25 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 17

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. 
~ Judith Viorst
ell, dear readers, I have no strength.  When faced with the daunting task of walking away from a jar of chocolate-covered salted caramels, I walked away ~ with three caramels.  What can I say?  The spirit is willing to eat rice, but the flesh is used to wearing chocolate.* 

The last couple of days have not been uber great days, macro wise.  Although I must say that after dinner last night, I found myself craving more brown rice.  What is more likely is that I was dehydrated from the salted caramels.  So I promptly ate some pita chips and drank a 1/2 liter of water.

Macrobiotics ~ at least the way Jessica Porter puts it ~ is a forgiving way of eating.  And I have to learn to forgive myself and see food in a different light.  Food is not an evil enemy that blocks me from fitting into that sexy little black dress.  Trans fats, refined sugar, white flour ~ they are not sitting on the shelf with long fangs, laughing maniacally at me, or running after me in the grocery store and jumping into my shopping basket.  Saying no is a viable option.  And if sometimes I fall off the grocery cart, I can get back up and head straight to the produce section and the bulk whole grains section and re-center my body. 

This isn't about eating perfectly.  It's about eating harmoniously and in balance ~ with what the body actually needs [not what the psyche ~ like a spoiled five year old brat ~ wants] and with what is in season.

How relaxing and forgiving is that?!

Today I am heading out of town and into the country for some much needed R&R and time with my parents, who as you know are getting older and less able to manage things.  One of the great things about being back at the homestead is that there is no internet and my cell phone gets a sporadic signal.  It is very peaceful to unplug, unwind and just enjoy being.  If I were more organized, I would have written up some posts for you to enjoy while I am away, but I am still working on writing every day period!

May your weekend be filled with harmony, peace, mounds of brown rice and the strength to get back to center.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

*Well, where else do you think all that yummy fat goes!? ;)

22 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 14

Eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling.
~ Dave Barry

Did I really say I would turn macro for 40 days?!?  What was I thinking!?  I need to be locked up ~ preferably in a kitchen stocked with more than brown rice, leafy greens and colourful, cruciferous veggies.  Argh!!

What!?  Did you think that the life of newbie macro was as easy as pie?  [Oh no, do not think of pie!  Especially crust made with lard and white flour ~ Gah!]  Deep breathes.  Why are we doing this, Mikaela?  To strip away our addictions [caffeine, sugar, white flour].  To obtain balanced energy.  To re-center our energy and bring our focus back on the essentials of life: faith, creativity, relationships.

I am not doing a pure brown rice fast ~ that would be madness when I have a full social schedule.  But the past two days I’ve eaten nothing but brown rice with leftover pesto and some brown rice bread with honey.  Woo!  Time for some more greens, mushrooms and onions to go with it!

And some extra sleep ~ I am still trying to get back my lost “spring” hour!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

20 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 12

When baking, follow directions.
When cooking, go by your own taste.
~ Laiko Bahrs

Saturday presented an interesting challenge to my new macro cooking.  I hosted a dinner for about ten friends and since it was St. Joseph's feast day ~ a solemn feast day ~ there was an abundance of good Virginia wine, rich food and gourmet ice cream for dessert.  One of the great foundations of macrobiotics is balance and moderation, so I used that as an excuse to treat my guests [and myself, hee!] to scallops  sauteed in butter and garlic and served on beds of fresh made spinach and basil pesto, chicken breasts stuffed with crabmeat, green onions and garlic and baked in white wine and butter, creamy mash potatoes and steamed asparagus.

There was not a speck of brown rice to be found on the table and that made me sad actually.  I missed its nutty, chewy comfort.  I did partake of the chicken and scallops, but kept to my fast from the potatoes [which in addition to being a deadly nightshade, also had heavy cream] and of course, the ice cream.  When I first gave up dairy, it was a real sacrifice.  But now that I am healthier without it, I only get a twinge of dairy-envy once in a blue moon.  Goat cheese ice cream with cognac figs is one of those times when I curse the gods of lactose intolerance.  Sigh.

This morning I sauteed some mushrooms, garlic, leftover asparagus and onion and added some brown rice.  It was good to be back to center.

Now off to get a good night's sleep!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

17 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 9

The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
~ Tom Robbins

Tonight's macro dinner brought to you by the lowly beet.  Actually, tonight's dinner was three shades of  purple now that I think about it.  Purple cabbage, red onion [which is really purple], and beets [which are red, I know, but purple-y red].  I mixed in spinach, garlic, the ever present yellow curry, and a couple pinches of salt.  The result was a lush, earthy mix that was also quite heavenly. 

Last night I soaked about 4 cups of black beans.  The ebony lovelies cooked up well in vegetable broth and spring water and a few cloves of garlic.  Once they were tender, I added them to a pan of brown rice ~ which I had cooked last night, and lightly stir-fried them.  With the purple veggie mix on top, it was just what the macro doctor ordered ~ and I didn't miss the meat this time.  Yay me!

I felt so great I hopped on the treadmill for a bit.  I have not developed the runner's high yet, so when I work out, I still get pleasantly stretched and sleepy.  Which is good, because I'm still adjusting to "springing forward!"

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

An Abbey Poetry Party

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought,
this in turn makes us think more deeply about life,
which helps us regain our equilibrium. 
~ Norbet Platt

It's a poetry party and you're inivited!  Christine Valters Painter at Abbey of the Arts is hosting a poetry party and you're invited!  I just discovered Christine's beautiful and peaceful blog.  It is like a virtual meditation garden!  Thank you for hosting, Christine!

My contribution to the party:

Green blades, tiny
Strong from the struggle,
the primal desire
to catch the caress of the sun
if only for a few hours,
finally push their way through earth’s jealous heart.
© March 2011 Mikaela D’Eigh

Happy [almost] spring writing!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

16 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 8

What most moved him was a certain meal on beans.
~  Robert Browning

I have been seduced by the bean. 

Sitting at my desk with my lunch of last night’s brown rice, catfish and other various bits of macro edibles, I wondered why the passion was gone after only eight days.  I have no intention of leaving brown rice ~ I am fully committed to this relationship.  But for some reason, the catfish creation thang ain’t got that swing ~ at least not today.

photo from Indra at http://www.scribblingpad.com/
And then it struck me like a kitchen cabinet door left open.  No beans in this dish.  When I made dinner on Monday night, it was sublime.  There was no hesitation, no dutiful must-eat-to-stay-alive grimace ~ you dove right in for seconds.  And the only difference is that little dish had kidney beans and this little dish has none. Waah! So tonight’s dinner will have to include beans, most definitely.

And my CSA box is being delivered tonight ~ a fresh box of culinary possibilities.  Fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice for breakfast tomorrow ~ hurrah!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

15 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 7

The trick is making memory a blessing,
To learn by loss the cool subtraction of desire,
Of wanting nothing more than what has been,
To know the past forever lost, yet seeing
Behind the wall a garden still in blossom.

~ Dana Gioia

Maybe it is the amount of brown rice I have been eating the past seven days. Or perhaps it is the act of writing about eating brown rice for the past seven days. Whichever it is, my writerly Muse is on a roll.  Today I followed some tips from my virtual mentors over at Write to Done and re-worked a poem I wrote a few weeks ago. 

My first exercise was to highlight all the nouns and verbs in any poem and replace them with synonyms.  I chose Dana Gioia's The Lost Garden because it is a favorite of mine.  It was a strange but interesting exercise.  It made me more aware of word choice and how important an extensive vocabulary is to a writer.  Then Sullivan suggested I change something in each line that shifted the focus of the poem.  By the time I was finished, I had a very cool poem about loss and decay [what can I say, I am a melancholic at heart] and also had several original lines and word couplings that I saved for future creative use.

So, thank you, faithful readers for embracing my Muse.  And thank you, brown rice, for waking her up!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

P.S. Dinner was...dun du da...brown rice with catfish, kale, garlic, green onions and purple cabbage. Mmm!

14 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 6

Writing is a struggle against silence. 
~ Carlos Fuentes
ast month I confessed my obsession with the perfect phrase.  I resolved to write more, even if the end product was not as "perfect" as I thought it could be.  But like most sinners ~ or wayward writers ~ my good intentions dissolved and I fell into the two cardinal sins of writers: procrastination and laziness.

The only way to get over a bad habit [not writing enough] one must practice the opposite good habit [writing more] for at least thirty days.   For me, this means writing every day.  So six days ago, I embarked on a Lenten journey of eating only whole grains and vegetables and resolved to blog about my culinary adventure.  By doing so, I take my confession a step further.  Not so much by doing penance as making amends for all the posts, poetry, prose and lyrics that never saw the light of the computer monitor because they were not profound or perfect enough. 

My macrobiotic venture is about more than food or healthy living.  It is about being accountable: to both myself as a writer and to you, my readers. And being the lazy, procrastinating writer that I am means I need a good excuse to do that.  Hence, for the next forty days I have a built-in excuse. 


Except…..what in the world do I write about today?  I am not cooking tonight because I was so good and did most of my cooking yesterday.  Panic ensues.  Fingers freeze, waiting for brilliance to drip from my pen.  And only....silence.

Don’t get me wrong.  Silence can be healing.  A chance to grow closer to God [or whatever name you give to the Infinite Other or Higher Power].  An opportunity to dig deeper into why we do the things we do or react the way we do.  But the point of silence is growth outward

And then I remembered: another point of silence is patience.  Sometimes the fruit needs to stay on the vine a little longer for the wine to be sweeter.  In my case, I just needed to mull things over on the commute home and stand in my kitchen for a nano-second for the rest of this post to pop in my frying pan ~ literally.  Yes, I was good yesterday ~ I cooked enough for myself for the next three days. 

But I was going to my book group tonight and as everyone knows, you cannot read a book with a group of your girlfriends without having food be a part of the mix!  But now that I am macro, how was this going to work?  They were used to me bringing fried chicken and chocolate!  Even I have to admit that next to that, brown rice sounds as exciting as a trip to gastroenterologist. [Which you will have to do a lot of if you do NOT eat enough brown rice, by the way.]

In the end, I made a brown rice, kidney bean, garlic and onion dish with a dash of Cajun spices and yellow curry and let the dish speak for itself.  They oohed and ahhed over it and even my friend who is a picky eater went back for thirds.  They may grow tired of hearing about the macro way of eating, but they won't get tired of eating my macro creations!  Ahhh ~ it is good to know I have not lost my culinary "wow" factor.

Or the ability to make the ink dance across a page.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

13 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 5

Cooking is an art, but you eat it too.
~ Marcella Hazan

Yesterday I was a busy macro chick:  buying medium grain brown rice, kasha, aduki beans, and black beans, along with kale, cabbage, fennel, onions and fresh fruit.  Mmmm!  I was also a little naughty: six bottles of wine from Best Cellars.  What?!  It goes well with whole grains! 

Sullivan also come by and we spent the afternoon writing, then it was off to a music jam party.  Music and writing ~ my two passions.  [Along with cooking of course.] It felt good to be using both talents again.  Hence, no post yesterday. 

Today's task was to make good macro food for the week.  First, I made a huge pot of brown rice.  Then I sauteed some fresh kale with garlic, green onions, purple cabbage, pepper, a dash of curry [one of my favorite spices ~ have I mentioned that?] and a little sea salt.  I also fried up some catfish [minus the breading] with fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice. 

In another pan, I browned chopped andouille chicken sausage for a special treat and mixed in some more kale, garlic and the now cooked brown rice.  Don't knock until you try it.  So mission sort of accomplished: enough for three lunches and one dinner.  Wednesday, my CSA box from Washington Green Grocer arrives, so there will be time to make more lunches and dinners fresh from the farm.  Yay!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

11 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 3

I am nice.  I am. . . .rice.
~ Jessica Porter

Day 3 was not nearly as exciting as Days 1 and 2.  My rice and peppers lunch stared back at me soullessly.  I stared back, daring it to make my culinary heart go pitter-pat.  It did not.  Thankfully, I had just juiced some fresh oranges, grapefruit, and apples.  Ahhh! Bliss returns! And the organic sugar scrub I made from the pulp?!  Let's just say I had a great shower and leave it at that!

For dinner I added black beans to the mix and made a Cuban-style black beans and rice dish.  Much more exciting than lunch!  I think I failed to put enough spice in before.  I am not quite rice yet.  But then I am still struggling to figure out my place on this journey to more whole foods.  One change I have noticed already: I have not been tempted to eat out of mere boredom.  This is due in part to it being Lent, but also I am more conscious of what goes into my body.  I also felt more in tune with my surroundings today.  Cool.

* * * * *

Ugh.  I just found out that peppers are considered a deadly nightshade, along with . . . . potatoes?!?!  NOOOOOOO!!!!  What the heck?!  Must read more about this.  More later!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Prayers for the Victims of the Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami

Just wanted to add my words of support and comfort to all the victims of the tsunami in Japan and surrounding countries.

Our prayers are with you.
~ Mikaela

10 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Day 2

The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.  I am not alone and unacknowledged.  They nod to me and I to them. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I confess....to eating....white rice.  [Gah!]  But at least it wasn't pasta or ~ mortal sin ~ white bread!

Honestly, I was so sure I had another bag of yummy brown rice in my cupboard.  On the bus ride home, I thought it of sitting there, eagerly awaiting my culinary ministrations.  My body grew excited thinking about the wholesome grain-ness of it and my brain sighed a grand sigh for the energy and pleasure to come.  And then to come home and NO BROWN RICE to be found!  Oh!  The ever lovin' tragedy of it all!

My one saving grace was that I did have some white jasmine rice ~ evidence of my wild and crazy white-flour-energy-crashing-sapping days.  My culinary culpability was lessened when I chopped up some fresh mini sweet peppers, a yellow onion, 3 cloves of garlic and some fresh spinach and sauteed it in olive oil. [It's still winter....ish.  So oil is okay.]  Once the rice was cooked, I put some in with the now sauteed veggies and stirred it all together, added some yellow curry and voila! 

When I tell you this concoction was outrageously awesome, I know you won't believe me.  But you can ask my housemate.  She was in the kitchen juicing some green peppers, tomatoes, celery, and carrots ~ nectar of the gods! ~ and kept looking into the dining room and laughing at my moans of foodie rapture.  She finally asked to try some and could only say: "Oh wow.  That is some good stuff!"  I also had some chicken [free range of course] because it needed to be cooked, and a few spoons of lentils ~ also with a healthy sprinkling of curry and some sea salt. 

I cannot wait until tomorrow when I can have left over rice and rainbow pepper goodness.  And never fear, for my penance, a brisk walk to the grocery store for a huge bag of brown rice is in order so I can be a good little macrobiotic chick. 

Seriously.  You need to try some!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

09 March 2011

40 Days of Macrobiotics: Intro and Day One

Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
~ Harriet van Horne

Well, that is how I am approaching my Lenten fast this year anyway.  A friend of mine lent [ha ha] a book on the macrobiotic way of eating.  A foodie with a gluten and dairy sensitivity is a sad foodie indeed, but I have to say I have learned to cope, and without feeling too deprived.  Indeed, I have discovered that there are many ways to make chicken, chili and even ice cream without leaning on the crutches of gluten and milk products.  [Although I have yet to tackle the goddess of all dairy-filled desserts: crème brulee.  I feel sure Brillat-Savarin would roll over in his grave if I did!]

But living on brown rice and vegetables for the next 40 days?  Mikaela, you must be crazy.  I know, dear reader.  However, I decided I had nothing to lose by trying this new way of seeing and eating my food.  Anyway, Jessica Porter's The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics makes it seem like a real hoot.  [When one isn’t craving naughty things like crème brulee and pretty much anything else that’s tasty.]

Actually, scratch that last comment.  I love brown rice.  It has a nutty flavor and crunch that blah white rice lacks.  Not to mention that it’s more natural.  White rice is brown rice, by the way ~ but with everything exciting about it stripped away.

So for the next 40 days or so [heavy emphasis on the “or so” given my procrastination and abandonment track record here], I will let you know how my efforts to become a macrobiotic foodie turn out.  So check back often. [Or every so often...]

* * * * *
Day One – Ash Wednesday: Difficult today since really can’t eat much of anything.  This is more due to the fact that I did not plan well the night before and consequently only had a banana to eat for lunch at work [I gave up going out to eat too ~ restaurants are not known for serving brown rice dishes and organic veggies!  Except maybe Founding Farmers, but I digress…]

For dinner however, I bounced back with brown gaba rice, beautiful, fresh organic kale [thank you Washington Green Grocer!] and a couple of potatoes [I know! Sin!] in olive oil.  Not sure about that last.  Have to read Jessica more to see where she stands on olive oil.  Woo hoo!  Down 1, 40 more to go!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela