Ronnie Paul: Ten thousand hours | TheUnion.com

Ronnie Paul: Ten thousand hours

Ronnie Paul
Columnist

When I was teaching an introductory yoga class, an 88-year-old woman stood in the front row grinning wildly through every pose. After class she hugged me. "This yoga stuff is so good," she said, "I wish I'd started when I was 75."

I hear that 10,000 hours of practice is what's needed to become proficient at a craft. Knowing this makes me wish that I started playing ukulele 9,600 hours ago.

With yet another birthday looming, it's obvious I'm not going to cross the ideal finish line, so I muse about enhancing my talent in other ways.

For example, I could find a jewel-encrusted lamp in a thrift store, the kind that houses a genie. Appearing in a hazy swirl from the spout he'd ask, "How about a wish?"

After all, polishing a lamp is easier than practicing scales and chords, plus I wouldn't have to buy new strings every six months or worry about chipping my manicure.

I also weigh using hypnosis as a speedy path to dexterous finger picking. I worry though, that while I'm deep in the realm of the suggestible unconscious, my hypnotist might decide to turn me into a tuba player for his local orchestra. It could be worse: what if the hypnotist loves bagpipe music?

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I've definitely amassed my 10,000 chopping and stirring hours. Please try these recipes created during my actual time in the kitchen.

Shitake Broth Soup

Serves 2

This is the basic recipe. It's perfect as is, but you can also toss in extra veggies that are hiding in the refrigerator.

6 cups of water

6 1-inch diameter pieces of fresh ginger

3 tablespoons tamari

3 whole cloves

1/4 teaspoon peppercorns

1 pressed garlic clove

1/2 ounce of dried shitake mushrooms, cut up

4 ounces of wide rice sticks

6 ounces of raw shrimp

8 ounces baby bok choy, chopped

3 ounces mung bean sprouts

2 scallions, chopped

A handful of cilantro, chopped

1 lime

Bring the water, ginger, tamari, cloves, peppercorns, garlic and shitakes to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the flame, leave the cover on, and let sit for 15 minutes more.

This is the basic broth. You can use it in other soups or to make rice, but whenever you use it, take out the ginger pieces.

Cook the rice noodles according to directions. Boil the shrimp until they just turn pink. Add the bok choy to the broth and simmer until tender.

Choose two deep bowls. In each, put in half the noodles, half the shrimp, and cover with half the broth. Top each bowl with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions and a lime wedge. Squeeze the lime over the soup and dig in.

Fancy Collards

Serves 2-3

This quick side dish will win over collard shunners and might even make Popeye reconsider his greens.

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces collard greens, chopped

2 tablespoons raisins

1 tablespoon sliced raw almonds

Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the collards and stir until wilted. Turn off the flame and stir in the raisins, almonds, and salt and pepper.

Ronnie Paul is a Nevada County freelance writer.

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