Friday, January 14, 2011

This is a throwdown...

Look at this little toughie, in his camo hoodie:

The effects of the toughie are mitigated in the following photo, when he's a chastened lion with teary eyes:

That article I was commenting about has certainly blown up on the interwebs! The debate and discourse around it has been very polarizing, and extremely interesting (possibly more interesting than the article itself). My sister has just read the book from which the article was excerpted (apparently without the author's input, see here). That article there goes more in depth with Chua and discusses how the excerpt in the WSJ glosses over her own journey in realizing that the "Tiger" methods she employed might have been to her detriment - and it is in trying to force them on her willful, stubborn and feisty second daughter (first daughter was dutiful and compliant) that she comes to realize this.

The San Francisco Gate article also discusses how it's important not to essentialize "Chinese" vis-a-vis "Western" which I think is a point that's so obvious, there's no point even mentioning it. I also think a lot of the furor over the WSJ article (especially the hysteria over how Chua's methods constitute "child abuse") are based on a willful misreading - I thought that her self-deprecating, rueful tone came through loud and clear. There wasn't a single point when I read it as proscriptive.

Ultimately, I find the whole discourse around the article to be the most fascinating and revealing thing. People feel so judged in reference to their own parenting styles - it reveals the not-so latent anxieties about parenting and parenting as manifestation of self that bubble beneath the surface. Parenting as competitive sport?

All that being said, my sister has been reading the full memoir and came down on the side that (as is always the case) the entire story is way more nuanced than that itty bitty excerpt indicates and that Chua comes across as way more cray-cray AND way less cray-cray than the discourse would have you believe. I think I'm going to suggest it as my next book club title. Our current theme for the next meeting is marriage - why not follow that up with parenting?

I would also like to clarify that my parent's parenting style isn't really "Tiger" in the strictest sense. My mum and Big D kind of created their own idiosyncratic, inconsistently applied, and ad-hoc version of parenting-by-proxy. They both worked very hard and there were definitely times when I felt neglected and overlooked. I don't think they really knew how to parent me - but as in all things and with all cases, you try your best with what you know. Luckily I'm the most self-reliant person, like, ever, so I flourished in that environment, but there were moments of my childhood that were miserable and filled with boredom as a direct result of their hodgepodge of irrational rules and class issues. I also count on my siblings. S-dawg, my sister and I (C-hova was a late addition to the party and the rules were considerably different by the time he came along) were three kids who were largely left to raise ourselves and make up our own rules in the absence of emotional guidance from the elders in our life. I think the reason we turned out the way we did (and by that I mean, exceptionally well) is because we had and still have each other, and a whole wack of crazy stories about our off-the-wall upbringing.

In the end, until I write my own memoirs, it is too hard to distill and condense my own reflections on my upbringing and attribute the complexities of my eventual self to one style of parenting or another. I think the degree of wackadoo-ness in your childhood reminisces is ultimately the symbol of how far from "Western" that you strayed, but that's always in relation to an idyllic, imagined, floating-signifier "Western" that is more always going to be more construction than fact.

Last night we had S-dawg and his gf over for dinner. I made a very controversial S-dawg meal, in that it was vegetarian and not from Milestone's or Moxie's. We had those black bean & spelt burgers with rosemary sweet potato and regular potato oven fries with chili mayo:

Ladies and gentlemen, throw out all your other brownie recipes, because if you're a fan of disgustingly rich, dense, dark, and fudgy brownies, then the baked brownie is for you. The recipe is all over the internets, but I'll post it below. So for dessert I made brownie sundaes with warmed up baked brownie, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, salted caramel sauce, and whipped cream:

Now we're headed up to Markham to drop off the Boobla with my parents while we have AYCE Korean BBQ & Japanese sushi at Chako with R & R and Bwong.



The Baked Brownie
Makes a 9x13" pan, from there, it's up to you how crazy you go with it in terms of serving size

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 T. dark cocoa powder
11 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 t. instant espresso powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 t. vanilla extract

- preheat oven to 350 F. Butter the sides and bottom (I use cooking spray) of a 9x13 glass
- in a bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together
- melt the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a bowl together (your choice, I do it in the microwave, you can do it in a double boiler if you want to make more work for yourself) until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Stir in the sugars, whisk until everything is combined.
- add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Then add the vanilla and stir. Do not overbeat the batter!
- Add the flour mixture, and stir until almost all the flour is incorporated (some streaking is okay).
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven (rotating halfway through) for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs attached (note: in my oven it took closer to 45 minutes). Check them frequently! Over-baking is a brownie's worst enemy.
- Cool, cut and serve.
- On the off chance that there's anything left, they will keep in a tightly covered container...but it's really in your best interests to eat them as soon as you can.

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