“Including the worst mass shooting of the year, which unfolded horrifically on Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., a total of 462 people have died and 1,314 have been wounded in such attacks this year, many of which occurred on streets or in public settings,” reports the New York Times. There have been over 350 shootings in 2015, or roughly the same amount of days that have passed in 2015, which averages to about one shooting incident a day. The reaction from the media and public figures has been pretty expected – terrorism. Religious extremists. Mental illness. Gun control. Abusive cops. Violence in the media. These are the easy scapegoats, the swirl is always the same. I want to challenge this, and think bigger picture. At the very core of all these shootings – there is one recurring theme. Sure, you may be thinking the guns – but it’s a bit nuanced – some guns are legal, others cannot even be obtained in the States. So no, it’s not that the gun is the common denominator in these 350 shootings. That’s too easy of a scapegoat. What I think is at the very center of all this – is in fact – hatred. A lack of love. A lack of respect for humanity. A lack of human connection. A lack of compassion. A lack of empathy. Hate. Guns and religion and money and violence in the media are all mediums. They are tools, and I think that in and of themselves, are not evil. What is evil is the intent. What makes them sinister is the user.
A few anecdotes.
Recently while playing soccer on a public field, my husband was heckled by a jogger who shouted things like, “Stop making your bombs” and “Go back to your country you faggot”. Serious accusations by the jogger, but dismissed by my husband and his soccer mates. It makes me sad and also upset that such hate-filled speech and such ignorance is becoming OK. When I watch the news coverage of the presidential candidate debates – it makes me enraged that certain candidates can perpetuate such hate-filled and evidence-less platitudes. Or, how many times have I directly witnessed my Middle Eastern (or even remotely Middle Eastern-looking) friends at the airport get “randomly” pulled aside for additional screening by TSA? Why is it that when my black co-workers go to certain parts of the city, they feel out of place or unwelcomed? I feel that if we let hate fester uncurbed, they become the very suspects and terrorists and rogue policemen that we see on the news. How many times have we read their histories and found out that these folks were outcasts who didn’t so much as have a real friend? How many times were these folks so down and out and shunned by society that pulling a Fight-Club-like-atrocity seemed like a good idea? How many of these shooters were ignorant bigots, who didn’t have good and loving role models to teach them about human love and the dignity of human life. How many of these killers were fueled by hate? I think the problem we have to fight isn’t gun control or religious fanaticism or mental illness or violence on TV. Those initiatives are just bandages for a bigger problem – a problem of hatred. And a very small and optimistic part of me truly believes that maybe if someone had extended that olive branch, if we had the sense to befriend and humanize these would-be-killers, that maybe – the shootings wouldn’t happen or would happen less.
Homemade Vanilla Rose Marshmallow
When I was in college and at worked at Ici, I loved eating the peppermint marshmallows we sold at the shop. Little hand-bagged pillows of fluffy homemade marshmallow – the perfect topping to the thick and creamy Ici hot chocolate. It tasted like Christmastime. In that spirit, I’ve made a batch of vanilla-rose marshmallows – a twist on the traditional. In the future, I would also like to experiment and maybe try a lychee-rose flavor or perhaps even pandan.
Source: Ina Garten
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 & 1/2 c cold water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tbs rose water (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the 3 packets of unflavored gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water, and allow to sit while you do the next few steps.
Prepare a 13″x9″ baking pan or Pyrex by spraying first with a non-stick baking spray, then generously dusting with powdered sugar.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup of water and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and cook the syrup until it reaches 240*F on a thermometer (aka the softball stage), about 10 minutes. Once the syrup hits temp, remove from heat immediately.
Now, turn on the electric mixer to the slowest setting, and carefully pour the (very hot!) sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Once all the syrup is in the bowl, turn up to the highest speed and whip until the mixture is thick and turns from a transparent/clear color to white. Now, as you whip the marshmallow, steam escapes from the mixture. The more steam that escapes, the less liquid remains, thus, the tougher or harder the marshmallow, about 15 minutes. If you want a softer, squishier marshmallow, opt for less time beating the mixture, maybe 13 minutes. Once the marshmallow has turned white and you’ve reached your desired texture, add the vanilla extract and rose water (if using) and mix for a few more seconds to incorporate. Spray any utensils and spatulas with a non-stick baking spray to help minimize sticking, as the marshmallow is really thick and sticky at this point. Use the non-stick spatula to pour and scrape the marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread as needed to achieve desired thickness. With a sieve, generously dust additional powdered sugar over the marshmallow. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until marshmallow dries out.
When ready, turn the marshmallows onto a cutting board that has been dusted with powdered sugar. Use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut marshmallow into squares, continuing to dust all sides of each marshmallow with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy.
I served these marshmallows with a really dark homemade hot chocolate, and the unusual rose flavor definitely had everyone guessing and wondering. These marshmallows are soft and fluffy and melt in your mouth. The elastic kind we buy at the store just can’t compare. Enjoy.
I think President Obama said it best in his speech on Sunday evening: “It is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country… Because when we travel down that road, we lose.” I would like to expand that further by saying that we lose, when we don’t love each other. We lose when we do not respect human life. We lose when we let our hatred, on either side, to consume us.
I usually don’t ruminate on topics that are too polemical, but felt compelled to do so this time. I hope this did not negatively color your food enjoying experience. Thank you so much for reading, and discourse is always welcomed.