Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Monday, 23 April 2012
So, all this being true, I plan to be posting some of my new creations on here as the spring and summer progress.
Another thing that can change in 48 short hours or less is that ordinary milk (and by that - for me - I mean local, organic, raw, unpasteurised, unhomogenized milk, since that is milk in its ordinary, natural form!) can be transformed, by sitting in contact with 'kefir grains' (actually a 'symbiotic colony of yeasts and bacteria') at room temperature, into kefir. This particular transformation is thanks to the gift of kefir grains from (the real) Julia Roberts, one of those amazing people who have just exited my life, stellar thesis and all! And I have been really loving how easy the kefir is to make. Just add milk to the 'grains' in a loosely covered mason jar and then strain 24-48 hours later!
But what is this stuff?! Well, think drinking yoghurt meets sour buttermilk. And, as for the 'grains', think cottage cheese meets blobs of gristle! Yeah, not that attractive! :-)
But this stuff is a superfood for the gut and digestive system (read more about it here) and so well worth making or buying, and either drinking or adding to recipes. I don't like the taste enough to drink kefir on its own, so we use it mostly in the 'berry green smoothies' that I made for breakfast this morning (scroll down on this page to find my recipe) and sometimes in dishes like Soaked Oatmeal Pancakes and, for today's lunch, a new experiement... a ranch-style dressing.
I was inspired to try this by the house salad served at our local Bistro with their homemade ranch dressing, and which I sometimes ask them to add smoked salmon and capers to for a yummy, healthy, good-carb meal. Today, with all this time and creative headspace on my hands, I made my own salad with locally farm-grown spinach, sliced courgette (zucchini), capers, wild sockeye smoked salmon, hard-boiled local free range egg and with my new dressing drizzled over it all. It was delicious! And I put an extra dollop on my plate to dip raw cauliflower, broccoli and orange pepper slices in - still feeding those mitochondria!
So why not give this great dressing - or just plain old kefir! - a go? And, if you are already a kefir fan, tell me what you do with it...
Friday, 13 April 2012
Thursday, 12 April 2012
The table between us, the sitting and waiting, is distance and time enough to stop my thrashing and look around me and come into my right mind, right heart, again. I look across at her and see the precious, fragile thing she is and I take her elfin face in my hands and look her in the eyes, hoping my shamed and loving gaze reaches deep into her soul, and I say the words that still come hard, get stuck in my throat:
I tell her it’s not her at all (her eyes show me she needed to hear this); that’s it me and I hate it and I’m sorry; that she is the dearest, most lovely thing to me (eyes open, soften and brighten as love and delight begin to heal what should never have been), and that I hate the words that come out of my mouth – so small and mean – even as I hear myself saying them; that I know these small, mean words are flowing more often, more freely, these recent days (she nods shyly in assent) and I don’t know why or how to stop but I see it and will try, and I’m sorry, again.
Oh how I hate these words as well: Hate that I have to say them; hate what has come before them and made them necessary. I hate them because they are so small, too, and never seem enough. They can’t roll back the waters of time as I wish they could; they can’t affect a miracle of absolute healing and oblivion; they can’t guarantee that this same devastating flood will not ravage our world again next week, even tomorrow. I hate them because they wound my ego and lay me bare to the reality of my power and my misuse of it, of my desires and their constant disappointment, and of my apparent helplessness at times to be anywhere close to the human, woman, wife, friend, daughter, mother (oh yes, especially mother) that I long to be.
If I hated these words less, maybe I would hate my hard, critical, harsh, unkind, careless, uncontrolled, hurtful words more? Enough to hold them in and hold them back? Enough to stop the torrent and step back from the edge of that crashing, hurtling, shattering precipice?
But though I hate the sorry words, still I love them and need them, as much as a drowning man needs the rock that agonizingly stops his freeflow freefall down the raging river. Though they are hard words, yet they soften – the hard places in me and the hurt places in her. Their very hardness is solid ground for me if I will cling to them, and a foothold for the long climb back up if I can stand on them and move beyond.
Moving beyond means accepting the forgiveness that I see mercifully, graciously leap up in her riverblue eyes from who knows what deep, clear inner spring. It means accepting the truth that I am, today, not mountain-climber, rockface-scaler, summit-reacher; but simply one who ackowledges the need to start again, again, at the foot of the towering cliff, thankful to be on dry ground and be given the chance to try again.
It is a humbling, praiseless task, this trying again; but a timeless one too. Even those who have dedicated their lives in monk’s cell to the pursuit of God and holiness and right-relatedness (I remember this with growing courage) embraced this task as worthy life’s work and spiritual discipline. I would expect more from them (from me) but this is the age-old truth and tale:
A curious outsider asked the burning question, hoping for spiritual enlightenment: “What do you do in your cell all day, Father?” The old man replied: “We fall down and then we get up again.”
So I get up again.
And I open the story book we had forgotten and had had to go back home to get, wasting ‘precious minutes’ and provoking one of my frustrated tirades and her hot tears now dried. She moves around the table to sit next to me and be able to read along and see the pictures, and we are together again – warm limbs and happy imaginations, healing hearts and hungry tummies.
We find the place where we left the story last time, and we begin again.
“Always we begin again.”
(attributed to St Benedict of Nursia)
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Since there is too much 'real life' going on for me at the moment, with end of term tasks and tiredness, to put flesh on all the bare-bone thoughts growing inside me about this astounding Life, please allow me to repost something I wrote almost two years ago about life and bread and resurrection and everyday miracles. I don't have sourdough bread on the go right now, but the red clover sprouts on my windowsill and the milk kefir growing in a mason jar in my basement are screaming LIFE to me every day! What is screaming LIFE at you?!
As I once again write my jubilant testimony to this miraculous transformation, I realize that it has a distinct resonance with the Paschal greeting – “Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!” – hence the title of this blog post. But while such rejoicing is fitting for Easter Sunday morning resurrection, is it really appropriate for Monday morning bread-making? Is my title, or my sense of triumph, somehow sacrilegious?
Rolheiser also discusses the fact that, in Christian theology, ‘the body of Christ’ refers all at once to the human Jesus, the bread of the Eucharist, and the community of faith. God has become flesh and bone, and bread and wine, and blood and tears. I love this, all the more because it has taken me so long to grasp it, as the false divisions – between spiritual and material, sacred and profane, human and divine – finally begin to crumble. The wonderful Rolheiser again:
*All Ronald Rolheiser quotes are taken from one of my all-time favourite books Seeking Spirituality, published in North America as The Holy Longing. He quotes from Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ.