Friday, March 23, 2012

A Fresh Start!

Per my astrology expert, Priya Kale--today’s New Moon occurred at 2+ Aries at 10:37 AM EDT. This marks the start of the astrological new year, and the day after is celebrated as the Hindu New Year, or Gudi Padwa (in Maharashtra) — a very auspicious day to start something new. So, a very Happy Gudi Padwa to ya (from the heart of Texas)!

And, I've just learned that it is also World Meteorological Day, and our 2012 US heatwave has been off the charts. As one commentator said, ""It's not just off the charts, it's off the wall the charts are tacked to."

The new ritual that I've started to commemorate this fresh start is to brew (and then savor!) a special cup of tea each day. I find that there is something so soothing to me in the ritual of making the tea and the contemplative time while drinking it--a feeling of being more centered. There's a blog by Darya Pino called Summer Tomato that I really enjoy, and try to read on a regular basis. She mentioned a tea company that she really liked called Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco, CA. They are direct importers of rare and artisan teas. Some of their teas are virtually impossible to find on the open market, having been discovered only by chance after being hidden away for decades by a tea maker or their family.  I placed an online order for a Discovery Collection, which includes five resealable packages of rare and exotic loose leaf tea from around the world. The package of tea arrived in approximately two days.


My first choice from this collection was the organic Cloud and Mist tea. It had a wonderful, buttery taste and a very rich golden color. Also included in their very nicely boxed set are brewing instructions and descriptions of the different teas, and also included two sample packages of other teas. This sampler would make a lovely gift (to give or receive).

For anyone who might not know, adding lemon to your green tea significantly boosts the antioxidant benefits. Lemon (or other fruits with ascorbic acid, such as orange, lime or grapefruit) acts as a stabilizing agent for catechins (very good antioxidants that are highly present in green tea) throughout the digestive process.

Also, if you suffer from ragweed allergy or sensitivity--definitely avoid chamomile tea. I discovered this the hard way, after trying to drink more and more during allergy season one year--attempting to make myself feel better.  Needless to say, it didn't work. I've since learned to carefully pay attention to my body's reactions when introducing new foods. It can be as simple as smelling an intense herb that makes your nose tingle and/or turn red. That doesn't mean that you must totally avoid every food like this--just be aware and go slowly. My husband Bob reacts by sneezing in almost every garden center that we go to, and we still haven't figured out what the exact cause is? Of course, it may just be trees or grasses--which are very high today in central Texas.

My morning was spent shelling fresh, organic peas (from Animal Farm and Boggy Creek Farm) while waiting on a major house door glass repair. First--defective. Second--oversized. Oh, well--third time is a charm, right? (Of course, they only discovered these problems after dismantling the entire wood trim on the door--a process which took almost two hours each time.) But, I'm grateful for their helpful attitudes and look forward to having our door back to 100% sometime soon.

Back to the peas.  I couldn't help but fondly remember my late grandmother ("Mimi Jean") sitting in the counter stool just next to this one. When I automatically handed her a bowl of peas to shell while I was cooking, she said, "Sweetie, I don't do this. Don't you just buy these at the store?" And, I'd just assumed that she would just feel right at home with a bowl full of fresh peas in front of her...

Shelling Peas
Organic Flowers from Animal Farm


I'm so excited to use all my freshly shelled peas in a new lava rock molcajete from Williams-Sonoma to make a fresh green pea/avocado dip or hummus. I'm planning to use fresh peas a la Jamie Oliver in my dish, but also have several fairly ripe avocados sitting on the counter (the organics come in a mesh sack/6 each from Whole Foods for a fabulous price compared to just one--but, you must eat them quickly!). Although, I've also learned that they last longer in the refrigerator. I didn't find any online recipes using fresh raw peas with avocado, but hopefully just smashing and bruising them up in my new mortar and pestle will do the trick? I'll post on that tomorrow.

More good news today, the FDA was ordered to restrict antibiotics' use in livestock. Hopefully, there won't be some unforeseen backlash with a sudden (or any) withdrawal of drugs--like perhaps some new strain of bacteria in the food source?

Some time was also spent plotting my possible urban garden in our backyard. I actually went so far as to consider chickens and goats (not sure that my inner-city neighbors or Bob would be very positively responsive about that?). My friend, Carla does exactly this (well, maybe without the poultry and livestock) at Austin Urban Gardens, and I may need her input and expertise. Once upon a time, I worked in my family's garden, but am not quite sure that this older body of mine is prepared for the summer heat and labor. I do love a little air-conditioning in the 100+-degree days of Texas summer weather!

Well, this is definitely something that I relate to--Why Talk Therapy is on the Wane and Writing Workshops Are on the Rise: "We were writing to confront what Faulkner called “the human heart in conflict with itself.” And not just any hearts. Our hearts." Writing therapy will always be my choice over talk--hands down.

So much for my special dinner tonight--real life happened. We opted for Casa de Luz, our favorite organic/macrobiotic/vegan oasis in the heart of Austin (also in San Diego, CA). They just can't be beat for quality--everything is made with love and care and the best ingredients.
Yellow Split Pea/Rice/Kimchi/Blanched Greens


And, I ate every single bite of that! Yum.

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