Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Pastas - Episode 1

Some people might say that pasta is not a summer food, but I disagree. I think pasta is an all year food, and it's one of my favorites at that. But in the summer I never really crave heavy sauces. No meat, no thick, garlic-filled tomato sauce. I like my summer pasta simple: usually with just olive oil, salt, pepper, and cheese. Always with cheese.

My garden is growing very nicely, and it makes me really happy to see it filling out again with healthy growth. One of the rose bushes has a bloom on it, and my basil is shooting right up to the sky. Last week I picked some basil leaves for the first time, and combined them with a sprig of Greek oregano (which I grow indoors), some garlic cloves, and some vine-ripened tomatoes.

Here is the official recipe:
*First, boil the pasta. Keep a little water in it, then set aside.

*In the pot that you boiled the pasta in (no use getting two pans dirty!), heat a generous pour of olive oil.

*While the oil is heating, cut a couple tomatoes into large-ish chunks.

*Drop your peeled garlic into the oil to get it nice and aromatic. You might want to chop up your garlic ahead of time, if you like to eat the garlic in the end product. Personally, I put the whole clove in the oil because I prefer to take it out before I eat the finished product. It's up to you!

*Turn the heat down and add the tomatoes. Let them simmer until they start to dissolve.

*Add your herbs last and let them wilt a little.

*Add the cooked pasta back to this mixture and mix everything together.

*Salt & pepper, to taste.

The finished product is light and fresh - perfect for summer!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

learning to rest in the pose

Here is another instance of yoga practice being applied to real life. I have been reading "Meditations from the Mat" by Rolf Gates. I pick it up periodically and read a passage or two, usually in the mornings before I meditate (I have to admit that this is still an infrequent practice, but I'm working on it!). The passage I read yesterday was about learning how to make restful periods a part of your yoga practice. Instead of adopting a "no pain, no gain" attitude towards your body and yoga, give yourself permission to rest, and make resting an active part of your practice. He says:

"We enter a posture, the heat builds, and before long we want to get the heck out of Dodge. That is one option - retreat. But another option is to just back off a little within the posture, rest for a breath or two, and then see if you can deepen the pose."

Reading this passage was not super meaningful to me yesterday morning when I was groggy and struggling to just clear my mind for 5 minutes before work. But today, I found that it resonated in my mind quite a bit.

My living situation has been up in the air for months. And really, I have not felt settled anywhere since I graduated college 3 years ago. Over the weekend I found an apartment that I really fell in love with, and it seems as though everything is going to work out for me to move there. But today I learned that I'm not the only person applying for the place, and just that little nugget of information caused me to panic a tiny bit, and feel like my expectations were caving in and that I would probably never find a place to live, ever.

But then I took a deep breath, and then a few more, and I remembered what I had read yesterday morning. This is a difficult situation to be in, but can I find rest within it? Can I take a step back from my panic and stay grounded during this turbulence? The answer is yes, I can. Even though this is really challenging, and I feel scared and unsure about what my future holds, I can continue to breathe and make decisions that are right for me, without retreating.

So, here we go.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Salads

While it is blisteringly hot outside, I find that eating a nice, refreshing salad is ideal. And while I love my old standby of basic romaine, tomato, pepper salad, I have lately been taken with eating a tomato and mozzarella salad almost every day for lunch. My garden basil is not ready for me to start picking leaves off it yet, but I do have a small oregano plant in my kitchen, and its leaves add a nice peppery taste to my caprese salad.

So, here's the recipe:

Vine tomatoes (or heirloom, which I hear are sublime)
Mozzarella (you might be a wiz and make your own, or you might buy it like me)
salt and pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
basil and/or oregano leaves, to taste

Just slice up your tomatoes and cheese and mix them together in a bowl. Be generous with your oil and vinegar (then you can sop it up with some crusty bread!) and add your spices to taste. Easy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cultivating a Green Thumb

I am not very good with plants. I'm amazed by my friends and family members who have the knowledge and finesse to grow things, whether inside or out. In my new neighborhood in Washington, DC, many many neighbors have beautiful, luscious gardens, and so since I moved here last month I've wanted to help our tiny sad garden become beautiful again. So, since today is my last day of unemployment, and since the heatwave has broken somewhat, I decided to try and make something happen!

Here is what our garden looked like before I started:

It was intimidating. Jungly, thorny, dry, rocky. I wasn't sure if I would be able to make anything out of it. But thanks to the internet and my mom and dear friend Kate, I gained a tiny bit of knowledge and felt confident in pruning the rose bushes, pulling up all the weeds, adding some healthy soil, and planting some new plants. So, I went to the hardware store and got started.

The guy who checked me out at the hardware store LOVED the fact that I was buying manure. He could not say do-do enough times. Anyway.

So I came home and pruned, dug, airated, mixed, watered, and planted. Et voila! The garden looks like a place where life can happen! I also said a little prayer for the plants to not die. Not sure if it will help, but with my reputation for killing plants, I figured it was worth a shot.

Here is my after shot:



And a peony!

I feel like this was a success, and my first step towards becoming a competent gardener. It was sweaty and dirty and exhausting, but I'm pretty excited to watch my garden grow.