This November’s kitchen

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This November morning woke up with a cup of coffee and a desire. A slow dry wind breezes through the kitchen’s back door. In the oven a cheesecake awaits its baking time. It might be a long one. A yogurt dough aspiring to be a pâte brisée is in for disappointment – I forgot the pre-bake step. Doughy it will remain. Yogurt dough, quark made at home, and a sugar substitute serve this morning’s baking. The mayhem of a low carb lifestyle.

But, the trace of freshly ground spices gathers together the tasks of this morning. Welcoming all. It’s supper’s lamb marinating in a tender Nigel Slater recipe. This one, flop proof. The lamb, only enough for two of us, awaits a long and slow cooking this afternoon. It marries the day, the heat, and the dryness – the willingness to gift the moment.

The oven’s clock’s beep calls hands to pause the flow of words, to straighten the apron, and test the wobbly cake. Memory hints to switch the oven off and leave the cake in for some time. I trust the memory. But, I’m not yet trusting myself to share the ingredients, the instructions, and the recipe. I’ll stick to the notes, allow the desire, and drink another cup of coffee.

new growth

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I tended the neglected vegetable patch last week. Still wrapped in the aftermath of a summer’s holy days, I found home clay-cold, to-do lists long, and knuckle-down difficult. When the sun offered a sudden noon warmth my winter cold body took the blessing. The sweet scent of the jasmine unstifled the air as I dug into the soil, bare hands uprooting the dry and the neglect, open to receive.

Too many times before, and even more so of late, the tasks of hands tending, unearth heart and mind – yearning and seeking for a rhythm of life.  I found some seedlings waving small new leaves. How did they survive? Echoes of dreams, ideas, reflections … sown and watered …  in the wait of the growth it is easy for distractions to take over, for dryness and neglect to settle in … but somewhere, somehow, some do survive.

I raked the soil and removed stones, pieces of bark, and dead wood. I watered the dryness earth and planted again the seedlings – their small new leaves a healthy green. I hope for another chance, another bearable growth. I think about the distractions and the discomfort caused, and I’m grateful for the discomfort – it offers a new beginning.

I saw new growth on old wood. The place where the old growth ended and the new growth began left noticeable scars. A sealed past awakened for a tomorrow … and I’m grateful for the itchy scar, the healing dailiness of new beginnings.

A life in a day.

This April’s kitchen

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From scratch cooking ups happen in this kitchen – consciously and gingerly – whether or no it’s February, March, April. ‘From scratch’ strikes one as down to earth, healthy, this is the (only way) to do the self-sufficient-kitchen-cooking-living-it-thing … a lost art … more often than not drifting towards ‘I’m a bit better than the person next door’- thoughts…

… oops, be careful, because the person next door might be closer than you think … my husband (a side by side companion in the kitchen) buys tarragon from the store while I take a walk in the garden and pick some leaves from the scraggly growing herb; a recipe calls for tahini, he writes the (missing) ingredient on the blackboard shopping list while I open a cupboard promising sesame seeds and olive oil; he lingers and browses the array of condiment bottles found on the shelves in the food stores while I linger and browse through cook books and make up-to-scratch bottles of pure goodness condiments…

… alas, both he and I know – that life is more than from scratch or not from scratch, about this way or that way … both and is good! And allows me to enjoy both his cooking and my from-scratchings.

… my mouth watered … my hands itched …  so, whether or no, this April brought forth Adam’s Cafe’s North African Pickles, Nonna’s plum and Cognac mostarda, Marmellata di mele cotogne …  while my husband shook his head.

Dear reader, do you have any favorite from scratch foods to share? Or do you rely on the “both and” way of life in the kitchen?

Tidings

A day, not long ago, I read

… I chose not to get my driver’s license … I walk every where. In walking I find freedom and creativity. Sometimes I find peace. I live in my head – except when I walk … I am not walking away from my head; I’m walking through the disconnect between head and body … I walk because I have to …

… and I felt the brushing of a slight disconnect between head and body … and wondered, am I thrown off-balance?

On that same not long ago day, I read

If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.

~ Lin Yutang

And I thought of past experiences and the future open full with possibilities… and wondered, am I conscious of this day?

Two seemingly disconnected readings. But a time glimpse of the past captured life’s ebb and flow; a seesawing between the easy and relaxed known, and the hard and excited unknown. The epitomes of my soul?

And I feel a brushing, a connect between head and body, a balance … and I hope to be able to hold gratefully, but also lightly; to be able to embrace but also let go… this new given moment.

~ s.s

1-7 September 2014

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It is Zero Waste Week in parts of our world. And I’m staring at tonight’s supper-to-be: frozen chicken – 12 pieces neatly nestled in a foam insulated plastic wrapped tray. The save! value for money! only at this price! stickers catch my eyes, and I know like so many yesterdays’ suppers that it’s not possible to reuse or recycle this warped wrapping. And I know that this supper’s left-over packaging is again going to find its way to Marie Louise, our nearest landfill site.

I could’ve refused the value pack, I could’ve reduced the needed want for ease, I could’ve decided not to eat chicken… I could stop defending comfort.

when a sleepiness of soul makes us value our comfort above all else and ensures that we do not have to confront all this noise*  …

… fleeting thoughts fend while I’m still staring at the frosted pieces. Do I need this moment to learn to abandon what has become comfortable?

And all this noise for chicken… for one meal.

A taste perhaps of a new piecemeal happening.

And I know a peace meal needs no fuss about what’s on the table – that there’s far more to my innermost than the food I eat.  And I meet this sleepiness of soul – the one that hesitates to confront noise, the one that makes me value my comfort… and I see the poverty hiding in wealth wasted.

  When we use things in a throwaway manner, we too, are somehow thrown away. We invite disregard. For convenience and speed we let go of living moments that are our precious life. We hurry towards a deadline instead of savoring a lifeline.  Could we enjoy a cup and really drink from it? Could we peacefully clear our tables and our minds? Could we linger with ordinary objects and discover the prayer in them? Objects in themselves have integrity. We seem to think so when we send them in the mail – Handle with Care – our packages say. Could we learn to do so daily during the little distances that things are handled and moved from here to there? Could we move with care, touch with care, and ever so slowly become care-full? **

Thoughts continue to fleet and fend… and I gather myself together for the uncomfortable.

 

* Robert Sardello, Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness

** Gunilla Norris, Simple Ways

 

Of learning

Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business…

… Francis Bacon, a man of many a written word, professed. And I confess: If learning is the trap, then I am the mouse – and the learning process – well, that is the bait.

The words serve me well. A steady and rhythmic meditation – from ignorance to competence – fires the need in my hearth. Practicing what I’ve learned, until it matures into a habit, livens and lightens me. Simply put, I do not seek to become the expert –  it is the journey that matters.

Inviting me lately – cheese-making.

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The bait was there … and a mouse needed

 

And you, dear reader, where do you see yourself on this learning journey? Or, what delights you?

 

the (not so) simple life

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a simple home-made cheese – paneer

 

Could we be more careful and aware of the world and ourselves, we would without a doubt find that we live in a holy environment, and that the meaning of our lives can be found and experienced exactly where we are.

~ Gunilla Norris

Living simply – a tag for a few scroll-down writings. A simple tag nagging jumbled thoughts to take a (not so) simple stance.

My father’s father was a subsistence farmer; his livelihood – growing food for the family; his lifestyle – simple, limited, and wanting(?) His living happened not by choice and not by a love for farming; but it happened by need and by a great suffering. His life happened because of a great love for his family.

Today, some of me, or is it all of me? needs his simple, limited and wanting-needs lifestyle. Today, self-sufficiency – a word describing his life, sets a world-wide trend. And today, for me, to just think about new ways of living is not enough. I must want. I must love. I must choose. I choose to live myself into new ways of thinking.

The tagging is easy, the living is not.