Thursday, February 28, 2008

Peace and Chunky Granola

There are two things that I'd like to share with you - I've been reading Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. It is a great little book - here is a passage from it:

Like a Leaf, We Have Many Stems

One autumn day, I was in a park, absorbed in the contemplation of a very small, beautiful leaf, shaped like a heart. Its color was almost red, and it was barely hanging on the branch, nearly ready to fall down. I spent a long time with it, and I asked the leaf a number of questions. I found out the leaf had been a mother to the tree. Usually we think that the tree is the mother and the leaves are just children, but as I looked at the leaf I saw that the leaf is also a mother to the tree. The sap that the roots take up is only water and minerals, not sufficient to nourish the tree. So the tree distributes that sap to the leaves, and the leaves transform the rough sap into elaborated sap and, with the help of the sun and gas, send it back to the tree for nourishment. Therefore, the leaves are also the mother to the tree. Since the leaf is linked to the tree by a stem, the communication between them is easy to see.

We do not have a stem linking us to our mother anymore, but when we were in her womb, we had a very long stem, an umbilical cord. The oxygen and nourishment we needed came to us through that stem. But on the day we were born, it was cut off, and we received the illusion that we became independent. That is not true. We continue to rely on our mother for a very long time, and we have other mothers as well. The Earth is our mother. We have a great many stems linking us to our Mother Earth. There are stems linking us with the clouds. If there are no clouds, there will be no water for us to drink. We are made of at least seventy percent water, and the stem between the cloud and us is really there. This is also the case with the river, the forest, the logger and the farmer. There are hundreds of thousands of stems linking us to everything in the cosmos, supporting us and making it possible for us to be. Do you see the link between you and me? If you are not there, I am not here. This is certain. If you do not see it yet, please look more deeply and I am sure you will.

I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, "No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive. I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So I don't worry at all. As I leave this branch and float to the ground I will wave to the tree and tell her, 'I will see you again very soon.'"

That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from that leaf.

Now, in the sprit of peace and love and all, is my newest favorite granola recipe, taken and adapted from Diet for a Small Planet. I was recently given this book and I forgot how progressive and wise Frances Moore Lappe was and still is...

Chunky Granola
(With No Oil Added)

8 cups rolled oats
1 to 2 cups nuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup whole millet or buckwheat groats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup or brown sugar)
2 cups hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, millet, cornmeal and flour. Mix together honey, water and vanilla, and stir into the dry ingredients. Spread on a lightly oiled baking sheet and squeeze mixture together to form small chunks, but don't crowd; the chunks needs to bake through. Roast until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. As it bakes, the granola needs to be stirred every so often to brown evenly.

Cool throughly before storing. Makes lots!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Snowy Days and Macaroons

No Snowflake Ever Falls in the Wrong Place

- Zen Saying

There's nothing like a snow day to stay home with the kids and pets and bake! A few days ago, it snowed so much, it came into our screen porch! Charlie the cat was very amused by it all.

These are the macaroons that I like to bake around the holidays, or on a snow day. This recipe is adapted from a Susan Branch cookbook. They are nice and crispy on the outside and tender and soft in the middle. I like to double this recipe and make the cookies nice and big Also, they look very impressive, but are so easy to make! Love and chocolate!

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

2-2/3 cup flaked coconut, firmly packed

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup unbleached flour

4 egg whites, unbeaten

1 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or chocolate chips will do just fine)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine coconut, sugar and flour. Stir in egg whites, almonds, vanilla and almond extract. Form balls from rounded tablespoonfuls and place 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Remove from pans while hot and allow to cool. For or chocolate drizzle: Melt chocolate in microwave in a microwaveable container, stirring every minute or so until chocolate is melted. Dip chocolate with a spoon onto each cookie and set on waxed paper to allow chocolate to set. Makes about 30.