Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reflections...

Mystery flowers in the sun



Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Now, I certainly do not pretend to know much about the whole practice, but I did do a little reading over the years. From my limited knowledge, Lent seems to be a time of quieting your soul so that you are closer to God. You refrain from indulgences and vices in order to fill the time with prayer and mindfulness. In a way (as I see it), it's a time to de-tox your body and mind so that you can be on a more spiritual path. How can that be a negative thing?

I have heard, over the years, how people are giving up chocolate or alcohol or whatever, for lent. They complain about how long the time is and how hard it will be. I used to wonder why they would give up anything at all if that's how they felt. From my point of view, it seemed that they were doing it grudgingly and that just doesn't make sense. Shouldn't an action that will bring you closer to your God be done joyfully? I think it should.

As many of you know, I do not follow the Christian path, but the thought of setting aside a period of time to reconnect with Spirit, to cleanse your Self of toxins, to learn to be more fully in the moment all seems like a really good idea. Some of my Pagan friends would shake their heads that I'm borrowing from the Christians and some of my Christian friends might just laugh. The Atheists? They'll probably just raise an eyebrow and wonder if I'm just not right in the head. Regardless, I know that my friends are cool folks anyway.

So, what am I going to do? I'm taking a page from another blog and following the daily questions listed there. I won't be looking over her answers since I want this to be wholly my thoughts with no other influence. And, I won't be posting them online. Instead my musings will be handwritten in a journal. I believe that gives them more energy.

On another note!

I spent the morning in the kitchen playing. No, not with yarns and dyes this time, but with actual food. Amazing, isn't it? I had three recipes I wanted to try out and some healthy ingredients. Some are organic like the quinoa, mushrooms, cacao nibs, and coconut milk. Others are just normal stuff.


This is a Vietnamese eggplant dish called Ca Tim Kho To. It is a lot more simple than the recipe led me to believe. I got the recipe from a friend along with a cool skein of yarn. (She has an Etsy shop here.) I had to make a couple changes to the original recipe (I didn't use rice and don't have fish sauce), but I do like how it turned out. I don't know if anyone else here will like it, but I now have two containers in the fridge for lunch or dinner.

 I was more than a little nervous about using these things I'd never even heard of before. Like sriracha sauce. I had no clue what that even was, but I picked up a bottle all the same. When I opened it the smell reminded my of red hot sauce. The sesame oil was a little like roasted seeds or something.



As you can see, I used quinoa instead of rice, and next time I will use sprouted lentils. For the record, I didn't use the chopsticks to eat this since I'm not that good at using them.

This was just a tiny serving since I knew that I'd be trying other foods this morning, too. The sauce wasn't too spicy for me and I actually liked it quite a bit. I think I cooked the eggplant a little too long so I will keep a closer eye on that next time. I may also add more garlic. I think if this was served over a bed of brown rice or even white rice, I might be able to get others to try it a little easier. After all, the quinoa might be a little too much, especially since the eggplant alone creates a couple of turned up noses. Hopefully the flavor will help with that.



 The next thing I tried was homemade hot chocolate made with coconut milk, ground cacao nibs, and stevia. I loosely based my concoction on recipes found online so that I had a base to start with. I will say this up front: I did not grind all the nibs by hand. I was going to but after several minutes with little progress I got out the little electric grinder I have.



This is probably not something most people would like. The nibs weren't completely ground so there were bits in the drink. I liked them in there. This drink reminded me a little of a chocolate shop in Asheville, NC and I am determined to keep trying. Next time I will use regular milk and will actually purchase some cacao powder. Well, not right away, perhaps before next winter. In the meantime I will try this with some of the cocoa powder (yes, there is a slight difference) that Brianna has on her shelf.
  The last recipe wasn't really a recipe at all. Instead it was  a way for me to throw together several things I like, just in a different presentation. Here you can see the chopped kale, onions, a little chicken broth and a spice blend with 22 various spices in it (they're all antioxidant).
The mushrooms didn't quite fit into the small pan I have, so I cut the rest of them into smaller pieces before sautéing them. These smell a little richer than the simple white mushrooms I usually use.
After I added the mushrooms to the kale I let it simmer for about 10 minutes or so. Once the kale started to get slightly limp I turned off the stove and let it sit for a while before adding the rest of the quinoa.


Here is a tiny portion again. I actually liked this better than the eggplant. I can think of many things to add to this such as meats, other veggies, different spices, and so much more. The good thing? It's all healthy stuff.

I will be putting this into more containers so that I have a couple choices over the next few days. I don't like going into the kitchen with the knowledge that I need to eat but don't have the time to prepare something at the moment. This way (just like my bean soups and chili), I just grab something and heat it up.

Well, it's past time for me to get on that bike. I hope you're all having a wonderful day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Don't believe it...

108: Happy Yule!
"There are people who go after your humanity, Sister. That tell you the light in your heart is a weakness. Don't believe it. It's an old tactic of cruel people to kill kindness in the name of virtue." Father Brendan Flynn in the movie Doubt

That line grabbed my heart so swiftly that I wanted to write it down right away. So, the movie was paused so I could do just that (thank you). I knew that I needed to write about how it affected me.

There have been times in my life when I felt that someone was attacking the light in my heart. Attacking my actions and twisting them into something ugly. I felt the things I was doing (and had been doing) were all of a sudden taken from their special place filled with Love, and tossed out into a barren field, left to burn in the harsh desert sun. Am I being dramatic? Perhaps, but that is a part of me, too. If someone chooses to tear me down because of that, then I will do my best to send them healing energy.

How can I tell the world that if we hold onto that Light, hold it sacred and safe, that we are even closer to Spirit? How do I tell them not to let others determine how special we are? Not just the people who would try cutting us down, but the media as well. If we rise above what we hear each day, if we can keep our own inner Light glowing with Love and Strength, if we can let go of the things and people who cause us harm, what wondrous vitality we could achieve!

Hold onto your heart, and to your Spirit. Hold onto what makes you sacred. If someone tries to cause you harm, remember that you hold the key to your own beauty and Life.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Entitled?

Tree Tangle

I see so many news stories about people who feel they are entitled to getting their way and I can't help but wonder what their parents think.

No, I'm not talking about the people who need help with buying groceries, I'm talking about the people who get so mad over things that really don't matter. They stomp their feet and shout that they will no longer shop at a store and demand to be heard. Is it really that big of a deal when a company hires someone to be their spokesperson, even though you don't agree with their way of life? What makes the people protesting the Susan G Komen Foundation any better than the ones protesting JC Penney? It sounds so much like the playground pettiness, "You're friends with her, I'm not your friend anymore." Yes, everyone has a right to be heard, and yes, everyone has a right to spend their money where they want, but that doesn't make you more right than me. (For the record, I rarely shop at department stores simply because I do not care about name brands and labels.)

One thing that I really think is sad is that these petty squabbles are getting so much airtime lately, filling up people's minds, while there are still children dying of cancer, spouses being beaten and killed, people losing their lives in the name of religion, families learning to live without loved ones. These are the real tragedies.