Before we get down to food, I would like to do what I usually do, which is share with you all something that happened to me during the week. I aim to share something meaningful and significant, though it may not necessarily be anything large. Last night, however, I did get to do something large and exciting. My son and I, along with 9,998 other people, went to the Time Warner Cable Arena in downtown Charlotte to see the Toby Mac Hits Deep Tour. Toby Mac is one of the most successful and well-known Christian hip hop artists in America. He and his two best friends founded DC Talk, way back in 1987. The man has been turning out faith-based hit songs since then. His music resonates with me personally because it is 1) fun, 2) stylistically diverse (his 8-piece backing band is called Diverse City), 3) his lyrics are intelligent and thought-provoking, and 4) there is a sobriety and a prayerfulness about his life as a servant of God, shining through in his music, that reminds me of who it is I want to be.
I was also pleased to discover last night several more reasons to admire him and his music. He is a master showman. First let me say that pop and hip hop are not necessarily (kind of like not at all) my scene. The hypnotizing light shows, the smoke, the headbanging, the jumping off of things, the choreographed dancers, (and yes, all of those things happened at various points of the night) don't really do it for me unless I understand the purpose behind it. That is the curse of being a Capricorn, I suppose. Everything has to have meaning and a purpose in order for me to appreciate it. Toby Mac and Diverse City's performance was preceded by five other bands who employed all of the above mentioned elements of "show," and unfortunately the way in which they employed them didn't really do it for me. None of it touched my heart particularly. That is not to say that I didn't appreciate and like their music. It is simply that the show distracted me from taking in the musicality and their message - but again I make a disclaimer that electronic music and pop are not my scene.
Now, Toby Mac and his band used all kinds of exciting elements of stagecraft (choregraphy, video, multiple stages, smoke, confetti) in their set, to great effect. Why I liked his show and not the ones of some of the opening bands probably has something to do with the fact that Toby Mac has been doing this a long time and has become expert in how to use special effects to move the story of the music forward, without overshadowing it. After 30 years of seriously working on something, chances are you either become pretty dang good at it and/or find others who are.
I was also impressed by his inclusivity. His band is obviously not just a bunch of hired musicians. They are clearly all a family, and each one's contribution is highly valued. Although Toby is the frontman, he made sure to feature every one of the musicians and vocalists at some point. Each one of the three solo artists on the tour was also featured during his set. Clearly this is a man who feels joy in seeing others shine. The entire event, with its six bands, ranging in styles from pop, to rock, to rap/hip hop, to heavy rock/thrasher-lite, embodied diversity, inclusion, and love. I got the sense that Toby Mac is truly interested in supporting lesser-known musicians, several of whom were quite young, in gaining experience and exposure. One of my favorite songs by Toby Mac is "Speak Life," and based on the way he treats his fellow musicians, it seems to me that he truly lives his commitment to speak Life to all those he comes in contact with, through his personal dealings, as well as through his music.
In America we have go-to meals, like PB&J, grilled cheese, pasta & marinara sauce. These quick-fix dinners are almost guaranteed a welcome reception (especially with small people). In India the go-to counterpart would be rice and dal. There are many varieties of dal, and just as many ways to make and spice your dal. Toor beans, with their tangy taste and quick-cooking profile, are a favorite on the subcontinent. Toss in some tomatoes and tempered spices, and you have classic dinner magic. *GF, soy-free
Entree #2 - Zuppa Italiana This soup is one of my son's favorites. Like many children, he is all about starch (potatoes) and proteins (beans). It is the vegetables that sometimes meet with vegetables. Fortunately for this soup (and for me), the only other veggie in it is kale, and oddly enough, he likes all things green. Whether your taste buds are easy to please or on the finicky side, this soup is sure to be a winner! *GF, soy-free
Entree #3 - Green Split Pea & Carrot Dal This soup is a favorite of one of my regular customers. This customer is in the enviable position of being able to retire at the end of this month. So in celebration of her transition to a new phase of life, I wanted to pull out this mildly spiced, creamy, and delightfully nourishing dal. Peas and carrots have never been so happy together since Forrest Gump! *GF, soy-free
Quinoa - $2/serving (1 cup) This happy little psuedo-cereal (that means that it's a seed, rather than a full-blown grain) is packed with so much nutrition that it makes your insides dance for joy! *GF, soy-free
Roasted Veggie Salad with Honey Dressing -$6/lb. I originally had a cute looking recipe for zucchini chips in this spot. I have linked it here in case y'all want to make them at home. The ingredients were simple enough, but when I realized that each chip takes at least 2 hours to bake, I realized that it might not be a practical thing to make in quantity. I have been in the mood for salads lately, and this roasted vegetable salad is ideal for this transitional weather (it has to be real hot for me to want to eat salads full of crunch and rawness). *GF, soy-free
Banana Bread - $6/lb. I am going to let another regular customer describe the banana bread: "The banana bread rose beyond my expectations! It delighted my senses with its great smell, substantial density and delicious taste! it ranks as one my favorites in your myriad of desired foods that you make, and that says a lot!" - KB The density that she is talking about is likely on account of the bread being composed of nearly 1/3 almond meal. This is no fluffy, white flour 'n' white sugar bread! *GF, soy-free