Friday, June 25, 2010

Transportation Pledge

In the wake of the oil spill, I have felt a certain disgust towards my own petroleum usage. Almost simultaneouly, my car has taken an irreperable turn for the worse. This has been surprisingly synchronistic, as I have been forced through necessity to consider other options for my daily transportation.

And so I have committed from both necessity and desire to alternative forms of transportation each day- train, bike, carpool, walk. Most of these I have found wonderfully pleasant; the most difficult is carpooling. It makes me feel a bit needy and dependent on others to ask for a ride- and even though I have many options of people to ask for rides, I still wish the exchange were more mutual. In general, I feel more capable and independent when I take the train. On the other hand, taking the train has meant a re-adjustment of schedules- which has only been possible by a certain flexibility in work situations. I am very happy to have moved to Beacon, closer to my job, to a place where all these options are possible. And I am happy that I have chosen to pursue work only in situations that would align with my values.

As I have turned to 'training it', I have received some lovely gifts- including reduced expenses, more exercise, and encounters with nature. As the train ride is accompanied by a mile long walk through the woods to work, I have encountered squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer~ and a certain freedom and joy.

I, therefore, make this pledge willingly to give up the luxury of driving my car, and commit to continuing along this path.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Week Day Side Dish

This week, I have been featuring recipes using vegetables from the first CSA pick-up of the year. I served the following with grilled teriyaki chicken and braised greens (including turnip greens and a wild edible called lamb's quarters...)

Turnips with Bread Crumbs and Parsley

4 small turnips, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley leaves
½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water cook 15 minutes and drain. When turnips are cool enough to handle, cut each into 8 wedges. In a large skillet cook turnips in butter over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until almost tender and golden on the edges, about 10 minutes. Stir in bread crumbs, parsley, zest, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until turnips are tender, about 5 minutes.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lazy Sunday, Light Dinner

Pak Choi

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 15 mins

• 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 3 garlic cloves, crushed
• ginger, peeled and finely chopped
• 500g pak choi, chopped

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and fry the garlic and ginger for 3-4 mins.
2. Add the Pak Choi and fry for another 2-3 mins.

Ginger Peanut Soba Noodles

prep time: 10 minutes | cooking time: 10 minutes | makes 4 servings

One package soba noodles
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed
sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, & chopped green onion for garnish

Prepare noodles as directed on package.

Drain noodles. In a small bowl combine soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, water, grated ginger and garlic. Add to noodles and toss thoroughly to coat. If the sauce seems a little too thick, add some pasta water a tablespoon at a time until it looks like it will blend nicely with the noodles and not glop.

Top generously with chopped peanuts, scallions, and sesame seeds.

Eat hot or even chilled or room temperature. Serve with pak choi.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Recipe for a Picnic

Black Bean Dip
15 min | 15 min prep
2 cups
• 2 cups cooked drained black beans
• 4 teaspoons tomato paste
• 3 tablespoons water
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons lime juice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
• 2 green onions, chopped
• ¼ cup salsa
1. Process all ingredients except green onions and chilies in a blender or food processor until smooth.
2. Stir in green onions and salsa and place in a serving bowl.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


2010 is off to a surreal start... The devastating earthquake in Haiti has riveted us, and we casually and conveniently text our dollars to support the cause of relief. Modern technology is a wondrous things...makes Good Samaritan acts so easy. Care for the dying at the click of a buttton. And really, I don't mean this sarcastically...the thought of people dying under rubble does not warrant that response; rather, it devastates--and if a response can be made in a matter of seconds, than I will make it. I personally can't text my dollars (not since I dropped my cell phone in the toilet anyway), but my husband can and did. He said he was angered by the ignorant comments-- Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, and his father on a rant of moral superiority against the midde east. But I wonder if his response has another source... His Haitian students stayed home this week...I wonder if his response is more toward those empty classroom chairs.

Me, I get to make board votes about charitable collections via email-- motioning this way and that way for the greater good. I'll write out my check faithfully on Sunday, and hope that some relief will come to someone somewhere in the wake of devastation. Again, a response in a matter of seconds.

My husband is not the only one with empty classroom chairs. Tomorrow, Newburgh city schools are closed--not because of the earthquake, and not to get a head start on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. No, they are closed because a 17- year old boy is dead, and a 13- year old boy is in jail. They are closed because other kids are fighting, and retaliation is brewing, and The Outsiders is suddenly real in my back yard... No, wait, I live across the river, in my safe little harbor... And the only reason I know about the Newburgh stabbing was because I had plans to meet up with a couple other UU dreamers at the library to plan a Martin Luther King conversation about service. Only the first time I tried to drive there at night, I couldn't find the library--and driving around the streets of the most dangerous city in New York State without a GPS didn't make me feel very safe. So we rescheduled-- except now the library is closed, as are all the schools, due to this safety emergency and fear of retaliation.

Yes, 2010 is off to a strange and scary start... I have this feeling suddenly that I have waded in with my idealism and found myself over my head. Not that I haven't had this feeling before-- assault in the Bronx; suicide and domestic violence in Pine Ridge; sniper shootings and anthrax drills in PG County, MD. (The words get a little overused. It's the faces behind them that stick.)

So, I had this great idea to save the world.. and this year, Newburgh seemed the place to begin. And in the mix of all this, other synergies annd positive flames have brought the dream closer-- friends who are making common connections.

I still believe, and maybe these devastations tell me it isn't going to be easy. There is so much to lose, so much to fear.

But we can keep moving forward with our dreams of renewal and change... texting our donations is good. Sometimes, it is all we CAN do...

But there are also poor among us, right here, right now. Sometimes devastation arrives in seconds-- crumbling foundations to naught. And sometimes it rumbles like a sea beneath the surface. And all we can do is hang on for dear life together, to keep it from dragging us under.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good Day

Today was a good day. In retrospect, I almost started to say, wow-- "well balanced" between work and play. But then I remembered that I'd spent most of my work hours at our staff holiday luncheon--indulging on scrumptious appetizers, wine, and Hudson River views. Most of the real work I did today was for church--organizing for a Green Sanctuary forum and putting together the Christmas Eve order of service. I worked steadfastly on these after putting the girls to sleep. Again, they were exhausted by 7:30-- good quality time before that spent playing Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land, reading stories, and cutting out pictures of things that begin with P from magazines (for homework). Good Day. Even if the "christmas spirit" still eludes, I do like the lights of my tree--so peaceful and mild.


Most mornings my husband goes jogging or climbs a mountain. This is his time-- sacred time, you might say. Time to be alone, focus, begin again in the light of a new day.

I have been feeling a real dearth of such time in my life. The go-go-go is immeasurable. And even with my personal go-go-go, I am still feeling that I am letting people down. It was just too much last night to take Camille to her school Christmas concert at the high school--one which seemed fairly unorganized and without expectation of attendance. Or maybe I'm just saying that to assuage my guilt. Walking into the house at 5:30, waving to my husband on his way out the door to his job, I spent the first half hour consoling a 3-year old out of a tantrum. By the time I had a chance to consider the concert, I realized that Lance had driven away with the car seats. Was this blessing or curse? My kids had a great time last night--oranges and bagel snacks, stories cuddled with mom, an extra long bath time, playing together. They were exhausted and ready for bed by 7:30 actually--the time the concert was slated to begin! I could just imagine how Elisa would have held up there, with mom feeling completely frazzled.

But again, I have mixed feelings. The go-go-go seems an imperative of culture--I am definitely not keeping up with the Joneses in Christmas consumption. This has led me to avoid extended family gatherings around the holidays where the idea is to pass out presents to everyone you've ever said hello to in your life. And the thing is I would pass out homemade presents-- if my life were such that I had time to spend carefully planning and preparing and making these. But my life consists of 40 hours of administrative work each week, caring for children (most times on alternating schedules from my husband), and a couple personal passions mainly related to religion, church, and history (most of this I fit into that 40 hours of administrative work--eating lunch at my desk while focusing on these--or in the hours after the kids fall asleep).

I'm not exactly sure what to do with time. It definitely is NOT to replace writing, reflection, and dreams with consumption or sedentary activity (i.e. TV watching). Those things are the easiest to give up--no-brainers really. And yet, I still feel pulled between activities of goodness and worth.

I am happy though--Camille will have the opportunity to participate in a Christmas Eve service at church--to process and sing with other children for this event. And I will try to plan better and make the Christmas concert at school next year.