When things cross the boundary from bad to absurd, I have the annoying habit to start cackling with genuine mirth. I pay for this dearly, of course. There had been at least two relationships that went down the drain because of my, ahem, inappropriate reaction. Had I assume a more sombre or at least sincere attitude, things could have turn out differently. But let’s not dwell on that anymore. I actually have a more light hearted anecdote to share.
Last Wednesday I met with a concussion specialist at the university sports clinic. Yes, it’s a confirmed case of concussion even though the symptoms are minor. I am now under the care of some good medical professionals and doing everything necessary to ensure 100% recovery. Last week I mentioned briefly the need to stop thinking. Actually, there is more to it than that. The exact words from the doctor were “minimize stimulation to the brain”. In layman’s term, the brain cells are trying to repair themselves and stimulation would overload them to the point which they sever non-essential connections to protect the nucleus. So, outside of my regular work hours, there would be
- no TV
- no movies
- no music
- no computer
- no reading
- no alcohol
- no physical activities
- no bedroom activities
Okay, so “no bedroom activities” were my words, not the doctor’s. He was a lot more matter-of-fact about it, being a doctor and everything. It was at this point that I started laughing, almost uncontrollably. I was fully aware of the seriousness of such seemingly extreme measure but I had to wonder. Concussion is no laughing matter and it’s also common injury in male-dominated sports. How on earth do guys cope with this last advice?!
Seeing the hilarious side of a bad situation is a defense mechanism for sure. When I can still laugh about it, I know that I’ll be alright. My involuntary training break includes exciting activities such as shelling & peeling a whole grocery bag worth of fresh fava beans; pitting 12 cups of sour cherries using a paper clip; scrubbing dirt from loads of new potatoes; shucking two dozens popcorn-on-the-cob; shelling dried beans from their pods; picking stones out of bags of lentils. You know, all the highly labour intensive and time consuming kitchen tasks that I would rather not do under normal circumstances. Oh yes, and my kitchen cabinets have been completely reorganized. Brain-dead productivity rocks!
In between all these shelling and peeling and pitting and shucking, I managed to squeeze in some cooking too. I made the ridiculously simple Crunchy Ginger-Pickled Cucumbers from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table using brown rice vinegar and loads of grated ginger. Additional heat came from a pinch of red pepper flakes but otherwise it was a quick pickle without much complexity. Having spent some time with pickling and preserving, I find this recipe lacking but I did enjoy its refreshing taste. Taking a cue from the Japanese brown rice vinegar, I was inspired to pair these pickles with something much more exciting. You can find the recipe on page 3 of the slide show at MORE magazine.
When I saw the Miso Tahini Dressing from The Kitchn, I had a tada moment. Even though we often associate tahini with Middle Eastern cooking, it is quite simply sesame butter which is a basic building block in Japanese cuisine. I often throw roasted eggplants and tahini together to make baba ganoush but it is also a key vegetable on any Japanese dinner table. A Japanese-style baba ganoush makes so much sense I wonder why I didn’t think of it before? Feel free to serve it with soy-sauce glazed rice crackers (sembei) along with the cucumber pickles for an easy summer hors d’oeuvre or toss the luxurious vegan dip with some cold buckwheat noodles (soba) for a quick meal.
Miso Tahini Eggplant Dip
inspired by The Kitchn’s Miso Tahini Dressing
makes 1.5 cup
- 500-600g Asian eggplants
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 teaspoon red miso
- zest and juice from 1 small lemon
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- black sesame seeds and chopped green onion to garnish
- Preheat oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
- Using a fork, pierce the skin of the eggplants all over. Put eggplants on baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes until soft and the skin is wrinkly.
- Invert a large mixing bowl over the roasted eggplants and set them aside until the eggplants are cool to handle.
- Peel the skin and remove the stems of the eggplants. Put the flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Add tahini, miso, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sesame oil. Pulse into a chunky paste. Adjust seasoning depending on your taste. Miso is very salty so use sparingly.
- Serve immediately or store in airtight container in fridge for up to 2 days. Just before serving, garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.