Monday, February 25, 2013

2.25.13 Chinese Chicken Salad

One of my favorite comfort foods is Chinese chicken salad.  There used to be a great Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto, CA called Ming's that was famous for its chicken salad.  The restaurant is still there today but the owners have changed, time has marched on, and it's not the same.  The salad was crunchy with lots of iceberg lettuce, cilantro and the dressing had a kick from spicy dry mustard.  You can find recipes online that come close. 

Last month I was at the grocery store and had a craving for it so I improvised.  It turned out really good, and I'm guessing a little healthier because there wasn't anything fried in it.  Let me know what you think if you try it.

Chinese Chicken Salad (serves 1)

Few handfuls mixed greens
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onion
Grated carrots
Chopped rotisserie chicken
Sesame seeds

1tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Black pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of Coleman's dry mustard

Add all the dressing ingredients to an empty jam or jelly jar.  Put the lid on and shake it up well.

Put all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour on as much dressing as you like and toss well.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2.23.13 Walking with a Ghost

This week I went to see the documentary The Gatekeepers.  It’s about Israel’s secret service, the Shin Bet, and features candid interviews with six former agency leaders.  Visually there’s some cool stuff with computer-animated photographs from actual events that make it look like live video.  But this film is almost entirely spent with just these guys in front of the camera answering questions.  It’s no frills but completely engrossing and deeply disturbing in its unflinching focus, honesty, and revelations.
Politically and historically this is interesting subject matter.  More than that, it’s reassuring to see these men, who once held positions of extreme power to capture, torture, and execute terrorists, grapple with the gravity of these decisions years later.  Situations that at the time were black and white, in memories, are now frustrating shades of gray.  Operations that were considered successful are now as painful and senseless as the failures. It also reinforces the idea that peace in this region is hopelessly complicated, confusing, and no matter how close resolution has been in the past, a satisfactory end goal is utterly elusive.  Seems the intent is also a subtle attempt at giving America the opportunity to learn from a country that’s been involved in the war on terror for much longer – and wake up people there is no silver lining.
Three things are made very clear in this documentary:
  • When you go to war without a clearly defined end goal, it probably won’t end.
  • In conflict, talking is better than not talking.
  • People’s convictions can change – for better, and just as easily, for worse.
At a much higher level it’s impossible to see this documentary and not notice how it’s also saying something about basic disagreements that exist between people.  The three ideas above are true in any relationship.  We’ve heard all this stuff before and history has provided countless painful examples.  Yet why do we forget and repeatedly react in haste, and make the same mistakes?

Friday, February 22, 2013

2.22.13 Friday Inspiration

It's been a long week, but totally worth it.  Feels a little something like:

This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name.

Word.  Happy Friday, people!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2.17.13 Excelsior

Last weekend I saw Silver Linings Playbook.  I’m a huge movie fan so this probably won’t be the first time I write about them here. The same way I haven’t figured out what this blog is accomplishing, I’m also not sure what I want to say if I feel inspired to write about a movie.  Here goes.

I’ve seen this movie twice now and here’s why I think it’s awesome.  It isn’t the best movie ever, but I really liked what it was trying to say.  And it said it in a way that was easy to understand, but also completely nailed it.  So I’m going to write that down because I want to remember (and read later for when I need a reminder).

This movie gets described as romantic and Bradley Cooper’s in it.  Those two things were nice but they so don’t deserve the most attention.  Instead this movie very effectively dealt with a couple ideas that I’ve been struggling with lately.  The first idea has something to do with family.  And the second is about life.

The family in this movie is dysfunctional, and at first, kind of repulsive.  They yell, argue, don’t listen to each other, and at times they lose it and get physically violent.  It’s tough love all the way and then you learn the father and the son each have their own personal demons  – dad has OCD and the son is undiagnosed bi-polar.  At first it seems like this is going to be painful to watch because these people just don’t connect with each other.  But then you spend more time with them and you realize it’s a story about a family that though quirky, really loves each other, supports each other, and the whole of it is actually something so much better than just the sum of all its individual members.  When I grow up and have a family of my own I want it to have those qualities.

The second idea is where the title and the main plot come from.   It’s about owning up to your mistakes, moving on, learning to accept yourself, and along the way finding grace and redemption where you least expect it. Recently I was reading something by Melody Beattie where she writes about how our lives come into harmony with a Grand Plan when we accept that we aren’t a mistake, and we are open to whatever life presents us with.  That if we can understand what we need to do to take care of ourselves and trust our instincts, “we will learn a great truth: the plan will happen in spite of us, not because of us.”

Keep aiming ever upwards and everything you’re looking for is actually right there.  It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but life gets messy and it’s easy to forget how simple that is.  If you need a reminder, go see this movie.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2.14.13 Today, One Year Later

Valentine's day used to be just another day for me.  No different than any other day.  I didn't hate it or love it, it just was.  Then four years ago I was going through a divorce and it decided it no longer wanted to be ignored.  I was alone and single for the first time in twelve years, and every where I went that day people said 'happy valentine's day' and it pissed me off to no end.  It hurt each time I heard that or saw a happy couple.  After some time passed I laughed at myself for getting so mad.  Valentine's day the next year didn't go unnoticed, but it didn't feel as bad.  So for three years I noted its existence, used the day as an excuse to be thankful for all the love in my life, and move on. 

Today I'm single again, and I'm going to spend it noting all the people I've loved, love now, and will love in the future.  But I also have a ton of great memories from last year that deserve attention.  On this day last year I was in love with someone who was very important to me.  He put a lot of effort into making that Valentine's day one of the best days I've ever had.  Our relationship is over now, but even though that has been painful, I can remember all the good times (and there were a lot of them).  I have nothing but smiles and love as I think of the time we spent together. 

Even if you don't have a boyfriend, husband, or significant other on Valentine's day it's the perfect day to think the people you love - regardless of whether or not they are still in your life.   

Friday, February 8, 2013

2.8.13 Friday Inspiration

The past couple weeks have been hard.  Nothing I can't get through.  Just facing some difficult situations and feeling all emotional about it..."girl stuff".  But it's Friday and I made it through another week.  Just knowing the weekend - and spending time with friends - is only hours away makes me feel a little better.  And so does starting off today reminding myself not to rain on my own parade.  Happy Friday y'all!