Saturday, January 17, 2015

My adventures with kale smoothies!!

I'm not always one to jump in on the latest trends, but I have to admit I'm always curious to try new food trends -- especially ones involving strange vegetables! Most of what I'd read about kale smoothies came from the New Yorker poking gentle fun at the kind of people who drink kale smoothies, yet... it just seemed so weird the whole idea of pureeing a dark green leafy vegetable and making a sweet drink out of it that I couldn't help but feel intrigued.

So, a few weeks ago, when I noticed that my local grocery store had some kale in the organic vegetables department, I just had to get some and try it out!!

After googling a bit for ideas, I decided to try steaming the kale, cutting off the most fibrous parts, and then blending it with a banana and some litchis. (I don't normally buy litchis, but they were on sale that week, so I figured I should try them.)

The verdict? It was surprisingly good. This is mostly because I was expecting it to be über-disgusting, and was surprised to discover that it was actually kind of good.

I also tried blending some of the steamed kale with some Ayran (Turkish salted yoghurt beverage), thinking that maybe kale would work better as a savory/salty beverage than a sweet beverage (see my earlier post about mixing Aryan with tomato juice -- which is quite good, and I still make regularly). Unfortunately, my savory kale beverage really was über-disgusting.

While it was fun to make kale smoothies once, they weren't quite good enough for me to bother making them regularly. But then, just the other day I started seeing this:

Note that -- while that is the actual advertising image -- this is not a paid advertisement post. I just figured, why bother taking the bottle out of my fridge to photograph it when it's so much easier to just google for an image of it? Normally I would never post someone else's photo without attribution, but somehow I don't think companies are too picky about people posting their promotional images.

Anyway, as you can see, one of the local organic bottled smoothie producers has just added kale smoothies to their selection! I had to try it to see if pros' version was any better than mine.

The verdict? It was surprisingly good, in basically the same way my version was surprisingly good. But I didn't have to bother to steam and puree the kale myself, so that gave this version a leg up.

But the thing that really made me laugh was the blurb on the bottle explaining (in German and French) why you would want to buy this smoothie. It didn't say kale is a super-food or make any extravagant claims about its health benefits. It didn't say anything about kale's health benefits at all -- the claim that got top billing was that kale is super-trendy! (das heisse Trendgemüse! le légume à la mode, que tout le monde s'arrache !)

I don't know, i just love the honesty of that promotional message. Awesome! ;)

Friday, January 02, 2015

For the love of nerds

One of my main themes is the nerd love story. (See, for example, my novel.) The shy, socially-awkward (yet adorable) kid suffers humiliating rejections, but ultimately wins out. For me, this is the most obvious type of underdog story to write. As my parents explicitly taught me, it doesn't matter whether you're popular in high school. If you are the smart kid, then you have the tools to be a success in life.

You may recall one of my many complaints about the Harry Potter series was that despite being unpopular/bullied as a teen, after a certain number of years of being a successful adult, someone like Snape would grow up a bit. Emotionally. Well, there's a short essay by a professor at MIT (making the rounds of the Internet) that suggests I may be wrong on this point.

Amanda Marcotte is right that Laurie Penny is way too nice to this guy (so Amanda compensated by perhaps going too far the other way -- though her piece is quite funny). A personal friend and colleague of my husband also wrote a response that is spot on. But there's one key point that I don't think any of these folks hit on, which I would like to address.

Life is not fair. If you are one of the brainiacs, then you have an unfair advantage over others. Because being one of the smarties endows you with a magical little thing called problem solving skills.

Suppose you look around and you see some guys who logically shouldn't be desirable to women ("Neanderthals" in the above professor's terms) having lots of success attracting women. You believe that what you have to offer to women is actually better, yet women somehow fail to grasp this. If your solution to this conundrum is that women are simply too stupid to act in their own self interest (all of them! Or at least all the ones you might potentially find attractive), so you decide to spend the next twenty years stewing in your own bile over the unfairness of it all, then you are an idiot.

That's the only reason people are responding to this guy's rant, by the way. Stupid, frustrated men who have concluded that the problem is the entire female half of the human race are a dime a dozen. There are whole subnetworks on the Internet devoted to their rantings. Here's a typical example. What makes the professor's essay noteworthy is that people are astonished that someone could be smart enough to be a professor at MIT and yet be dumb enough to make an ass of himself in such a public way.

The thing is that it's not that hard a problem to solve. People of all different desirability levels solve it every day. If your offer is desirable, there are plenty of ways to find the people who will want to take you up on it, and if it's not, there are ways to make your offer more desirable. If you're looking around and wondering "Why him and not me?" -- don't ask it as an angry rhetorical question, ask it as a serious question. And apply your analysis and problem-solving skills to come up with effective strategies to solve it.