Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are We There Yet? And A Carrot Salad

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.


  1. I agree it can be frustrating. The "living in the moment" mantra becomes entangled with the "be green, eat organic, meditate daily, do yoga, save the world." All are very good things but sometimes it's hard to be in the moment when I'm not sure if I'll ever get to that moment.

  2. P.S. I really love your blog

  3. Anonymous, at the risk of being overly-repetitive, I am so, so thrilled you love my blog! That is just about the best thing I could hear.

    Glad, too, that I'm not alone in the frustration.

  4. Beautifully written - a sublime post about what I think is the greatest struggle for a woman: accepting herself for who, how and what she is and finding the freedom (read: courage) to allow herself to be.

    I will read this post a few more times because you've got me thinking.

    Love you - xo mrsbs

  5. Noodle,I love you to bits.

    JRA, I'm blushing. That one word is such a wonderful compliment, I don't even know what to say.

  6. beautiful photos Mon! I haven't sent you a banner, well, because, you don't need me to anymore! Yours is wonderful just as it is! :) xo

  7. It is like you get into my brain and the write exactly how I feel, how in the heck do you do that? Wonderful post. xo

  8. Candice, I feel certain the world could always benefit from an infusion of Sparkly Pear. I am so flattered that a fine artist like yourself digs my photos! Thank you!

    Melissa, we do seem to be sharing a brain lately, don't we! xoxo!

  9. Those purple carrots are absolutely gorgeous!

  10. Esi, I've taken more photos of that gorgeous purple carrot than I'm comfortable divulging.

  11. Your salad looks like art:) very nice...

  12. You're doing a really amazing job with your blog - the pictures are spot on, the story connects with the reader but doesn't lose sight of it's purpose- all in all what a blog should be, you deserve it!

  13. Brittany, thank you!

    Anonymous, I am so very grateful for your encouragement and positive comments.

    Stephanie, you're right; that makes no sense! I was thinking humanely 'raised' but somehow 'hatched' came out. Thanks for pointing it out!

  14. I've got a mezzaluna & never use it! I should put it to good use again! Love this salad & all the colours. Pretty!

  15. Thank you Kickpleat! That mezzaluna is a little powerhouse, once I got my coordination together! Plus I just love saying it - Mezza Loona, Mezza makes me feel worldly.

  16. Your blog is beautiful! I found it through the comments at bread and honey. I've been looking for a reason not to visit that blog because the writing has gone down hill drastically in the last year or so and she is downright terrible. Her comment to you put me over the edge, how dare she? I hope you weren't too offended. Anyways, your writing is beautiful!! Thanks!!

  17. Oh Kim. I have to be honest, I felt stung by her comment and vexed about it for two days. But you know what? Only good has come of it, like getting some very kind and supportive new readers like yourself! So in a weird way, I should be thanking her...though I won't go that far!
    But I will thank YOU for your comment and compliments, because it was so sweet and generous of you. Thank you!

  18. Ditto on what Kim said. And you have a lovely blog!

  19. Anna,I must thank you. I made the mistake tonight of reading some of the things said about me on that blog and it's hard to not be hurt.
    But then I got your comment. And it just got a lot easier to dismiss all that ugliness.

  20. Well, I'm going to say it out loud at the risk of perpetuating the argument - you have so much beauty in your self, the words of immature and inexperienced people shouldn't touch you. Take the criticism from people that a) matter and b) know what they're talking about (like your fellow bloggers). Learn from them - don't question yourself because of ill-thought out and reactionary words. Laugh in the face of poseur adversity!

    I love yoo and what yoo write. Don't change a thing!
    xo mrsbs