I want to be perfectly honest with you all, as that is just the easiest way to be - this is late getting out to you because 1) I had a very busy weekend that included 3 kirtans and 2) I have discovered the BBC Sherlock Holmes series on Netflix. All the profound and appreciative things I was crafting in my mind to say to all the fathers out there were pushed completely aside by the mystery of the Black Lotus Crime Ring...
I definitely wanted to honor and give credit to all the fathers out there. I especially wanted to say a few words about my fathers. I am very very blessed to have several protective, watchful, wise fathers in my life. I have my blood father who raised me and is still immensely present in my life and the life of my son. I have my spiritual father who came into my life 21 years ago. He is every bit as resourceful, protective (or downright vigilant), caring, nurturing, and doggone patient (actually way more patient) as my birth father. I have my bandmate, Papa K, who doesn't say much in the way of expressing his fatherly feelings, preferring to keep things on the level of friendly equals by joking and poking fun. However, when and if my safety should ever be called into question, Papa K has made it clear that he has got my back. And let me tell you, when you have someone as large as he is on your side, it feels pretty reassuring.
And yet, in the midst of all this celebration, I am aware that there are many in my close circle of friends and family who don't have the same kinds of fathers that I am blessed with. Let me just say that this issue of people having non-present fathers hits extremely close to home for me. For a variety of reasons, it is much more common for someone to have an estranged relationship with a father than with a mother. I really couldn't help but wonder if this unfortunate fact has something to do with the reason why there is dramatically less hype around Father's Day than there is around Mother's Day.
I saw a church sign yesterday that read "God bless all those who are fathers to their children." I really liked that message because, like all good signs, it could be read in two ways. What if the word "father" were not just a noun, but a verb? I liked to think that God would have special blessings upon those men who actively participated in providing for, protecting, guiding, and lovingly shaping the children in their lives, whether they were biologically related or not. Becoming a father is not a one-time biological sperm donor experience, rather it is a day to day practice in that beautiful and terrifying art of surrender. For those of you who have a few minutes for a quick morning video, here is a wonderfully keeping-it-real kind of message from a new father about how he learned to set aside his fear and self-judgement and just do the "next thing."
For those of you gents out there who are engaging in the day to day act of fathering,God bless you. Really. The work you are doing is invaluable. For those of you for whom "father" is a noun, who struggle with turning that word into a verb with daily application, try just taking one step. Life is a string of moments of "next things," and sometimes we can get so much more out of life when we simply set self-judgement aside and just do the next thing. Have a beautiful small-stepping kind of day!
Entree #1 - Sprouted Bean Usal This dish is back by popular demand. Really it was just my demand. I was remembering this dish, which is typically eaten as a breakfast food in the Indian state of Maharastra. Being that it is summer time, it also seems reasonable to cook lighter meals, and what could be lighter (bean-wise) than sprouted beans? The last time we made this, I had sprouted a mix of beans a few days before cooking. It was so satisfying to grow my own little sprouts, knowing that the finished Usal would be bursting with nutrition and life from those little guys. Bean sprouts are delicious by themselves, so just imagine how when you lightly cook and marinate them in a spicy, coconuty, tomatoey gravy, the deliciousness factor rises to epic proportions! *GF, soy-free
Entree #2 - Greek Black-Eyed Beans I have liked each one of the recipes that I have tried from The Greek Vegan. I have liked them so much that Greek cuisine is quickly climbing to the top of my culinary fav-o-meter. Indian is still tops, followed by Moroccan, and I think Greek food is now my third favorite. Oh poor Mexican food! Well, it is really a toss-up between them for third place... Whereas my two favorite cuisines are in first and second place on account of their masterful use of spices, the excellent flavor of Greek food comes from the superior quality of their produce, augmented by simple, yet well-placed, fresh herbs. This recipe is no exception to the simple elegance of Greek cuisine, gaining its robust flavor from the earthiness of the black-eyed beans, the succulence of the celery, and the freshness of thyme and oregano. *GF, soy-free
Entree #3 - Gigantes Plaki I hate to play favorites... and yet, of all the Greek entrees I have previously made, this one is my favorite. It combines a tantalizing mix of fresh flavors like tomato, celery, parsley, and mint with the heartiest, creamiest, giant white lima beans you have ever met. All those alluring ingredients are slow-cooked together in the oven into a roasted perfection. For all you Southern mamas out there, you may find that, come summer picnic time, these Greek beauties give your regular baked beans a tough run for their money. *GF, soy-free
Spanakorizo (Spinach Rice) - $3/serving (1 cup) A Greek version of Arroz Verde, Spanakorizo combines the fresh flavor of spinach with dill, mint, and oregano. :-0! How tasty can you possibly get? Made with brown rice, this dish pairs delightfully with the baked beans. *GF, soy-free
Spanakorizo (Spinach Rice) - $4/serving, 2 for $7. What is not to like about potatoes? Well besides their glycemic index... Other than that, potatoes, especially ones flavored with olive oil, lemons, and fresh herbs are pretty universally loved. And besides, how could you say 'no' to a face like these fries have? *GF, soy-free
Greek Beet Salad - $6/lb. Out of all the salads we could make this week, I was eager to come back to this roasted beet extravaganza. It is both sweet and savory, as well as light and filling, all at the same time. Don't miss this salad. It is a testament to the magic that occurs when olive oil, vinegar and fresh herbs all team up.*GF, soy-free
Blackberry Cornmeal Muffins - $3/ea., 2 for $5. I was looking around the Minimalist Baker, one of my favorite go-to sites, for a new and exciting dessert. There were so many that I now officially have a back-log of beautiful, healthy-ish, vegan desserts to try. So many recipes, so little time... Being as it is summer, and being as berries are in abundance at this time of year, I really wanted to find a good berry recipe. Enter these Blackberry Muffins... berries - check, muffins - always a check, cornmeal - a major check for me. I suspect these little beauties will be fantastic for breakfast (if they make it that long), as well as for a dessert. *GF, soy-free