Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eat Your Greens!

This is a wonderful combination of greens, beans and rice, and there are a couple of ingredients that you can easily sub out for others if needed. The most unusual ingredient in this recipe is black garlic. I found it at Whole Foods. Before cooking, I researched and learned that it is fermented garlic. It's often found in Asian cuisine and it's rich in antioxidants! It's made by fermenting whole bulbs of garlic at high temperatures resulting in a deep black color with a slightly sweet taste similar to that of balsamic vinegar. If you already have this tasty garlic in your house, lucky you! If not, it won't be hard to find. There are on-line sources if it's not in your nearby health food store.

Eat Your Greens
Serves 4 as a Side Dish

1 C cooked rice
1 - 2 T Fustini's Extra Virgin Garlic Olive Oil
1 leek, white part only, diced
1 large leaf of red chard, vein removed and chopped
1 clove of black garlic
10 leaves of dandelion, chopped
1 C spinach
1/2 C maitake mushrooms, chopped
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1/2 C cannellini beans
1/4 C kalamata olives
sliced almonds, toasted in a skillet over med. heat for 7 - 10 minutes
fresh lemon juice

Cook the rice according to the package directions so you end up with about one cup. Toast the sliced almonds. Once that's done, warm the olive oil in a saute pan. Saute the leek over medium low heat until it becomes translucent. Add the chopped chard and saute for 5 - 8 minutes. Add the black garlic and mash it as you stir it in. Add the dandelion, spinach, maitake mushrooms, thyme and continue to cook over low heat until the greens have wilted and the mushrooms have cooked down. Add the rice, beans and olives to the mixture and continue to cook until heated. Mix in the almonds and squeeze with a little fresh lemon juice.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Meditation and Morals.... by my Uncle Gene

It dawned on me that in whatever city I have practiced Sitting Meditation with a group, I could have left my wallet and my car keys anywhere on the floor, and they would have been there when the session ended. Granted that those who practice  Meditation are a special subsection of the general population, there is something about all practitioners of "mindfulness" that sets them apart, and not just the capacity of some of them to sit in an unusual cross-legged position (a capacity I do not happen to share). Is there something about practicing mind-full-ness that disposes one to be more fully aware of how one should behave, including a heightened sense of compassion? Are meditators more moral than the rest of the population? 

I am reminded of what I heard from a Catholic priest, before the dawn of the ecumenical era. He said: "Better to forget your umbrella in a Protestant Church on a rainy Sunday, because Catholics are obligated to go to Mass, so the moral people as well as the thieves are there, but only the moral Protestants go to Church on rainy Sundays." Whether you go to Church, Synagogue, or Mosque, the preaching inevitably will relate to what you should do, and how you should live your life. And certainly the quiet times, the interludes when nothing appears to be happening, might be the times of quiet meditation, times for reflection, times for thinking about how your life should be lived, and perhaps what your obligations to others might entail...

How much more "moral" our culture might be, if some form of Mindful Meditation were taught in our schools! While some might fear an intrusion of something that appears to have a Buddhist heritage, Mindfulness Meditation has become a distinct practice that can be applied in many ways. Jon Kabat-Zinn's new book, Mindfulness for Beginners, could create something of a moral revolution, if what he teaches in the book were ever widely practiced. "The real that the practice itself gives us instant access to other dimensions of our life that have been here all along, but with which we have been seriously out of touch." I wonder how many of those dimensions relate to how we might become better at the art of being fully human...

There is a collection of stories within the Sufi Tradition called "The Nasrudin Tales." Here is a good example: "Nasrudin, is your religion orthodox?" "It all depends," said Nasrudin, "on which bunch of heretics is in power."

And there is a story circulating in Meditation circles about a renowned Rabbi from Byelorussia. An American traveler stopped to visit him, and was surprised that the Rabbi lived in a one room apartment, with a table, two chairs, and a small desk. The traveler said: "But where is your furniture?" The Rabbi replied: "Where is your furniture?" The traveler said: "I have no furniture, I am just passing through," to which the Rabbi replied, "I am just passing through too...."

There is much to meditate about, in those tales...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blueberry Cherry Cobbler

I don't make desserts often because I rarely crave something sweet. Also, I don't think the habit of a nightly dessert is a healthy practice. But every now and then I do like to bake. So, when I was at the farmers market and saw an abundance of blueberries and cherries, I took it as a hint and decided to make a cobbler. I have an old recipe that I veganized and this combination of fruit turned out to be delicious! It was a bit of a surprise to me, but I really enjoyed the pairing and I hope you do too!

Hot out of the oven!
My husband had his with vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Cherry Cobbler
Serves 6

4 C blueberries
1/2 - 1 C sweet cherries, pitted (this takes a little time, but well worth it)
1 T flour
1 T sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

1/2 C Earth Balance, melted
1 1/4 C flour
 1 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C toasted walnuts
1 t cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the walnuts by placing them onto a sheet pan in a single layer. Put the pan into the oven and remove after 8 - 10 minutes. Set the walnuts aside to cool. Once cool, chop into smaller pieces.

Lower the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees. Combine the ingredients for the filling stirring to mix well. Put the fruit mixture into an 8 X 8 baking dish and set aside. Combine the melted Earth Balance with the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Top the fruit filling evenly with the topping and bake for one hour. The topping should be brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool.