kite flying

Discovery Wednesday

29 February 2012

I save links until I have enough to share, and then it’s always too much. This collection has girl power, creepy customer spying by Target, insight into teen development, recipe craves and a look at how Asians can eat rice and stay skinny.

I’m loving the New York Times Magazine lately. I’m inspired by this week’s feature on fashion designer Stella McCartney, 40-year-old daughter of Sir Paul, who has a stellar career (unstoppable pun) and robust family life with four young children. Being the daughter of a Beatle may have helped her get started, but she’s rocketed on her own talent since and has lifted others with her. From the start she brought along fashion school friend Phoebe Philo (now running another brand and pregnant with her third child) and now runs her own brand with other smart women balancing career and family lives. I love this quote from CEO Frederick Lukoff, “This is a company of mothers. It’s a unifying trait. These are organized, efficient moms. There are not many men, and the few are usually stunned by the level of organization of the women.” Rock on, Stella.

I also loved the Sunday Magazine piece two weeks ago, How Companies Learn Your Secrets. Part of it is insight into big-brother information-gathering in the digital age: Target is watching you. Even more interesting is an illumination of the psychology of habits – how mindlessly we follow them, how hard they are to break, methods for ingraining new ones. But the truly creepy part is how Target has discovered the one big transition period during which new buying habits are formed – the birth of a first child – and how it tries to lure your baby money without letting on that it knows that you are pregnant.

I think parents of tweens and college kids would agree that the teen years seem to start earlier and end later than they used to. How can parents cope through this extended turbo-charged period? Two good insights into what goes on during those years: What’s Wrong with the Teenage Mind? from the Wall Street Journal, 28 January 2012 and Teenage Brains from National Geographic, October 2011.

For an perceptive look at mental trickery, Teller of the Vegas magician duo Penn & Teller wrote Teller Reveals His Secrets in this month’s Smithsonian Magazine. No surprise that it takes a whole lot of planning to make it look easy.

I laughed when I saw Why French Moms are Superior, in the Wall Street Journal, 4 February 2012. After last years’ furor over the Chinese version, the paper may be making this an annual feature. Maybe a South American country is next.

And back to food, I made this braised coconut, spinach and chickpeas from Faith Durand at the Kitchn and loved her suggestion of serving it over a baked sweet potato. I was low on time so cubed my sweet potatoes and oven-roasted them instead. But it was still an inspired idea to use a root vegetable instead of a typical grain base such as rice or noodles.

Faith’s recipe wasn’t a curry, but the coconut milk made me think of one. I’d like to try British food writer Nigel Slater’s chicken curry, courtesy of the Wednesday Chef or this Thai green curry featured a few weeks ago in the Los Angeles Times.

And with my curry, I really, really want some spicy, milky masala chai. The Kitchn just featured a recipe, and they’ve also featured a masala chai tea mix that I would love to make one day for friends and my own pantry.

I’m obsessed with Food 52’s genius recipes. High on my list: kale salad with winter squash and aged cheddar and this olive oil and maple granola. This two-ingredient chocolate mousse (chocolate and water) was previously featured on The Kitchn and looks deadly good.

And for any fans of rice and peas, my friend Justine sent me this Middle Eastern version from her friend Gina. Gina’s four kids love it, and I know I will:

I sauté garlic and onion, add ground sirloin and cook until meat is brown. In a separate pan, I cook 1 cup brown or white rice. I also cook 1 bag of peas. Once this is all done, I mix all together and add salt and pepper and I mix in some plain yogurt. You can also add some chopped cucumber on top.

Starting with the Atkins diet in the 1990s and through the primal/paleo eaters today, grains are definitely out in dietary trends. I tried eliminating grains (for health reasons, not weight) and almost starved, which is why I was especially amused by this piece: The Asian paradox: How can Asians eat so much rice and not gain weight by Mark’s Daily Apple, a health blog that advocates a no-grain approach.

Finally, apologies to anyone who came by late last week and found the site down. I discovered that my little site had been hacked. Not malicious – the internet is sadly full of automatic hacking programs – but annoying. Everything’s scrubbed clean now and locked down, but let me know if anything’s not working right, as I have had a few glitches putting everything back the way it was.

Those of you who subscribe to my email updates with AOL email addresses may not be receiving the updates – I think AOL has been rejecting the emails, and I am working to let them know I’m not a spammer.

The tribulations of blogging! But thanks to you it’s all worth it. Happy March tomorrow!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy Rayner 1 March 2012 at 1:10 am

Just want to let you know that I often check on Chinesegrandma after the baby goes to bed. Thanks for sharing, love your site :).

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mm 7 March 2012 at 3:10 am

The article about the Asian Paradox is interesting, and I agree with the author that there is no real paradox. My own view is that, if eating in a traditionally ‘Asian’ way (with plain rice or noodles as the main component of a meal, and only small amounts of protein as an accompaniment), then the amount of calories consumed per meal is low – rice is a very low calorie food. That probably explains why, for the Chinese, it’s not unusual to eat a late-night meal AFTER dinner! Personally, I tend to put on weight when I eat in this way as I often feel hungry in between meals, and am tempted to snack on sugary or fatty foods. Whenever I’m staying in France, eating richer food (say, seafood for starters, followed by a meaty main course, dessert and cheese), I lose weight as the calorie-rich, ‘fatty’ meal means I am fuller for longer, and have no desire to nibble throughout the day. I’m not sure how healthy this way of eating is, but it allows me to indulge without worrying about putting on weight!

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cg 9 March 2012 at 8:55 am

hi mm – interesting thoughts! i’ve noticed that in my mom’s traditional chinese cookbooks, a heavier dish (usually more oil or fattier meat) is considered a good thing. certainly the rice-and-humble-vegetable peasant food isn’t making anyone fat. but these days it’s processed snack foods that are culprits for easy, non-nutritious calories. filling meals definitely help with resisting those temptingly convenient treats.

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