CAST YOUR VOTE

August 15, 2018

Several years ago, well four to be exact, I was in the process of reading the book Julie and Julia. It was about Julie Powell’s efforts to cook her way through Julia Child’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” My goal at the time was to cook my way through the newly released cookbook by Alex Guarnaschelli. That did not go so well for a number of reasons.

This morning I was reminded it was Julia Child Birthday and it got me thinking how fun it would be to pick a Vegan cookbook and work my way through it. Unlike most people, I do not read cookbooks for the recipes. I read them for the wisdom and the spiritual lessons they offer. So now I am reviewing a list of vegan cookbooks. Not sure which one I will choose yet. If you have a recommendation from the list below, please share your comments or if you know of one I should definitely consider let me know about that cookbook as well.

Unlike Julia Powell, I am not setting a time limit, although my kitchen is not much better than the one she appeared to have in the movie. So what will I learn? Perhaps I will learn lessons about timelessness, senses, simplicity, integrity, adventure, and technique. Time will only tell.

Cookbooks under consideration are:

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PEACHY KEEN

August 9, 2018

I almost missed this, but August is National Peach Month. I have always loved peaches, but now I have a greater understanding of why. Both in China and Japan the peach is associated with immortality and a long life. It is one of the “Three Blessed Fruits” in Buddhism and symbolizes longevity, so eating peaches may help me live longer.

That is just one reason I love peaches now. However, having lived in Georgia for several years, I came to love the state fruit. There is nothing like a good Georgia peach. I used to love making peach pies, but hated peeling peaches until I discovered the Pampered Chef serrated peeler, which makes peeling peaches so easy.

This week I thought I would share a few of my favorite Pampered Chef peach recipes and a few of my new favorite vegan peach recipes. Let me know which ones are your favorites.

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So it has been a complete week now of vegan eating and unlike my previous times of eating vegetarian, we have found ourselves going through some changes I was not anticipating. Yes, menu planning is taking more time as I realize how much of our previous meal plan was meat, cheese and egg dependent. I have also come to realize how, with my hectic schedule, I had become dependent on 30 or less minute meals. This week I have learned to slow down, breathe, and take time to think things through.

Interestingly, one day this week I was reminded to take time to do nothing. It was during that “do nothing” time that I began to gain insights into how this change was going to affect every aspect of my life. Zoe who is normally minimally engaged in meal prep and planning, has begun helping me, which is an awesome surprise. The other day she helped me grate potatoes for potato pancakes and realized just how much time I sometimes put into meal preparation.

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OUR VEGAN JOURNEY

July 25, 2018

Over the last 17 years, we have been through numerous dietary shifts in our life, including several years of vegetarian eating until Zoe went through chemo and then all she craved was meat. So back we came to the land of the meat eaters. We have been talking about returning to a vegetarian diet for a while, but after watching a documentary Forks Over Knives, we decided it was healthiest for us and our desire to lose weight and eventually be able to come off all our medication to go vegan.

It’s been a slow journey, but like with anything we do, when we decide to do it, we just do it. So the past few days we have eaten as much of what we had that needed to be gotten rid of.

This morning, we started this next phase of our journey. It is not just about changing what we buy, how we prepare it, what we eat, but an inward journey to learn more about ourselves, think about what these new choices are doing for us and how much our life is going to change

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PICNIC PARABLE

July 18, 2018

July is National Picnic Month. It is a month to celebrate and share time with family and friends. As I goofed around to see if I could find any spiritual writings about God and Picnics, I stumbled upon this song called God Shuffled His Feet by Crash Test Dummies.

After seven days
He was quite tired, so God said:
“Let there be a day
Just for picnics, with wine and bread.”
He gathered up some people He had made,
Created blankets and laid back in the shade.

What if God’s idea of honoring the Sabbath was to gather together with loved ones and have a picnic. What if we took a day each week, month, or year, to rest and gather with friends to picnic with wine and bread.

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BLUEBERRY BLESSINGS

July 11, 2018

I woke up this morning to realize that yesterday was National Pick a Blueberry Day and so not surprisingly, today is National Blueberry Muffin day.  While I like blueberries, they take fourth place in my list of berry favorites (raspberry, blackberry, strawberry and then blueberry. Yet my favorite way to eat them has always been in muffins.

What I have found fascinating about blueberries is the various spiritual and medicinal uses and meanings. For example, blueberries contain anthocyanin, which is good for eyesight and they contain significant quantities of both antibacterial and antiviral compounds and have a reputation in northern Europe of fighting infections. They may also help protect against heart disease. Native Americans believed that the five-pointed start on the top of the berry was a sign that they were sent by the Great Spirit to feed children and never allow them to go hungry.

Making the perfect muffin is fairly simple, it just calls for one to be patient and nor rush the process. For example, it is best to combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ones in another. Before combining them, most baker sources I went to suggested you make a well in the dry ingredients, similar to what you do when making fresh pasta, and slowly add the wet ingredients

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Every season of the year is filled with opportunities to gather with friends and share a meal. This is true across the world. Summer is filled with opportunities to gather and barbecue. The fourth of July, in the US, is the most popular holiday for barbecuing followed by Memorial and Labor days. Barbecuing is one of those ways of cooking which transcend social and political classes. There is a history of barbecuing at the White House for example, since Thomas Jefferson. Each President has had their own favorite. For example, Lyndon B Johnson was a lover of Texas style barbecued ribs. The most popular flavors of barbecue sauce are hickory, mesquite, honey and spicy hot.

While making plans for these holiday get togethers one is probably thinking most about who to invite, what proteins to make and what beverage and vegetable to pair with them. Rarely, do we think about how spiritually rich these gatherings are. In South Africa, for example, these gatherings are braai and they are more then just a chance to gather and barbecue, they are just to celebrate cultural and spiritual traditions. Gathering with others is about more than cooking and creating memories. It is about honoring the feast, the friends, and the ways foods and wines pair up with each other. It’s about understanding how these pairings brings out the best in conversation and camaraderie for those gathered. There is a richening of community when we gather and share a meal together.

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NATIONAL ICED TEA MONTH

June 27, 2018

 

This time of year, well anytime of year, I enjoy sipping on a cup of tea. On those cold days, I love sipping on a hot cup of tea and feeling the heat from the cup warm me up inside and out. During the summer, however, I look forward to a tall cup of iced tea. Maybe that is why June was chosen as National Iced Tea Month.

A friend of mine once told me that iced tea was created by accident at the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair. It seems a vendor was trying to sell hot tea on a hot day. People wanted something cool, not hot, so he iced it down and it became a hit. Other food scholars suggest that people were writing about iced tea in cookbooks dating back to 1842. Regardless of how it came to be, it is now something people around the world enjoy drinking on hot summer days.

How we prepare it can differ from person to person. For example, my wife loves her iced tea two ways. One already prepared and prepackaged in bottles (and yes there is a specific brand). The other is when I put her iced tea mix in our Family Size Quick Stir Pitcher and stir it up for her. I on the other hand, go back to what I call real tea (actual leaves) and let it brew and then chill and serve over ice. Most recently I have begun using our new Cold Brew Pitcher to make batches of cold brew tea which while it takes a bit longer tastes amazing and keeps me going back for more.

Our different ways of “preparing” tea remind me of how some people want their relationships with their Higher Power to develop. Some just want to have a conversation with their Higher Power and think it is done, kind of like the Quick Stir approach. Others seem to have more of a Cold Brew approach. They realize that any phase of their journey takes time and they must be patient while everything is revealed and unfolded.

There are times in our lives where the answers to our prayers will come to us instantaneously. However, there are other times where we must be patient, loving and gentle with ourselves as we

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FONDUE, ME AND YOU

December 14, 2017

It has been a few years since I have written about fondue, but given that this is National Fondue month, it is a good time to reflect on Fondue again. Fondue is one of those foods which has varied in its popularity over time. However, in some cultures, like Switzerland, fondue is a sacred food. For one very simple reason. It is a meal you can share with people you love. There are some spiritual values in fondue, which are difficult to find in other types of meals.

Fondue is about more than people gathering around a table to share a meal. Fondue is a communal dish. Each and every person gathered around the table is connecting with each other every time they dip something into the fondue pot. It is not so important what is in the fondue pot. It can be cheese, chocolate, or some other form of awesomeness. Nor does it matter what one is dipping into the fondue pot. It could be cheese, berries, or some other delicious dipper. It is the process of sharing a pool into which we all enter and engage.

Eating fondue reminds us to slow down and appreciate time with each other. Especially in this season, we are busy. Eating fondue is a time to sit down, share a homemade meal, sit, talk, and share an experience. Eating fondue allows us to share food and conversation with those we love.

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DO YOU

December 10, 2017

This has been a fast-paced and hectic week for me. I was having a hard time quieting my brain enough to get inspired. I was torn between reflecting on an ingredient or a product. This morning, I woke up to a reminder on Facebook of a blog I wrote three years ago today. As I reread it, I laughed as it fits perfectly with our spiritual practice this month — you. I took this as a sign to share my thoughts again.

It has been a while since I posted here, while I have been resting, healing, and preparing for the next round of surgery. However, I was reminded of something last night that resonated with my soul and that is in all things to do you. I was watching a special episode of Chopped (no surprise to those who read this blog often) and Katie Lee, one of the competitors, was surprised that she won. In reflecting on it, she talked about how she thought she had won because she had stayed true to who she was. Katie is best known for her comfort foods and that is what she cooked all three courses, foods filled with memories of growing up and cooking with her grandmother and mother. She gave the judges her on a plate.

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