Wednesday, June 30, 2010
My new issue of 'Whole Living' magazine, formerly known as 'Body + Soul' came in the mail yesterday. I made myself some tea, ate a slice of the banana bread I'd made in the morning, and flipped through it, feasting on the gorgeous photography and of course, those seductively simple recipes.
The odd thing is that what I love about the magazine is also what kind of bothers me about it. The cool, crisp, balanced lifestyle, the endless tips on being greener, happier, more organized, more present in your daily life are all things I crave and aspire to. I want to learn about the best ways to keep fresh herbs thriving in my sunny windowsill, and how to curb my rampant addiction to sugar. I'd love to tone my core without crunches and be able to meditate. And I am entirely humbled by people who dedicate their sense of goodness and justice to making the world a healthier, lovelier, more sustainable place. But here's my question, the one that's been lingering in my head for days now:
When are we ever good enough, just as we are? Do we constantly have to chase our better selves?
Isn't it even a little bit okay to be flawed, shy, unbalanced, stressed? When do I get to feel okay about myself for not being able to afford the organic vegetables and the humanely raised eggs, for shopping on that rare occasion at Walmart or for getting it spectacularly wrong sometimes when I'm angry? Do I have to be everything, have everything? Maybe I'm alone in this, but I feel like sometimes the dreams of having and of wanting and of being are all the more moving and glorious than the tangibles that embody them.
In pursuit of some clarity, I cleaned out my fridge of leftover scraps, some too old to be salvaged. I wanted to see empty space in there; the visual clutter was bothering me. I happened upon these multi-coloured carrots I'd got with my last Good Food Box, and their prettiness inspired me - a salad idea formed in my mind. I peeled them and chopped the ends off; their magical insides revealed:
I sliced them up as thin as I could make them;
I chopped up a lonesome little half of a jalapeno I'd found with the Nigella mezzluna my sister had given me as a present for no other reason than because she thought I'd get lots of use out of it. She is the best, gentlest, kindest person on earth and I will think of her each and every time I use it. Me and my now-unharmed fingertips are forever in her debt.
I zested some orange, lemon and lime and delighted in their abstract, colourful tangle:
All the ingredients went in a bowl and got mixed up with a heap of cooled couscous, left just warm enough to soften the carrots a little:
The dressing was made and poured over everything. I put it in the fridge and left all the flavours to mingle for a while. Husband came home and called me sweet names. We sat out in the brilliant late-afternoon sun chatting, and in the conversational pauses, I dreamed of trees swaying in the breeze, crowded gardens grown lush and wild, a chill on my skin, the dimpled cheeks of my true love. I didn't need to open my eyes though. Because it was all real and it was all around me.
Carrot Salad, by Moni:
1-2 cups cooked couscous, mostly cooled
3 large carrots, multi-coloured if you can find them, thinly sliced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 a jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
zest of 1/2 an orange and lemon, finely chopped
zest of 1 lime, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chili flakes
juice of 1/2 an orange and lemon
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
splash of white balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare about 1 cup of couscous as per package instructions (I use a 1:2 ratio of couscous to water)
2. Combine in a large bowl the chopped carrots, green onions, jalapeno, zest of the lime, orange and lemon and the chili flakes. Set aside.
3. Make the dressing by combining the lemon, lime and orange juices, the oil and vinegar, the cayenne and chili powders and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour the couscous ( I used about 1 1/2 cups cooked - put in as much or little as you like) into the veggie bowl and stir till well combined. Pour dressing over it, stir till everything is coated and set aside for 30 minutes or longer.