Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Breakfast recipe and the soul of a cat

First, the recipe, and then the soul stuff.

Doing things the best way often means combining ideas from many places. So for most workdays, I now make my breakfast as follows:

1. The night before, I make a kind of miso soup (details to follow), using the
biggest of our regular soup bowls. I cook it for 1 min 40 sec in the microwave,
stir, cook again about 1 min 50 sec, cool, cover with plastic wrap and put it
in the refrigerator.
2. Next morning, cook it for 1.4 again, put a slice of Havarti cheese on top,
cook again, then eat with a big full glass of milk. Eat as much soup as I feel comfortable with, balanced with that big glass of milk. Then cover, fill to near the top with water,
and refrigerate again.
3. Doing the same (but not adding water) until it's finished, usually 3 or 4 days total.

Hey, it works. And I find it tastes better with the repeated reheating.

To make the soup:


miso, tofu, clams, seaweed, onion

I am grateful to live just ten minutes from Costco, and ten miles from an H-Mart (formerly Han An Rheum, a big Korean supermarket).
For the miso... lately I buy Hakari brown-colored miso with bonito
from H-Mart, more protein and flavor than most of the competitors.

Tofu is the most troublesome ingredient. Costco and H-Mart both sell good big economy packs, with three trays each containing four big slabs. On the day when I buy a new box of tofu, I basically get out a box of ziploc sandwich bags. I slice up about 2/3 of a slab into pieces, and put it in one bag... so I end up with 18 sandwich bags,
most or all of which I freeze. It turns out that frozen tofu actually tastes better
than "fresh" in this soup. (Many Chinese prefer frozen tofu in their hot pot;
but many prefer fresh.)Of course, I throw out the water which comes with the tofu.

For clams, we regularly buy six-packs of small cans from Costco.

For seaweed, I usually buy a bag of 50 sheets of nori from H-mart, but Costco
now sells a big box of "seaweed snack" which I am using now.

For onions, I sometimes get a small bag of dried leeks from my wife Luda, but
ordinary dried onions also work.


First I pull frozen tofu out of a bag (unless I just sliced some fresh tofu).
I put it into the bowl, and hit "defrost" on my microwave, for 0.6 pounds...

While that's going forward, I open a can of clams. And then pull out the miso,
the seaweed, the jar of dried onions, and the seaweed, and scissors.

After the tofu is defrosted, I smear "two big tablespoons" of miso paste
as thin as possible around the inside of the bowl, mixing it defacto with the tofu.
Two big tablespoons means big heaps on the BACK of the spoon, which I use for spreading
the miso around. When the miso is dissolved as much possible at the edges, in with the
water from the tofu, I then mix in the clams, and dissolve again (pushing with the back of the spoon).

Next the seaweed. I take one sheet (or most of one Costco snack pack).
With scissors, I cut into small ppieces, making sure to cut perpendicular to the surface of the bowl so that pieces fall into the bowl, not the counter.
I first slice into eight or so sheets, and then slice across eight at a time.

Then onion, which I just dump in. With dried onion, I cover about half the surface of the bowl.

I stir it up with the spoon, and there it is.


So then the cat.

In the past year or two, my wife Luda has been out of town a few times when
I stayed home -- once to visit FedEx people in Memphis, and once to visit Leon
Chua and his meeting in Berkeley. (Chua is famous for being father both of the memristor and of the tiger mother.)

At one of those times, the cat smelled this miso soup when I was first making it
to this recipe (actually with a little salmon at that time, and not yet onion).
So I put some in his bowl, and he eagerly lapped up everything,
including seaweed and tofu and all.

The same thing on the second day.

About a week later, we started the same routine. I put some in his bowl.
He looked very eager and started running towards it.

But then he looked at Luda. Luda hates strong miso soup in principle.
She has an image of what it is. For just a few seconds, the cat looked puzzled, looking
back and forth between what he saw in the bowl, and what he saw with Luda.
And then he just walked away. As he did the second time we did the same.

A few days ago, when Luda was not around, he was really begging for some in the morning. So... one more spoon, this time onions and cheese but no salmon.
He was very eager again.

Next day with Luda, no again.

I can't prove this... but based on many other experiences like this, I think
that the cat experienced something analogous to "Couvade syndrome." Luda is
a very forceful person, and he is very much attuned to her. Not by her body image,
but by her feelings, he simply felt and adopted her feelings as her own. Humans actually do this
kind of thing very often without knowing it. With this cat, we have other experiences much more graphically proving this kind of thing.

More generally, my life experience tells me that cats and dogs really do have souls..
and that first trimester fetuses do not. (Groups like the Rosicrucians claim that
no fetuses do, but I cannot affirm that from my own experience. Still, I would
much sooner trust them than I would trust folks trying to play hermeneutics on
passages from Aristotle they do not fully understand, and striving for political power.)

All for now.

Best of luck,


P.S. I was going to post "Schrodinger's Cat Rises from the Dead on Easter Sunday,"
in regards to this anomalous cat, but they all said it was too private....

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