Archive for January, 2015

Travel photo blogging: MLK Memorial in DC

Monday, January 19th, 2015

MLK Memorial, DCIn honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, I am posting some photos I took at the MLK Memorial in DC when I visited there last Fall. There is no shortage of critical commentary about the memorial from when it was dedicated a few years ago. I wasn’t aware of these when I visited, which is probably a good thing as it would have tainted my visit, not necessarily justifiably as far as I’m concerned. (If you feel you must add your critical thoughts in the comments, I just ask that you try to be original.)

MLK Memorial, DCI admit that it wasn’t a particularly targeted visit on my part. I was in town for a conference and had an afternoon to roam the city. I had been walking for hours (winding my way back from the Thomas Sweet in Georgetown to the Mall) and found myself walking on Independence Ave SW when I spotted signs to the MLK Memorial. Once I saw the signs, I knew I wanted to see it.

I was lucky in the timing of my visit. It was early evening on a weekday, 9/11 to be precise. There was almost no one else around. This made a difference as I found the place perfect for contemplation. I entered from the northwest, which worked well as I appreciated walking through the rocks not knowing exactly what to expect.

MLK Memorial, DCAfter looking at MLK’s figure and taking in the scene of the Jefferson Memorial that is in the statue’s line of sight, I walked from quote to quote and reflected on each, especially given the Ferguson events still fresh in memory. I was able to do all of this almost in solitude. The early evening light added to the mood.

If you can, I recommend visiting early evening or perhaps early morning on a weekday when you may have the place mostly to yourself. Be sure to give yourself time, it wouldn’t have been the same had I felt rushed.

Chocolate garlic banana shake – 31 days of garlic, vegan edition continued

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Chocolate garlic banana shakeThe easiest way to include fresh garlic in your diet seems to be to add it to a drink. But it’s not obvious how to do that without ending up with a rather horrifying drink (depending on your level of interest in a spicy taste). I made a banana shake with garlic, but that was too spicy for me. I wasn’t ready to give up on the idea, however, banana shake being such a yummy and easy drink so I experimented. I am happy with this result so I thought I’d share it. Another nice aspect, depending on the ingredients you use, is that it comes in at under 180 calories, which is helpful if that’s something of interest. It’s 3g protein, which is not great, but it’s better than a glass of water or tea. You can certainly improve on that by switching out the almond milk with regular fat-free milk, but then you’re also paying in terms of calories (30 vs 80). And of course you can switch out the non-dairy chips for dairy-chips, but again, different caloric intake, and then it’s no longer a vegan recipe, in case that’s of interest.


1 medium banana, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tbsp dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips


Put everything in a blender and voila. (I don’t like my shakes too cold so I skip the ice. Adding a couple of cubes is certainly an option.)

Some social science links of interest

Saturday, January 10th, 2015
  • Nature has an editorial about why investment in the social sciences must accompany investments in the sciences.

    If you want science to deliver for society, through commerce, government or philanthropy, you need to support a capacity to understand that society that is as deep as your capacity to understand the science. And your policy statements need to show that you believe in that necessity.

    To many in my world, this is unlikely to be a particularly surprising statement, but one need only glimpse at the comments that follow to appreciate how controversial the idea seems to some.

  • The New Yorker has a long piece about the sociologist Howard Becker and his work about what it means to be a “deviant.” Certainly if you’re a sociologist, it is unlikely that you would not have encountered his work at one time or another during your training at minimum thanks to his helpful tips on how to write as a social scientist.
  • The Pew Research Center has an interesting new position of “Director to lead the creation of the Pew Research Center Labs.”
  • The new open-access journal Social Media + Society is now ready for submissions (submission fees waved for now).

Apple garlic mushroom potatoes – 31 days of garlic, vegan edition

Friday, January 9th, 2015

 At the end of a long day, I found myself hungry, but explicitly not craving any type of meat or dairy products. That almost never happens to me so I must have been unwell. Fortunately, I was still craving garlic, roasted, something dry. So then what? I did some searching for recipes, but with the added limitation of a broken oven, I didn’t find too many options. I decided to experiment. I was very happy with the result and look forward to making it again in the future as a side dish. It looks like this may qualify as a vegan recipe.


1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium potatoes, cut into eighths or smaller
4 cloves of garlic, chopped into 8-10 pieces each
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tbps chives, finely-chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 apple, chopped into small/medium pieces
1/4 tsp basil
2 tsp salt


1. Boil potatoes (add 1 tsp salt)
2. In a pan on medium heat, pour in the olive oil, add the mushrooms and garlic, top with the chives, basil and remaining 1 tsp salt. Cover, but do stir occasionally (with the cover lifted;).
3. A few minutes later, add in half a cup of white wine. Keep stirring. Add in the potatoes. Stir some more, put cover back on for a few minutes. Add the apples, continue stirring.
4. When the potatoes are starting to get brown on the edges, remove from stove.

Shakshuka for breakfast for one – 31 days of garlic

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

31 Days of Garlic: ShakshukaAs I kicked off my 31 Days of Garlic challenge, I knew there would be days when work would only allow me to get creative for breakfast so I started looking for recipes that went beyond the usual scrambled eggs or omelette suggestion. This is how I stumbled onto Shakshuka, a Middle-Eastern breakfast dish. I recall seeing this at breakfast in Jordan when I was there last February, although I don’t think I ever had it as there were so many other yummy breakfast options at our wonderful hotel (the M√∂venpick in Petra).

The above-linked recipe calls for four eggs, which I knew I would not consume. I also didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand (like zucchini). Having read the reviews on for that dish, it became clear that you could get creative and still end up with a good result. Below is how I prepared the dish, it was delicious and a nice hearty breakfast to get my week started off on the right foot.

Shakshuka for one

31 Days of Garlic: Shakshuka

1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
2 eggs
a pinch of Hungarian paprika
a pinch of smoked paprika
a pinch of herbes de Provences
a pinch of salt


1. Pour the oil in a pan and add the garlic plus onions. Stir for a few minutes until the onions are beginning to get translucent. At that point, add the chopped tomatoes and the spices. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Create two little craters in the sauce to make room for the eggs (see picturse below). Since you don’t have that much sauce, this may require moving some of the mixture around. Add one egg to one crater., the other egg to the other crater. Do not mix. Cover and cook until the eggs reach desired consistency. Serve with bread. I also added some Parmesan once served.

31 Days of Garlic: Shakshuka

Chicken with garlic sauce – 31 days of garlic

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Chicken in garlic sauce with salad As I mentioned earlier, I am consciously trying to add more garlic to my diet. I’ve gotten some great suggestions on both Facebook and on Crooked Timber. Restricted by snow, I wanted to find something for today that didn’t require additional shopping. Inspired by mentions of chicken dishes with large quantities of garlic and restricted in options by a broken oven, I settled on this recipe, but ended up tweaking it a bit (see list of ingredients below).

This dish calls for a whole head of garlic. Even though I only used half the amount of chicken suggested, I still used a head of garlic, which met my need for lots of garlic. I had neither fresh parsley nor fresh rosemary so I replaced those with crushed rosemary, ground thyme, and a seasoning blend. I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. I happened to have a bottle of opened white wine, Oracle of the Wind Sauvignon Blanc 2010. The recipe calls for any white wine that you like, but since I don’t car for any white wine I just went with some leftover wine from a party. This worked well for the dish.

To complement the chicken, I made some salad: mix of baby spinach, red and green chard, and kale, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes, all diced. For the salad dressing, I mixed nonfat Greek yogurt with sunflower honey and a bit of vinegar.

While eating all this, I ended up cutting up the chicken as well as the whole cloves of garlic into small pieces. It occurred to me that this would all work well as a hearty salad. That’s probably how I will have the leftovers.

To recap, here is my version of the garlic sauce chicken recipe:

1 lb chicken breasts
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled, separated
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 cup white wine
1/3 tsp chopped rosemary
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp no-salt seasoning blend
salt and pepper to taste

Then follow what’s in the original.

31 days of garlic

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Garlic cloves cut up ready to be pressed

I like garlic and I’m also convinced that it has health benefits. I’d like to make fresh garlic a regular part of my diet. I realized that I’m not traveling at all in January so I will have more say in what I eat than is often the case when I travel. Thus my 31 Days of Garlic challenge was born. I’m fine with repeating approaches, but I’d also like to spice things up a bit (sorry). Will you help me? Do you have some favorite dishes that include fresh garlic or that could include fresh garlic? I’m especially interested in relatively quick and easy recipes (lots of work things coming up in the next few weeks) and ones that don’t involve an oven (as mine needs repair). But I’ll have some downtime as well so don’t hesitate to share trickier ideas.

Lentil soup with garlic On the 1st of the year, as is the Hungarian tradition (shared by other cultures), I made lentil soup for good luck. I don’t usually include garlic, but I did press a clove into it and it worked well. The pictured soup is missing a usual ingredient, carrots. I didn’t have any at home, but sauteing some onions, adding various spices, adding the clove of garlic and some sausage resulted in a very yummy dish.

Tea ingredients with garlic On the 2nd, I added a pressed garlic clove to my tea. It’s a palatable way to have it, certainly the quickest way I know to include it in my diet. A teaspoon of honey is also an important component of that mixture. The particular tea I have on the image is especially good for soothing the throat (or so I was told by someone who works in theater and I’ve found the recommendation helpful).

Omelette with garlic On the 3rd, I added it to an omelette. The omelette also included onions, fresh mushrooms, rosemary ham and shredded Parmesan. I had it with grape tomatoes, farmer’s cheese and this delicious cornbread. (I highly recommend that cornbread recipe, but I do suggest cutting all ingredients in half as it results in more cornbread than you’ll know what to do with unless you’re serving at least a dozen people.)

What should be next for my 31 Days of Garlic challenge?

I’ll be posting pictures of the dishes/drinks on my Instagram.

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Here’s a sweet little video to wish you the best for 2015.

Dave Berry’s 2014 recap

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Dave Berry does a nice job reviewing some of the events of 2014.