Contemplating Balance and Summer Veggies

Confusion is defined as a lack of understanding about something; uncertainty. I had a run-in with confusion last night that for me really meant "I am clear about what I should do, but I want to do something else; therefore, I feel confused." The other night I was being all proactive and working on some things for a catering job I have this afternoon. Not trying to evoke creative genius and the favor of the Goddess of Cooking at the last minute was feeling so very good. And then... I sabotaged it. Well sort of. No really, I sabotaged it.

You see my son has been reading the Harry Potter books with my mother. They have a system that once he finishes a book, he can watch the movie. Last night happened to be movie night for them to watch Harry Potter #2. My mother invited me to come to her house to watch it too. Taking a movie break was the last thing I needed to do, what with the catering to finish, this week's menu to plan and the newsletter to write. I waffled; I wavered; I entered confusion; and then I went, rationalizing all the way. Will my son have as a treasured memory that I took a break from work, made fancy popcorn, and sat down to watch his new favorite movie with him and his grandparents? Surely, yes, and probably so will I. And yet, when I came back home at 11:30 pm, I realized that I still had an hour and a half of work to finish before being able to go to bed. The two preparations I had been working on were mostly done, but not fully. I worried about the quality of what I had made, and I started to question the value of said treasured memory...

Yesterday morning I started my day with an intention to live out the day by following Marianne Williamson's prayer of surrender: "My dear Lord, where would You have me go today? What would You have me do? Who would You have me meet, and what would You have me say to them?" By the end of the night, which was really this morning, I didn't feel like I had met that intention. Ultimately I am sure it will all work out and both my customer and my son will be happy (I hope). It is just so difficult sometimes when we have two (or more) things that are equally important, to be clear about which one should be done first. I wish I could conclude with my Wonder Woman cape on and assure you that I have found a sure-fire way to always do the right thing - to balance work integrity with being a fun, engaging parent and person. But I can't. I still struggle with priorities, with making ends meet, with carving out sufficient time for my spiritual practice, with being present for my son. I guess I struggle with Life. What I can say is that I took away a postitive lesson from yesterday. Now I have a clue that sometimes my rebellion masquerades as confusion. If I can harness the power of the pause to internally step back and ascertain if this is actually the case, I suspect it will allow space for clarity to enter.

Right now I am clear that we should talk about food. We are going light and summery this week with our grain choices this week - brown rice andQuinoa. Please do specify if you would like quinoa, and add $2 to your order. Regular orders with brown rice are $8 per 2-cup serving.

This Week's Menu:

(photo bonappetit.com)

Entree #1 - Ratatouille. Walker Farm, where I buy many of my vegetables has beautiful tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, cabbage and more. When I saw their bounty last week, I began fantasizing about Ratatouille, a perfect dish to celebrate the gifts of the garden. I plan to use Laura Vitale's technique of roasting the veggies and then simmering them together. I branch off on my own by adding cooked chickpeas at the end, thus making it a heartier main dish. Being the food nerd that I am, I needed to find out the history of this famous vegetarian dish. The short answer is that it originated in France, as a dish made by peasant farmers in the Occitanian community. Its name comes from the French word "toullier," meaning "to toss food." You basically take seasonal vegetables which are available to even the poorest gardener, toss them in olive oil and spices, and voila! you have a delicious, healthy classic-worthy veggie dish. (For those who enjoy longer answers, there is an entire website dedicated to ratatouille.) *GF, soy-free

Entree #2 - Cream of Broccoli Soup. This week I was looking for recipes that are heavy in fresh veggies. I love this recipe because it is simultaneously fresh & light tasting, with a rich & creamy texture. It is also crazy healthy, as it uses one of the kings of green. A serving of broccoli provides over 200% of the RDA of vitamin K and over 100% of vitamin C. Besides that, it provides a significant percentage of the RDA for at least 20 other vitamins and minerals, with chromium and folate topping the list. Now add to the nutrition profile cashews, which are used to make the cream. Cashews are high in 5 minerals, with copper topping the list. Just before your head explodes with all that nutritional data, open your mouth, insert a spoonful of this lovely green cream, and taste what those percentages really mean - "Um... YUM!" The proof of the soup is in the tasting. :-)

Entree #3 - Dal Makhani. I had a special request to make this dal again. The other day I was at a pool and started talking shop (or kitchen, as the case may be) with a lovely woman from India. She cited this dal as one of her favorites to make. Her choice of all-time favorite dals was heartily seconded by a long-time customer who happened to be with me. So note to all: When planning a menu, you should go swimming to gain inspiration. This dal recipe calls for whole urad dal and red kidney beans, both protein powerhouses. The beans are combined with tomatoes, whole spices, slow cooking, and a hearty dollop of cream* to achieve a sumptuous taste experience.*We will be departing from tradition and using coconut cream, in order to maintain our vegan ideals. Hopefully the change in flavor profile will be a creative & welcome variation, even for purists. GF, soy-free

Side Dishes:

(photo wikimediacommons)

Roasted Papadam - $1/ea. Papadams are super thin wafers made of high-protein lentils called urad dahl. The beans are mixed with spices, pressed like tortillas, and then dried. Usually they are fried, like most self-respecting Indian savories. However, you can also roast them and enjoy a crunchy chip-like treat that is both oil-free and guilt-free. These savories are my secret weapon, as they are adored by all who eat them yet are the most simple to prepare.*GF, soy-free

(photo minimalistbaker.com)

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles - $3. What many of you may not know is that a couple of months ago when I put out a request for an intern, I got 3! One of them is Courtney, a local high school student. She is a whiz on the computer and has made transferring these newsletters to my blog oh-so-stress-free. Courtney is also an extremely enthusiastic chef herself. She will be debuting her skills here by making these fabulous truffles. Made with 6 ingredients, in true Minimalist Baker style, these little balls of love are salty, sweet, crunch, creamy, and delicious! Support Courtney and get your chocolate fix all at the same time.

Tastefully yours,

Rangadevi Hernandez

#broccoli #cashewcream #dalmakhani #dal #ratatouille #papadam #peanutbuttertruffles

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