Zura’s Imereti Khachapuri

Georgians make cheese bread called khachapuri. Georgia also has strikingly different climates in different areas. Because of these this, each region of Georgia has its own version due to regional variations in taste, cheese and style. The Adjara khachapuri has an egg baked on top of it, for instance.

While in Georgia, I stayed in Imereti. Their cheese used in the bread is particularly salty…almost too salty for me to enjoy the cheese by itself. However, in the khachapuri, though, it’s amazing. This cheese is not readily available outside of Georgia which poses particular challenges when trying to fix this particular version abroad. Thankfully my Georgian host brother went to grad school in the USA. His homesickness led him to do the hard part of adapting the recipe to local ingredients. His recipe is both wonderful and simple. To ring in 2016, I am sharing it.

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Ingredients:
Two (2) two-pack of puff pastry sheets
8 ounces of feta cheese
8 ounces of mozzarella cheese
one egg

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1. Combine the cheeses in a bowl, making sure to crumble the feta.

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2. Add the egg and mix the cheese and egg together.

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3. Turn your oven to 350F.

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4. On a cookie sheet, lay your bottom layer of puff pastry sheet. Add half of your cheese and egg mixture.

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5. Add the second layer of puff pastry sheet on top and seal the edges with a twist.

6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for the second khachapuri.

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7. Bake at 350F until golden brown (about 40 minutes).

While baking, the pastry will puff in the middle. We add a small hole in the center to help with that, but it’s not necessary. You can also use the entire cheese and egg mix in one khachapuri for massive cheesiness. Through experimentation, we’ve found that you can use muenster cheese for a slightly less salty but more buttery form of cheesiness.

2016

I am pretty excited about the arrival of 2016. Why? Because I have been waiting four years to watch 2016 Obama’s America, the masterpiece of 2012!

Dinesh D’Souza‘s critique and warning of what the world would look like in 2016 was widely seen, particularly for political documentaries. The reviews at the time were pretty scathing with a Tomatomater rating of 25%. I paid it little attention at the time, but decided if the president won a second term, I would watch the documentary in 2016.

The film is a bit difficult to find today. However one streaming service offers it: Hulu.

After watching it, I am a bit disappointed. I hoped it would make some real predictions about 2016. The film mostly suggests that President Obama’s rampant anti-colonialism will destroy the United States by raising taxes to as much as 100% of income in an attempt to redistribute that money not to poor people here, but poor people abroad. Obama is criticized for not using his position as president to make his extended international family wealthy as well. D’Souza also indicates that Obama has never, nor will he ever, take a stand against Iran’s nuclear program because he is in favor of Iran and similar countries throwing off the yoke of colonialism.

D’Souza does speak to a couple of people who know the president, but it’s mostly filled with people afraid of him guessing about things he might do while presenting them as things they know he will do.

At the time, some people praised the production values as a higher class of political polemic, however there are many instances of bad audio, poor looping and sometimes no mics being used at all. The issues are constant enough to cast doubt in one bit where the filmmakers appear to be acting slyly. The clip features the president at some manner of a town hall. He is fumbling with his words, stopping and starting, starting and stopping. At the end of the clip, he tells the crowd he is happy they are fired up, but he needs to finish what he is saying. Of course, you only hear audio from his microphone with no sound heard from the crowd even though the president references it. Are they trying to make him look bad for starting and restarting when not using a teleprompter? Or is it that the editor is so inexperienced he didn’t know you are supposed to add in natural sound? Maybe the confusion about it is intentional.

I was a bit baffled as D’Souza hammered George Obama because he wasn’t angry that he hadn’t suddenly become wealthy and powerful because of his relationship with the president. It’s as if D’Souza is upset that nepotism didn’t run rampant. Is he suggesting that if he were elected that it would?

Ultimately, it wasn’t worth the four year wait to see the film, although I am glad waiting saved me from seeing it for a few years.

Winter on Fire

Everyone should watch Winter on Fire. This documentary uses contemporary footage to tell the story of Euromaidan, the Ukrainian movement that dislodged Viktor Yanukovich from power.

The film is from the point of view of the protesters at Kyiv’s Independence Square. There are many things going on behind the scenes that are outside the film’s purview.

1. Our shitty winter in North America helped make Euromaidan possible. Kyiv can have brutal winters. Winter 2013/2014 featured a shifted jetstream which forced colder air to North American and milder air over Europe. I doubt the students would have left even with worse weather, but everything would have been more difficult.

2. The film shows some of the retired soldiers who came to the aid of the students. These men came to the students’ aid after seeing the brutality of the Berkut. These soldiers, often veterans of the Soviet Union’s adventure in Afghanistan, saw that these kids were being being beaten for peacefully protesting. That they were the same age as their own children made it hard for them to stay uninvolved.

3. There was really only one leader in Ukraine who stood up in support of the protesters: Petro Poroshenko. Yulia Tymoshenko was in jail. None of the past presidents had sufficient political strength (or perhaps willpower) to do anything. Poroshenko was on television talking about the issues in English for an international audience. This is how he became president. However, it’s arguable whether any Euromaidaners support him. You will see in the film that they have little use for do-nothing politicians or the bad agreements they might broker.

I am sure I will have follow-up comments, but these are the things in my head after watching the film last night.