Eating local. It’s not “fad diet” lingo. It’s not a hipster phenomenon. It is something that is nutritionally, politically, and economically valuable for a number of reasons. All of that can be discussed at length at some point. But for today, I want to focus on the JOY of the experience.

Saturday morning, my girlfriend and I went to the local farmers market.
It was hot and dry.
Local musicians played and sang as we walked around the market. We saw friends and old neighbors, waved, hugged, chatted.

I ran into Kimi and her husband at their market stand and asked her to make some “magic juice,” which she did with beets only hours out of the ground, apples, and ginger. Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting power in a cup. It was delicious, too. Taste buds were all happy and bodies were fueled.

Among all the goods and services we could have purchased, we stuck to edibles. Salad onions, Swiss Chard, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, and berries. A mixed flat of raspberries and strawberries, and another couple pints of blueberries disappeared quickly as they were tossed in smoothies, baked into buttermilk cakes, or just eaten by hand, the epitome of summer snacking.

And we bought cheese. Don’t forget the cheese. It was such a treat to buy from Monteillet Fromagerie, the fantastic local cheese maker. We also picked up some herbed goat cheese from Little Dipper to be used in the recipe for dinner.

Dinner was a modified version of eggplant parmesan, suggested and directed by the culinary adventurer, health conscious, garden-loving girlfriend.

We sliced two medium eggplants into ½ inch thick rounds, dredged them in a beaten egg (slightly watered down) followed by gluten-free bread crumbs (basically cornmeal) that was blended with oregano, salt, and pepper. The covered slices were placed on a greased baking sheet and put in the oven at 450 F for 20 minutes to start. (They’ll go back in for a bit, but let’s take this step by step.)

Next was a simple and quick marinara sauce. A drizzle of olive oil, a couple finely chopped small onions from the garden and about 4 cloves of garlic were sauteed over medium heat for a few minutes. Then chopped small heirloom tomatoes were tossed in (about 3 pint containers from Welcome Table Farm) along with a handful of herbs from the garden. We used basil, but any herbs that you want are fine. We tossed them in whole, stems and all, and let the sauce simmer and reduce until it thickened up nicely.

When we took the eggplant out of the oven after 20 minutes, we spread a bit of chevre (with thyme — from Little Dipper) on each of the eggplant slices and then put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes to finish baking. Remove from the oven when the chèvre is hot and the bread crumbs start to turn a nice golden brown.

We sauteed Swiss Chard with a drizzle of olive oil, and a few tablespoons of vegetable stock.

The eggplant and sauteed greens were arranged on the plate, marinara was spooned over top, and we feasted like royalty on food that we could trace back to the source. I felt so nourished, body and soul, knowing that the meal was a product of this land I love so dearly, that we hadn’t shipped food halfway around the world for this meal, that I knew personally almost every person who’d handled the food that was now on our plates.

For dessert, we had… berries. Raspberries. Strawberries. Blueberries.
I licked my fingers.
It was a good day.

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Tonight I am driving an hour to go make dinner for someone. I have food prepped and ready. The grill is set up and waiting. And I am nervous. I’m not nervous because I’m preparing food. I’m a pretty good cook and generally feel comfortable in the kitchen–or at the grill. I’m nervous because I am preparing food in someone else’s space. For them. (I can’t remember the last time I agreed to do this. No, really. I can’t remember.)

Over the last few years, I have been focused on feeding myself. Feeding myself in every way. What does it take to feel satiated? What nourishment does my body need? What about my mind? My heart?

I’ve learned about the need for rest, for quiet, meditation and calm.
I’ve learned about the need for time in nature, hiking in the mountains, swimming in lakes, rivers, oceans, and cycling through fields on the country roads near home.
I’ve learned about heartbreak.
I’ve learned about recovery.
I’ve learned about the comfort of my own home, the safe haven I’ve created.
I’ve learned about letting dishes pile up.
I’ve learned about hand-mopping floors almost religiously.
I’ve learned about the need for travel.
I’ve learned about asking for what I need.
I’ve learned about asking for what I want.
I’ve learned about the support and love offered freely by many.
I’ve learned about the feeling of shutting people out.
I’ve learned about the feeling of letting people in.
I’ve learned about boundaries and blurred edges.
I’ve learned how little I truly know.

But this I do know: Relationships matter. People matter in my world. And once I recognized and owned that I am driven by relationships, it was time to redesign my life.

A desire to connect runs through everything.

I have a coaching client who once said that connection was one of her primary goals. In every area of her life, she realized that she made choices hoping to gain connection, deepen existing connections, create meaningful moments of connection. And I could relate. She brilliantly mirrored back to me my own desire for connection.

So back to tonight and my plans. Yes. I feel nervous. But what if I re-frame the nervousness? What if I view it as excitement? I’m excited by the possibility of connection in a new context. I’m nearly bursting with joy, recognizing the potential of the experience. I take a deep breath–in and out. Shoulders drop. My mouth and eyes smile.

Tonight is an adventure, an opportunity to share an experience. I get to feed a beautiful person. I get to share a meal, conversation, my vulnerability as I venture out of my comfort zone and into theirs.

And that is how I open myself to connection. To relationship. To being well fed.

Connect and be fed. 

Tonight’s menu:

Local grass fed steak
Grilled veggies (zucchini, peppers, onions)
Simple green salad
And “the light of a bottle of intelligent wine” will grace our table.

What will you do today to be satiated, nourished, fed?

 

Braveblogging31

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One More Time

It is only by risking ourselves
from one hour to another
that we live at all.
-William James

Maybe you know what this feels like:
You stand in the desert, lift your eyes to the horizon.
It would take ages, days, lifetimes it seems
to reach the edge of your vision.
Your chest lifts, soul expands. You and this land,
you conspire together, plan the birth
of wisdom and freedom and joy.

Or you lie on the deck of a ship in the middle of the ocean at night.
The Milky Way hovers, glittering and majestic. But close
like it has something to tell you, a secret,
the mysteries of the universe.
You are on the edge of all you’ve ever wanted.

I want THAT. One more time.
Resting. Standing.
Perched
at the edge
of all potential.

And memory floods this moment.

One more time
I want to walk Las Ramblas in Barcelona
where tango and flowers and music embrace me.
I want another meal in the kitchen with the cook
singing spanish love songs to the food,
infusing that food with love–the most nourishing of all.
I want to swim with sea turtles at dawn,
to hear a baby say their first word, watch her take her first step,
even to witness her get her heart broken for the first time, a risk,
a sign that she’s choosing life in all its duende.

I want to dance salsa in the moonlight,
teach a grandchild to knit, ride a bike, bake a pie.
I want to stand on a mountain, the sun on my face,
all the sunlight I can hold. Full. Radiant.
I want to smell jasmine tea.
To notice and photograph the prisms of light
in water droplets I discover on flowers in the garden.
I want to hike through lemon groves along Cinque Terra.
I want to cheer at my child’s graduation. Throw parties.
Write old fashioned hand-penned letters to friends I adore.
I want room service and hot baths and good books with stories I can get lost in.

Most of all, I want to relax
into the pleasure of loving.
Loving like I did as a child.
Without conditions or fear or reservation.
What I wouldn’t give for more fearless love.
Just one more time.

That’s why I won’t let this get me down.
I want the beautiful, painful, risk-taking adventure we’re all on
together too much. Too much. Holding nothing back.
One more time.
And again.
To life.

I was asked to write this piece for the 2014 Pink Ball in Walla Walla. Huge thanks to Amy Vixie (founder and president of JUGS, a non-profit organization that puts on the annual fundraising event) for the invitation. It was a beautiful event, and I am grateful and honored to have been involved.

I post it today, as the Grand Cardinal Cross graces the skies, as a celebration of life, a reminder to be courageous, to live fully, to love unconditionally. To life.

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