L’ Shanah Tovah! L’shana tovah u’metukah! (and a vegan challah recipe included!)

Today is the beginning of the Hebrew holiday Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a day of  judgement and forgiveness that leads up to Yom Kippur ten days later, the day of Atonement.

If you want to learn more about it, try this sight http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Rosh_Hashanah.shtml , if not then just accept the opinions I lay out here as fact and go from there, but ask yourself why not? If you did click the link, you really can just skip to the recipe because I will just be “preaching to the choir”, although if you are the type to click, you will probably read the rest anyway. LOL.

Why learn about other traditions?

At this critical crossroads of human history, I believe the key to change our world into a place with a viable future for humanity requires all of us to practice that kindergarten mantra: “Stop. Look, and listen.”

STOP. Pause for a few minutes a day in the all American pursuit of pleasure and mirrors of self. Halt all the clicking and tweeting and getting and consuming. Pause. Breathe long and slow. We are human “Be”ings not human “Do”ings.

LOOK! Now look around you. Use the next five or ten minutes to actually look for those things that are unfamiliar and appraise the positive aspects. Whether you are you an atheist or fundamentalist or person with just a spiritual path; Republican or Democrat or Independent; literary intellectual or television aficianado or video game guru; there is someone out there you immediately judge and misunderstand. Because, if there isn’t, then not only are  you someone who probably clicked on that link, you are too self-aware to judge yourself prejudice free. ( Case in point, The Dalai Lama admits to struggling with preconceived ideas of others.) If however you can’t identify a culture or religion or point of view that elicits a knee jerk reaction, then just pick some culture or belief system with which you are unfamiliar.

LISTEN! !Once you have identified your “stuck points,” spend some time “listening”.  Dedicate at least one “sitcom” a day (twenty minutes more or less once you eradicate commercials) to familiarizing yourself with and acknowledging the good points of the foreign phenom selected. This can be done as simply as reading a book or Googling the topic on line; maybe try a culturally significant recipe or visit a community event sponsored by the group; borrow a cause friendly documentary  from the library. It doesn’t matter as much how you do it, as that you do it.

Finished with your first personal world peace assignment? Integrated some new ideas? Found some common ground after all?

Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” and is the celebration of the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, that time long before the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishamel began their sibling rivalry in the middle east over who was actually chosen. The creation of Adam and Eve, though unique, are a common thread between all the followers of Abraham’s God – Christian, Hebrew, Islam and more. Like the head of a river may branch into many tributaries, the beliefs and practices of Rosh Hashanah are diverse, for example

Here is the Kabbalist’s take on the meaning of this important holiday .http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/3082/jewish/The-Waking-of-Creation.htm.  A take I can both respect and not fully embrace, after all I am not a Kabbalist.

However, a central tradition for all those celebrating this holiday is the dipping of apples in honey. This explanation of the “why” of this tradition, (the how is easy, slice fresh apples, dip in honey, eat) also from the Kabalist site, is my favorite on line, and perhaps a life perspective we can all endorse: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/160979/jewish/Sweet-Stings.htm So dip some apples,  because that is what this holiday is really about finding the sweetness in life and savoring it while rising to its challenges.


Now finally here is my recipe for a vegan Challah, which just might be why you even opened this blog in the first place.

Whisk 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer into 2 T warm water. Let stand and texturize. (No egg replacer? Try Mixing 1 T ground flax with 3 T of warm water and let stand till thoroughly slimy)

Sprinkle 2 1/4 tsps yeast (this is one packet) over  1 cup warm (not hot) water mixed with 4 T of organic Real Maple syrup (grade A or B works, use agave if you don’t have real maple syrup, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE Honey or maple flavored syrup or bread will not work)  at bottom of Large mixing bowl. Stir lightly and let stand while collecting ingredients (about 5-10 minutes) to proof it.

Add 3 T of organic coconut oil at room temperature (liquid), may also substitute 3 T melted and cooled vegan stick butter; egg replacer; and 1 tsp salt. Whisk vigorously to mix.

Sift in 1 cup wheat flour and approx. 2 cups white flour stirring with wooden spoon until soft dough forms. Should form ball, Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Lightly flour your kneading surface and place small ball with 1/2 cup white flour to side. Begin a good ten minutes of kneading the bread, slowly incorporating the last 1/2 cup of flour to keep hands from sticking.

Wash, dry and LIGHTLY oil the large mixing bowl (with coconut oil if used, canola oil if vegan margerine is used.) Plop in dough turn the dough ball completely around to coat all sides lightly with oil. Put in warm draft free place to completely rise (anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour depending on yeast and environment), push in your two fingers and if there is no bounce back, punch it down! Reform and repeat (make back into a ball and let second rise occur.)

Punch down again and let rest 15 minutes. To form I recommend this video. http://youtu.be/u7D8PSBsy1M

Cover and let rise 25 to 35 minutes (double in size). Then bake at 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Cool and enjoy.

I complete this blog with a rough translation of my initial greeting, in the words of one of my favorite symbols of integration,

“Live Long, and Prosper!”

Well begun is half done…

I love Mary Poppins, the book, the movie, the songs; I just thought I would say that, as I am not sure how many will actually recognize the title as a direct Mary Poppins quote. My day is well begun. Woke up, did snooze till 4:30 instead of 4 so no running the dogs this morning, but I did meditate, do my 20 minutes of yoga, and ride my bicycle. Currently drinking my coffee and writing in my blog. Goal today is to get all my stars.

Yes, I have a star chart for myself. It is taped to the mirror in my bathroom. I took a children’s chore chart from the dollar section at a Michael’s and broke my long range goals into daily tasks and filled them into the lines, focusing on writing the ones I am most likely to “forget” or neglect. Every day I do them, I give myself a little gold star. It works for me. I stay focused on the little choices that build to my greater goals and I give myself positive reinforcement. Maybe it sounds silly to you, but don’t knock it until you have tried it, it’s working for me.

Today is an immunization clinic so my entry is brief, because discipline is important to me, as is punctuality. AND it’s a good thing I exercised my discipline muscles before today or I would be calling in sick! I finally finished rereading all the other Imaginariun Geographica books and finally started the most recent, “Dragons of Winter,” and I don’t want to stop reading; I want to call in sick. I won’t. Nor will I take it in my briefcase today, as it would be tooooooo  tempting to bury myself in its story and ignore my reason for being in the Basha’s, namely selling flu shots.

I don’t have a potential star for this act of great fortitude, but I can include it in my “good choices” when I journal tonight. Yup, I do that daily as well. First I write five things I am grateful for, then five times I made a good choice, one random act of kindness, and one thing I wish I had done better or different; then I might ramble a bit. My journals are just meant for me, not leaving some amazing legacy of wisdom, just truly mirroring back to myself that I am incredibly blessed (or lucky depending on your path) and that I have worth, that my choices determine my present, and that I have worth as well as room to grow.  This practice has been the best “therapy” I have ever experienced, not that I don’t avail myself of other opportunities to challenge my thinking or beliefs, but to get where we are going, we must first know where we are.

May you travel safely today, may you find peace and joy, may your day be one of health and abundance, may you live today with ease.

Or as the wise master Mary Poppins would say, “May your day be supercalifragilistic-expe-alidocious (sp?).”

Read, listen, enjoy, and ya know, talk back!

Here is the promised blog, appearing on the actual day I promised it and not only offering a tasty selection of fashion, travel and writing blogs I peruse and recommend, but also a wonderful, and equally tasty (as those who celebrated Amie’s birthday already know) and extremely versatile vegan crock  pot concoction.

May I also recommend listening to this award show while reading todays blog, or making the chili, or just just sitting smiling and alternately reminiscing of filkers, and authors known and salivating over all the new stuff out there yet to be discovered, http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25307882, I admit to more of the first, I am after all, mature (code for getting old.)

No geek ever looked so good as one taking fashion advice from the beautiful blonde who pens this blog http://2morrowsdress.com/, and her advice stands strong for those who walk in the normal ways of the world as well. This blog has all kinds of useful advice about choosing, caring for and ways to wear the one thing we all have in common, clothing! From her “little white dress” to her white shirt dilemna I (the fashion challenged costume maker) have enjoyed and employed Jen’s advice. Look for the same brevity and classy taste in her entertainment blog http://jentheredonethat.com/ .

For writer’s or readers of fantasy or of  life fiction check out the blog by novelist Ann Videan  http://anvidean.com. Music is a recurrent theme in her writing, both blogs and novels. Her blog is also a great place to pick up a few marketing tips for those trying to court fame and fortune as a professional pen wielder. On the same wavelength, but perhaps better known among fantasy fans is one of my other favorite author’s blog http://windling.typepad.com/blog/. (I know, if you took my advice you are listening to *gasp* science fiction awards while reading about fantasy blogs, I am sorry if this is jarring, but I am totally a “soup” person. If you don’t know what tha means, feel free to ask, and I will happily explain.)

Totally unrelated blogs but incredibly fascinating (to me at least) http://www.dailycoyote.net/  and http://honeyrockdawn.com/ both from the same lady who is living one of my dreams (but we only have one life so I happily live the one I am in and find blogs that allow me to vicariously live the other dreams). Of course there are always two of my  favorite go to sites: http://whatever.scalzi.com/ , http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/  , reflecting another life I chose not to lead.

Now if you are still with me and haven’t clicked off and become lost in one of these amazing blogs, here is my newest vegan creation, I call it “2 hours till dinner and still lots to do”

Plug in your crock pot or slow cooker, low heat.

Chop a small onion and one or two green peppers into small (1cm or less) pieces. Put two-three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron skillet (enough to lightly cover the bottom) and as it gets warm toss in the onions first and stir with a wooden spoon. When the onions become translucent add the peppers (and 1 cup mushrooms if you have them and you know your intended audience likes them) and cook another minute or two, turn off the skillet heat if on an electric stove, to very low flame if gas, and press in one clove of garlic, stir and let them all sit together as you stir together 4 cups hot water, a small can of organic tomato paste, two cubes of vegan bullion, and 1 tsp fresh chili powder in the warm crock pot. Add 1 can organic black beans rinsed and drained, or 2 cups of home cooked black beans. Dump in the lovely mixture of onions and peppers, stir again. Add 1 1/2 cups of Trader Joe’s organic red quinoa, OR add 1/2 cup organic red quinoa and 1 cup Trader Joe’s harvest Grains Blend, OR add 1/2 cup organic red quinoa, 1/2 cup couscous, and 1/2 cup yellow lentils. Close the lid and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours (quinoa unfurled and beans soft). Serve with warm crusty bread, or corn chips and enjoy!

finally, where I got my chile powder recipe, or buy a fresh one if not so motivated http://video.about.com/americanfood/How-to-Make-Chili-Powder.htm



While you were out…

Been an exceptionally long time since I have posted a blog, I hope you have missed me almost as much as I have, because I have missed me as well as missing you, my readers. I am currently balancing two jobs, one of them is seasonal and I am still looking forward to the first of my second paychecks but the additional 22 hours a week are already in full swing.

Also I am proud to report my garden is growing  even better this season. Check out the pre and post transplant pictures. Sadly my marigolds are pathetic and I will be replanting my greens and probably bringing it inside, due to my own watering malfunction it looks like my collards are dead and my arugula is as well. I mulched thoroughly as our weather is so unpredictable and that is supposed to help. My fall crops are melons, watermelon and cantalope; zucchini; cucumbers; and four different kinds of baking pumpkins. Fingers crossed for a bumper crop. Hey, last season was my first “crop” ever in Arizona! It entailed 1 edible cantalope, 1 edible winter squash, loads of arugula and loads of collards. Onward and upward with BrownThumb Homesteading!

I am also learning to knit lace. My goal is a faroese shawl for two special realtives for Christmas out of hand died silk. No pics because, well, they may read this. So that is happening as well.

And there is some professional writing happening as well. And somewhere in all this I am still working with my two wonderful young male patients, trying to train to do a Sprint Triathlon again, absorbing and processing a rather insistent round of losses in my life, perfecting new vegan recipes, learning to read spanish  (want to read poems and literature, still kind of Dick and Jane level) and of course reading for pleasure and seeing friends and family.

These are not meant as excuses, more like a reminder to myself that I do still need to just “BE”, and this blog is part of that.  As rare as comments are it seems sometimes I am talking to myself more than anyone else, but my hit log reminds me others do come and peruse. For the record I read blogs regularly as well and rarely comment, usually they are so well written that I feel I have nothing to say.

But here is my challenge to you, leave a comment here with a link to your blog and I will come and comment there as well.  And tomorrow I will be posting about some of the blogs I regularly read.

For today I now leave you with a funny story and some pics of my fall garden.

Funny Story with a choose your own ending.

I was busily typing away at my laptop when I decided to demonstrate why one should not drink coffee near their computer. The blinds were partially open and the sliding glass door open to the screen as it was early enough in the morning to catch a wee bit of cross breeze. As the coffee swarmed towards my laptop, I realized the only absorbent material readily available was the towel I was wrapped in which I was currently wrapped…..my dilemna: save my computer or save my dignity ( and the sanity of any poor neighbor who might be in eye shot).  You decide, which was more important to me…..              😉

Namaste friends.