Out of curiosity I went back and looked up the last time I made the Mexican Black Bean Soup on this week's menu. It was just about 2 months ago, in the 3rd week of March. It is amazing to me how many things change in 8 weeks and how many things do not. Perhaps because I am a parent I am particularly aware of the passage of time - changing school schedules, clothes that used to fit "just a little while ago," debates of logic that continue to become more sophisticated. As a thin-framed, heat-loving, cold-avoiding person, I am keenly attuned to fluctuations in seasonal temperature. The nature lover in me notes the changes in my environment like the emergence of fuzzy leaf buds growing into full-bodied green leaves. I have been watching Nature paint on Her ever-changing canvas with the blossoms du jour - crocuses, redbuds, dogwoods, daffodils, irises, and at last poppies! Each new flower that blooms assures us that "Yes, Summer is coming!"
Then amidst the tide of time, there are those few things that just don't change. Not in essence at least. In the 3rd week of March I was writing to you about the advent and life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, considered by Vaishnavas to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna. Sri Chaitanya is credited with popularizing the kirtan movement, with advocating kirtan (singing meditation) as the prime means of self-realization for this age, thus initiating the modern bhakti-yoga movement. Those are all awesome things, but what exactly does it all have to do with the here and now, with the 3rd week of May? I was already planning to report to you all on the kirtan festival we had this weekend, so I found it ironic that exactly two months ago I had done a feature on Sri Caitanya and the very origins of kirtan.
Speaking of constants, kirtan is for me, a constant of life. For a few of us here in the Triangle, yesterday was a power-packed day, full of devotional music. For Saturday,May 21st, there was a 90% - 100% chance of rain predicted by all the leading weather forecasts. And yet it did. not. rain. at least not during the hours of 11 am - 6 pm. This is significant because my band mate, Steve, and I had spent the last several months lining up regional kirtan leaders to all come together in one (outdoor) location in order to share our voices in spiritual song. And if all that work would have been ruined by rain... well, even us meditators would have felt just a little bit grouchy about it. (Any of you out there who have ever organized an outdoor event or parade, back me up here. Do you not obsess over the weather report for the day of your event?) So, miracle of miracles, not only did the rain hold off, but the sun came out as well!
(photo Steve Cole)
It seemed to me that the more we chanted, the sunnier the sky became. (Yes, I admit, this is the romantic mystic in me talking. But then again I often see miracles and Divine Intervention within small things...) It is a verifiable fact though that the clouds did not fulfill on their promise of rain until well after 6 pm, when all the musical gear had been safely packed away, and I was back home again...(That just reeks of a favor from Providence) For those of you who couldn't be with us at this joyous event this time around, we will be posting photos and video snippets up on the Samadhi Facebook page.
After packing up from the lake, I headed over to the Carrboro Arts Center for a much-anticipated concert with K. Sridhar, a classical Indian musician. Before the concert, I didn't really contemplate that I would be witnessing something that hadn't really changed much for hundreds of years. K. Sridhar is an internationally recognized master of both North and South Indian musical styles.
He plays the Sarod, an amazingly beautiful and complex stringed (25 in all!) instrument. I wish I could speak with intelligence about the concert last night. I was tired and hungry and my left brain knew nothing about what it was was seeing and hearing.I felt as if I were watching an animated discussion in a foreign language.
Although it was clear that Sridharji and his tabla player were having a call and response musical dialogue, I, being unable to speak the language of classical music, could not really comprehend the discussion. Needless to say, I thought it best to just turn the keys over to my right brain for the night, which then had a grand time soaking in the sights and sounds of the concert, the likes of which has changed relatively little in the past few centuries. Here is a short 8-minute video of Sridhar playing (Trust me, 8 min. is short for a piece of Indian classical music, but that is another discussion entirely.) Finding your curiosity piqued? Luckily the Heart of Yoga School in Carrboro is hosting him in June for a back to back workshop and concert, so if you couldn't make Sridhar's acquaintance last night, you still have time.
The season is turning from spring to summer, and with it, the face of the landscape is changing, yet it is good to know that there are still some things that are timeless.
"Incredible performance last night by sarod master, K. Sridhar. On this night of the full moon, the magic and the love were palpable." - (photo & quote Catherine Brand)
This Week's Menu:
Entree #1 - Green Split Pea & Carrot Dal Sometimes you want something nice, something filling, something simple to eat - something you could take home to your Mama without having to worry if she would approve of it or not. This is the girl/boy next door soup, and what Mama could say "no" to a bowl of soup like this? It is creamy, nutritious, mildly spiced and colorful. It is also surprisingly filling, just perfect for the kind of cool, rainy days that we have been having. *GF, soy-free
Entree #2 - Mexican Black Bean Soup This soup has all the distinctive flavors of Mexican cooking - sweet and hot peppers, corn, tomatoes, frijoles negros, cilantro, and best of all, lime! Adding fresh lime on top of all those other succulent flavors, is like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds and pouring out onto the verdant landscape below, thus transforming the already beautiful scenery into something heavenly. There I go again, waxing poetic about my food... This is all to say - don't miss this dang good soup! *GF, soy-free
Entree #3 - Vegetable Lasagna Soup After making this soup a few times, I have to admit that I am thoroughly in love with it! Lasagna is one of the pinnacles of Italian/American cuisine. It is universally loved by children of all ages. It is also very expensive and labor-intensive, and thus, I hardly ever make it. This soup allows you to have the flavor profile of lasagna in a form that is about 1000 times simpler to create. The fresh veggies, the Italian-herbed tomato sauce, the GF noodles, the beans for extra protein, all ensure our taste buds that they have indeed died and gone to Italian food heaven. *GF, soy-free
Quinoa Verde - $3/serving (1 cup) No one wears green like quinoa! In this dish spinach and cilantro team up to give a strong dash of flavor to this crazy-healthy recipe. Between the Popeye-power of spinach's iron content and the complete protein profile of quinoa, your body will be jumping for joy after eating this quinoa. *GF, soy-free
Savory Corn & Pepper Muffins -$2/ea. or 3/$5. These are the most delicious, chock-full-of- real-veggies, melt-in-your-mouth, Southwestern corn muffins you ever had. Although they are so tasty that they pair with just about anything, these little corn muffins pair best with the Mexican black bean soup. The corn, the peppers, the cilantro! ... I think I hear the desert calling me for dinner. *GF, soy-free
Banana Bread - $6/lb. Banana bread, oh sweet banana bread, why has it been so long since we made you last? Never fear! The bread is back, and this ain't no fluffy and white sugar kind of loaf. No way. This bread is crazy healthy. The "flour" part of it is made up of equal parts rice flour, ground almonds, and ground oats. You really wouldn't know that it has so much good nutrition in it because it tastes as sweet and moist as if Grandmama herself had just taken it out of the oven. *soy-free