Update: Fusco’s Kitchen Re-Opens or Learning to Love Low-sodium

I’m simply adding this preface to an old post to replace the original introduction. This past blogless year I was diagnosed with early heart disease. Things are okay, but I need to take some steps to stay okay. One of these, much dreaded, was reduce the salt in my diet.  I’m slowly learning to adapt favorite recipes, and have been blessed by the recent introduction of get this — LOW-SODIUM OLIVES!!!!!!manzanilla olives

For me this is the equivalent of winning the Publishers’ Clearinghouse contest. Life is sweet again.  So, I’ve been encouraged to work on a few of my favorites. Simple fixes like tons of dill in tuna salad or green beans, lemon on nearly everything, and more cumin in lentil soup have become the norm, but a few items have eluded me. One is the red beans and yellow rice dishes I developed a few years ago. Tonight I’m using a stray can of red beans that’s moderate in sodium (320mg per serving), but I’ll be making a batch salt-free next time. I’m also stretching the premixed rice by adding a cup of uncooked plain rice in with a cup of the rice mix. More garlic and some sodium-free diced tomatoes with the juice should cover the needed changes.

The savory update will have to wait til this weekend, when I’ll shop and get more olives!


 

The Original Recipes

The emphasis this week has been on convenient, healthy, frugal foods. I’ve been eating variations on yellow rice and beans all week.

simple and good

I cooked a pound of red beans in the slow cooker overnight.  Then cooked a family-sized package of yellow rice (makes about 8 cups).  I took about 4 cups of the beans and packaged them in Ziplock baggies in the freezer, and refrigerated the balance in a covered bowl. The rice was also refrigerated.

Meal 1:  heat medium skillet, add splash of olive oil. While oil heats, quickly dice zucchini and mushrooms. Pulverize 1 clove garlic in press or under knife, add to veggies sauteing along with parsley and a little oregano and thyme.  Stir in 1 cup yellow rice and 1/2-2/3 cup beans. Mix until ingredients are hot. If they are too dry, drizzle broth, tomato or V-8 juice in while stirring to proper texture. Season with grated cheese or a splash of lemon juice.

Meal 2:  Microwave lunch:  Put 1 cup rice and 1/2 cup beans in a microwaveable container. Grate directly into container: 1 small zucchini, 1 small carrot (or half each larger ones).  Again, splash generously with V-8 or other tomato based juice  or soup. Refrigerate until lunch. Heat, add grated cheese and enjoy.

tapenade

Meal 3: Savory version.  Dice Zucchini, saute with minced garlic in olive oil.  Saute yellow rice and beans (same 2:1 proportion as other recipes). with the squash. In food processor, roughly chop a large handful of green stuffed olives, a can of drained artichoke hearts, some capers, a few black olives, a clove of garlic and fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, or rosemary might work well).  Lightly pulse these ingredients along with a handful of red beans. top sautéed beans and rice with a dollop of this tapenade and enjoy.

Whatever combination of savory ingredients (add almonds, diced tomatos, or the classic anchovies, for example) can be handled this same way for a wide array of flavors, all based on simple red beans and yellow rice.

Searching for Gratitude

transf029GratefulnessSometimes it’s hard to find that grateful place. The inner “ping” that eases the constriction, lets a sigh slip out and opens the heart again.

I deal with a lot of chronic pain, and once in a while it gets to me more thoroughly than I’d like. Today was one of those. I spent much of the morning with my knee and lower leg hurting like a rotten tooth, barely able to take a step.

A visit to the doctor’s and a sonogram eased some of the fear I was feeling — no blood clot or blockage — but simply bursitis on top of the usual arthritis and tendonitis in my knee and — and don’t all those “itis” endings tell tales of dreary misery! But without the tightening of fear, there began to be a little room for easy breath. A new anti-inflammatory gave me a bit of pain relief this evening, and I am now fairly comfortably sitting at the computer, watching a Netflix show and finishing a deep purple hat..

And there it is. That whisper of gratitude. First: it’s my knee — not my hands, so knitting remains a joy;. It’s not my mind, so thinking these things is still easy and fluid; It’s not a loved one’s loss, so tomorrow holds its usual promise.   Once again, gratitude has done it’s work, and I’m smiling as I write, even laughing at myself a little, because I fell for the “con” that I am my pain.  It’s a kind of mesmerism that creeps up a bit at a time, and the weariness that daily pain brings with it leaves little vulnerable cracks in my identify as a multi-dimensional being. I am not my pain, or my fear, or even my joy.

And with the reminder of the truth, that knowing opens the flood of gratitude for the whole shebang of human embodiment. Pain or no pain — living still beats the hell out of the alternatives.

 

Blessings to all.

450px-White-Browed_Robin

Revisiting an Old Favorite

Sometimes the important things you read as a teenager or young adult make you wince when you come across them again years later.

I was (big surprise) browsing in an antique store this past weekend and came across an old favorite that didn’t disappoint me forty-five years after I first read it. In fact, I bought the inexpensive framed poster and just need to figure where to hang it. Anyway, I thought I’d share this and see how it strikes others, whether it’s an old friend or a new:

Desideratagreen road

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
woman singingBe yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

brigitTherefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

As always,

Blessings to All

Cat Burglars and Staying up Late

I’ve been knitting most of the evening, watching old TV episodes on Netflix and finishing an elegant and subdued scarf for Josh. Then I’m making a bright orange wool cap for a friend who works outside on foggy winter mornings, plus something I’ll make out of this lovely Juniper Moon silk/merino blend. and then there’s the primary colored free-form shawl a few ideas for the next scarves and shawls.

Out of the corner of my eye I keep watch for the cat burglars. Ellsworth is the invisible neak thief, creeping in close, head low, with precise foot placement. Delicately, tenderly, he nudges the skein shifting it so he can get a sure grip with his mouth.  He clamps down, pulls back in slow mo, and then dashes for the hall …yard trailing behind him, catching on everything in its path.

Ellsworth can resist orange yarn. While for Smudge, I think the biggest attraction is proximity and a clear line of escape. He wants room to dash off to the other end of the house tearing loose locks of yarn and tangling, — indeed wrestling with it — and claiming it as prey.  Smudge is on the hunt.  Ellsworth is playing a sneak thief version –sealth is the purpose, my surprise the reward.

Sally Ride: Gone Too Soon

Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut, died at merely 61 today.  She was an inspiration to me, and to millions of other women, as she broke a boundary few ever even near.

 

 

 

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Commitment

What a loaded word!

Do I need to commit? Or be committed? Or is it a singular thing,once accomplished and then done.

I am using this space today to announce my re-commitment to myself: my health, my energy, creativity, ability to move, and change and keep my being whole and happy.

I am recommitting to the image of myself at 19, full of joi de vivre, energetic and at ease.

Let’s see what happens next.

Just Another Tarot Tuesday

Joyful Participation in the Sorrows of the World

Wow! The tarot does it again. I’ve been very closeted and cocooned the past months (as you can see from the lack of blog posts). Not depressed, but detached, floating a little, extremely internal in my focus.

Today I made the choice to try opening more to my own experience, and letting in connection and engagement. “Easy,” I thought. “I’ll just start with a Tarot Tuesday. No sweat, a simple way to reconnect….” Yeah, right.

Participation is the card I drew, first shot. That’s telling me. This is a beautiful card, with a great deal of power imbued in the graphic of the double dorje. The directness of the commentary appeals to me, and the sense of focus and intensity of the card itself. It doesn’t just speak of participation, it launches you into it, willy-nilly….

From the Osho Zen Tarot:
Have you ever seen night going? Very few people even become aware of things which are happening every day. Have you ever seen the evening coming? The midnight and its song? The sunrise and its beauty?
We are behaving almost like blind people. In such a beautiful world we are living in small ponds of our own misery. It is familiar, so even if somebody wants to pull you out, you struggle. You don’t want to be pulled out of your misery, of your suffering. Otherwise there is so much joy all around, you have just to be aware of it and to become a participant, not a spectator.aaa

 Philosophy is speculation, Zen is participation. Participate in the night leaving, participate in the evening coming, participate in the stars and participate in the clouds; make participation your lifestyle and the whole existence becomes such a joy, such an ecstasy. You could not have dreamed of a better universe.   •  Osho Zen: The Miracle Chapter 2
Commentary:
Each figure in this mandala holds the left hand up, in an attitude of receiving, and the right hand down, in an attitude of giving. The whole circle creates a tremendous energy field that takes on the shape of the double dorje, the Tibetan symbol for the thunderbolt.
The mandala has a quality like that of the energy field that forms around a buddha, where all the individuals taking part in the circle make a unique contribution to create a unified and vital whole. It is like a flower, whose wholeness is even more beautiful than the sum of its parts, at the same time enhancing the beauty of each individual petal.
You have an opportunity to participate with others now to make your contribution to creating something greater and more beautiful than each of you could manage alone. Your participation will not only nourish you, but will also contribute something precious to the whole.

I Blinked….

Wow! It’s November 1st and I’m wondering where the last couple of months have gone.

I’ve been in school, getting that rhythm back after 20 or more years. I’ve been struggling to learn to live on less while still feeding my raging yarn and knitting obsession.

I’ve given up Farmville but am firmly in the grasp of a Zuma Blitz blitz.

I’m knitting hats for the local folks from Occupy Wall Street — Occupy Asheville is a pretty mobile group and it’s getting cold out there (it was 28 degrees in Asheville this morning, which is ridiculous for the south on November 1st).

What else….

I fell — a little over a week ago, and slammed my knee HARD. The bruising and swelling is finally going down. It was a reminder of how bad my walking ability was a year ago, and how far I’ve come back to better health.

Swimming!! I joined the gym and starting doing mild water workouts. I’m really enjoying it, though I no longer can do the hot tub because of leg circulation impairment. Still, a hot shower gets rid of most of the sore muscles. The water is a blessing for me: I feel weightless and graceful, and can float and bob effortlessly. I do a lot of treading water and just paddling around. Keep moving is my main rule.

I keep moving in other ways too. The deep wounds of losing my job — being laid off with no warning at all — still resonate in me. I am moving forward into this new life, but I am still troubled with some fairly obsessive thinking about the old job and what happened. Since I know there answers that will change anything, I turn my thoughts as soon as I can. In the meantime, I try to hold them lightly… and let them drift away on the currents of the water as I swim… so I just keep swimming.

Tarot Tuesday: Possibilities

I actually think I drew this card once before… it’s possible (sorry — couldn’t resist).

It’s also incredibly appropriate for my life right now. Though I feel a bit more like the eagle’s potential prey: frozen in place.

What a view. What a multitude of fields and peaks, hidden valleys and coves. Sunrise or Sunset? So many choices. So much potential.

I’ve thought a lot about the experience of excitement, and it’s close connection with the experience of fear. It’s mostly how we choose to interpret our bodies’ signals. My heart pounds, my palms sweat, my breath comes faster and rougher. Am I scared or excited? One feels so bad, one so good….

Here is a choice point in all the possibilities. I can choose which feelings I put more energy into. I can feed one possibility above others, and increase the chances of that one coming to fruition. Do I want to feed the fear?   No! 

So I slow my breathing, center and ground myself, and open to the other feelings available to me. Ah, there it is, a squiggle of excitement, a snippet of joy, a sigh of bliss…. all available, all different possible futures.  What will I pick?

From the Osho Zen Tarot:
Mind can accept any boundary anywhere. But the reality is that, by its very nature, existence cannot have any boundary, because what will be beyond the boundary? – again another sky.

That’s why I am saying skies upon skies are available for your flight. Don’t be content easily. Those who remain content easily remain small: small are their joys, small are their ecstasies, small are their silences, small is their being. But there is no need! This smallness is your own imposition upon your freedom, upon your unlimited possibilities, upon your unlimited potential.

Osho Live Zen Chapter 2
 
Commentary:
The eagle has an overview of all the possibilities contained in the landscape below, as he flies freely, naturally and effortlessly through the sky. He is really in his domain, very grand and self-contained.

This card indicates that you are at a point where a world of possibilities is open to you. Because you have grown more loving towards yourself, more self-contained, you can work easily with others. Because you are relaxed and at ease, you can recognize possibilities as they present themselves, sometimes even before others can see them. Because you are in tune with your own nature, you understand that existence is providing you with exactly what you need.

Enjoy the flight! And celebrate all the varied wonders of the landscape spread before you.