This is one of my favorite salads. It's simple to make and as long as you don't let the goat cheese sit in the beet juice for too long, it looks beautiful too!
Beet slices with mint and goat cheese
2-3 large beets, whole
handful of fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced shallot (or sweet onion if you prefer)
mirin (available in Asian stores, you can use simple syrup if you can’t find it)
salt and pepper to taste
crumbled goat cheese
Wash the beets and trim the greens (leave a few inches of stems on). Boil until tender, 20-40 mins depending on the size of the beets – you can poke them occasionally with a fork to check. When the beets are done, run them under cold water and rub the skin off with your hands. You’ll look like you just murdered someone, so wear gloves if you plan on going anywhere.
While the beets are cooking, dice the onion very fine and chop the mint. Put both in a mason jar. Add rice vinegar, olive oil, mirin, and salt and pepper to taste. About a quarter cup of rice vinegar to a third cup of olive oil to 1-2 tablespoons mirin. It will depend how sweet you want it, I usually use 1 T mirin and equal parts oil and vinegar, but I like things more vinegary than most people. Start with a tablespoon of mirin, you can always add more but it’s very hard to correct once it’s too sweet. Shake it all up in the jar and taste it, correct the vinegar – oil – sweetener – salt ratios to personal taste.
Slice the beets very thin on a mandolin (or with a knife, slice as thin as possible). Arrange the slices in layers on a serving plate. Drizzle each layer with the dressing, making sure there is mint and onion on each. Top with the goat cheese crumbles just before serving. (If you want to store it for a few days, leave the goat cheese off until you want to serve it, otherwise the cheese will absorb all the beet juice and turn into bright pink sludge.)
So simple, and so tasty! Pairs well with a crisp white wine or cold sake.
There has been a plastic trash bag in the hallway across from my apartment door for about the past month. When the new people moved in, they left all the boxes in the hall for a week or so, and then the boxes were replaced by this plastic bag. Sometimes it moves closer or further from the door, it is occasionally joined by a box or two, and then the boxes go away but the bag stays. They seem to have no problem stepping around it every time they enter or leave the apartment, and there have been no signs that they will remove it any time soon. This has absolutely no effect on my life whatsoever, but for some reason I find it incredibly annoying. I want to leave an angry note on the door, but note-leaving is passive-aggressive so eventually I'll probably knock on the door. But what would I say? "This object that is not in my way and does not smell or make any noise is completely pissing me off. I occasionally think about it during the day when I'm not home and then I get annoyed all over again, even though I'm not even looking at the bag at the time." What's my problem? Of course it is disrespectful to leave trash bags in common space, but it's not like they're letting their dog shit in the stairwell (which people do) or smoking so much weed that they hot-box my bathroom via the vent system (which also happens).
The other thing that annoys me disproportionately to the effect it has on my life is when people put their backpacks on the seat next to them on the bus. Why are you so special that you get two seats when other people have to stand up? The thing is, I get pissed at people who do that even if there are other seats available and they are not actually preventing anyone from sitting down. I'm annoyed on principle. Feet on the seat of course is a different thing, that's never acceptable no matter what else is going on, but backpacks? Who cares? Me, apparently.
Trivial grievances are the hardest to let go of. They feel too small to matter, but they change your mood, so they just eat away at you without ever getting resolved. This kind of small annoyance can ruin your day. They can ruin a relationship if you let them (he never puts the toilet seat down, she never washes her dishes). But bringing up trivial annoyances in the same way you bring up larger ones feels shallow and unnecessary. Spending time every day mindfully forgiving your ex for cheating on you seems like a way to move forward and grow emotionally. Spending time every day mindfully not caring about a plastic bag in the hallway seems totally nuts. The thing is, trivial shit adds up fast if you just shove it in an emotional corner and don't deal with it. The small stuff is less likely to ruin your day if you acknowledge it and give yourself the space to let it go.
We are very quick to assume a negative intention in other people, or take things personally when they probably aren't personal. If someone cuts you off in traffic, you assume he's an asshole. If you accidentally change lanes in front of someone, to you it was obviously a mistake. Your kid isn't forgetting to put her dish in the dishwasher to spite you. Next time you find yourself getting bent out of shape over something that doesn't matter, ask yourself: do I need to be upset about this? Is getting upset about it adding anything to my life? If it is actually important, start a conversation about it and get it resolved. If it isn't, give yourself space to let it go. Forgive yourself for getting upset, but don't get stuck in the feeling of being annoyed. If we give ourselves permission to actually practice letting go of things that don't matter, daily life is a little easier, and there's more space for the things that do matter.
Have you had to make any difficult decisions lately? Why were they difficult? Sometimes it's hard to separate outside expectations and possible-but-unlikely negative outcomes from what is actually important.
I moved my office. I had to break my lease, so I lost my deposit, which I really can't afford. Long-term, I can already tell it was the right move, even with the financial loss. I'm so much happier and more comfortable in the new space. It's quiet, with birds and backyard noises instead of the hum of downtown traffic. And I can open the windows! (better pictures soon, I took this one on my phone)
Don't get me wrong, I loved my old office. Having front desk staff was great, and they were always very friendly and professional. I chose the office because it was professional, in a "dress for the job you want" kind of image crafting for my shiny-new practice. Marketing coach Danielle just wrote a blog post about how that advice is bullshit (except she's nicer than me so she didn't say bullshit), and I agree. Everyone who knows me outside of work who came to that office would look around and go "whoa... this is fancy!" They were uncomfortable. They loved the view from the 11th floor, but they were not quite sure how to act. I thought it would be fun to be unexpected, like a secret high-rise acupuncture clinic. But if my patients feel like they have to whisper in the halls or ask if they are "dressed right" to be in the building, there's something wrong. And everyone complained about parking, even with the parking lot. Driving downtown is stressful. One of the great things about acupuncture, and one of the reasons I chose acupuncture over western medicine, is accessibility. It's not expensive to provide, compared to most western interventions, so I don't have to charge $500 for an office visit. (I seriously was charged more than $500 last month for an x-ray of my wrist, without any actual treatment. Just the diagnosis – "not broken" – was $500.) I'm undermining the accessibility principle if the building itself is inaccessible. Anyway, most office people can't wait to take off their suit jackets and fancy shoes and take a nap on the table. If someone is trying to de-stress, how effective is it going to be if my treatment room looks just like the place they're trying to de-stress from?
So not quite a year later, I moved out. I learned a lot from that office, about what I want my practice to look like and why I shouldn't try to be someone I'm not and blah blah blah be yourself! Inspirational! The point is sometimes a decision looks complicated because of money or outside pressure, but it's really very simple.