Sunday, December 11, 2011

Write for Rights + kasha varnishkes

       There are very few things in life that make me angry.
       Bowling advice frustrates me immensely. I know I'm terrible at bowling. I know I hold the world record in gutter balls. But when I get up there and start my approach, please don't point out that my release was a little late last time and maybe this time I should let go right at the bottom of the swing.* I know you think you're being helpful. That's sweet. If you really want to help me out, I could use some advice on how to avoid looking like a demented gerbil in the cell-phone pictures my friends take of me when I'm not paying attention.**
       Left-hand turns make me anxious ... but not angry, so I'm not sure why I brought that up. Never mind.

       Congress's recent decision regarding school lunches makes me angry. In case you haven't heard, there was a bill to stop classifying the two tablespoons of tomato paste on pizzas as a vegetable, and it was rejected. You can read about the bill here. This decision has also delayed requirements for schools to serve more whole grains, reduce sodium, and not serve starchy vegetables (like, oh, I don't know, French fries) more often than twice a week. Unbelievable.
       Social injustice makes me angry. Go read the book Do They Hear You When You Cry, by Fauziya Kassindja. If there was ever something that made me want to be a lawyer and go around fighting human rights cases, it is that book. Read it. It will change your life. And then read this transcript of a lecture on the status of the world's women, which was given in 2004 by one of the lawyers who fought Fauziya's case. It's an immensely compelling call to action. And then go find an Amnesty International case that moves you and write a letter for their Write for Rights event (Dec. 3–17), because honestly, what can compare to the rush of joy you'll feel after doing that? It's better than a caramel mocha and a fireplace, I assure you, and that's saying something, considering that I still haven't turned on any heaters in my house except the one in the bathroom. It's not terribly warm around here, either. I saw my breath the other day while I was standing in the living room. This means I spend most of my home-time either sleeping under a pile of blankets or sitting on the bathroom floor, painting my toenails reading Terry Pratchett studying biology.

       With that under our belts, let's talk about kasha, which is something else you should put under your belt. It's a whole grain. It's satisfying and full-bodied and meaty and fluffy ... like bunny rabbits ... only different. Never mind. Throw it into a pot with onion and carrot and broth and other lovely things, and you have yourself a super-yummy dish that could work as a side or an entree. (FYI ... we're still talking about the kasha. Not the rabbit. Just to clarify.) I made it all the time in Poland after seeing kasha in the stores and wondering how to cook it. One Google search later, I had this recipe. I think it's actually a Russian Jewish dish. It would work with a nice spinach-strawberry-balsamic salad, or some asparagus grilled with lemon and garlic, or some barszcz czerwony.

Kasha varnishkes
(slightly modified from this recipe on
  • 1 c. dried farfalle
  • 1 c. roasted kasha (buckwheat groats)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 45 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Beat egg in small dish. Add raw kasha and stir to coat all grains thoroughly. Cook in medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring to break up clumps, until all grains are separated and egg is dry. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Cook farfalle in boiling salted water. Drain and rinse to cool. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until nearly translucent. Add carrot and cook a few minutes longer.
  4. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add kasha and cook until tender. Stir in noodles just before serving.

*This did not happen recently. It's just something that's been weighing on my mind for several months.
**This did. Ahem ... *cough*Tasha*cough* ... pardon me.

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