Monday, July 25, 2011

A Little Light Mourning

When John and I were in our mid-twenties, we lived in a trendy little city.  Every Friday morning, we would have coffee and salt bagels at a cafe.  Another young couple, attractive and hip in the way that we secretly hoped we were, had the same ritual at the same time.

Now I am in my mid-thirties.  I don't drink coffee anymore, and I have stopped eating grains.  I am trying to eliminate cheese.  No more coffee and bagels at the cafe.  I think that other couple broke up.  She keeps a shop in that same city; when I'm in town I stop by.

A friend of mind has found herself suddenly adrift.  With two small children and no place to call home, she's off to clean out her old house.  All her possessions, the peripheral items that color her rituals, are going into storage.

Each day, each hour, each minute, a little door closes behind me.  I don't dwell in that, but I acknowledge it.  "You're gonna drown tomorrow, if you cry too many tears for yesterday," as Townes said.

I rejoice in this moment, on the crest of the wave of my life.  I am grateful for the great force of the swell beneath me, and for the detritus lifted or left behind.  Still, there are flickers of sadness for the little things lost along the way, and it would be foolish of me to deny them.  Much we make of the addict's desire to return to a chemical state, but that's not the whole story.  It is also the association of our memories, the big and small places that we choose to leave but in which we also leave a piece of ourselves. "I don't want another drink, I only want the last one again," as the song goes.

So for a moment, even as I throw my arms wide in acknowledgment that I choose this place with all its rewards, let me mourn.  A slice of pepperoni pizza.  A favorite coffee cup.  The giddy luxury of a bender, when the next morning was unclaimed by children, household and health (and age).  Bread with butter.  Pierogies.

I will not try to re-create these riches now in rough facsimile, but rather let them linger, bittersweet, in my memory.  Occasionally I will put fresh flowers on their graves.  Sometimes I will throw a death-day party.

Sometimes we put parts of our lives in storage; sometimes we leave parts behind.  That's okay; if we can allow ourselves the emotional space to find what is opening ahead it can even be wonderful.  Nonetheless, those little losses are real, and sometimes I need to mourn them.

And with that, here are a few recipes that are working in my life Right Now.  One is vegan and can be raw or cooked, one has fish.

Taco-less Fish Tacos

1-2 lbs. firm wild-caught white fish, such as haddock or cod
3 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp chili powder

1 C yogurt, strained through a coffee filter or cheesecloth for an hour
1 Tbsp cumin
1 clove garlic, diced fine
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Optional toppings: 

1/2 C grated gruyere
chopped scallions 
diced avocado

tomatillo salsa


Bake sweet potatoes at 450 until tender when pierced with a knife.  I make a slit in the top of them while they cook to let the steam escape, and I put a baking sheet on the rack below so that the sugar doesn't bake onto the oven.

Once the potatoes are done, remove and lower the heat to 350.  Allow the temperature to drop, and then brush the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder.  Bake about 10 min, until flaky.  Check it regularly so it doesn't overcook.

Mix the yogurt and other sauce ingredients.   If you are not eating any dairy products, you can try making a similar sauce using a base of soaked, pureed almonds, avocado cream or a nut yogurt.  You can also omit it entirely, along with the cheese.

Cut the potatoes in half.  Put two halves on a plate, top with butter and 1/4-1/2 lbs. of fish. Top with sauce and cheese if desired.  You can also add other taco toppings, if you want.

Portobello Cap Pizza

6 large portobello mushrooms 

Marinade (optional - this is only necessary if you plan to eat these raw.  Mushrooms should not be eaten totally raw; they require cooking or marinating)

1/4 C soy sauce or tamari
1/2 C olive oil


1/2 C softened sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 C pitted calamata olives
1/4 C olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley
Parmesan cheese (optional)

If eating these raw, marinade the mushrooms until they feel "cooked," about 15 minutes with regular turning.  

In a food processor, process the topping ingredients until they are finely chopped but still chunky.  Top the mushrooms.  

If eating raw, warm them in a cool oven to desired temperature (food must be less than 115 to be considered raw).

If cooking, put the topped mushrooms on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until warm and soft.

You can do any pizza topping on these; this was what I had in the house.

Now I have my computer back, and soon I will be getting a keyboard that works properly (the u and the 7 don't function on this one so I have to cut and paste from other text), I should be able to keep up with my blog again!  However, due to all sorts of excitement that I will report later, I will not be updating the blog next week.         


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  2. Cute pic. I read "the giddy luxury of a blender . . ." and it took a while before the sentence made any sense to me.