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We ought to dance with rapture that we might be alive… and part of the living, incarnate cosmos.

~D.H. Lawrence

The following video fills me with unabashed joy.

More on the awesome dancer above, may be found here: Dergin Tokmak

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.

~Friedrich Nietzsche

The Nutters are back to their unruly antics — trying to boss me around, wrecking havoc, complaining about my lack of archival regularity, questioning my eating habits, mocking my vast spiritual insights,  making idle demands and threats, and being general (although loveable) nuisances.

Skattur's Totem

When my circus settles down I will exact my revenge. 

Oh, by the way, we have a website under construction, but I’ll be posting about all that soon enough.  Eventually, the SoKaN part of this blog will be moving over there.  More on that coming soon!

 Through a strange series of events I recently acquired a live-in indentured servant.  That may sound like a wonderful thing, and surely it is; however, we’re both still coming to terms with the change.   While I am adapting to the loss of my quiet solitude and independence, she is adjusting to eating (and usually preparing) the vegetarian menu. 

Earlier this week she baked vegan pumpkin cupcakes at my request.  They were so good that she baked another batch a couple days later to share with her friends.

 “I just won’t tell anyone they’re vegan.”  She said. 

I was bewildered by that statement, so I asked, “Why not tell people?”

“Because they won’t understand.”

“What’s not to understand?”

“Vegan sounds healthy, and people don’t think health food tastes good.”

“You need to tell everyone they’re vegan to eliminate that ridiculous misconception.”

“Ok, I’ll tell them after they eat it.”

This exchange left me thinking about culture and the role of language and perception in food taste.

First, why would the terms “healthy” or “vegan” automatically be perceived as something that doesn’t taste good?

Second, when I think “cupcakes,” I don’t think “health food,” vegan or not.  Despite the mass quantity of sugar, I suppose vegan pumpkin cupcakes do have relative health merits – vitamins A, E, C & K to name a few. Plus pumpkin is a pretty good source of iron. Still, it is a cupcake! Cupcakes are usually considered “junk food.”

Finally, on a related note, why would something that stays “fresh” in a box on a grocery store shelf for months (e.g., Twinkies) be perceived as food at all?  (Hint: an annual $10,000,000,000 food marketing machine.)

Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places.

—Leonardo Da Vinci

A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.

—Leo Tolstoy

Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.

—Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

 

******

To all I haven’t scared off with the above quotes,

Welcome to the latest adventure in my vegetarian escapades: broccoli sprouts! 

Broccoli is good for you.   We all know that.  It contains a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane, which helps the liver detoxify carcinogens and other funky stuff that floats around in your body, wrecking havoc on the system.  What you may not know is that broccoli sprouts contain 10-100 times the amount of this compound than mature broccoli.  Thus, eating one ounce of broccoli sprouts is roughly the equivalent of eating a pound and a half of broccoli.  Who knew?   

Here’s the weird thing about broccoli sprouts: They taste nothing like broccoli and they burn. Horseradish is one of their cruciferous cousins. I didn’t know this before hand and I was alarmed by the fire that ignited in my mouth and throat when I began gobbling them down with wild abandon.  They need to come with a warning and recipes.  So there’s your warning and in a little bit, I’ll give you recipes.  Consider this an altruistic public service announcement.  Or if you’d prefer, you can send me money.

Here’s how I made the healthful burning magic happen:

          1.  Buy sprouting seeds and sprouting containers. 

This can be done easily online at Handy Pantry by clicking  HERE.  (I’ve also found their sprouts at Whole Foods.)

          2. Pour two tablespoons of broccoli sprouting seeds into a tray, put the tray in the sprouting cover, fill it with water, and soak ’em overnight.

          3. Let the water drain from the tray and cover the tray with the cover. Rinse and drain seeds three or four times a day for three or four days. 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

          4. Uncover tray and put the tray in the sunlight for about a day so the sprouts will start producing chlorophyll.  Rinse them a couple times this day too.

          5. Remove hulls by letting them soak in water so thell hulls float up to the surface.  Pour them off the top. 

          6. Enjoy!

Below you’ll find a couple ideas and links to recipes for the sprouts.

1. Top off salads with broccoli sprouts.

2. Add ’em to veggie burgers in place of lettuce.

3. Dana of zona pellucida said she makes a mean multi-sprout springroll, which sounds amazing.

4. Spicy broccoli sprout sushi.

I haven’t tried this one yet, but given their heat, I bet broccoli sprouts would add the perfect kick.

****

(image courtesy of Tim Ferriss: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/)

In the spirit of full disclosure, Handy Pantry graciously supplied the broccoli sprouts pictured in this blog in exchange for the sprouting tutorial I wrote above.  All opinions of said broccoli sprouts are soley mine. 🙂

If you want to read something completely untainted by trade agreements, though still touting sprouting, you may check out  my first post on the topic:  Sprout it Out Loud

 

 

 

Everywhere

 

 

 

 

things lie in wait

 

 

 

 

 

ready to fill this void

 

 

 

 

 

 

I won’t let them.

A lovely friend recently launched her website.  She used to be a professional cupcake baker.  She’s amazing. Please visit it! I’m in awe.

www.bethebreath.com

…and be sure to read the wonderful story in “beginnings.”

A Vegetarian Spring Roll

After 46 consecutive days, I feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of this vegetarian thing. This spiritual journey has opened my eyes to a whole new world, namely the Viet Hoa Food Market, a Vietnamese grocery store on Cleveland.  I’ve driven by the place a bajillion times, but never imagined actually entering it to buy food because, of course, food is what you get in your own neighborhood at the bright, shiney store with the gleaming baskets, the automatic doors, the sale flyers in English, and the organized, waxed produced placed just so.   But Skattur had put the idea in my head that I should try to make vegetarian spring rolls, so off to the Vietnamese grocery I went.  I left with two bags FULL of food for $7.00.  

$7.00!

Then it was springroll making time. I’ve eaten springrolls before. Who needs recipes? Here’s how it went down:

The stuff

avocado
red onions
tomatoes
mung bean sprouts
cilantro
mint
lettuce
cucumbers
rice paper
rice noodles
tofu (or shrimp if you eat that stuff)

  • Wash and chop up all the veggies that go in the rolls. In my case this was avocado, red onions, tomatoes, mung bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, lettuce, cucumbers.

    The veggies

mung bean sprouts

By the way, mung bean sprouts are crazy good for you and I’ve since learned how to grow them.  But that is a different story….coming soon to a blog near you!

  • Boil water for the rice noodles. Pour off a little of the boiling water into a large bowl for the rice paper. (Realize there are no cooking instructions on the rice noodles! How long do you cook them?! Have a mild panic attack. Do an emergency Google search for how to make rice noodles.  Find a video that explains the secrets of rice noodle cooking. Kiss iphone and wonder how you ever lived without it.) Cook rice noodles 2 minutes. 

    Rice Noodles...without cooking instructions.

  • Drain gelatinous glob of rice noodles and wonder what went wrong.  Put them to the side and try to forget about them.
  • Soak rice paper in bowl of hot water until it gets soft. (About 25 seconds) 

    rice paper

rice paper

  • Put vegetables in center of rice paper. (Try to figure out how to fold paper, then resort to watching youtube videos on the topic.) Fold rice paper like a burrito. Right 1/3 folds in, left 1/3 folds in, fold bottom in and roll. 
  • Look at noodles, which have cooled into a recognizable consistency.  Add them to the next roll. 

Voila! Spring Rolls.  I made about 15-20 of them after I got the hang of it.

Here’s a video that explains it a lot better than I did.

To put the world right in order we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.

–Confucius

When the heart is right, “for” and “against” are forgotten

–Thomas Merton

~~*~~

photo editing courtesy of Skattur

Today marks 194 days since I decided to confuse and amuse family, friends, and myself by declaring that I was officially taking “the plunge into Sainthood.”  Compelled by the things I had been reading and a chain of coincidental environmental and personal events that revealed a discrepancy between my beliefs and my behavior, I decided to take Proverbs 23:20 to heart and to “be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh.”  With the conviction to quit consuming alcohol, meat, seafood, and eggs, I went skipping and tripping down the yellow brick road of righteousness, with a strange cast of characters guiding my way: King Solomon, Yogi Hari, and The Supreme Master Ching Hai. (Oh my!)

When I first set out on this mission I had no idea it was going to be such a drastic paradigm shift in my thinking – and not just about food. It took nearly six months to reach 39 consecutive days of vegetarianism.   On the 40th day I overlooked “egg” on the list of ingredients and wound up eating a pasta salad that had egg in the dressing, so it was back to “Day 1” for me.  Today I realized that I’ve surpassed my last stretch. This time around I’ve logged 43 days without meat, eggs, or seafood. 

 I still suffer from the occasional bout of bloodlust – and I have imbibed the occasional alcoholic beverage, but the changes are becoming more of a habit than a struggle.  This is progress.

There are at least five blog posts in my head buzzing about, disturbing the flowers.  No time to get any them out tonight, but I’m sure the swarm will be headed this way soon. 

Right now I just want to share this fabulous thing I just read in Meditations from the Mat – a book I’ll be reviewing at some point in the future.  (Though not too near future hopefully.  I’m savoring it. I really, really don’t want it to end.)

Anyway, here it is:

“Yoga presents us with a bewildering array of practices and priorities.  We appear to need two days-one to prepare ourselves for life and one for living it.  The truth is simpler, and the simplicity we need in order to make headway can be found in our relationships.  It is in relationships that we sow either the seeds of our liberation or the seeds of our imprisonment.  Yoga is asking us to pay attention to the nature of all of our relationships and to apply the yamas and niyamas to them.  Whether it is our relationship to our breath, the bottoms of our feet, the ant crawling across the kitchen floor, our families, or to God, we are being asked to pay attention. The aim of yogic practice is to free us from the endless distractions of the kleshas-fear, pride, desire, ignorance-and to teach us to bring a focused mind to bear on the nature of our relationships.  Our time spent on the mat is dedicated to that end.”

-Rolf Gates

Wake up traveler. It’s not time to sleep anymore. He who sleeps loses.

~~*~~

In joy I came

In joy I live

In joy I will melt again.

 ~~*~~

 

So far I’ve managed to relate only the surface details of what happened at the ashram.  I haven’t captured at all the personal significance of what transpired there, the effects of which are still reverberating in my life.  

I went to the ashram having practiced hatha yoga for 15ish years.  Hatha yoga is all the bendy postures (or asanas) and breathing techniques that most people probably think of when they think of yoga. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cope much better with the daily stressors of life when I’m able to work yoga into my schedule several times a week.  I can attest to the difference regular practice makes in my balance, flexibility, body awareness, overall energy level, and even my general  “ok-ness” with the world.  My original goal in going to the ashram was to deepen my practice of this physical aspect of yoga.  I wanted to learn all I could from a master to better serve others by sharing this knowledge in a more competent and discerning way. I’ve been attempting to get this training for the past three years, but each time I made plans or started a program I encountered obstacles that prevented it from happening.  

The last year has been one of the busiest, most stressful, and emotionally funky times of my adult life.  Everything came to a head the first six months of this year.  I’m not sure why I thought working two jobs in two states was anything other than a ridiculous idea. The weekly commute itself was complicated. In February I was stranded for hours on the interstate in a snowstorm while people died in a horrible accident a few miles ahead of me. In March, Akasha died. The natural disasters that occurred on a seemingly weekly basis in my vicinity were an additional source of worry: tornados, floods, earthquakes by the 100s, dead thing falling out of the sky by the 1000s, and fish going belly up in nearby lakes by the 100000s.  Then of course there was the everyday assortment of stressful family, professional, and personal dramas that make up ordinary life.  There was little time for yoga practice.  Weeds grew and flourished in the untended garden of my consciousness.

 The first three “WHY THE HELL DID I COME HERE?” days of my ashram experience, I sat quietly in meditation three times a day and fully experienced that untended garden.  It was hot (with mud and muck and stinky stuff).  It pissed me off. I turned my anger outwards because I didn’t want to deal with my own issues. (The children were too loud, the high schoolers too lazy, the guru too knowing, the disciple too humble, the wife too kind and devoted, the student’s headstand too perfect. Show off!). When I finally decided to pull out some of the weeds in my mind, all hell broke loose. (Creepy crawly things with wings and pinchers and stingers ran and jumped and flew out at me without warning). I kept coming back to it, emptying it out, letting things go, creating space to learn new things, creating space for flowers to grow.  And grow they did. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth day I looked around and realized I was surrounded by an amazing group of people and learning about all the paths of yoga – hatha being just one of the eight paths. 

Equally as important, I was learning about myself.  I started to become more aware of my own patterns and habits of moving, thinking, and relating to others. That awareness enabled me to identify what in my life was serving a higher purpose and what was not. Weeding out my head opened my heart. Funny how that works.

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