May your Sunday resonate with Spring!
Spring opens, cleanses, renews.
Dainty daffodils nod their fine lemon heads.
Pink and green sweetly scented jasmines yield to the air, the light, and the mist.
Life deliciously unwraps its fruits.
Breezes invoke blooming botanical dreams.
Wisps of puffy heavens mushroom and prosper.
I dally and luxuriate on my fancy perch.
I day dream, I contemplate atop my cuddly nest.
I eavesdrop on the chatty songbirds.
They chant and tweet and chirp.
The sound of Spring is cherished here.
It is woven into the textured scheme of the day.
A finale of a farewell to March is due.
An encouraging dawn for April is expected.
Eastertide illustrates, bathes, and revives.
Promise, Hope and Faith.
In Isabel Allende’s historic novel Ines of my Soul, she quotes one of her characters as saying, “It makes no sense to suffer in advance a misfortune that may never occur.”
If I don’t worry, and think of all the possibilities of disaster, then calamity will surely befall me. This thinking dominated my childhood and early adult years. As if I were the master of the Universe, I went through every scenario in case I missed something. This can take up a lot of your time. And it may attract or provoke discouraging incidents.
Later on, when I was birthing and rearing children, I lived in fear with occasional breaks of joy. I felt guilty for not focusing more time on worry and spending more time doing life, enjoying children and pursuing quiet and sleep time.
My anxiety grew as we engaged in the Gulf War, 9/11 and another war, environmental tipping points and global financial instability.
Living in constant dread burns out your adrenals. I stopped watching the news. It heightens your cortisol levels, causing weight gain. I stopped watching scary movies. Depression and paralyzing thoughts set you up for a continuing downward spiral. I stopped listening to the negative chatter.
It’s hard to see the light when you live in terror, subjugation or self inflicted mind games. Negative forces easily influence and infiltrate the dark corners.
Am I a forecaster of doom? Do I believe I control everything? Am I my own saboteur? A resounding yes! Ahhhh,, but… when I am the problem, I have a solution.
So let there be change and let it begin with me.
The transformational journey continues.
Meanwhile, I have learned much as I climb out and away from my dysfunctional thinking. Many tools and people have been willing to help if I ask, need and use them. And that has taught me to seek more assistance and dig deeper, wider and stay with the pain. Surrender, let it go and move on. This has become more manageable.
In turn, I have been rewarded with knowing how to breathe deeply, meditate silently, pray faithfully, journal daily, affirm positively, call immediately, exercise regularly and a whole litany of ways to distract and train my undisciplined brain that dares to torture me.
Why waste sixty seconds on one minute of worry when I could be in the present moment and enjoy the here and now?
I learn how to be wiser from watching others, listening to others’ stories and from slow growth from my own experiences, as I get older.
Maturity looks like sacrifice but it’s actually wisdom and generosity of spirit.
Sometimes you have to do what’s right, not what is easiest or the most fun or alluring. My BFF demonstrated that recently and my husband, although childlike in many ways, is not childish. He’s my “Rock of Gibraltar.”
My children act all grown up, sophisticated and have often taught me a thing or two. Lately, they seem more educated, sensible and careful than I.
I respect that.
Maturity is about responsibility, and not necessarily seriousness. Sometimes I get that mixed up. As I develop into my physical age, I learn that making someone smile or laughing at a difficult situation, is healing and mellows out the anxiety. I watched and listened to someone wiser practice it frequently and advise me to do the same. And she learned it from someone else.
Maturity is about putting your loved ones needs above your wants and desires, even sometimes your own plans.
I admire that.
By observing someone else you love demonstrate this quality, you can acquire it yourself if you practice it. When I transform my actions, speech or thoughts, I can be a catalyst for others too.
I aspire that.
And I believe if generations of parents did not dedicate themselves to their young or support their elders in time of need, there would never have been community, advances in human society or evolution towards the greater good for all. To a certain extent, we have lost this redeeming quality in our culture and I pity that.
I pay attention to the good. I focus on what is right, just and loving in the world. I acknowledge and give props to all the people I get to see grow sometimes right before my very eyes as a light bulb clicks above their heads and they say “aha!”
I trust that.
It’s easy to make ravioli when you have wonton wrappers on hand. It reduces the time and effort it takes to make fresh pasta ravioli.
Sauté some garlic, tomatoes and basil in olive oil for a simple sauce and you have a quick, satisfying meal in under an hour.
¼ cup minced onion
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 plum tomatoes (2 pounds), coarsely chopped or one 28 oz. can of plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt to taste
12 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 large egg
You will also need:
1-package wonton wrappers
Freshly grated/shaved Parmesan cheese to taste
Sprig of fresh basil for garnish
To make the sauce, sauté the onions in oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat for @ 3 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and basil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes. Salt to taste.
For the filling: Place the cheeses, basil and egg in a food processor and whir till smooth.
Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of a wrapper. Moisten the edges with water, place another one on top and press to seal (make sure to remove any air in the pocket).
Repeat till you have used up the entire filling.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Add the ravioli and cook 3-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the pasta to a platter. Spoon the sauce over the ravioli. Sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh basil.
Makes 6 servings.
Basil Recipe #1
You knew I had to add some recipes!!
We garden to harvest and we gather our produce to EAT!
And what better way to travel the world and other traditions than through food. I know that is part of the attraction for me. Perhaps, for you as well.
In Italy, pesto is synonymous with basil and in France, pistou. Greeks pair it with feta or goat cheese and the Thai, with shrimp.
There is such a mélange and fusion frenzy as of late on the cooking scene. As our Earth shrinks with global exposure on the Internet, our hunger expands and our tastes diversify.
I love to take classic cooking and meander, tweak and merge cultural flavors or techniques and blend them into something new.
May you take a generous mindset and outlook when you play with your food.
Pesto alla Genovese
– 4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry
– 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled
– ½ cup pine nuts or walnuts
– ½ – ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
– up to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
When I was younger, I prepared the pesto by finely chopping the basil, pounding the garlic, nuts and a pinch of salt in a mortar with a pestle. I would gradually add the cheese, stirring carefully and add the olive oil in a trickle, blending well.
Along came the food processor and I owned my first one after college. I never looked back and now make my pesto by adding the first four ingredients and whirling till coarsely chopped. Then add the oil through the machine’s chute slowly, while blending.
Pesto is superb mixed in with hot pasta or cooked veggies. Brush it on chicken or fish towards the end of baking or stir a dollop into soup. It’s so versatile – use it in stuffing for tomatoes, eggplant or zucchini, spread it on hot fresh bread or add it to homemade salad dressing. It lasts for at least one week refrigerated. It will turn brownish when exposed to oxygen, so top it off with a layer of olive oil when storing.
I just spotted large leafed fresh basil at Trader Jo’s so no need to wait!!! 5 ingredients and minutes to the table!! Have some healthy pesto!!!
Ocimum basilicum –botanical name
Alphabetically in English, it’s the first of my twelve must haves.
Basileus means “kingly” in Greek. In France it is named the herbe royale.
It is believed basil came from India and then spread through the world. In India and Thailand, where Hindu and Buddhist religions prevail, basil is considered “the king of herbs”.
It is a sacred herb, dedicated to Krishna in Hindu. In fact, my first mala beads were threaded through Holy Basil seeds. The leaves are scattered around temples in India and Thailand. They are laid on the chest of the dead in Hindu tradition, believed to be powerful protection for the spirit on its journey into re-incarnation.
The scent of basil is reminiscent of mint, cloves and thyme, according to some herbalists. It’s taste is spirited, pungent and keenly appetizing. It has a peppery, sweet and refreshing flavor all at the same time.
It marries well with tomatoes and garlic. But don’t be afraid of trying it in different dishes, just make sure to add it towards the end if you are cooking, otherwise it’s a delight raw in any salad.
There are many different cultivars to try; Thai or Licorice basil, Lemon basil, Cinnamon basil and Purple Leaf to name a few. Each has it’s own nuance and uses.
Basil seedlings started hydroponically in water
Wherever you live, when you can plant your tomatoes in the ground safely, without danger of frost, that’s when it is safe to plant your basil. Basil loves water, it is a thirsty plant, but don’t overdo it. They hate to be transplanted so do it only once and immediately water with a cup of cooled chamomile tea so the roots don’t go into shock – just a gardener’s tip. Plant them in sunshine or even in part sun. The leaves are delicate and tend to scorch. Watch for green slugs on the underside of mature leaves and just pick them off or if you are squeamish, like me, just cut the whole leaf off with scissors and place the slug in your garbage.
If I were to write a book on herbs, it would be titled: The Top 12 Easy Herbs to Grow I Cannot Live Without and Neither Should You.
There are well over forty-five types of different plants considered therapeutic.
Herbs are plants that for centuries were used for curative purposes. The healing quality of an herb is what distinguishes it from other vegetation.
Botanists are still discovering and studying new forms every day. That is why the rainforests and our native habitats are so important to protect.
The original clever usage of these plants was to heal and most were steeped as a tea, long ago, in order to ingest its medicinal properties. Later on, they became invaluable to cooks in their recipes.
Primitive Man used herbs to mask odors, foul-smelling foods and watched animals ingest them first. There are four different regions of known and documented ancient herbal activity: the Chinese, Ayurvedic/Indian, European/Egyptian and American Indian sections of the world.
Women have always been the forgotten contributors to herbal medicine. In the nineteenth century, chemists began making pharmaceuticals using different extractions and compounds of herbs.
Many physicians overlooked or dismissed the role of midwives, witches, wise women and nurses. Many of these undocumented (even condemned to death) females contributed to modern medicine without mention.
The common foxglove plant and flower is botanically known as digitalis, which is a poison that helps with heart attacks, taken in small quantity. An Englishwoman folk healer, who was never recognized, unearthed this huge breakthrough in the field of medicine.
I have always believed that in a past life, I was some kind of herbal healer or chemist. I love to concoct potions. And what is gourmet cuisine if not chemistry experiments at their finest?
But I digress. My top 12 picks are:
Rosemary* Basil* Mint* Oregano* Lavender* Thyme* Sage* Cilantro* Tarragon* Chives* Nasturtiums* and Parsley