Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Dad The Counterrevolutionary

The other night, Professor Qiu came over to our house to experience some Christmas festivities with an ordinary American family. (Uh, that would be us...) It was a fun night, punctuated by a great moment of cultural exchange...

My dad was born in Hungary and escaped to the West after he took part in the country's failed 1956 revolution. As my dad was describing the events of those fateful weeks, Professor Qiu, with a smile on his face, called my dad a "counterrevolutionary." From the perspective of Chairman Mao and the Chinese Communist Party, the Hungarian Revolution was viewed as just that...An uprising against the communist revolutionaries of the Soviet Union who controlled Hungary at that time.

How about that!? More than fifty years burning down the road and my dad (not to mention the rest of us!) learned something new about himself!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On Restoring The Great Wall

News reports out of China indicate that it will not be long before a new section of the Mutianyu Great Wall is opened to the public. This is a famed stretch we had the chance to hike on a couple of occasions in 2008.

The renovated area is on a piece of land that is particularly high up in the mountains. A gorgeous place that allows for grand vistas in all directions.

How do we know this, given that the restoration has not yet been completed? The accompanying picture gives you all the information you need to answer this question.

Having hiked this piece of the wall in its somewhat "wild" incarnation, I have to agree with a local farmer who had this to say..."The adventurers and photographers usually come here and climb the walls because they haven't been renovated. Perhaps they will lose interest now."

Or to extend what Wei Ziqi told us last summer..."Mutianyu is about to become a little bit more jia de."


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Brussels Sprouts? You've Got To Be Kidding Me!

If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago what my least favorite vegetable was, there is no doubt that those little, green, bitter cabbagey spheres would have been towards the top (or bottom, as it were) of my list. But when listening to a holiday foods broadcast on our local radio news channel WTOP, I was intrigued by what the announcer described as a holiday "must."

While discussing some of her favorite festive foods, Mary Beth Albright mentioned a simple recipe that convinced me to give them another try. Apparently brussels sprouts are not meant to be boiled, but rather, roasted. Are they ever! Try them this way and their caramelized goodness will motor them to the top of your "favorites" list. Now I make them quite often but they don't last long...Julie and I, especially, are big fans.

Here's the recipe, care of WTOP:

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Roasted Garlic

2 large stalks of Brussel Sprouts (about 2 lbs.)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Coarse salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves but NOT peeled
1 tbsp. lemon juice

1. Cut the sprouts from the stalk, trim the ends, and cut the larger sprouts in half.
2. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and whole garlic cloves.
3. Roast in a 375 degree oven on a pan large enough to hold the sprouts in a single layer. It's ok if the pan is a little crowded; the sprouts will shrink.
4. When the sprouts are dark brown and tender, the outsides a little crunchy, remove from oven (about 40 minutes).
5. Toss with lemon juice and serve.

The roasted garlic cloves' peel will separate easily from the garlic inside, and can be eaten whole with the sprouts (it's mild) or spread on bread.

Copyright 2008 by WTOP

High in fiber, protein and Vitamin C, brussels sprouts are not only tasty, but good for you, too!