MN Masala: Turkish Baked Veggie Fritters

By Jane and Chux: For the past couple of years, I have been attending monthly local Turkish cooking classes sponsored and facilitated by the Turkish American Society of Minnesota.  I wrote about these classes here.

Today, I am sharing one of my favorite recipes from these classes: baked vegetable fritters (firinda sebzeli mucver). This dish is loaded with vegetables and can be made for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or appetizer.

You can make this dish your own by adding any vegetable or cheese you like or have on hand at the time.  The key to this recipe is to grate or chop the vegetables finely.  We made this our own by adding chopped red pepper, grated zucchini, Italian parsley, and manchego cheese (instead of the mozzarella), and omitted the leeks.

This recipe has some prep work with the grating, sautéing, and cooling of the vegetables before adding it to the egg mixture, but it’s worth it!  Really delicious!

It bakes up in a 13 x 9 pan, so there are left-overs for another day.  And you can decide if you will have left-over fritters for breakfast, lunch or dinner!  I want thank my good friend Esra for this recipe. Continue reading

What’s in your DNA?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: The best part of being adopted is that when my family annoys me, I can disclaim any part of the gene pool.

You wouldn’t believe how often I give thanks that my siblings and parents and I don’t share genetics. The downside is that my true genetic makeup is a mystery. That’s where the National Geographic Genographic Project comes in.

The Project traces DNA markers from volunteers such as myself back 180,000 years. All women alive today can be traced to one woman in Africa, nicknamed by scientists as Mitochondrial Eve, and all men can be traced to one man in Africa, nicknamed Mitochondrial Adam. (The website goes into quite a bit of detail, some of which I can’t even pretend to understand.)

I ordered a DNA kit, which requires two cheek swabs, sent in the saliva samples, and awaited word on where my ancestors originated. Eight weeks later, the results were ready. Continue reading

Is it time to reform the primary system?

C.E. Alexander

By C.E. Alexander: Visit your favorite internet search engine and begin typing “the U.S. presidential primary system is—.”  What adjectives does the auto-fill have to offer?   Broken?  Expensive?  Undemocratic?

However convoluted, the primary season is a necessary precursor to the general presidential contest.  It is held every four years starting in January of the election year, culminating in the national party conventions, during which delegates from each party narrow their fields of hopefuls to two: the party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

The Republican and Democratic conventions get most of the media coverage, but for example the Libertarian, Green and Reform parties all held notable national conventions in 2012.

Even the term primary system is a slight misnomer, as voters elect candidate-specific delegates by means of open primary, closed primary, or caucus, depending on their state of residence.  Some states may be stripped of their delegates for various reasons, while other delegates may be unpledged, meaning they are not candidate-specific and may vote how they choose. Continue reading

What is winter for?

Amber D. Stoner

By Amber D. Stoner: 50 sub-zero days reads the headline.

I’m struggling this winter. No, not just this winter. Every winter, all winters. My productivity tanks, my iron levels plummet, my exercise routine nearly disappears.

The only thing increasing is my weight and the number of hours I sleep. My hands are dry; my lips crack and peel; my legs go unshaven because what’s the point when I’m wearing two layers every day. I’ve done a zillion crossword puzzles and read several books, but I have trouble putting together an email because my synapses have slowed as have my footsteps over the icy paths.

So what is winter for? Continue reading

When is there too much?

How it began.

By Cindy Moy: When my dad was serving in the Army in Korea in the 1950s, he and a buddy went to Tokyo, Japan, on leave. Dad bought a few souvenirs, including a decorative teapot for my grandmother.

It’s a lovely and delicate little thing with a Geisha Girl pattern (pictured to the right), and when my grandmother died, it passed to me.

A few years later, I came across some pieces of Japanese porcelain from the same era, with the same pattern, at a garage sale, and I bought them to set next to the teapot (see left).

Then I stumbled across a few more pieces at a country junk shop, and I bought those.

How did this happen?

Then a box with more pieces showed up at our church garage sale, and before you can say rabbits in springtime, I had accumulated a collection of porcelain without really meaning to do so.

For years, the pieces looked lovely in a narrow cabinet in our dining room. Continue reading

MN Masala: The Minnesota Meat Raffle (& Greek Pastitsio)

By Jane and Chux: Minnesota is a unique place to live.  We have days of sub-zero weather in the winter time (which is a misery that creates hearty souls and bonds us as Minnesotans), many beautiful fresh water lakes, ice fishing, and meat raffles!

Chux and I attend a monthly “Third Friday” event organized by a good friend.  Third Friday is a casual get together at a local restaurant/bar where about 40 friends and family members meet to socialize, eat, have a few drinks and play the meat raffle.

You can find meat raffles in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada and the United Kingdom.  In Minnesota, meat raffles are regulated by the state gambling board.  National Public Radio recently did a story on our unique tradition of meat raffles, which you can read here.

Last month at the Third Friday event, I had five one-dollar bills in my wallet to play the raffle.  Time after time, I lost another dollar.

On the last raffle of the evening, I hear a familiar voice say “I won!”  It was Chux.  He was on the other side of the room and had won on his only bet of the evening and on the last draw.  He is so lucky!

For the winning ticket, he got two pounds of ground hamburger, a ham steak and a pound of bacon.  We used the ham steak in a frittata and one pound of the hamburger to make adult mac and cheese, or Greek Pastitsio (recipe below).  We froze the bacon and the remaining hamburger for another day.  The Greek Pastitsio was delicious!   We will try our luck in another week at the next Third Friday meat raffle.  Maybe this time, we’ll get the beef tenderloin. Continue reading

Who defines ‘science’?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: On February 18, 1930, Clyde Tombaugh discovered a large chunk of ice and rock orbiting the sun. This chunk was categorized as a planet and named Pluto, after the Greek god of the underworld.

In the ensuing years, further study revealed Pluto to be one of several large chunks of rock and ice in the Kuiper belt.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted on the definition of ‘planet.’  Part of the planet test is that the object “must have cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.”

Pluto did not meet this definition, and therefore it was no longer a planet.

Except in New Mexico and Illinois. Those states disagreed with the IAU’s definition, and passed resolutions declaring that Pluto was indeed a planet in those states. (Tombaugh was born in Illinois and spent his adulthood in New Mexico. He is lauded as a hero in both states.)

Other scientists also cried foul at the IAU’s decision. Dr. Alan Stern, who has been involved with dozen of space missions, pointed out that Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune do not meet the IAU’s definition of a planet either, as they share their orbit with asteroids.

Let’s sum this up, shall we? Scientists who devote their lives to the study of planets do not agree on how to define ‘planet.’

Yet, they are taking votes on how to define what they are seeing in space, and these objects are being defined by a majority. What if the majority is wrong? What if the minority is vindicated 100 years from now?

Science–things we know for sure–is debunked regularly. We know the earth is not flat. We know gravity exists. Or do we?

If religion is faith, and science is fact, and scientists can not agree on the facts, then is science not, in fact, a form of faith?

How can we be confident in science, if the scientists do not agree?

Will you marry me?

By Cindy Moy: I’ve heard many proposal stories. Some are elaborate (to the point of being obnoxious,) and some are heartfelt and sweet. The Husband proposed to me by giving me a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas. When I put the puzzle together, it was a photo of a sign that read, “Will you marry me?”

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing a cookie recipe titled “I Want to Marry You” Cookies. One woman claimed this recipe is so good that you need to be careful who you bake them for, because after one bite the recipient will declare that s/he wants to marry you.

For the record, no one declared their undying love for me after I made these cookies, but it did bring everyone from their respective corners of the house to the kitchen to see what was baking.

So here is the recipe (make at your own matrimonial risk): Continue reading

Are looks important?

By Cindy Moy: Recently I posted a link on my Facebook page to a MasalaChica blog post titled What Do Looks Have to do with Love?

This post brings up a lot of interesting questions, and I was surprised at the response I received when I posted this comment:

Sometimes I’ll meet people and think they are really attractive, and then I get to know them and wonder why I ever thought they were good-looking. And some people seem pretty plain and then I get to know them and I wonder why I didn’t realize sooner how beautiful they are. Continue reading

MN Masala: Good Eats Honolulu

By Jane and Chux: While vacationing in Honolulu, Hawaii recently, we sought out local good eats. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Food Court at Shirokiya department store, Ala Moana Center. This place is almost overwhelming. The entire top floor of this Japanese department store is a food court. We recommend taking a walk around the place before making a decision. There are many options to choose from, including sushi, dumplings, salads, grilled meats, noodle soups, and a beer garden. Their food and beer prices were very reasonable.

Grilled Ono

2. Dean’s Drive Inn: We had fresh grilled Ono with ginger/soy sauce, salad and brown rice. One entrée had more than enough food for both of us to share.

We also shared one of their mocha cupcakes. Fresh, healthy and delicious. Continue reading