? Of course! Pretentiousness! And navel-gazing!" And thus Philosophy Friday was born. 

In all seriousness, I have long been interested in philosophical matters. I actually considered majoring in philosophy in college, but opted for history instead under the mistaken assumption that it was a better choice from a professional standpoint.

A couple of caveats: One, I make no claims of being some sort of expert on philosophy. I am a layman. A reasonably well-informed layman, but still layman. Two, my approach to philosophy is very personal and subjective. Some of my views may be confusing, troubling, or even offensive to some readers.

With that, please enter freely and of your own free will!

To kick off Philosophy Friday, I want to look at the cheery subject of nihilism. What is nihilism, or better yet, what is a nihilist? For the purposes of this post, I'm going to go with Friedrich Nietzsche's definition: 

A nihilist is a man who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist. 

I tend to simplify this by saying a nihilist as one who thinks that the world that should exist doesn't, and that the world that does exist shouldn't. 
 Sounds like a rather dark way to view existence. I should know, as I've struggled to resist the lure of nihilism most of my life.

That statement might sound a bit melodramatic, but it's true.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Recipe Wednesday: Garlic Balsamic Chickpeas

I love chickpeas. They are one of my favorite foods. I'm not alone: People have been eating and cultivating chickpeas for at least 7,500 years. Besides being delicious, chickpeas are also very nutritious. They are rich in protein, minerals, fiber, and essential amino acids.

Chickpeas also have a starring role in one of my go-to quick meals: Garlic Balsamic Chickpeas. The recipe is a variation on one that originally appeared in the excellent cookbook Happy Herbivore Abroad by Lindsay S. Nixon. 
Sizzlin' chickpeas.
Garlic Balsamic Chickpeas

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon ketchup

Put the oil in a nonstick pan on low-medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add the garlic, stirring constantly. Just as the garlic
starts to brown, add the chickpeas, balsamic vinegar, and ketchup. Continue stirring, making sure all the chickpeas are coated. Reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking, stirring occassionally for about 10 minutes. When it looks like the vinegar has pretty much thickened, remove the pan from the heat. The chickpeas are ready to eat, but will taste better if you let them sit for another 10 minutes.

There. Done. Pretty simple, no? 

Garlic Balsamic Chickpeas taste great on salads or stuffed into pitas. I like to have them on top of rice with a side order of steamed kale tossed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Koichi Tohei's 10 Rules in Daily Life

Koichi Tohei was was a 10th Dan aikidoka and founder of the Ki Society. He developed his own style of aikido called Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido (literally "aikido with mind and body unified"), often known as Ki-Aikido. He was also a prolific writer and philosopher, and his books on ki are well-worth reading even if you don't practice any form of martial arts. 

Here are his 10 Rules in Daily Life...

  1. Have Universal Mind
  2. Love all creation
  3. Be grateful
  4. Do good in secret
  5. Have merciful eyes and a gentle body
  6. Be forgiving and big hearted
  7. Think deep and judge well
  8. Be calm and determined
  9. Be positive and vigorous
  10. Persevere

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recipe Wednesday: Borscht

Ever since I saw John Wick, I've been in something of a Russian frame of mind. Taking up Sambo isn't exactly convenient right now, and I have no real desire to get vory tattoos. However, I am dabbling a bit in Pimsleur's Russian language program, and I have been making more Russian food, especially borscht, which I love. 

The first time I ever had borscht was about 20 years ago at a Russian restaurant in Las Vegas whose name escapes me. Even though it was located in a dinky strip mall, the interior was all wood and decorated like a dacha. The customers wore lots of black leather, smoked cigarettes, and resembled extras from Eastern Promises. To call the staff surly and brusque would be an understatement.

Ah, but the food! I ordered borscht primarily because I had never had it and it is such an iconic dish. I wasn't disappointed. 

In the following years, I rarely ate borscht. It isn't an easy item to find in Hawaii restaurants. Late last year, in a Wick-inspired haze, I decided to try to make it myself.