March 29, 2011

March Madness and Bok Choy

A few years ago Graybeard told me that people who are not into basketball (a.k.a., girls) have just as much of a chance of winning the March Madness brackets as people who are into basketball (i.e., guys) because each team plays only one game, so there are lots of upsets. He said that girls pick teams by color or mascot, or school we've attended or some such thing. Apparently he's not the only one who thinks that:

This sage advice from Graybeard emboldened me to do my first bracket a few years ago, selecting by just that criteria, not even glancing at the seeds. I picked Texas, my alma matter, to win it all. And I came in last place.

Last year I wised up. I picked a little bit more by seed, in addition to color, and had Texas going almost all the way to the end, but not quite. I picked a number one seed to win it all, but I had tried to pick so many upsets along the way that I was tied for last place the entire time. Until the very last game, that is, when I won. Apparently nobody else in my bracket had picked Duke to take it. Suckers. $318 dollars in my pocket, thank you very much, and bragging rights that I have used with irrelevant abandon.

This year I expanded my reach: I did two brackets. In one, I couldn’t help myself; I picked Texas to win it. I figure that if I do that every year, one year they’ll win, and one year it will even be when no one expected it, so I’ll win the bracket again. Not so much this year though. (It's a long-term plan.) In the meantime, I am proud to have supported my team (despite never once having watched a Texas game).

In the big money bracket (that I won last year! Recognize.) I picked Duke again. That clearly didn't work out quite as well for me this time around. At this point, all of my top four teams in both brackets are finished.

Graybeard, however, is loving March Madness. He's thrilled about VCU barreling through top seed teams. He even rooted for them to beat Kansas last weekend, even though if Kansas won he would've had a shot at winning our big-money bracket. Apparently VCU was ridiculed when they got picked to participate. Graybeard is a big fan of The American Dream, I've just learned thanks to March Madness, and he likes to Root For the Underdogs, so he was going nuts during Sunday's game when they whooped Kansas. How cute is he.

In completely unrelated news, Alicia Silverstone is a vegan. I learned this stunning news through The Daily Green, which is a very interesting website, except that they make you click through like 12 pages to read one article. Annoying. But I digress. Alicia also has a cookbook. It is called The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet. She claims that in it she explains veganism in a really easy, non-judgmental way. I kind of want to read it. Besides being curious about why veganism is supposedly healthier for people (I have my doubts), as well as the planet (I buy it), it just makes me feel better to know that there are people out there who have even more restricted diets than I do. It just does.

Anyway, I decided that Alicia Silverstone's Steamed Baby Bok Choy Drizzled with Ume Vinaigrette (featured on The Daily Green) sounded interesting, so I decided to make it. I like to try new things, but for them to be easy, with only one or two unfamiliar ingredients at a time. I did have to hunt down umeboshi vinegar and figure out just what the heck gomashio was, but luckily I have a health food store a block away and I found those in the Asian foods section. I bought some bok choy, and voila!

Steamed Bok Choy Drizzled with Ume Vinaigrette
(Adapted a little bit from A.S.'s recipe)

1 head of bok choy
1/2 tablespoon umeboshi plum vinegar
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Gomashio (roasted sesame seeds and salt)

Mix the vinegar and oil together in a small bowl.

Using a steamer, steam the bok choy for a couple of minutes until it's just starting to wilt. This happens very quickly. Check it often so you don't overcook it. You want it to be just tender when you stick it with a fork.

When done, put it on a plate and drizzle the vinegar and oil mixture over the steamed bok choy.

Sprinkle with the gomashio.

This is super simple and quick (which is a theme of my posts, I'm noticing), and pretty good. It's a nice easy side for Asian dishes, and a new, fun way to eat bok choy (which I love, but only ever cooked in stir fry). If anyone tries this or read's Alicia's book, tell me what you think.

Until then, let the madness continue!

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