Monthly Archives: August 2012

wednesday wisdom: intuitive mind, rational mind, fuzzy slippers

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
Albert Einstein


meatless monday: watermelon feta salad

back to basics: end of summer salad. (image via Joy the Baker).

The last of the dog days are upon us. I’m continuing savoring every moment of not cooking, because why cook when you can assemble? Fresh, ice-cold watermelon is one of my summer loves, and all you need to make the best late-afternoon lunch ever: Watermelon. Feta. Mint.

I thank the sweet people of ForgtMeNot for inspiring this recipe, and for being sticklers about using really, really high quality feta. Seriously, don’t use the sale cheese for this one. Use your best, and use just a touch, as feta can overwhelm. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how filling this salad is too (thanks to the melon’s high water content), so don’t be afraid to serve this front and center for Sunday supper, maybe alongside some toasted baguette slices and a big bottle of seltzer.

Watermelon Feta Salad
inspired by ForgtMeNot, adapted from Joy the Baker, consumed (over and over and over) by me
1/2 large, chilled watermelon (seedless if you can find it), diced into 1-inch cubes
coarse sea salt, to taste
black sesame seeds, to taste
1/4 c. fresh mint leaves,  coarsely chopped
1 c. sheep’s milk feta cheese (highest quality please!), sliced into strips or crumbled

Place watermelon cubes in a large serving bowl.  Add sea salt, half of the mint leaves, and sesame seeds, mix with a wooden spoon and adjust seasoning as need. Top with feta strips, sprinkle with remaining mint. Serve immediately.

wednesday wisdom: back to school

via pinterest.

He who opens a school door,
Closes a prison.
Victor Hugo

meatless monday: summer lettuce wrap

Friends. For the first time in three years (!), I failed to post a vegetarian recipe on Meatless Monday last week. Apologies if you dearly missed your weekly salivating along to adjective-heavy descriptions of greens, and ogling food-porny pictures of avocado. My bad.

This new work/life situation is partially to blame. But so is the fact that I haven’t been making much food, because I’ve really been into juices, especially those of the greenest varieties. When I’m not drinking juice (breakfast/lunch), I’m eating out (bad bad bad!). That’s my new August policy, people. Minimal effort on all fronts.

green juice / blue sky.

Let me make up for it by offering what has been a summer staple in my past kitchens, the lettuce wrap. Starting from early childhood, when my mom would assemble big leaves of romaine on a plate, sprinkle with sliced tomatoes and drizzle with the teeniest bit of balsamic and olive oil, and call it Fork-Free Salad. As I grew up, this was something I recreated at a number of summer dinners and barbecues and picnic gatherings for years to follow. Super easy, and something so satisfying about eating salad with your hands, rolling up a crunchy piece of romaine like a taco and letting the juiciness of the sauce drip out the opposite end. Summer food is meant to be messy, gritty, dirty, sticky.

lettuce wraps: made with almost no effort.

Summer Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Lime Sauce
makes 8; via Oh She Glows

For the filling:
8-10 romaine lettuce leaves
1 block firm tofu
1/2 cucumber, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 med. carrots, peeled & julienned
2 green onions, chopped
3-4 lettuce leaves, julienned
1/4 c. fresh Thai basil leaves, minced
1/4 c. cilantro, thick stems removed & minced
1/3 c. roasted & salted peanuts
sesame seeds to taste
sea salt to taste

For the peanut lime sauce:
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1/4 c. natural roasted peanut butter
1/2-1 tbsp. ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. tamari
2 tsp. sugar
1-3 tsp. water, to thin sauce as neededFirst, press your tofu: rinse tofu block under water and wrap in kitchen towels. Place several heavy cookbooks on top and let sit for at least 20 min. while water is pressed out.In the meantime, assemble your filling: julienne the vegetables (slice into long thin strips). Finely chop herbs. Set aside, along with peanuts.

For your sauce: in a mini food processor, process the garlic until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and process again until smooth. Adjust ingredients to taste, adding a little water if thinning is needed.

Slice pressed tofu into long thin strips. On a large platter, assemble romain leaves so that the ends turn up, creating little boat-shapes to hold your filling. Begin to fill lettuce wraps, starting with slices of tofu, followed by julienned veggies, sauce, herbs and peanuts. Sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds. Serve immediately with great joy at how painless that was!

wednesday wisdom: london street art wisdom

London artist/poet Robert Montgomery, who hijacks advertising space intended for commuters

wednesday wisdom: quotes and stuff

august spotlight on: moving on…

“Femme aux Bras Croisés (Woman with Folded Arms).” Pablo Picasso, 1902.

I am now just coming out of what has been a long, dark season in my life. I have not been very good, in any sense of the word “good.” I need a change, said my brain, but this wasn’t a thought that came to me as a calm, gentle nudge. It overcame me like a tsunami and drew me into a rabbit hole of sadness, heaviness, anxiety.

When these feelings started to arise, my first step was to get to my mat, and quickly. Yoga is supposed to fix us. But my practice eluded me and as I approached it with increasing desperation and intensity, it actually contributed to my frenetic struggle. Thinking my increased, frantic energy needed to be expelled, I increased my running and added lunges and pushups and crunches and other horrible things. Soon I was exercising three hours a day, with such a ferocity that I actually left my workouts angry.

I found myself crying randomly, in bathrooms and in bed. I sought comfort in giant fistfuls of kettlecorn and margaritas, both of which went down with so much desperation I barely tasted anything. I stuffed my depression deep down, like a typical Norwegian, only to then unleash a beast of myself on my poor husband, who felt my perplexing wrath (tears, snappiness, etc.) at odd moments. I consumed hundreds of inspirational quotes from books and Facebook and Google searches, hoping that something would stick and propel me forward. When that didn’t work, my Googling shifted to researching antidepressants and self-help books. I couldn’t stop reading this dismal series of true-life recession stories that only fed my sadness. My lower back developed an achy, crampy pain that lingers still.

I knew that I needed a change, but I didn’t know how or why or what. This led to a frightening mental paralysis: I was immobile, like when your boots get stuck in deep mud, trapped in a swirl of anxiety. I remember feeling this particularly one afternoon, standing at my kitchen sink, as I rinsed a pint of blueberries. I just stared at each berry and started sobbing, and couldn’t stop, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move.

And then. Nearly three months later, those feelings have all but dissipated, slowly, and in the quieter aftermath, I have only the tiniest bit of perspective, not a revolution. When my cloudy mind started on the slow upswing, I started to take care of myself again. I did a juice fast. I got bangs. I started seeing a specialist to treat my back pain. But these things were not what caused me to stumble towards Happy again. These are the effects of starting to see Happy on the horizon, and moving toward it, toward the light. In other words, the end of this “dark period” was not brought about by anything I did or did not do. My spirit was in a tumultuous transition, and I was just a passenger along for the ride.

This is how most of us change: slowly, fearfully, clumsily, poorly.

So, I’m moving on: I am leaving the yoga world and have accepted a job at a company that I am so excited about. I suspect yoga will always be a part of my life, and believe that the skills I acquired through teaching will serve me well. Teachers of all kinds get to experience a profound, unique skill-set: empathy, gentleness, assertiveness, and a love for her students that transcends all other known types of love. I won’t soon forget how the past four years of teaching in New York have been both a blessing and an incredible journey of discovery.

Friends, I wish I could offer some sort of advice for pulling yourself out of a deep funk. I don’t have any magic, and I certainly tried a lot of different things. I’m someone who has to learn things the hardest way possible. Two things I wish I would’ve done differently (maybe these are the secrets then?); perhaps they’ll work for you:

1. Be nice to yourself.
2. Ask for help.

Here’s to moving on. And to change, and challenge, and to just being along for the ride…xx

SL NOTE: I’ll be continuing to teach in very limited quantities in NYC. Do check my schedule, and my Facebook, for the most updated info.