is it asian food if a white guy makes it up?

I've been playing a lot with Vietnamese-style noodle bowls lately, which generally consist of fine rice noodles over a bed of lettuce, assorted herbs, and bean sprouts, with some grilled meat on top and dressed with a fish sauce/vinegar dressing of some sort. Good stuff, relatively quick to prepare, and very healthy.

Tonight while walking the dog I passed someone's house that was simply redolent with the smell of cooking garlic. It put me in the mood. I spent the rest of the walk home dreaming up dinner, and came up with a winner. The sweetness of the sausage and the bitterness of the bok choy compliment each other well, and the garlic ties it all together.

Garlic bok choy with sausage and tofu

serves 2

For the bowl:

red leaf lettuce (6-8 leaves), cut into 1/2" strips
fresh basil (~12 leaves, or to taste)
a handful of fresh bean sprouts, washed and briefly (~10 seconds) blanched
rice vermicelli, boiled or soaked to preferred softness, drained and fluffed

For the tofu (optional, I did this for variety of texture but don't think it is essential):

8 oz firm tofu, sliced 1/4" thick
fish sauce
fresh ground black pepper

For the the stir-fry:

peanut oil
pretty much an entire head of garlic, peeled
6-8 heads baby bok choy
3 small links Chinese sausage, steamed 10 min (if not already cooked)
oyster sauce
soy sauce

1. Take all the garlic, smash it to a paste in a mortar and pestle with some salt (I used sea salt, kosher should be fine too) and fresh ground pepper to taste. Put a generous amount of peanut oil in a wok (maybe enough to cover the bottom by 1/4-1/3 of an inch) and heat it to medium low. S-L-O-W-L-Y cook the garlic in the oil for 8-10 minutes. The goal here is to infuse the oil with garlicky goodness, and not brown it AT ALL.

2. In the meantime, slice up your tofu (if you're having it), put it on a plate or shallow dish with enough fish sauce and pepper to marinate it. Wash and trim the root ends from the bok choy. Slice your sausage up, 1/4" thick.

3. Strain the garlic from the oil, leaving most of the oil in the wok, and reserving the garlic. You really need to get all the garlic out, so you can crank the heat up to high and...

4. Fry the tofu, a couple of minutes per side, in your garlic-infused oil. Set it aside on a paper towel to cool and drain.

5. In the meantime, toss the lettuce, basil, and sprouts together into a couple of big soup bowls. Put the noodles on top.

6. Once you're done with the tofu, you're going to want to dump maybe half of your oil, leaving enough to just cover the bottom of the wok. Return it to the heat, and toss in your bok choy. Keep it moving for a minute, and then add the sausage. Keep it moving for another minute or two, and add a little bit of oyster sauce and soy sauce (maybe one shake each), and the reserved garlic. Stir it all together for maybe 30 seconds, remove from the heat, and serve it over the noodles and salad in the bowls, dividing all the liquid from the wok between them. Add the tofu on top.


I would like to endorse more or less everything Conor Friedersdorf has to say here, but especially these bits:

Put simply, I won't vote for any Republican who thinks that our current leadership is excessively solicitous of civil liberties in the war on terror, or whose main foreign policy critique is that our leaders are insufficiently bellicose. It isn't much to say that the current administration hasn't tortured anyone, or launched any unwinnable foreign wars, but one couldn't say it about its predecessor....

... do I trust Barack Obama to avoid overreacting in a way that hurts America? To refrain from using an attack as a pretext to seize greater power for the executive branch? Or to launch an ill-advised war?

I trust him more than Bush/Cheney or McCain/Palin. I trust him less than Bush/Quayle or Clinton/Gore. These are judgment calls made with imperfect information. This isn't the only question for me in the next election. But it's a big one. Given all its rhetoric about safeguarding liberty and the Constitution, you'd think the right could manage a candidate with whom I'd feel comfortable on these grounds. But the conservative movement doesn't seem interested in what concerns me.
[emphasis added]


Not that the national Libertarian Party was in danger of being taken seriously any time soon (or, you know, ever) but I gotta say I'm feeling pretty good about not voting for Bob Barr right about now.

Non-aggression isn't a plank in the Libertarian platform. It's a core principle. Duvalier's record as dictator of Haiti is unforgivable, and Barr's association with him is, too.


tea party =/= libertarian

I attended a Tea Party rally this morning in Santa Fe held on the steps of the state capital building. The keynote speaker was former Governor Gary Johnson who is rumored to be running for president. Gary is highly regarded in the state for his outstanding leadership during two terms as governor. He slashed the size of state government during his term and left the state with a large budget surplus. His speech brought enthusiastic applause from the sparse crowd. Governor Johnson should have stopped while he was ahead.

When Tea Party members were invited to ask questions, someone asked the governor if he supported legalization of marijuana. Gary responded that he did. His remarks brought a chorus of boos from the crowd. Gary went on to make the case for legalization based on the cost of incarcerating pot smokers, but the crowd wasn't having it. The boos erupted again. Some members of the crowd began to heckle the former governor. Lesson learned, I hope.

The lesson to which the writer refers, is that Johnson should drop pot because it "won't fly with conservatives".

However, I think the lesson to be learned here for anyone who is serious about reducing the size, scope, power and waste of the federal government is that the Tea Party are nothing but the same old culture warriors that have been running the GOP for decades in small government drag.




"If she doesn’t serious herself up, Palin is on the direct path to irrelevancy. She won’t be the second Ronald Reagan; she’ll be the Republican incarnation of Jesse Jackson."

--John Podhoretz

Keep hope alive!



I feel like I've said this before, but trying to make sense of the actions of what by all appearances is a troubled profoundly disturbed crazy person is futile, more or less by definition.

That said...

I'm not saying that Palin's poor choice of metaphors led to the appalling violence in Tucson yesterday. Or that heated rhetoric has no place in place in political discourse...hell, if it weren't for outrage, I'd never write about politics.

But maybe...just maybe certain members of our political and chattering classes could take this moment to examine the appropriateness of...I dunno...phrases like "take 'em out" and "don't retreat, reload" in the context of spirited but peaceful political discourse. Not because what happened to Rep. Giffords makes it in poor taste, but because it always was.

UPDATE: Sullivan, of course, has lots to say on this subject. But this is especially good:

I don't disagree with the sentiment that we should not refrain from robust or colorful or exuberant rhetoric. But constant resort to violent imagery directed at specific and named human targets is not a sign of a lively discourse but of thuggishness. Metaphorically threatening specific people with violence, especially when condoned by established leaders of political parties (like a former vice-presidential candidate), takes rhetoric to a new level. No one is proposing any bans on speech. We are arguing that at this point in time, the rhetoric has become so inflamed and so martial and so violent that the very viability of a respectable, peaceful right is on the table.

That's not a partisan hack trying to score points for Team Blue. That's someone who--like me--wants a healthy, viable, non-batshit-crazy right in this country.


quote of the day

"Having members of Congress read the Constitution aloud is like having a cross-section of YouTube commenters read from the A.P. Style Guide."

--Radley Balko, on Facebook this morning


the last acceptable religious prejudice?

Sully quotes this report:

The greatest disparity between the religious makeup of Congress and the people it represents is in the percentage of the unaffiliated — those who describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” Only six members of the 112th Congress (about 1%) do not specify a religious affiliation and none say they are unaffiliated. By contrast, about one-sixth (16%) of U.S. adults are not affiliated with any particular faith.

and notes:

This group has also been growing very strongly - but the public political culture closets it.

I'm not sure that this is really an example of "closeting" unless one assumes that there are members of Congress who are "unaffiliated" (I really dislike that term, BTW) in their hearts but profess otherwise for any variety of reasons (family, social pressure, or their political careers). I would guess that this is the case for a handful, but probably not many.

But if we take the members' responses at face value, this seems to me a simple function of majoritarian politics. Religious minority groups that are represented at all among the members tend to be somewhat geographically concentrated, meaning that while they are minorities nationally, they may be less so locally. This is clearly true for Mormons (Utah), and probably to some extent for Orthodox and Jewish people as well (urban districts.)

Atheists are pretty well-distributed geographically. I don't think most of the other 83.9% of the American public are consciously against atheists holding office...but the minority of them that do care, care about it a LOT. And with numbers that disparate, that's really all it takes to keep professing atheists out of the halls of congress, for now.


the hypocrisy! it burns!

"...because he didn’t care at all about attempting to verify the information that he was putting out, or determine whether or not it hurt anyone."

--Judith Miller, on why Julian Assange is a "bad journalist".

Yeah, that Judith Miller.

(H/T Thoreau)