Presence of the Every-Day Warrior

The Every-Day Warrior asks not how many are the enemy, but where they are present.

For so many of us, these days have become shadowy and murky,  though the spirit of  others’ light and  joy seems to be everywhere but within us.  A vast gulf separates what we see apart from ourselves and what lies within us.  We know where the enemy resides in the frontless battles being waged in our minds and we ask ourselves  How is it that though we promise ourselves to be uplifted by the spirit of the days, there comes a moment when we buckle and find ourselves in retreat?

Take heart.  Take a moment.  Be Mindful and Present.

For in the end, as Every-Day Warriors  . . .

We have learned that in returning and  rest we are  comforted and safe.

In quietness and confidence we are replenished and strengthened.

And when we allow ourselves to be lifted unto the presence of our Creator we can be still, and know.

Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer

A Treasured Memory

Interesting that I would think of this story, actually a metaphor, at Christmastime, because, except for giblet gravy, liver was not a part of our family tradition and neither was Eggplant, for that matter.  It’s just, well, about power and our struggle to create some illusion that we have it.  In the day before yesterday’s posting, it was about challenging traditions, roles, expectations, and what meaning we can create and celebrate from our own experiences.  Rejecting the physiologically repugnant on the one hand, and opening our minds to the process of acquired tastes.

The recipe in this posting is really quite wonderful and I invite you to either have a go at making your own or at least acquiring a jar at a specialty store.

The Difference Between Liver and Eggplant.

 From “The Jelly Chronicles”, 2011.
I read an article about liver.  Do you know that when it comes to the number one detested food around Liver is right up there at the top.  There are also various reasons why people don’t like liver.  Usually it’s because liver makes your stomach turn.  One bite makes you gag and if you are forced to swallow because your mom threatened to make you eat it for breakfast, it becomes a  lethal projectile.

My mom fried liver and onions like this.  Dredge in flour, fry it in bacon grease along with a bunch of onions and serve it up with broccoli.   We lived in Baldwin Park the first time Mom served up liver.  It was the mother of all power struggles as I recall.  When I gagged  up the first bite my mom’s face got all red and screwed up. I knew I was in for a rough night.  Take another bite, toss it up, how many times, I just don’t know.  She stood over me.  Arms crossed, a scowl.   Waiting.  Foot tapping. I think I won that round because  Mom told me that if I didn’t eat my liver I could jolly well see how I’d like it for breakfast. Win by default, for a minute. At breakfast everyone else had oatmeal.  The liver standoff between my mother and me entered round 2.  I got my stubborn streak from my mother.  No mas.

Now, the first time my mother served eggplant was when we lived in the old Rhinacle Place out near the rifle range and west of Wonacott’s Dairy.  Dad had plowed the area behind the house and created a garden for Mom.  I know she grew lots of vegetables that year and in a sense that garden was her refuge and salvation.  Zucchini, squash, tomatoes, eggplant.    Eggplant.  What a curiosity for a young girl.  That mysterious and murkey color, the shape.  The way it stood out to my eye compared to the rest.  

Actually, it wasn’t bad. Mom had dredged it in flour and fried it in bacon grease just like chicken, cube steak, and liver.  Salt and pepper. For a 3rd grader it was up there with green beans, broccoli, and brussles sprouts in the take it, hide it, or leave it category.  

Liver.  Never developed a liking to it.  Over the years it became even more revolting to me.  All I had to do was just imagine sitting down to a plate of it and my stomach would do back flips.  It was the apex of martyrdom each time I would prepare liver and onions for my first husband.  Oh what leverage I could reap from that.  Those who like liver don’t get it in the same way that I don’t get it that anyone could eat that stuff.  One time a liver loving family member thought she would experiment with this theory and she snuck chunks of  it into what would have been a lovely shared family meal.  Guess what. 

So.  Eggplant.  Ever constant.  A seductive presence in Gordon Headly’s produce section of Safeway.  Fast forward.  An Italian feast.  Maybe my late 20s.  And there, right there, Eggplant Parmagian.  Synapses firing, a never consumated love rekindled in that moment.  Each slice wrapped in its own, deep purple eloquence, whispering from beneath that marinara and mozzerella.  Dredged in bread crumbs and egg, fried in Olive Oil.   

Eggplant and tomatoes are members of the same family.   First cousins.   In Europe the tomato was once thought to be poisonous and eggplant was once known as “Mad Apple” all because of a superstitious belief that eggplant made you crazy.  I guess I might have drawn the same conclusion knowing that eggplant is associated with the Deadly Nightshade family. Belladonna is of the Deadly Nightshade family. The English are responsible for the name Eggplant because  the variety grown in that  region was eggshaped.  The original name is Abergine.  That’s what the French call it, while the Italians refer to eggplant as Melanzana.  We thank the Spanish for introducing tomatoes and eggplant to the Americas.

I love eggplant.  It’s truly one of those acquired tastes that either comes on gradually or, as in my case, suddenly and thoroughly.  There’s a bajillian ways to prepare and serve eggplant and I love them all.  Rattatouille, Stuffed Eggplant (with ricotta filling), Eggplant Pizza (North End, Boston).  Eggplant Chutney. 

Liver.  You love it or hate it.  Never an acquired taste.  It’s ugly and slithery.  It comes from the family of organ meat.  A bad neighborhood at best.  No matter how you cook it, it’s still liver.  You can alienate family members if you sneak it in a perfectly wholesome stew. Fool me once.

Eggplant.  A romance of history, comes from a reputable family with a distinguished pedigree.  Eggplant invites you to expand your culinary world.  Even if you do not care for Eggplant, it is still such a pretty enhancement in your garden or in the bounty of market produce. 

And so.  Challenge your imagination and try this recipe for Eggplant Chutney.  You just might fall in love!

Eggplant Chutney

1 Eggplant cut into 1″ cubes.  Do NOT peel.
1/2 cup diced sundried tomatoes.
2 tsp kosher salt.
1TBS. Herbs Provence.
1 TBS cloves.
1 TBS mustard.
1 TSP mustard seed.
3 Cups Granulated Sugar.
1 3/4 Cups red wine.
1/4 Cup red wine vinegar.

Fire up your canner to a rolling boil.
Sterilize your 1/2 pint jars in the canner.

Put all your ingredients in a large stainless steel pot.
Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat.
Boil gently uncovered about 25 minutes.

Remove hot jars from the canner and ladle chutney into them to within 1/2 inch of the top.
Seal with sterile lids and secure the rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes, depending on the elevation.

When the process is finished, turn off the heat and remove the lid from the canner.

Allow the jars to remain in the canner for an additional 5 minutes.
Lift jars out of the canner and transfer to a towel covered surface.

Allow jars to cool, undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Check the seals.  The lids should curve down.

Serve with beef or lamb.  OR, over warm brie. 

Cheers!

Mind Your Good Tidings

According to my kids’ Christmas lists, they think this parenting gig pays pretty well.   SarcasticMommy@sarcasticmommy4

Whoa.  The energy and momentum pushing toward THE day that lies ahead are gaining strength, aren’t they?

At this point, if we take our eye off the ball, Good Tidings of Joy could morph into a Joyless, emotions driven Tidal Wave of Overwhelming Proportions.

Just a few reminders, ok?

Take it easy.  Do a mindful moment to center yourself.

No good decisions or the best of gestures ever arose out of a cluttered or stressed mindset.

Be alert to emotions driven pressure to spend beyond the budget.

Guilt is the biggest culprit in driving overreach, overdoing, overspending, or overindulging.  It comes in the form of internal messages that convince you that unless you buy the $200.00 sneakers or the latest x-box gadgets  for your kid, you will forever be fallen from favor.

Hold fast!  You can do this.  Think ahead to January 15th when the credit card bills arrive.  Ask yourself, “Is overspending, overdoing, and overindulging the example I want to set for my children?”

Keep moving but not overly so.  Tend to traditions, and not to the extent that you are a slave to them.

Enjoy this day.  See you tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

A Recipe for A Saucy Holiday

The Season of Light

What a wonderful time of year we have before us. As we welcomed family and friends to share a Thanksgiving feast we have before us the days of preparation, anticipation, and expectation. Nostalgia for past warm and lovely holiday experiences raise within us a sense of comfort and connectedness as ancient traditions are upheld and new practices are adopted to enhance our fulfillment of joy and light

A Sweet and Tart Holiday

How often have you promised yourself that “this year will be different”? With all that Joy and Expectation, the downside is that in spite of our best of intentions, strong emotions and desire to please with perfection often get the better of us. We spend too much, consume too much, and get sucked into friction and tension when expectations go unmet. By January 5th we are exhausted, broke, a few pounds heavier, and kicking ourselves for falling victim to unrealistic expectations.

This year, be daring. Think outside the giftwrapping. Be saucy, as in the Cranberry sort. Be Tart, as in setting limits and holding to them. Be Sweet, as in how you are among family and friends, just so to balance your newly found saucy side. Be a bit Nutty. I add walnuts to my Cranberry Sauce, just because I like them. I make the pieces large enough so that if you don’t like them you can just eat around them. Add your apples, limes, lemons, and oranges. Bring out the bitter-sweetness of Holidays Past. Be spicy. Cloves, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg contain properties that can relieve stress, support digestive functioning, and may improve ability to focus and enhance creativity. Take a mindful moment to absorb, reflect, and relax in the presence of these olfactory delights. And finally, when you go shopping for the ingredients for your saucy feast, go ahead an park your car farther away than normally from the entrance to the market. Get a hitch in your step as you walk into the store and parade up and down the aisles.  Active muscles and exercise help to keep the holiday boogey man away.

It’s the Season of Light: Lighten Up!

  • Play the music that arouses your spirits.
  • Dance in the Kitchen.
  • Decorate at will…or Not!
  • Allow for dust.
  • So your best serving dish is chipped. Big deal.
  • Wear jeans to dinner.
  • Invite positive elements into your gatherings!

Enjoy the Days Ahead

May Peace be a Welcome Guest in Your Home.

Cranberry Sauce

The humble Cranberry is one of the most powerfully beneficial enhancement to our diet, provided you aren’t allergic.  Good for the digestive tract, urinary tract, and contain copious amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.  Inflammation contributes to crankiness, and who needs more crankiness this time of year?

All you have to do is follow the directions on the fresh Cranberry package. Then add the following:

Whole Small Lemon

Whole Lime

Half Orange

Half Granny Smith Apple

Chop the fruit, skin and all.

Half cup chopped nuts 

Cloves

Nutmeg

Cinnamon 

Simmer a couple of minutes. 

Chill. No, really, Chill!

It’s a good idea to make this the night before.