Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grace Under Pressure

"They couldn't do the surgery," my friend J told me this afternoon. The pancreatic cancer had spread further than they thought and so J, whose husband passed away from the same cancer one year ago today, was told that surgery was not an option for her sister.

J's sister L is quite a bit older than she and I are. I believe the difference is something like 16 or 18 years. L and her husband D have been close to my heart since shortly after we moved here to Indian Land. L had breast cancer some years ago and was going through the same fatigue symptoms from her medication that I was going through at the beginning of my menopause journey. Often she and I would look at each other in church and just sigh, knowing that we each understood how the other felt and both too tired to really talk about it. Hubby D has been my de facto big brother, in almost every sense of the word. I know he would turn himself inside-out to protect me and he also likes to patronize me in the same way a real big brother can. He's always as quick with a hug and backrub as he is to tease me about my wine drinking.

We don't know what is in store for L. Ever the optimist, I'm told she is still positive tonight from her hospital bed. It's too soon for her to go, I'm thinkin', and I'm concerned for J, who has lost so much.

And yet, as J told me this news today, we hugged, she told me she loved me, and she asked me how I was. This is a very special family. A very grace-filled family.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Day That Could Only End with French Fries

I had a big bowl of french fries for supper. yup. me. I rarely do that, but today was that day. Since I have no guts and I'm heavily medicated, I can't really blame it on pms. I blame it on this realization I had today: I am quite certain that there is NO WAY that one person can get everything done that I need to get done by the time school is out.

When I realized this, at approximately 9 a.m. today, I stopped breathing. Well, I was actually breathing, but not really efficiently. Just sort of short, shallow breaths, and not very many of them. I'll need to pull out all the stops at home to keep body and soul together. Or rather to put body and soul back together. Because every weekday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. my body and soul will be sucked of all life.

I started back on my Qi Gong DVD today after work to see if that would help. I think it will. I hope to continue it every day for 21 days to establish the habit. I've never done the entire DVD, and I don't really plan to. I plan to do 20 minutes at a time until I learn all the movements. I then went to yoga.

It was after yoga that the french fry frenzy started. During which time we also watched Monday's "24" episode.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just Call Him "Animal"

Riley stopped, panting, in the doorway of my room.
"Bob is an animal!" he said.

And then he proceeded to tell me about their cross-country run after work today. "I had to stop a couple of times," he said.

I told him about following Bob up Crowder's Mountain last fall. "I suggested once that he maybe just PRETEND he was breathing hard."

We are now eating sweet potato pancakes (The New Moosewood Cookbook," of course). And bacon. They are eating bacon. I tasted a bit the size of my fingernail. Nah. Not really appealing. They are testing various toppings for the pancakes. Like a science experiment. "I'm thinking butter and sugar," one says. "I don't know, I think the maple syrup is the best," another says. "Why not creole seasoning?" (this from Taylor, of course.)

Whatever. As long as they are happy. And they get to stand up while eating around the counter. Why do guys like to eat standing up?

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Change: Inevitable, Embraceable

The Five Remembrances

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.


A version of the Buddha's Five Remembrances, offered by Thich Nhat Hanh in The Plum Village Chanting Book (Parallax Press, 1991).

To read more about change and dealing with it, take a look at this article in Yoga Journal.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lentil Walnut Burger


Lentil Walnut Burger
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Ever since my encounter with a Hempnut burger at the Laughing Seed Cafe in Asheville, I've wanted to make and have another one here at home. I'd done a little googling around and I've also looked around a bit for ingredients at Earth Fair. I did actually find Hempnuts there but they were about $6 for a bag of them! Yiikes!

But then I stumbled on this recipe in my New Moosewood Cookbook. You cook lentils in water for about 30 minutes until the water is gone and then mash them with a bit of cider vinegar.
Saute minced mushrooms, walnuts, onion, garlic, spinach (optional but I course I went for that), salt, pepper and dry mustard. Add all that to the lentils and then put in either 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs or wheat germ. I had wheat germ and am always looking for ways to use it so that went in.
Cool the mixture for an hour, shape patties and fry in a little oil or put under the broiler. The recipe says to make the patties 4 inches in diameter. Mine were a little bigger and I still got a lot more than the 4 to 6 servings they mention. I froze about 8 more patties and we ate three for supper.
A serving suggestion is to put a slice of ripe tomato on top along with some aoli. The aoli definitely would fit the flavor profile better than the onion, mustard and ketchup I used, but it was still delicious.
The guys loved them! Bob said he really like how full for flavor they were, with many different flavors coming through. He's right. I'll definitely make these again and I'll use the frozen ones when the guys want hamburgers.

When Taylor first saw them he said "I thought you said we were having HAMburgers!"
I corrected him. "No. Think about it," I said. "I said we were having BURGERS!"

Here's a link to the author's website with the recipe. They were a little time-consuming with all the mincing but you can get all that done and the sauteeing while the lentils cook.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Listen to this. Haunting. Beautiful. Uplifting. I've been listening to this a lot in the past few days.


Sanctus

Sanctus, Sanctus

Benedictus qui venit in Domine

Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabbaoth,
Pleni sunt coeli et terra Gloria

Benedictus in nomine
Qui venit in nomine


Here's a close translation:

This place was made by God,
A priceless offering.

Holy, holy

Blessed, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

The holy master/lord, God of Hosts -
The heavens and the earth are full of his glory.

Blessed is he who comes in his name, in his name.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

So it's Ash Wednesday. We did not go to the service tonight. Didn't even talk about it. We haven't gone in a while. I think I wish we had. I generally like the service, but I am not really interested in having the ashes placed on my forehead. It's a day of mourning and in ancient times the ashes on the forehead were a way to express repentance. I'm not certain why we do this tradition now. When I was growing up it was just the Catholics that did it. They would go to early morning mass and the kids would come to school with the ashes still there on their heads. I'm not really a fan of that kind of public display. I don't judge it. It's just not for me.

Much is discussed about what people are going to "give up" for Lent. Traditionally it's meat. When I was growing up the Catholic kids would have fish on Fridays. People today like to give up something during this period, but I suspect it's for another reason than the original penitence reason. It seems like now people use the period for a challenge or to try to establish a new habit they would like. Or to abolish some old habit they dislike.

Yogi Liz decided to become vegan for Lent. She's vegetarian so this is a bit more of a stretch for her. Mindful eating and culinary adventure are her two main reasons. But in her classes she's also talked about ADDING something during lent. A daily walk, a daily meditation, a daily asana. Something that is adding rather than taking away.

I like that.

Having just finished 6 weeks of vegetarianism and no refined sugar, I'm not really inclined to do something more for lent. But all this is food for thought.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

La Vie en Rose

This weekend I watched La Vie en Rose, which is about the life of Edith Piaf. I'd never actually heard of Piaf, but ordered the movie because it was probably mentioned to me.

A fantastic, tragic, riveting story! It was done in that annoying manner, though, where they jump from present day to past and back and forth and back and forth? I've never really had a great appreciation for that technique.

Piaf was raised in a French bordello by her grandmother, who ran the place. Her mother was a street singer and her dad a circus contortionist. She was discovered by a cabaret man while singing on the street and made her way from there to New York and then to Hollywood in the 50s. She suffered a car accident in 1951 that left her addicted to morphine and barely able to move.

Amazing movie.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Vegetarian Experiment is Over

And I think it's going to become a lifestyle. (yes Mom, I can actually HEAR your eyes rolling)

It's been a great 6 weeks. A very easy 6 weeks, actually. Well, except for the memorable pork roast incident. Other than that, I've really had no desire whatsoever for meat. Not. Even. Bacon. NOPE!

So I'll keep it up. But I'm leaving the door open. If meat appeals to me, I'll eat it. If not, I won't. I'll continue preparing it for the guys and plan to do something slightly different for myself. But I think I'm going to try spending more money on meat for the guys and buying free-range poultry and grass-fed beef. I figure since we'll be eating so much less, we'll be saving money anyway.

One of the things I've really enjoyed during this time is exploring my New Moosewood Cookbook and some of the recipes by Martha Rose Shulman on the New York Times website.

Another experiment also about to become a lifestyle is not consuming refined sugar. There is no denying that the inflammation in my body has reduced considerably. Yes, it's true that it could be the sugar, it could be the vitamins I started in January, I could be the three-times-daily meditation and breathing I've been doing...it could be all of those or any one of those. But cutting the refined sugar has done the main thing I wanted it to do: It made me a more mindful eater/snacker. I've found some great dessert recipes with honey, molasses, maple syrup and agave, and have found some nice snack bars with evaporated cane sugar or beet sugar. I've even found chocolate with no sweeteners at all that is quite good! I've received chocolate from people in the past six weeks...people who know that I like it and want to give me something...and I've just accepted it enthusiastically and then passed it to someone else. It's been very simple.

And so that's my recap. Tonight for supper Taylor, Erin and I had samosas from the Moosewood cookbook and on the counter are two loaves of 'Cracked Wheat' Bread from NYTimes.com. The "cracked wheat" is in quotes because Shulman actually used bulgur instead of wheat. And so did I. I haven't tried it yet. Because we are still finishing a half loaf of Wheat Germ Honey Wheat bread I made yesterday.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Blueberry Corn Muffins


BlueberryCornMuffins
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I have a muffin cookbook I received years ago and I've used it so much that it's falling apart. The book is called "Gloria's Glorious Muffins," by Gloria Ambrosia. The book is comprised of muffins made with no refined sugar and lots of whole grains, fruits and nuts. They are NOT intended to be low-fat muffins, but they are definitely nutrition powerhouses.

So this morning, inspired by Yogabuddy's facebook post yesterday about blueberry muffins, I whipped out the book and subsequently these muffins.

Blue Morning Muffins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

3/4 C whole-wheat flour
1 C unbleached white flour
3/4 C blue or yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

Sift all these dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss in:

1 1/4 C fresh or frozen blueberries

Stir them around to coat them with flour so they won't bleed too much into the rest of the muffin.

Whisk together in a smaller bowl:

1/2 C applesauce (which I made from two apples that were getting soft...I just peeled them and simmered them with a little lemon juice, adjusting the sweetness with a little agave--because one was a Granny Smith apple)
1 C milk-soy or cows
1/4 C Canola oil
1 egg-a nice, fresh yogabuddy chicken egg, I might add...
1/2 C blueberry or grape all-fruit preserves
1 tsp vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until all the flour is moistened. Do Not Overmix!

Spoon the batter in equal amounts into paper-lined or greased muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for another 15-20 minutes. Brush the tops with a little Canola oil.

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Brownies


Brownies
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This is the brownie recipe I made Friday night. I found it on the 'net a couple of weeks ago but can't remember where! If you recognize it, please let me know so I can credit the author and website.

I found this recipe while googling for brownies made with no refined sugar. I added the rest of the grain-sweetened chocolate chips I'd bought for the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I made a couple of weeks ago.

2 eggs
1/2 C honey
t tsp vanilla
1/2 C maple syrup
1/2 C butter
6 TBSP cocoa powder
3/4 C whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Whisk together the eggs, honey, syrup and vanilla.
Melt butter and then stir in the cocoa until well-blended.
Blend into the egg mixture (just to be sure it's not still too hot, temper the egg mixture by whisking in small amounts first)
Sift together the dry ingredients
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended and all the flour is moistened. Do Not Overmix!
Pour into a greased 8 x 8 baking pan
Bake 30-35 minutes (however, mine took almost 45) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle come out clean.

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