Organic food is such a ripoff…

Where do retailers get off charging exorbitant prices for “organic” food?!?!

Wait a minute…

Povitica/Orahnjaca [Daring Bakers]

This month’s challenge was a fun one, especially considering that I’ve eaten this before. What the challenge (and apparently lots of Croatians) call povitica is called by my (Croatian) mother orahnjaca, from the word orah, meaning walnut. It’s a yeasted twisted sweet roulade with a layer of crushed walnuts. The change with this recipe from the dessert I grew up eating, is that the layers of dough and walnut filling were very, very thin, so much so that the roll was doubled-up on itself and lined the loaf pan 4 times.

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

I made 3 changes to the Daring Baker recipe that Redfilly01 shared:

  • I replaced the cocoa in the filling with rum
  • I used whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour
  • I used an egg wash instead of sweetened, strong coffee on the top

The result? Surprisingly good. I loved seeing 4 mini swirls in the sliced cake instead of just one. The whole-wheat flour didn’t make the cake heavy, fortunately, although in an ideal world, I probably would have added a lot more butter or something like it to enrich the flavor. I would probably also cut back on the rum a bit and add more in the way of spices, like maybe cloves or nutmeg.

This wasn’t the cheapest challenge (I estimate I spent about $30 on ingredients) although I did end up with 4 good-sized loaves, and these things do sell for $27 apiece online. One went into the freezer for when our whole family gets together for the holiday (yep, they apparently freeze OK for 3-6 months), another was shared at the house for homeless young adults where I volunteer, another was taken to work, and the final one was partially eaten at home and partially frozen for a rainy day.

One snafu: I didn’t want the top to get too dark, so I put foil on the top for the first 30 minutes or so. The dough, very, very thin, stuck to the foil, so I had to tear it off. The effect was that the tops of the loaves looked like they were eviscerated by some beast living in my oven, the walnut filling layer exposed beneath. It ended up creating an intriguing, almost streusel-like effect, so I’m not regretting my mistake too much.

Cutting it in half, you can see the 4 swirls that fused together to make the loaf. A few more pics after the jump…


Szymborska’s “Utopia”

Wyspa na której wszystko sie wyjasnia.
Tu mozna stanac na gruncie dowodów.
Nie ma dróg innych oprócz drogi dojscia.
Krzaki az uginaja sie od odpowiedzi.

The island where everything is explained.
You can stand here on the basis of the evidence.
There aren’t any roads except the path of entry.
Bushes bend on answers.

Rosnie tu drzewo Slusznego Domyslu
o rozwiklanych wiecznie galeziach.

The tree of Justifiable Conjecture grows here
with eternally unraveled branches.

Olsniewajaco proste drzewo Zrozumienia
przy zródle, co sie zwie Ach Wiec To Tak.

The blindingly simple tree of Understanding
by a spring called Oh, So That’s How It Is.

Im dalej w las, tym szerzej sie otwiera
Dolina Oczywistosci.

The further you go into the forest, the wider
the Valley of Obviousness opens up.

Jesli jakies zwatpienie, to wiatr je rozwiewa.

If there’s any doubt, then the wind disperses it.

Echo bez wywolania glos zabiera
i wyjasnia ochoczo tajemnice swiatów.

Without a call, an echo takes away the voice
and enthusiastically explains the secrets of these worlds.

W prawo jaskinia, w której lezy sens.

To the right, a cave, where Meaning lies.

W lewo jezioro Glebokiego Przekonania.
Z dna odrywa sie prawda i lekko na wierzch wyplywa.

To the left, the lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth tears away from the bottom, and gently pops up at the surface.

Góruje nad dolina Pewnosc Niewzruszona.
Ze szczytu jej roztacza sie Istota Rzeczy.

Unshakeable Certainty towers above the valley.
From the peak, the Heart of the Matter unfurls.

Mimo powabów wyspa jest bezludna,
a widoczne po brzegach drobne slady stóp
bez wyjatku zwrócone sa w kierunku morza.
Jak gdyby tylko odchodzono stad
i bezpowrotnie zanurzano sie w topieli.

Despite its allure, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints visible on its shores
are without exception turned towards the sea.
As if it’s only possible to leave here
and dive into the deep forever.

W zyciu nie do pojecia.

In an inconceivable life.

The Race Card vs the Race-Card Card

As we head into the 2012 election season, and I see all sorts of familiar right-wing rhetoric reappear from the 2008 season, I’m reminded of a powderkeg of an issue lit by the McCain campaign, or the Obama campaign, depending on who you talk to. Obama claimed that the Republicans would try to scare voters by reminding them that he’s “different” – an allusion to his name, age, background and race (“doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills”), which is, of course, exactly what they did (birthing the Birther movement, actually).

But was Obama’s warning “playing the race card”? The McCain campaign certainly thought so. Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager, responded quickly, with, “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.”

But was Obama playing the race card? What exactly is “the race card?”

The way it’s commonly understood, playing the race card means accusing someone of being a racist in order to score political advantage or deflect criticism. Its practice has been levied towards Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton most frequently, although because of their history in politics and ready interest in speaking on behalf of the entire black “community” (of approximately 40 million Americans), this is not surprising. It had not been used to describe Barack Obama, who has studiously avoided mentioning racism, beyond his deep, balanced treatise on America’s complex history with race, after the Reverend Wright controversy.

It’s difficult, unless you’re hypersensitive to it, to see “my opponents will play up how I’m different from the classic US presidential profile in many different ways” as meaning “if you don’t vote for me, that means you’re racist.”

But the hypersensitive might exactly be the group that the McCain campaign would like to exploit. What the McCain campaign, which has been much more heavily reliant on negative campaigning against his opponent than Obama’s, has been quick to play as an opportunity for itself is the “race-card card,” or tapping into white resentment against perceived use of the race card by African-Americans.

Resentment against Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton reached a fever pitch during the Don Imus controversy, when Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team players “nappy headed hos“. Right-wing bloggers and commentators at right-wing sites like The Free Republic and Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air fumed with indignation. (For a different reason, some black commentators also wondered both why Jackson and Sharpton felt the need to inject themselves in the debate, and why right-wing pundits were obsessed with their reaction.)

But did Obama’s original comment have any merit? Has he been an target, or did he raise the spectre of racism to a naive electorate? Let’s look at the attempts to highlight (or even fabricate) Obama’s “differentness”:

  • conservative online magazine Insight publishes story alleging that Obama attended a Muslim religious school, a madrassa (not true)
  • Larry Johnson alleges that he has a video showing Michelle Obama calling white people “whitey” (not true)
  • many right wingers feel the need to highlight the fact that Obama’s middle name is Hussein (which is true, but would most certainly never be mentioned if it were John, or Sidney, for example)
  • Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is constantly called a racist (which is not true; referring to the disgrace of the US’s racist past does not make you a racist)

While these sorts of rumors were not directly attributable to the McCain campaign, they were popular memes circulated in right-wing circles, and almost certainly helped McCain’s candidacy among a type of voter primed to believe these sorts of things. And the campaign was quick to invoke the race-card card, while it largely remains passive when stories that can be easily proven to be untrue were circulated.

Publius at Obsidian Wings had this to say:

But the bigger problem here is that the Race Card Chorus plays on white resentment — which remains a poisonous brew. I’m a child of the rural South. But you know what? Actual racism is a lot less common there — we have a ways to go, but there has been real progress on that front. The more serious problem is white resentment. A lot of white people honestly think they have been significantly deprived of various things because of minorities. And it’s hard to overstate how deeply these feelings run. It’s not so much animosity toward people who are different — it’s the animosity of the aggrieved. They feel like they are the victims. That’s why race is a losing issue for Obama — it’s not so much that people are racist, but that they feel they are being punished because they’re white (yes, I know how completely absurd this must sound to the black community). And so this whole “race card” business feeds these flames (quite consciously, I think).

The race-card card might be more effective than the race card itself.

Oh, and since Rick Santorum has proven himself to be a douche yet again with his disrespectful answer to a gay servicemember’s question at a debate a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d add that link there.