Two Meals and a Bookshelf

October 3, 2009

Dear Caitlin,

The busy-ness of the week did not keep me from eating right and making some tasty dinners, but it did make it hard to find time to blog! So here is a recap of two new meals I cooked up in the past few days.

First up: Double Broccoli Quinoa, courtesy of 101 Cookbooks!

Quinoa Broccoli

This recipe is fun because you get double the broccoli! First, as you can see, there’s big broccoli florets scattered on top of this dish. But there’s also broccoli pesto mixed in with the quinoa! Pretty amazing, eh? Here’s what the pesto looked like on its own:

Broccoli Pesto

And here’s a close up of the finished dish (maybe you can sort of see the broccoli pesto in there?):

Quinoa Broccoli Close Up

This dish was very nutritious and tasty, although I have to say that I didn’t like it quite as much as the Red Quinoa Pesto I’ve made before (also courtesy of 101 Cookbooks, in a sense). Still, this recipe is nice because it’s actually pretty fast and easy and, of course, because it involves broccoli and quinoa.

Next up, last night’s meal: an ad lib Vegetable Casserole!


There’s a lot in this dish, definitely more than meets the eye. Obviously there’s broccoli (along with lots of nutritional yeast and panko) on top, and underneath that there are layers of sliced eggplant, chopped cherry tomatoes, tofu spinach ricotta, and tomato sauce. Here’s a close up, although I don’t know how much more this conveys…

Casserole Close Up

My original inspiration for this casserole was actually the final food item I received in my half marathon goodie bag—a pack of Aylmer tomato sauce:


Now normally I would be none too thrilled about the possibilities of some packaged tomato sauce, especially one coming in a plastic pouch. However, Aylmer surprised me when I checked the back and saw this:

Aylmer Back

What? Where are all the unpronounceable chemical compounds? And the artificial preservatives and flavorings? Needless to say, I was very surprised to find such a naturally based food product in my goodie bag, and I knew then that I couldn’t pass it up.

However, I didn’t want to just pour it over some pasta—I wasn’t that confident in Aylmer. Also, there were about three servings in the pouch, and I figured that using them all in one go would be better than breaking it up. A casserole seemed like the perfect solution, and it was, even if it came out as sort of a mess on my plate.

Casserole Plate

I can’t say that this was the most amazing casserole I’ve ever had, but it worked. All I can say about the sauce, however, is that it didn’t disappoint or stand out. I doubt I’d go out of my way to buy Aylmer tomato sauce again, but I’d be happy to find it in another race bag!

Finally, I’d like to share (mostly with Caitlin, because I know she’ll be interested) my newly reorganized philosophy bookshelf…

Bookshelf Wide

About a week ago, after reading a chapter from Bertrand Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy entitled “Knowledge By Acquaintance and Knowledge By Description,” I realized that the then-alphabetical organization of my philosophy bookshelf was leading to the travesty of having this misguided work of Russell’s sit next to one of the true greats of contemporary philosophy, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind by Wilfrid Sellars. So I decided that I needed to rearrange the books on my shelf so that Russell would be as far away from Sellars as possible. A chronological ordering would put some space in between them, but not much and certainly not enough. Sorting my genre could arbitrarily do the job, but really Russell and Sellars are writing in broadly the same subdiscipline. Then I thought up something perfect—a relevance sorting: I would just order my books from the ones I thought were most wrong to the ones I thought were most right. Before long I was at work.

I soon realized that my relevance sorting wasn’t going to work exactly as I hoped. The first problem was that I did not most of the philosophy books I own that I think are wrong with me to Toronto (sorry, Locke, Hume, and Berkeley), so the majority of the books I have with me I agree with, or at least think they have some valuable insights. So I needed to change my relevance criterion to something a little more specific: I would rank my books in order of their influence on my current thought. Obviously, books that I considered just wrong would exert little influence, whereas the books that I considered right in some regard would still exert vary degrees of influence. So this turned out to work very well, and I was able to order my books in an acceptable fashion. Here’s the line up, from least influential to most:

Bookshelf 1

Bookshelf 2

Bookshelf 3

Some comments: After the first few books (Russell, Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Descartes’ Meditations, and Aristotle’s Poetics), we’re already in the realm of books that I agree with to some extent, even some books that I think are really excellent. Yet as much as I like these books, I still haven’t really figured out how to work them into my present philosophical musings (e.g. Kierkegaard’s Fear & Trembling), and so they get rushed towards the bottom of my ranking (or rather, the left of my shelf). Following these first few books, there are some works in the philosophy of language, Hegel (who is ranked low just due to his opacity), a larger section of ethical philosophy, the ancients (rather than worry too much about the details, I decided to just rank all of Plato’s works higher than Aristotle), then finally a nice progression of Kant, Wittgenstein, Sellars, and McDowell. I particularly like how this final progression reflects some of the philosophical content of the works themselves (Sellars and McDowell, to some extent, bring together the insights of Kant and Wittgenstein); this is seen elsewhere on the shelf, as well (Kant’s Ethical Philosophy being followed by Korsgaard; Austin’s How To Do Things With Words being followed by Lakoff & Johnson).

But what I like most about this new relevance sorting is how fluid and dynamic it is. When I take a book off the shelf to read it, there’s a good chance it won’t go back to the same place, as my opinions about it might change after I read it again. The act of finding a book causes me to reevaluate my original sorting, as I have to ask myself, Is the book where I now think it should be? This sort of organization really only seems possible for such a shelf as this one, one that is wholly personal, frequently referenced, and subject to constant normative evaluation.

Sorry for rambling; I hope that you, Caitlin, at least enjoyed it. That said, I gotta go eat!

Until we eat again,



One comment

  1. Comment number the first: don’t you mean “flavouring”?
    Comment number the second: What a bonny lad you are!
    Comment number the third: Your method/madness is really intriguing, I love the intense personalization angle. I wonder what my knowledge organization professor would think?
    Comment number the fourth: That tofu ricotta (and the whole casserole) looks really delish!

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