Thursday, December 1, 2011

Right quick...

  Aaand it's December!  The month is starting off as it should, with the mountain range shrouded in thick mist.  I suppose it's snowing up there.
  Before one holiday ends, it seems we are already bombarded with the immediacy of another.  It was hard to ignore the news stories and footage of the chaotic shoppers converging on stores and malls all over the country the day after Thanksgiving.  Record amounts of money were spent on, well, crap.  What is it with this nation and retail therapy?  Maybe it was all paid for with credit cards that can never be paid off, and maybe the national unemployment rate is steadily hovering at 9%.  By golly, my toddler will have that petroleum-based toy that will end up in a landfill in a year.  Have we become the Land of the Gimme Gimme?  Where, what's mine is mine and what's yours is also mine?
  I'm not saying that we shouldn't buy things to show the people we love that we appreciate them.  However, I am asking, and hoping, that we can shop locally, consume a little less and do all of that with the presence of mind that those 'things' are not equivalent to the happiness and joy that those people bring us.  The Venerable Cheng Yen said: 
Happiness does not come from having much, but from being attached to little.
  The great minds of meditation and yoga tell us to 'un-know' everything, and let the sound and motion of the world flow over us as we listen.  That by letting go and learning how to comfortably control the roller-coaster that is the mind, we obtain a greater understanding of our emotions and thoughts.  In turn, we are happier and healthier for it.
  Not that any of that is easy.  It's hard to 'let go' sometimes.  There are times when the mind won't stop, when even the beat of the heart matches the quickly pulsing thoughts and feelings.  To ignore them would be impossible and naive, but giving them free rein would be allowing ourselves to be overcome.
  The simplest, easiest way to ease and calm the mind and the body is to breathe.  Slowing the breath, counting the inhales and exhales, even just being aware of the shallowness or depth.  Taking this time increases our awareness, all working towards that letting go thing.  
  My point with all of this is that, practicing these philosophies in our daily lives can help us to familiarize ourselves with the word enough

  Here are two quick and easy dinners that I made this week using Thanksgiving leftovers.  Sometimes it can be a challenge to find things to do with the leftover turkey, or some of the other ingredients that you just didn't quite use all of.  This week we had lots of turkey to get through and a big container of crushed tomatoes to do something with.
  Tuesday night is Yoga Night, and we don't get home until after 8:30.  So we need something that is fast and semi-good for us.  Here's what we had:

Thanksgiving Turkey Chilaquiles

  You can find the original recipe here, but I'd suggest some alterations.
  • Use blue corn tortilla chips- unsalted is key!
  • Add one can of drained black beans when adding the salsa.
  • Pepper Jack Cheese gives it a great kick.
  • Omit the turkey for a vegetarian meal, and use vegan cheese and sour cream for a vegan meal!
  Last night, I walked the aisles of our minuscule neighborhood natural grocery for a good 15 minutes trying to decide what I was going to have for dinner.  When I realized that I had everything I needed, I left empty-handed.

Tomato Sauce On the Fly w/ Roasted Garlic and Fusilli
    The key to this is simplicity, and using what you have.  I love the warm, rich flavor of roasted garlic!

  • 1 T minced shallot or onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-?? cloves whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Pasta, preferably whole grain
  • One can crushed tomatoes
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Make a package with aluminum foil and garlic, drizzling 1-2 tablespoons (or more) to coat cloves.  Place package in the oven, roast for 25-30 minutes.
Saute the shallot or onion in one tablespoon of oil until it begins to soften, 3-4 minutes on medium heat.  Meanwhile, place crushed tomatoes in a pot and put over medium-low heat.  Add minced garlic to the shallots and saute until garlic is fragrant.  Add shallot and garlic mixture to tomatoes.  Season to taste, using thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.  After sauce begins to simmer, add a pinch of sugar.  Simmer sauce while pasta cooks.
Toss cooked pasta with sauce.  Remove roasted garlic cloves from peeling and mash or add whole to pasta.

Here's to December:
 The world is your oyster.  Yes, but in that oyster is the pearl, and to get to the pearl one has to first discard the shell and the flesh.  
~Ian Gardner
 Good luck, my fellow pearl-seekers.


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