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  • Melissa Orquiza

Turkey Basmati Rice Pilaf, The Surprising Downsides of Empathy, Arlo Parks, REM, Rae & Debussy

Turkey Basmati Rice Pilaf. A cosy weekday dinner. Perfect when you want to cozy up, watch shows, and CHILL.

Turkey Basmati Rice Pilaf, The Surprising Downsides of Empathy, Arlo Parks, REM, Corinne Bailey Rae & Debussy

Originally Published Feb. 8, 2021

As a child, I LOVED bringing my lunch and getting my lunchbox ready the night before. Even as an adult, I still would pack a box lunch to bring to the studio lot, summarily proud of my “togetherness.” I think it partially stems from the fact that when school got boring or my daydreaming wasn’t distracting me enough from the monotony of routine, I had something fun to look forward to. Capri Sun! Potato chips! Cheetos! (I actually would do my homework and read, so when we’d go over the material AGAIN for those that didn’t do their work, I would check out.)

One day during recess, a friend saw I was eating some Pringles potato chips for a snack and asked if she could have some. Coming from a culture of communal sharing and colonialism, it was a no brainer. I said, “Sure!” She took all the good ones: the ones still intact, perfectly curved and tongue teasers. I got stuck with the broken crumbs. I was kind of sad and angry, but didn’t say anything (more conditioning). When others offered me things, I made sure to get the “ugly” pieces or only take one with a polite smile and “thank you.” I would never take all the pretty ones and leave the bits! It was polite and the “nice thing to do.”

Obviously, I’ve learned my lesson, albeit slowly. My value system may not be shared with the other person (and that’s ok). Reciprocation in relationships should happen, but sometimes they do not. Miscommunication can run rampant. Intentions can be everything but actions mean more. Same with words.

Because anyone with a kind heart, soul, or who has been in love has had their heart trampled on, (intentionally or inadvertently and we now live in a world milieu of insanity), honestly, my empathy was becoming a double edged sword. I noticed I had become unbalanced. When the empathy I was giving to others outmatched the empathy I was giving to myself, I knew I had a problem. I made sure to reset immediately. Here’s to your reset and making sure your kind heart stays that way.

Here is an interesting article on how empathy has a dark side, can lead to tricky moral dilemmas, its circles of sympathy, how easily it can be manipulated, "empathy fatigue" and its counterpart, compassion. Food for thought!

And finally, when you realize “opposite day” works not only on little kids but on adults. Lol!

I can get behind this groove!

Arlo Parks - Hurt

Still a good song, but can get super whiny. Don’t like the dark side of empathy get you!

R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts

Aw yeah...Throwback counterpart to Arlo Parks…

Corinne Bailey Rae - Like A Star

As a musician, I can be transfixed on the way something sounds, but even I get bored. Just like when you interact with someone who is curious, happy, and whose skill in unmatched in something you lack, I’ve been forcing myself to experience banal things in a “new” way. Mind altering. What better way to make life better? Here’s Debussy’s Arabesque #1. (Yes! The one all pianists know and love, set to animation.) It’s like baby Pixar meets Lang Lang.

Debussy, Arabesque #1, Piano Solo (animation ver. 2)

Thank you for reading! I hope this made you laugh, think, or maybe tease a smile out of you or those you care about. Here’s to the yin and yang of empathy! If you have any ideas, comments, or music you’d like to discuss, please drop me a line. Have a wonderful week! Xo, Melissa

Turkey Basmati Rice Pilaf. Easy, comforting and the best thing to curl up to when you want to watch shows (and maybe have some red wine on hand, if you drink). YES!

Turkey and Basmati Rice Pilaf

by Ruta Kahate, from “5 Spices, 50 dishes”


1 1/2 cups long grain white rice, preferably basmati

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided

1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (about a 2 inch piece). I just chopped it up. I was exhausted.

1 teaspoon finely grated garlic (about 2 large cloves). Same as above.

1 lb. ground turkey

1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon Vadouvan (french curry spice). I added this since we’re kind of addicted to it.

2 teaspoons salt

3 1/2 cups hot water

Minced mint leaves for garnish.


  1. Rinse the rice and set aside to drain in a strainer.

  2. Make the tadka: Heat the oil in a large stockpot over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin seeds, covering the pan with a lid or spatter screen. After the seeds are done sputtering, add the onion and butter and sauté over medium heat until the onion turns golden.

  3. While the onion is cooking, heat a small skillet and roast the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin seeds over low heat until dark and fragrant. Remove the seeds from the pan and set aside to cool. Now add the coriander and slowly roast over low heat until dark brown. Make sure you don’t try to hurry the process and end up with burnt spices instead of aromatically roasted ones! When the coriander seeds have cooled, fry them with the cumin seeds and set aside.

  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the golden onions and sauté over low heat until the mixture smells fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the turkey, carrot, peas, and turmeric. Turn the heat up to high and brown the turkey, stirring constantly and breaking up any lumps. Add the ground roasted cumin and coriander, and continue stirring over high heat until all the liquid has evaporated.

  5. Add the drained rice and salt, and stir gently until well mixed. Add the water, stir and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pilaf sit, covered, for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pilaf sit, covered, for another 5 minutes. Do not open the lid during the cooking period or resting time, as the rice is absorbing any remaining moisture in the pot. Fluff with a fork and serve hot, garnished with minced mint.

Thanks for reading! Don’t let having too much empathy cause you to snowball yourself! Have a great week! Xo, Melissa

#turkeybasmatiricepilaf, @gretchinrubin, @rutakahate, #5spices,50dishes,

#downsideofempathy, @arloparks, @REM, @corinnebaileyrae, @debussy

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