Catering to the Divine

My holiday was wild and wacky and full of adventure. After the very full two days of cooking for Govinda's, Thursday was packed with work and then two different kirtan events. The second one, an evening of community kirtan at Triangle Yoga in Chapel Hill, was a magical, musical extravaganza that I am sure will be well-remembered by those who came. A full video of my band, Samadhi, performing a chant can be found here.

Then the next day I had work, a quick but meaningful kirtan for a friend who is celebrating his one year anniversary of sobriety, then another kirtan at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh on Wade Ave. There was a surprisingly big turnout in Raleigh. Maybe folks were thinking to start off the new year with good, spiritual vibes? At any rate, I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to share my music and healing practice with them, several of whom were being exposed to chanting for the very first time.

Early the next morning my son and I piled into my parents' minivan (thank God I was not driving!) and took off for Charlotte to visit family. All I will say about that is: think Second Christmas with three boys between the ages of 5-9 and you will imagine the sights, sounds, and oh yes, the sounds, that go along with that experience. Each day of parenting that passes for me, I think of those good old days when parents said "Go outside and play. We'll call you for dinner," with a clear conscience that the children would come back not only intact and unharmed, but well-socialized and exercised in addition. Sigh. Oh well, I look forward to school starting tomorrow. Maybe I can sneak in a nap. ;-)

Don't let my exhausted, slight self-pity fool you. I am ultimately grateful for everything I have gained and have lost, for every beautiful person who has come into my life, as well as those who have left, for I have faith in the mystery of Life and its Creator. Experience has taught me that everything in Life is perfectly arranged to bring the sincere seeker closer to God and his or her Divine Purpose. Our job is simply to be prayerful and present to those signs. Easier said than done, but isn't anything worth doing that way?

This Week's Menu:

Entree #1 - Yellow Split Pea Dal with Sweet Potatoes & Kale

Fat Free Vegan is another one of those blogs where you can pretty much expect that everything on there is going to be "Yeah, baby!" good. I was looking for a dal that had the perfect combination of early winter veggies that I already had in stock. And as usual, Susan, the mistress of the blog, didn't let me down. This dal is simple, hearty, and satisfying. What more do you need when the weather starts to cool off and act like it should in January? *GF, soy-free

(photo fatfreevegan.com)

Entree #2 - Black-Eyed Pea Masala

Sometimes in cooking, as in life, you have the perfect combination of ingredients, along with a burning desire to have something, and so you start putting it all together. You may even make a beautiful and tasty dish, as we did last week with the Vegan Hoppin' John. And then due to inattention or simply the inexplicable influences of Mother Nature, it might all spoil and go bad. That is what happened to said beautiful Hoppin' John last week. It tasted incredible the night that I made it, and the next night (& yes, it had been refrigerated) when I went to serve it out, it was clearly bad, and no one else got to taste it... So then in cooking, as in life, when these unexpected reversals come, you throw out the mess, pick yourself up, and try again. So here are the black-eyed peas, take two, only this time we are going Indian. This recipe combines our humble Southern field pea with tomatoes, ginger and garam masala. *GF, soy-free

(photo fatfreevegan.com)

Entree #3 - General Tso's Chickpeas

For the third entree I wanted a stir-fry, although it is not really in keeping with the rest of the menu's theme. I didn't previously know anything about the American-Chinese restaurant creation of General Tso dishes, yet when I saw this recipe it looked so much more beautiful than all the other photos. And unlike with people, it is perfectly bona fide to pick up a recipe based beauty alone. ;-) Well, okay those ethics may be debatable. Nonetheless, once I read the list of ingredients, I was again convinced that this dish was THE ONE I was looking for. Simple, fresh ingredients in a saucy medley of flavors associated with good Asian food - tomato, tamari, ginger, sesame oil, and of course peanut butter. General Tso, whoever, he was, must have been good to have deliciousness like this named after him! *GF

(photo yupitsvegan.com)

Side Dishes:

Brown Rice - $1/serving (1 cup)

Dirty Rice with Collards -$3/serving (1 cup) My roommate was kind enough to go to the store for me last week. I asked her to get 3 bunches of collards for the Hoppin' John. I didn't anticipate that they were selling New Year's Eve sized mega-bunches! Each bunch was the size of 3 bunches sold at any other time of the year. Naturally, I couldn't use them all up last week, so this seemed like the perfect fancy rice to make with the big, beautiful, bunches of collards still in the fridge. *GF

(photo lettyskitchen.com)

Baked "Falafel" - $2/ea. or 2 for $3. Last night I did what any over-holidayed blogger pressed for material would do, I trolled Pinterest looking for menu ideas. I found all of these sides and the third entree that way, plus all kinds of recipes I will be thinking over for the future. There are a few sites out there whose recipes I trust implicitly. The Minimalist Baker, who put together this recipe, is one of them. Everything on her site is tasty and simply gorgeous. I have tried making for real, deep-fried falafel, and it didn't work out for me. The balls kept falling apart in the oil. When I saw this recipe that only requires a food processor and an oven (and calls for yep!, more collards), I knew we were meant to be together. * Note:Yummy hummus spread not included. *GF, soy-free

(photo minimalistbaker.com)

Mini Berry "Cheesecakes" - $4/ea. My sister-in-law was just sharing with me the magic of busy-workin' Mama Mufin-tin-cooking. I made a whole list of sweet and savory meals that can be minified and made in muffin tins. Imagine my pleasure then, when I came across these mini vegan treats! Unlike our chocolate tofu pie, the creamy goodness of this "cheesecake" comes from cashews and coconut cream. Yet another win for the Minimalist Baker. *GF, soy-free

(photo minimalistbaker.com)

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