The Medicine of Kirtan
Good morning! Yesterday morning I had one of those experiences where I woke up and with a sinking feeling suddenly remembered my life. By that I mean, I opened my eyes and the feeling of sleepy neutrality gave way to sensations and feelings that had been influencing me before I fell asleep. As I became conscious, a heat began spreading through my chest, my heart quickened, my mind raced, replaying a key scene from the night before.
Anger. Yep. There he was in full force, before I even had a chance to brush my teeth. I think relationship counselors put so much emphasis on "Never go to bed angry" because it is so unsettling to wake up to this guy. Fortunately, I was able to engage in Newsletter Therapy. I put together all the text for the menu, wrote an outline for this section of the newsletter, and spent way WAY too long looking for just the right photos to convey my ideas.
I was looking for a photo of a beautiful female warrior in the heat of angry battle to illustrate my romanticized inner image of myself - the strong, noble defender of the weak, the righteous slayer of insult and injustice. This image was one in about 5 million images of "women warriors" who were not graced with very weather-appropriate clothing. Seriously, when is the last time you saw a man go into battle with a great hairdo and just a few strategically placed leather straps and squares of chain mail adorning his body?
Dismayed by my lack of easily finding what I wanted and by the glaring oversexualization of women my search had raised, I decided to search for regular old, non warrior, angry folks. OMG! Whoever came up with the phrase "You are so beautiful when you are angry," must have been trying to sell something. There is nothing beautiful about an angry face. Even the photos of angry children are not cute. I am not even going to post one of those photos here, as they were too disturbing to me. (Try it for yourself. Search "angry photos" and see what comes up.) Hello! Fantasy, meet Reality. I realized that my angry face in no way resembled the warrior princess pictured above (besides never having had a single blond hair yet), rather, I must have looked like those real-people photos - furrowed eyebrows, bulging eyes, twisted mouths, neck veins out to California, all emanating the black energy of rage. Eeww. Searching those photos was all very therapeutic. Many of them were linked to articles and blogs by therapists, and hypnotists, so there was plenty of helpful tangential reading that occurred on my part. Naturally, I ran out of time. Yesterday was filled with three important, mandatory events that took precedence over my writing.
Guess what? The passage of time and the distraction of being with other people, talking about everything other than myself, gave me the internal space to process. And you know what I found? Standing behind good old anger were Sadness and Fear. A counselor had once told me that anger is a secondary emotion that covers up other, primary emotions, just as a tablecloth covers a table. She challenged me to always take the time to lift up the tablecloth and investigate what was actually underneath. Anger is a fantastic motivator. It calls attention to what is going on, exciting us into motion, when we might otherwise be paralyzed by Fear and Sadness. There have been several occasions in my life where I took a much-needed action, only because my anger became stronger than my fear. And then, and only when, Anger had removed me from the situation, and I was out of physical and emotional danger, could I even begin to look at the table beneath Anger's cloth. Sigh. There is much to be said about that, and yet because it is bleep a.m. and this email is long overdue, I am not going to pursue that chain of thought just yet.
Instead, I close with an invitation for you all to share with me my #1 go-to healing experience, kirtan. Kirtan does not make me forget my troubles. It enables me to rise above them, so that I may see them differently, instead of being pinned beneath them, crushed and too close to gain any perspective. Literally, thank God for kirtan. For those of you who may not know, kirtan is an ancient practice of the call and response singing of Sanskrit mantras. It is a musical practice of devotion, akin to Gospel singing, although stylistically, most kirtan music (with some delightful exceptions) sounds nothing like American Gospel. If you haven't yet experienced kirtan or come to see me sing, please consider joining us this Saturday. Jordan Lake is beautiful this time of year. There will be loads of sweet people and dogs to meet, vegan food to be shared, and songs to be sung. Go ahead, bring your troubles, they won't stand a chance of coming home with you in the same way they came. I am not saying they will disappear entirely (although that can happen too), but I can say that they will most likely sit tamely in the back seat and maybe even fall asleep there like tired children. Aww, goodnight troubles!
This Week's Menu:
Entree #1 - Cream of Mushroom & Green Bean with Papadam Noodles
The photo and the original recipe (which I modified so much that I stopped linking it in the title line) were both taken from the Vegetarian Times website. Our proprietary Govinda's version (ooh! that sounds fun to say) uses an almond milk base and papadam instead of parpadelle noodles. If you have not yet been introduced to the glories of papadams, let me explain. Papadams are savory Indian wafers made from high-protein lentils called urad dal. Usually they are fried or dry roasted and come out like big crunchy "chips." In this soup, the thin wafers are added at the end of the cooking and soften up into delightful, high-protein "noodles." Creamy noodle heaven! *GF, soy-free
Entree #2 - Sita's Wedding Soup
It has been a while since we last made this creamy, rich, mildly spiced, liquid version of "Come on home to your Momma!" Last year a friend of mine, Sita, and her fiance asked me to make a cream of cauliflower and celery soup for their wedding. Hmm. Okay, I had never heard of such a soup, but it sounded like it had potential yumminess. It turned out that there was a reason I had never heard of "Cream of Cauliflower and Celery" - there aren't any recipes to be found out in internet land. Apparently we had stumbled into uncharted culinary territory. (Given the absolutely mind-numbing amount of food blogs out there, this is saying a lot.) I found recipes for cream of cauliflower, took them to my lab, experimented away, and Ba-Zinga!, discovered a way to make Cauliflower and Celery cream together into a truly "dang-that-is-good-soup" kind of way. *GF, soy-free
Entree #3 - Butter Bean Soup with Mushrooms and Wild Rice
When I was contemplating this week's menu, I actually wanted to make Wild Rice Pilaf. I also needed a third entree that fit into this week's kind of down-home theme. I had found this one a couple of months ago and had not gotten around to using it yet. Hmm, looking the recipe over, I saw that it calls for butter beans, portabella mushrooms, and wild rice (!). How perfect is that? Another plus is that this is a mildly spiced recipe that calls for green herbs, rather than whole spices and green chilis (fyi to those of y'all who are not friends of the chili heat). :-) *GF, soy-free
Brown Rice - $1/serving (1 cup)
Spring Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf - $3.50/serving (1 cup) I wanted to make a side grain that was interesting and hearty enough to pass as an entree should the need arise. I remembered that I had made a very tasty quinoa pilaf for you all once. Thus I began digging in the annals of Govinda's history to see what I could find. Sometime in 2015 I made a pilaf, after being inspired by one that I ate at the nearby Krishna Temple. But alas, there was no online recipe. This is another one of those dishes that has not yet caught fire in the online world, so there are just a few recipes out there to choose from. My version will have lots of beautiful veggies, plus lemon and fresh dill. Everything tastes better with lemon and dill (except ice cream, I suppose). *GF, soy-free
Sweet Potato Oven Fries w/ Vegan Comeback Sauce - $4/serving, $3 w/o sauce. One of my favorite food blog resources is Fat Free Vegan. Susan, the blogger and head chef, is based out of Jackson, MS. Apparently "comeback sauce" (maybe so named because diners keep coming back to figure out what the heck that tasty dressing was?) is a local specialty in Jackson restaurants. While the authentic Southern versions use a base of ketchup and mayonnaise, Susan's version ups the health quotient considerably by using tomato puree, spices, cashews and silken tofu. Such a down home dipping sauce seemed to be just begging to be served with fries. *GF, fries w/o sauce are soy-free
Chocolate Lava Cakes - $4/ea. Drum roll. Drum roll, please! The moment some of you have been waiting and waiting for - the return of the Lava Cakes! When these beauties first came into town, they instantly captured the heart of each person who was fortunate enough to pop one in their mouth. One of my massage therapists is so fond of these dark, rich cupcakes that I have to freeze some for her while she is out of town, or she may never forgive me! ;-) These are everything you could want in a chocolate cake and more. Check out the recipe linked above for the two super secret, super surprise ingredients. *GF
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