International Read a Book Day—September 11, 2010

In response to recent events, this year September 11th has been declared:

International Read a Book Day

For an explanation, take a look at this excellent video:

For my part, I’m suggesting that everyone spend at least some time tomorrow “reading about a religion you do not practice”. A group of us over at LibraryThing.com will be reporting in on when/where/what we read. I’ll also be adding new posts here describing what I read and my thoughts and reactions.

I’ll be reading from one or more of the following books (gathered from my own bookshelf and the religion section of the local branch of my library):

Interfaith Solidarity ReadaThing

Judaism: An anthology of the key spiritual writings of the Jewish tradition edited and interpreted by Arthur Hertzberg
Inviting God In by Rabbi David Aaron
What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew about Judaism by Robert Schoen
What Do Muslims Believe? by Ziauddin Sardar
Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong
No god but God by Reza Aslan
The Wisdom of the Prophet: Sayings of Muhammad translated by Thomas Cleary
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

I’ll also be attending a “Prayerful Action” gathering at a local Episcopal Church where a Professor of World Religion will teach us about the Qur’an and guide us in reading selections from it “as an expression of honor and respect.”

So please join International Read a Book Day and if you don’t have your own blog, add your reflections here at Lucidia!

Quinoa and Green Bean Salad

Saw this recipe sitting at the chiropractor’s office the other day.  Coincidentally, a few hours earlier I had picked up some fresh purple string beans at the Farmers Market.  I love quinoa, so this seemed perfect.  In case you are wondering, purple string beans turn green when cooked.

Quinoa and Green Bean Salad

from Whole Living July/August 2010

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup for the dressing
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup quinoa
1-3/4 cups water
1 lb. green beans, trimmed (cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces)
1 cup flat parsley leaves
3 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in quinoa and cook for 1 minute. Add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered until water is absorbed, about 16 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes; fluff with fork. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp. of salt and beans, cook until bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

Combine quinoa, green beans and parsley. Dress with 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper.

Notes
I didn’t have any flat parsley, so I made the recipe without it.  It tasted great anyway.
I forgot to take pictures of this dish, but will add them the next time I make it.

Red Curry with Pork and Thai Eggplant

A couple of weeks ago I picked up some Thai Eggplants (see pics below) at the local Farmers Market.  Despite a 90+° heat wave, I wanted to cook them up, so searched for possible recipes.

I combined two similar recipes:

Jungle Curry with Pork and Thai Eggplant Recipe at Epicurious.com

and

Country-Style Curry  (Gaeng Bah) from Real Thai by Nancie McDerrmott

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Thai apple eggplants (see cooks’ note, below)
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Thai red curry paste
  • 1-1/2 lb pork tenderloin, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick (I used pork sirloin steaks cut in thin strips)
  • 1/3 cup julienne strips peeled fresh or frozen grachai (lesser galangal or wild ginger; thawed if frozen) or drained bottled grachai, rinsed, or ginger (I used ginger)
  • 3 oz Chinese long beans or green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 canned baby corn, rinsed, drained, and halved lengthwise
  • 1-1/2 cups Thai chicken stock (I used regular chicken stock)
  • 3 tablespoons nam pla (Asian fish sauce; preferably Thai)
  • 5 (4-inch-long) fresh or frozen Kaffir lime leaves (sometimes called bai makroot); the Kaffir lime leaves I have are much smaller than this, less than 2″ long, so I used about 15 of them
  • 1 fresh chee fah chile or 2 red jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced crosswise and seeds discarded
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup loosely packed bai grapao (holy basil leaves); (I used Thai Basil)

Directions

Trim eggplants and cut into 1-inch wedges (do this just before heating oil to avoid discoloration).

In a large saucepan or wok over medium-low heat, warm the oil until hot but not smoking, about 30 seconds. Add curry paste (to taste) and cook gently, stirring constantly, until very fragrant and a shade darker, 2 to 3 minutes. Add pork and stir-fry over high heat until no longer pink on outside, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggplant, grachai/ginger, beans, baby corn, and stock and simmer, stirring, until eggplant is crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, lime leaves, chile, and salt and bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in half of basil.

Serve over rice (preferably sticky rice) topped with remaining basil.

Notes

I must confess, I did NOT make my own Red Curry Paste (I used Mae Ploy brand) or Chicken Stock (had some in a box).  Next time I would add a bunch of cilantro to the stock and/or make my own, but I doubt I’ll ever be obsessive enough to make my own curry paste when United Noodle is so close to where I live 🙂

In case you are wondering, Thai Eggplants (aka “apple eggplants”) are the size of small apples and/or crabapples and are green or green & white.  They actually look a bit like tomatillos to me.  Anyway, below is a picture.  The ruler next to them is my 6″ bench scraper.

Red Curry with Pork and Thai Eggplant

Red Curry with Pork and Thai Eggplant served over sticky rice
with Japanese Eggplant and Bok Choi in Yellow Bean Sauce

I’m gonna miss “The Riot”

Cubs send Lilly, Theriot to Dodgers | cubs.com: News.

but they get Blake DeWitt (no relation) . . .

Everyone knew that Lilly was likely to go, but how can they trade TheRiot?  We’ll miss him and the Fontenot/Theriot Louisiana connection. Yes, I know that Starlin Castro is the latest hot young infielder .  . . but the Theriot-DeWitt trade doesn’t seem to add much (except a great last name).  The two infielders have pretty similar stats . . . .We’ll see how it all works out.

The Cubbies definitely need pitching help, so getting two new arms in the pitching part of the trade might at least shake things up out there.

Gonna miss Howry too, though I know he’s been struggling lately.  He was a class act.  Really hurts to send him away in order to make room for Zambrano to come back . . . what a waste of space on the roster that one is . . .

Enough for now . . . there will likely be more to comment on by the end of the day.

Overcoming Speechlessness by Alice Walker: A Review

Overcoming Speechlessnes coverAs part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, I received a copy of Alice Walker’s Overcoming Speechlessness: A poet encounters the horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel, Seven Stories Press, 2010. Paperback, 75 pages.

Here is my review as posted on LibraryThing:

A short, but moving, book illustrating the power of a gentle voice speaking the truth. Using stories of her visits to Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel, Alice Walker tries to answer the question “What has happened to humanity?”

I always think I’m prepared to read yet another story about the atrocities people do to each other, but of course, I am always amazed/ashamed anew. I was impressed by the way Walker used very short vignettes to illustrate these atrocities. In fact, the whole book reads a bit like a series of postcards, giving us a glimpse into other people’s experiences while at the same time not allowing us to remain removed from our own role, historically and/or currently, in these stories.

Even more amazing was Walker’s ability to move us beyond the atrocities to see and hear the inspiring stories of the sacrifices people have made in response to injustice done to others, seemingly unlike themselves; people who are able to see beyond difference to our shared humanity.

Finally, the stories of the survivors provides the remedy for the speechlessness of the title. In the midst of “overwhelm”, there is “Nothing to do, finally, but dance.” And speak out; find a way to voice the truth. Because “allowing freedom to others brings freedom to ourselves.” (****)