Need/Want

I am learning the difference between need and want. I’ve thrived so long on the things I thought I needed and I let others come close out of their need. Perhaps in some ways I was wanted but the relationship, any relationship I’ve had, has remained out of a need.

What can I do for you? What can you do for me? It is not primarily healthy, but it is, in part, how I’m wired. To be the servant, the helper, the one who needs to be needed. I struggle now because I am faced with an alternate reality. One in which I am wanted (and I want). I am bumbling about now, like an idiot. I don’t know how to let it be, as is, without feeling lost.

There is a difference between need and want. Needing someone negates or goes beyond personhood. The substance of the soul doesn’t matter with need. I/you/they are only here to fill a void that cannot be filled alone. The relationship is driven by DOING.

But want is something so entirely different, it feels strange it could be in the same family as need. Want revolves around the kind of person you are bringing into relationship. Personality, common interest, thoughtfulness all matter. “I am here because I desire to be” – and that’s it. You are not forcing me here, you cannot force me away (in a general sense), because my presence is based on your presence – the mutuality of want. We pursue each other for the sake of what we receive at the end – each other.

And want is so rooted in personhood, and the joy of it, that the other person cannot sink into himself, or mold into something alternative, without it affecting the relationship. Sometimes this is negative or sometimes positive, but either way, it is the case. Who you are matters and the person you bring to the table makes a difference. A relationship born of want finds its root in BEING. And being who you are is irreplaceable.

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20 Ways to be Beautiful with No Makeup On

1. Love others.

2. Give grace to people.

3. Do not worry about the simple things.

4. Take care of your skin.

5. Tell your story.

6. Enjoy your friends and family.

7. Live life in the moment.

8. Accept everyone.

9. Give yourself grace; don’t be hard on you.

10. Volunteer.

11. Speak kindly of others, always.

12. Do not complain.

13. Live gently.

14. Recycle.

15. Go outside. Let the sun hit your face.

16. Find the things you most enjoy to do, then do them.

17. Live honestly.

18. Spend quality time alone.

19. Honor your parents.

20. Have children, they are a better reflection of you than a mirror.

Carrot Zucchini Slaw

When I was growing up, I didn’t know or understand much about coleslaw. Except that you got it from KFC. And that it had an odd milky texture, which turned me off, and a delightful combination of sweet and crunch, which I enjoyed. So I was an unenlightened and confused child in terms of coleslaw. Its rare presence was just about right for how much I both enjoyed and disliked it.

At some point, something changed. I couldn’t tell you what it was, except that “they” say taste buds change every 7 years. I don’t know who “they” are, and I don’t know if this is actually true. Let’s say it is. I can remember a moment driving down the road, just about a year ago, and NEEDING to eat some coleslaw. I didn’t know why. I only knew that I had to figure out how to create that sweet and strange crunch. So I did.

I can tell you what actually changed was that I began to really enjoy cabbage in a way I never had before. When I put two and two together, it made sense that all of a sudden I was creating all sorts of coleslaws just based on what I had in my fridge. This time, I had some carrots and zucchini and a desire to make a slaw that looked kind of elegant. I think it may have worked. You tell me.

Carrot Zucchini Slaw

1 Large Carrot

1 Small Zucchini or 1/3 Large Zucchini

1/3 Head Cabbage

1/3 Red Onion

2 Egg Yolks

1/4 C. Olive Oil

2 T. White Wine Vinegar or TT

1 Clove Garlic

1/8 t. Horseradish

1/4 t. Salt or TT

TT Fresh Ground Pepper

Dill Springs to Garnish

1. Peel the outer layer of the carrot and zucchini. I tend to peel things like cucumber and zucchini only partially (in stripes) so as to leave a little color. But that is up to you.

2. Using your peeler, create long strips of carrot and zucchini. If you have an especially long vegetable, cut it in half or peel starting halfway and then flip it over (that’s what I did; it gives you something to hold on to). Your strips will stop being elegant and start being an annoyance at around 4 inches.

3. Do your best with the cabbage and onion to replicate the strips of carrot and zucchini by slicing them thin. Toss it all in a bowl and set aside while you make the dressing.

4. As for the remaining ingredients, you will need to create a nice dressing with the emulsion method. Start with the yolks. Beat them well and SLOWLY pour in your olive oil until the consistency is quite thick. If you need further guidance or examples, go here.

5. You can add the rest of the ingredients to the dressing at this point. Start with a splash here and there of WW Vinegar and the rest of the ingredients and taste test your way into deliciousness.*

6. Toss the dressing over the vegetables, chill if you’d like, and garnish with dill springs. This makes 2 side salads.

*I’m a true believer that no two people have the same flavor palate. Make food according to what tastes good to you (and the people you will be feeding it to, if that is the case). Just remember that recipes are usually just guidelines, not hard and fast rules. That is, unless you are trying to replicate a classic…

Happy eating!

Confetti Salsa

For those of you who are little kitchen handicapped, you probably have no idea what to bring to a gathering that will not make you look like…well, that you are kitchen handicapped. The secret to fooling everyone is just to use really great ingredients that will shine no matter what you throw together. Depending upon your skill level, even a simple salsa may feel like it’s over your head. But trust me, it really is not. It is buying and cutting. And seeing as you are reading, I’m guessing you can also accomplish these two things, as well.

I went to my local Farmer’s Market in search of some great ingredients for the next week. What I stumbled upon was this beauty.


So, I will admit, this was a $6 tomato (it weighed in at 1 lb.). BUT. Before you scoff, think about this… When you go to the grocery store, you buy hothouse tomatoes (grown in a dark warehouse) from somewhere else. They traveled a long way to get here. And although they look perfect, they are not yet ripe and delicious and perfect. And when you buy those “perfect” tomatoes, they still cost you $3.99 a pound. A pound is really only 2 or 3 medium tomatoes.

I say, this beautiful, perfectly ripe, local tomato is more along the lines of perfect. What better way to show off the brilliance of your shining Farmer’s Market find than to put it in a dish that features it raw, and happens to be an international favorite: salsa.

To offset the color of the tomato (and correspondingly, the unique flavor), I decided I wasn’t going to put it in a traditional salsa. Here is what I put together.

Confetti Salsa

1# Yellow Tomato (I would choose an Heirloom variety that appeals to you), diced

1 Red Jalapeno or Red Fresno Chile, chopped and de-seeded

1/3 C. Mango, chopped

2 T. Red Onion, chopped

1 T. Cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

This is a sweet salsa, not super spicy. If you prefer more spice, add another chile or put it through the food processor with the seeds. You could even hit it with a dash of lime to change the flavor profile a bit. This portion makes a small bowl, enough for an appetizer for 2-4 depending on the menu. But it will be a big hit so I’d double or triple the recipe. Grab some of your favorite tortilla chips and hit the road. None be the wiser that you were once kitchen handicapped.

Happy sharing!

Between Everything and Nothing

There is a space between feeling that we can accomplish everything and that we can accomplish nothing. I have been to both extremes and am currently trying to figure out how exactly to settle in that middle space. It is the space where we accomplish something. I am actually finding this more and more difficult to figure out.

Generally, it happens like this: I watch some documentary or hear about some cause or get some random and brilliant idea. Then, I get excited. It is a motivation that springs up from somewhere in the depths of my being and I never knew it was there. Due to this excitement, this spring from which I had never realized I could drink and feel alive, I set myself on a path towards a new kind of excellence. I go gangbusters. Then, I stop. A dead stop. Because it is too much that I have tried to take on and accomplish. I am simply overwhelmed by my zeal.

This is what I mean. This is the space where I try to accomplish everything. I try to take on what seems like everything in the whole world. Every good cause, every fight against injustice, every measure to save the earth, every plight of sorrow, every move towards better health, a better tomorrow, a better me, etc. You see that this is clearly too much, right?

In the dead stop that my overwhelming zeal causes, I meet the space where nothing is accomplished. This space has its own set of problems, as well. Most of which are obvious. The ultimate issue of doing nothing, however, is actually the deadening of my own spirit. It is not that I instantly become a bad person. Not at all. It is that in this failure that has come from my overwhelmed zeal, that is exactly what I end up feeling like: a failure.

When we feel like failures, we do fail. Unfortunately, it is a law of nature. Productive people usually feel more productive and have more energy (within reason), thus creating for themselves a cyclical productivity. People who feel like a failure, feed their failure. Thus creating a similar negative cycle.

The key is recognizing what you are able to accomplish and what matters enough to you to actually move toward it, and then balancing the two. There are many things that my eyes are now opened to that they never have been before. Some of these things excite me to the very core. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a part of whatever movement is happening. The struggle for me, however, is that I tend to lose sight of the fact that I can’t win every battle or I approach every issue as if my life depended on it. Do not do this (unless, of course, your life really does depend on it).

Please do not misunderstand me; there are many things worth diving head first into and giving your all to. What I really mean is that it is more important to take a step in the right direction and keep walking than to run straight into it, only to be flung back to your starting place. There is no shame in not giving your all to everything. However, it is worth considering if you are giving nothing of yourself to anything worthy and good, whether for yourself or others.

Progress and balance are key words. Keep moving forward, keep finding good things to give yourself to, but maintain your balance along the way.

The space between everything and nothing is something. You may not be saving the world, but doing something is still something. It is still a step in the right direction. Maybe there will come a day when you realize that your balanced progress has come so far that you are actually accomplishing the everything you once dreamed of.

Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

It has been far too long since I have posted anything. There is essentially no excuse. Except that I’m moving soon and getting trapped under a to-do list. Today, however, I’m trying to remember there are more things than our to-do lists that drive us. We are meant to live lives that mean something. Lives that help us and others to see the light. To encourage and create and entrust each other with ourselves. I feel that I am not doing so well on this lately. So, today I remember that this blog is one small way I influence the world positively, with both my food and my words. And although there is a recipe as the primary focus of the post, hopefully those of you reading this will be a little bit encouraged and inspired to live your life to the fullest today. Every day should be a meaningful day for you. We all fail some of the time, but the fact that we are striving for more says something profound about each of us. Be brilliant today in whatever way you are brilliant. You have something unique to give to the world that no one else does.

Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

1/2 Cucumber

Handful Green Beans, Snapped and blanched

1/3 Fennel Bulb

1 Baby Onion

1 T. Chives, chopped

1 Mint leaf, torn

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 t. Sugar

Pinch Salt & Pepper

2 T. Dill, chopped

This is a “throw it together” kind of salad. nothing extremely fancy, except how the flavors co-mingle. Cut it all up in whatever way you find most attractive. But I would try to make it all a little uniform because we eat with our eyes first. The measurements are for one salad but as you can see, it would be extremely easy to multiply this and bring to a friendly gathering.

It does well to chill this salad before diving in, although you could do that, too. The lime juice will act to marinate the vegetables a little bit and the flavor will be more intense.

Happy eating!

Market Love

(Click title for photos to display properly)

I love a market. You know this already. I am an avid fan of supporting any and all local markets, whether a neighborhood Farmer’s Market or a local farm’s vegetable stand/garden store. This week was wonderful because it was full of markets of all sorts. I’ll keep this post simple. It is a blatant advertisement for you to go to your local markets. Here are a few photos to stimulate your senses.

Happy shopping!

Listen

Something about this song gets way down into my bones, like an anthem. I’m trying to keep my eyes fixed on the sun these days. Maybe you are, too. If you are, this song is dedicated to you.

 

Cage The Elephant – Shake Me Down

Shake me down,
Not a lot of people left around,
Who knows now,
Softly laying on the ground, ooooh
Not a lot people left around, ooooh. ooooh

In my life, I have seen,
People walk into the sea,
Just to find memories,
Plagued by constant misery,
Their eyes cast down,
Fixed upon the ground,
Their eyes cast down

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Shake me down,
Cut my hair on a silver cloud,
Broken sound,
Softly laying on the ground, ooooh
Not a lot people left around, ooooh, ooooh

In my past, bittersweet,
There’s no love between the sheets,
Taste the blood, broken dreams,
Lonely times indeed,
With eyes cast down,
Fixed upon the ground,
Eyes cast down

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Turn back now its time for me to let go,
Way down had to find a place to lay low,
Lampshade turned around into a light post

Walk around the corner,
Never saw it coming still,
I try to make a move,
It almost stopped me from belief,
I don’t wanna know the future,
But I’m like rolling thunder,

Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,
Even on a cloudy day,

I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the-
I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the-
I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the sun

Shake me down,
Not a lot of people left around, ooooh, ooooh

Happy listening!

Christmas in July Salad

Who doesn’t like the thought of gifts? Pretty much no one. Especially at Christmas. But there is a whole different kind of gift we are given in the summer. That gift is produce. Fruits and veggies burst forth from the earth like a descriptor I feel a little uncomfortable describing… Anyway. This is the best gift I could be given. Those who know me are pretty well acquainted with the fact that I don’t really like giving or receiving gifts. I feel a little awkward about the exchange. It’s never really even at Christmas, and unexpected gifts just make me feel confused and awkward, albeit thankful and loved. The only gifts I enjoy without stigma is the birthday gift. Except that people remember what they got for you and then you are expected to reciprocate…. Oy, all of this is giving me a headache.

Let’s leave it to the simple fact that produce is my favorite gift. Without exception. So, every summer, every farmer’s market, every trip to the fresh section of the grocery store feels like a holiday to me. I’m not really exaggerating, either.

Today, in my quest for food, I stumbled upon making this. It is what I will call Christmas in July Salad. Partially for its beautiful color, partially for the joy that comes from finally digging into this gift of produce.

Christmas in July Salad

1/2 head Romaine lettuce, torn

1/3 C. Long Grain Rice + 2/3 C. Water to prepare

1 Roma Tomato, diced

2 Strawberries, hulled and diced

1 Lemon, zest and juice

1 T. Chives, minced

1 T. Rosemary, minced

2 T. Olive Oil

1 t. Sesame Oil

Salt and Pepper

1. Heat a saucepan with a little olive oil and the sesame oil. Pour in the rice and stir until all the grains are coated. Add water, boil, reduce heat, cover, cook until fluffy. When rice is finished, salt and pepper to taste and put in refrigerator to take the steam off. Cool until whatever temperature you desire. I like my rice still a touch warm. It wilts the lettuce just enough to be silky.

2. Prepare a bed of lettuce by tearing the lettuce into manageable pieces. Toss with some olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.

3. Toss together tomato, strawberries, lemon zest, rosemary, and chives in a bowl.

4. Put it all together by layering the rice atop the lettuce. Make a well in the center of the rice for the red fruits to rest in. Slice a lemon to garnish. Enjoy.

Happy eating!

Potato Corn Salad

We have briefly spoken about my love for all things pasta salad. Potato salad is a different story for me, though. I love a simple food. For some reason, I have this idea that potato salad looks simple in form, but is indeed very difficult in compilation. Too many moving parts and pieces. BUT. That’s not really true. It’s just a cop-out.

Truth is, I only partially like it. Potatoes are fine, but not usually my starch of choice. The problem for me lies in the dressing.

Yes, I know. Most potato salad lovers could bathe in the dressing. It’s what they love most. I just can’t get behind it, however. I generally find it to be too bland or too tangy or too thick or…. you get the idea.

Earlier today I planted my herb garden and did some trimming back to ensure greater success. So, I had some lovely herbs to use right away. And one potato. And an ear of corn that needed to find a dish before it found the trash. I sucked up my slight potato salad diversion and did something so completely different that I may never feel wishy-washy about potato salad again. Here are the goods from the garden:

I began by formulating a dressing I would love. I enjoy a mustard-based dressing. I’m not so wild about a mayonnaise-based one. I find it to have a strange mouth feel and generally boring flavor. However, I know that mustard dressing can have its own flaws. It can be too sharp and tangy and kill the salad. The beauty of any salad is that it is many flavors layered atop each other. These layered flavors should complement each other with ease and grace and leave you wanting more. And you can eat more. Because it is salad. And usually good for you.

Potato Corn Salad

1-2 Potatoes depending upon size and how many you want to feed

1 Ear of Corn

2-3 T. Chives, chopped

2-3 T. Basil, torn

2-3 T. Cilantro, torn

Handful of lettuce, use something light. I used butter lettuce.

Dressing:

3 T. Yellow mustard

1 T. Honey

1 T. Deli/brown mustard

3 T-1/4 C. Olive Oil

1 Small clove of garlic, minced into paste

Pinch of salt, pepper, cumin

1. Cut potatoes into even sized pieces, whatever you desire. Cook them until soft, with a bite. This is not as far as you want to cook them for mashed potatoes. Or that is what you will have. Drain potatoes and put in freezer or fridge to cool.

2. Boil ear of corn just until color starts to brighten. Raw corn is perfectly fine to eat and you want a bit of bite and a bit of sweetness simultaneously. This is achieved by not cooking corn to doneness. Cut the corn off the ear and toss with the cooled potatoes.

3. The dressing is easy. Mostly. If you have ever tried to make hollandaise, mayonnaise or vinaigrette, you have come to compete with the laws of nature. These kinds of dressings are known as Emulsions. There are a few different types. They are easy to “break”. Some do not come back from the broken state, like hollandaise. The key is to whisk quickly while pouring slowly. In this case, start with the yellow mustard and pour the olive oil into it while whisking. This mixture will be your base. Once it has come together and added a bit of volume, you are free to add any other ingredients and begin to season. Any ratio of mustard to oil works, as long as you like the flavor and follow the rules of emulsifying.

The left is obviously broken. But the one on the right is lovely. I saved some because it will be a lovely honey mustard dipping sauce in the future.

4. Toss the potato and corn with the dressing. Taste and season for salt. Add the herbs and toss. Taste once more for a balanced palate. Serve atop the lovely bed of greens you prepared earlier.

Happy creating!