Here’s a boring little secret. I often read annual reports. Back in business school, it was required as form of analysis. What did the Chairman really say in his letter? Did the financial evidence support the words? Today, I no longer look from that vantage point but I do zero in on things like “corporate values”. This became of interest to me after the Enron crisis when that silver-toothed energy trader claimed “integrity” as a hallmark of their corporation. I began to realize the “sameness” of values and how unless they were embraced at the top and infused into decision making – including employee selection, there was really no point. It’s a bit like all of those folks with milk mustaches. Got Honesty? Got Integrity?
Today, Diversity appears to have popped as a core value for many. And why wouldn’t it? In the stinging aftermath of lawsuits faced by corporations like Walmart, company officers are keen to point out that they wear the diversity badge. The dialogue ranges from establishing diversity as a point of pride to the statement that it is a competitive advantage. Personally, I believe it is both and more. I believe that company employees need to reflect the populations that the company serves and I also believe that diversity is much broader than race and age and sexual orientation. I lean strongly towards diversity of thought and to those places where it is safe and welcome to express differing viewpoints.
Why then, do I run the other way in the kitchen? Oh, it’s not that I don’t love a wide variety foods and dishes reminiscent of locales around the globe. But I am known to shout and take a firm stance on, “THIS is what we’re having for dinner” or “I will not be a short-order cook”. Many times there is not a lot of room for opinions. The result is that at least two of my three children are darn good eaters. The third tries. How can I possibly honor individual choices without sacrificing my time and their taste buds?
It’s the new year and I’m eating cleaner. I want to lighten up and cleanse and catch the whole renewal spirit. Others in my household, don’t necessarily need the same thing. They’re not opposed to what I’m having but they want something more dense with more calories and perhaps animal protein. And I have a mountain of bok choy that arrived in our CSA from Desert Roots Farm.
Instead of making everyone suffer through my choice, I made the Shiitake Bokchoy soup and then added other ingredients as side dishes for those that wanted a more robust meal.
The original recipe calls for chicken broth so I pan sauteed some breast meat for my son to add to his version.
Finally, to add bulk which is really necessary for both of my younger sons, I made a pot of soba noodles. Soba are made from buckwheat and are readily available in your Asian grocery. They cook quickly and are a great source of manganese (which helps to metabolize carbohydrates).
I doubt that I can be as diverse with every menu but in this way, I can begin to accommodate differing opinions about food and flavor.
Shiitake Bokchoy Soup
adapted from Bon Appétit
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 6 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms, hydrated in hot water, caps sliced
- 2 Tbs minced peeled fresh ginger
- 3 Tbs fish sauce (nam pla)
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp chili oil, (optional – I only put red chili flakes on my bowl)
- 3 cups thinly sliced bok choy
- 4 tsp rice vinegar
Bring broth, mushrooms and ginger to boil in large pot. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and simmer 2 minutes. Add bok choy and simmer until bok choy is tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in rice vinegar. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls. Add soba or chicken if it matches your own unique taste.