The essence of ritual

I had no Passover seders to go to this year, so I did what I usually do in that situation: I took care of bringing a mini-seder essence of Passover to whoever I was with. We were with a small group of friends who have become extended family over the many years we have gathered with them (since 1987 for some, 1992 for the others in the group). I made charoset (symbolizing the mortar used for building the pyramids when the Jews were slaves in Egypt) and brought something to cover the symbols on the seder plate and matzo (the unleavened bread, symbolic of leaving Egypt before the bread could rise). There was at least one person there who found my simple introduction to Passover educational, as she had not known any of this. A reminder to me that what I take for granted is not always common knowledge. It was a good day, with a walk through the Berkeley Rose Garden and Cordonices Park before our meal, then a shared potluck after my Passover introduction, then improvisational sounding and singing after. Not the traditional Passover, but I felt satisfied to be with community and share meaningful time together.

The week is gone, time to move on

Both universities that I teach for right now are primarily online (though I just finished spending time with some of them this weekend face to face as we began the Spring Quarter for the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology’s MA in Spiritual Guidance). This means we spend one week on each discussion topic; one week to probe a few questions, speaking and listening to the group wisdom and thoughts about a particular idea. It goes by very fast, and I am grateful to the students who post early in the week to get the ball rolling. By Sunday night, as the stragglers get their posts in, I have a sense of frustration that there really is not enough time. In that last rush to get something said before we move on to the next topic, there are openings and possibilities for further conversation, but we are moving on.

It’s like that with my food collages, too. I manage to keep up and then realize I have a whole week’s worth that have not been posted. I throw them all out here, and there’s barely time to look at each individual day or meal. And yet, there are patterns that emerge and something is gained by just looking at the flow of the week. Both in the student discussions, and in my eating patterns. And then we move on to what’s next.

Malabar Café/Asian Rose in Santa Cruz

We had dinner at the Malabar Cafe’ in Santa Cruz before going to the Glow Festival of Fire & Light. Pictured above is the Winter Vegetable Korma Curry. Three of us shared this and the Dosa filled with Eggplant and two small plates: one cauliflower in a wonderful sauce, the other a banana papaya salad. All was delicious, and a reminder that we should visit this local treasure more often! The festival was great fun, with fire art projects and fire dancers, and I loved watching Jozseph Schultz from India Joze popping corn in his huge wok for the crowd that lined up for some of his wok-fried popcorn.

Goat Cheese Papaya Mango Dip

It’s been raining here, and I’ve been sitting at the computer and working for way too many hours this week. We got out Friday night for a visit with old friends (you can see what we munched on in meal 3 on 3.16). I whipped up a dip to bring with the raw celery, orange peppers, kohlrabi, and carrots:

Goat Cheese Papaya Mango Dip

6 ounces goat cheese
6 ounces Trader Joe’s papaya mango salsa
6 ounces hearts of palm
1 teaspoon curry powder

1. Whiz in food processor until it reaches the desired texture.

Servings: 4
Calories 126, Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 5g, Cholesterol 30mg, Sodium 610mg , Potassium 83mg, Total Carbohydrates 8g, Fiber 1g, Sugar 3g, Protein 3g

Shared meal & peasant bread

Friday night was a delicious meal of shared food, with new and old friends who came to visit. I made lentil soup and peasant black bread, and they brought endive with fruit/nut/cheese filling, stuffed baby portobellos, potatoes with aioli, sliced orange, and homemade chocolates with dried blueberries and nuts.

Peasant Black Bread with sunflower seeds

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup water
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
120 grams rye flour (1 cup)
390 grams whole wheat flour (3.25 cups)
1/4 cup gluten flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon flax seed meal (ground flax seeds)
72 grams sunflower seeds

1. Mix all of the ingredients by hand, mixer, or bread machine till you’ve created a smooth, elastic dough. Because the consistency of sourdough starters vary, you may need to add a bit of extra flour or water; the dough should be medium-soft but not sticky. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

2. Turn the dough onto a lightly greased or floured surface, and form it into a fat log. Make about 4 slices across the top of the loaf. Place the log into an Italian stoneware baker (cloche) that’s been greased on the bottom, or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the loaf, and let it rise for about 30 minutes..

3. If you’re baking in a covered stoneware baker, place the bread into a cold oven, set the oven to 400°F, and bake for 40 minutes. Check the bread, and bake for a bit longer, if necessary; the internal temperature should be about 197°F when measured on an instant-read thermometer. If you’re baking on a sheet pan, preheat the oven to 375°F, and bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until the bread is brown. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack.

Servings: 22
Nutrition Facts Serving size: 2 oz.
Calories 138; Total Fat 2.3g; Saturated Fat 0.2g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 160mg; Potassium 145.5mg; Total Carbohydrates 24.3g; Fiber 3.5g; Sugar 0.2g; Protein 5g

Community connections













Some friends and colleagues of mine held an open house Friday for their new counseling center, a lovely remodeled cottage with room for groups, and a kitchen for cooking, and a garden out back. Diana Elwyn and Barbara Christie and I all met when we worked at Star Lodge Hospital’s eating disorder residential treatment program back in the early 1990s. I’m so pleased to see them manifesting a dream, along with Lauren Mari-Navarro (who I met when she participated in a SoulCollage Facilitator’s training we hosted at Skyote Mountain years ago). I had a wonderful time there, reconnecting with people in the therapist community here that I know and making new connections as well. Best wishes to you Diana, Barbara, Lauren, and Cottage Counseling Center!

Citrus cravings

I came home with a huge amount of citrus from the farmer’s market today (along with carrots, salad greens, radishes, fennel, cucumbers, apples, celery, cauliflower, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, sunflower seed sprouts, and beets). I trust my body on this – and I’ve been fighting a sore throat for way too long now. The doctor is throwing antibiotics at what is most likely some variety of strep. I will eat citrus. May the combination prove effective!

My current passion: This

My friend Dan asked all of us at dinner at the Conscious Creations Café in Santa Cruz what our current passions are. After I’d finished talking about my teaching and finding ways to touch people in a way that can make a difference in the world, I realized that truly my latest passion is this process of photographing my food and creating daily collages. It has become such a reliably meditative ritual every day. I often have a sense of relief while doing it – there’s nothing else I need to deal with during those times, nothing else I am obligated to do. I am fulfilling a commitment I’ve made to myself, and that is all I need to focus on for that amount of time. Who knew it would become such a satisfying part of my life?

Time is flying, while I take small steps

When days fly by and I feel like I am barely keeping up, I especially appreciate the wisdom of keeping a practice like this food journal going. It has become routine, something stable and reliable that I have committed to. On weeks when I can hardly track how I got from there to here, I have this visual accounting of the process of feeding myself to remind me of the basics. As I put together these collages from almost a week of eating, I am invited to reconnect with the momentary awareness that occurred as I took each photo and the daily awareness of putting together the collage. I have instituted a structure on which to hang my self-awareness, and I am grateful to that when my awareness feels like it could easily wander off. Right now, as I struggle with a relapse of the cold I thought I had finished with, pulling together a post with 6 days of food feels comfortable, a pattern I have established that I can relax into. The serious cognitive work of reading and responding to student posts and papers is next on the agenda, and something about finishing up this process of posting feels like a good foundation. I can feel more ready to think about other things when I have taken care of this small ritual.

When people ask why I am doing this, I usually refer to the accountability of presenting what I eat so publicly. But I know that the ritual of self-reflection that I have established in doing this is very stabilizing and reassuring, in the midst of many commitments that might leave me feeling fragmented. So to those of you seeing this, thank you for being witness to my process and providing such an anchor in my day-to-day life.