African Pineapple Peanut Stew

Happy Meatless Monday all. I dug out an oldie but a goodie for this Monday. This recipe comes from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook my friend gave me a few years ago when she learned I had gone vegetarian.

The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York is well known for its vegetarian cuisine. I’ve never been there, but their cookbooks are a great staple for any vegetarian and vegan kitchen.

Enjoy this delicious stew. Let me know what you think.

1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 bunch of kale or Swiss chard (4 cups sliced)
2 cups undrained canned crushed pineapple (20-ounce can)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
salt to taste
Garnish with crushed peanuts and scallions
African Pineapple Peanut Stew
Sauté the onions until slightly browned; about 5 minutes.


Add the pineapple and its juice to the onions and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the kale or chard, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until just tender.
Mix in the peanut butter, Tabasco, and cilantro (if using) and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add salt to taste, and serve. We served this over mixed grains, but the original recipe recommends serving it with rice, millet, or couscous. We have served it over polenta as well with great results.

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Me too, I guess

Yesterday, on my way to Los Angeles, I watched a man try to clear security with a cat in a duffel bag.

The man was asked to remove the cat from the bag because:

1) you can’t send a cat through the belt screener

2) TSA needed to scan the bag the cat was in.

The man objected to his removal of the cat because he and the cat had not been formally introduced, and to him, taking the cat out of the duffel bag didn’t feel appropriate.

TSA promptly guided the man and the bagged cat to a private room for a formal introduction and security check.

After the private screening, the man and the cat boarded the flight without further incident.

There is so much talk these days about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior in the corporate world, in Hollywood, and at home. And while the conversation is around male entitlement and power, it should also be about self awareness and context for both sexes.

Like the man with the cat in the duffel bag, if we all just took a moment to consider our next step and how that would play out in the context of the moment with our current audience, so much of this wouldn’t even happen. Because in so many cases, the intent in these terrible moments isn’t actually sinister, it is just fucking cluelessness.


It’s Hollow Back, Not Hollaback, Duh!

I see a lot of hollow back yoga poses on Instagram these days. Personally, I suspect it is because hollow back yoga seems more artistic (Instagramworthy) than your standard Iyengar alignment. I also suspect that hollow back asanas are easier for most yogis.

What’s hollow back you ask?

Hollow back is a yoga term (which means it is not at all clinical or scientific) that refers to the creations of extension in the lumbar spine. The lower spine has a natural curvature, but in hollow back versions of arm-balance yoga poses, like fore-arm-stand and handstand, that curvature is increased. 

If you want to get technical, most yoga postures call for a straight back or a stacked alignment meaning feet over knees over hips over shoulders over elbows over wrists. Straight up and down, none of this fancy curve crap.

Because our backs have natural curvature, the straight back posture requires infinitely more deep core work to achieve and is something that yogis like me will spend their lives working on.

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This is us, for now

Last night, while schlepping my toddler from house to house in the dark , I heard a kid tell a group of trick or treaters about a friend who, upon returning to his burned out house during the Santa Rosa wildfire, found the family dog, burned but alive and waiting for him where their front porch used to be.

I don’t know how true this story is and I lack the journalistic integrity to do any sort of fact checking. But for once, this isn’t a story about truth. It’s a story about where we are right now.

Right now, we are going through the motions; doing what we are expected to do, doing what is normal. But our minds are on the fire. Our minds are on the future. No one is here right now. Not really.

We are a community in mourning. Telling and retelling our stories about the fire. Waiting for the time when we tell the story about the fire that was long ago, and how it changed us for the better.

Roasted Cauliflower, Beer & Lime Tacos with Cilantro Coleslaw

This recipe for vegan cauliflower tacos is the first dinner recipe I’ve come across in a long time I actually felt I could recommend on the BLOG. That’s probably because it is a modification of a recipe from Thug Kitchen: eat like you give a fuck

Note: our vegan cauliflower tacos weren’t technically vegan in the end because I had to add sour cream. Just giving you a little truth in journalism since there doesn’t seem to be much of that these days. Enjoy your tacos.

Another Note: ThugKitchen recipes are a staple in my kitchen and should be for anyone looking to start or expand their vegetarian and vegan cuisine options.

Make the Cauliflower Filling

Taco Ingredients
1 Head cauliflower ( I used yellow cauliflower)
3/4 c beer
1/4 c vegetable broth
1 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp hot sauce
1 to 2 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion chopped
6 corn tortillas
1 avocado sliced

1–Chop cauliflower into small florets no bigger than a quarter. In a saucepan, warm the beer, broth, lime juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, and garlic over medium heat.

2–In a large bowl, toss the spices, salt, and olive oil together. Add the cauliflower and onion and still until coated. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until it is browned. This should take about 20 minutes.

Make the Lime and Cilantro Slaw

Slaw Ingredients
1/2 head of cabbage (I used red for drama)
1 small carrot
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
dash of salt
1/3 c chopped cilantro

3–To make the lime and cilantro slaw, cut the cabbage into thin strips or dice into small cubes. Dice the carrot or cut it into strips as well. Mix together, the lime juice, vinegar, oil, and salt. In a bowl, combine the veggies and the sauce and mix well.

Put Those Vegan Cauliflower Tacos Together

4–Warm the tortillas in the oven and pile them high with the cauliflower filling, slices of avocado, lime cilantro slaw, and salsa.

Quick, Hold My Temper

Today, on my flight from San Diego to Sonoma, I received a lesson in the importance of context in relationships from the couple seated behind me.

The couple was bickering behind me:

Lady: hold this
Man: what is this? Are you going to have me hold your water?
Lady: yes
Man: well, what are you holding?
Lady: my temper
Man: okay

Nice work, lady. You sure told him, I thought.

Later, as they deplaned and I watched her patiently guide him down the aisle between the seats, I realized that what I had registered as a smartass comment from a bitter husband was actually a legitimate inquiry from a blind man who just wanted to know what he was holding.

Context is EVERYTHING.


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I wonder if the dry cleaner is open

For those of you just catching up, my family and I evacuated to Lodi, California last Sunday when the Northern California wildfires first struck in our hometown of Santa Rosa.

Seven days later and we are still here in Lodi, but packing up to go home to what is left of the town and surrounding communities.

Lodi is just 2 hours away, but here, you would never suspect that anything is amiss back at home. The skies here are blue, the air is fresh, and nothing is on fire.

Our little clan has much anxiety around going home for obvious reasons. What will it be like? When will it feel normal to live there again? How can we go to work if the kids aren’t in school and our nannies are still evacuated? How to we get the utilities turned back on? Do we really need a gas mask? These are all very valid questions and concerns. But what about the seemingly trivial ones?

My morning meditation was plagued with these. A list of questions an concerns harassed me today as I began to anticipate the return home. And they made me feel like a real shit head for thinking them. For example,

“I wonder if my dry cleaner burned down; I have those meetings next week and I really need those dresses.”

Will Amazon still deliver to my house? If not, when will they resume that service?

“I hope I don’t have to start using a different grocery story; it is a complete pain to learn where things are in other stores.”

This can’t be who I am, right? People have lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods, and I’m worried about my work wardrobe, two day shipping, and finding a new milk aisle.

Maybe it’s just too much to even comprehend from this far away. Hopefully, when I’m home and faced with the reality of what happened there, I can be the person who finds meaningful ways to contribute and rebuild.

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I gave up Chataranga and got my yoga practice back

For the past 7 years, power vinyasa has been my preferred and regular form of practice. So you can trust me when I tell you that power yogis are obsessed with Chataranga Dandasana.
For my non-yoga readers, Chataranga, also known as 4 limbed staff pose, is basically a yoga pushup. This pose is used to build core strength and stamina and features prominently in sun salutations. It is also used heavily as a transition pose throughout many vinyasa sequences.
Chataranga Dandasana, followed closely by arm balances, is the most workshopped asana in all of modern western yoga. Countless hours of discussion and demonstration have gone toward attainment of the perfect Iyengar Chataranga Dandasana. I’ll be the first to admit that I have never missed a Chataranga workshop.
And until recently, I completely subscribed to the idea that to be power yoga, a sequence must have Chataranga. Even after my orthopedic surgeon reviewed my MRI showing shoulder damage including bone spurs, tendinitis, and bursitis, from repetitive stress (i.e., too much chataranga) I kept at it. I thought that at some point the anti-inflammatory medications, all the icing, and the physical therapy would negate the harm I was causing with Chataranga. And with every practice, I was giving up other key asana because I was no longer able to do them while in excruciating pain.
Then one morning I awoke to find that my arm was too weak and painful to carry my little boy and I couldn’t raise my arm to hold the hairdryer.
And there it was. I could no longer ignore all that I was giving up to hold on to my notion of what a yoga practice should be. For fuck’s sake, I had given up the ability to raise my arms above my head so I could do 50 pushups every day. I had become so attached to the meaning I had assigned to Chataranga Dandasana that I had given up my ability to do 50% of the other poses in a power sequence. I had given up my practice for one asana.
It was time to let yoga cure my yoga. It was time to practice aparhigraha, or non-attachment. Time to let go of the idea that a perfect Chataranga was proof of a strong practice.
That day, I replaced Chataranga with a plank and never looked back. It’s three months later and for the first time since quitting Chataranga cold turkey, I can get my hands behind my back without pain. For the first time in more than a year, the entire power yoga sequence is accessible to me because I decided to surrender.


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Be stronger

You can count on me to completely lose my shit twice a year; once in September and once in January. I call it, taking a ride on the crazy train. I know I have arrived at Breakdown Station when every little thing starts to piss me off. When my perspective turns bitter because it seems there is always something more to do and it is all my responsibility. When my usually positive and sunny outlook goes dark.

I mention this now because it is nearly September and that means the Crazy Train is approaching the station.

The September freakout occurs when summer exhaustion meets a new school year and then combines with the fact that my company is about to enter the fourth quarter of our fiscal year and I’m not sure how I’ll accomplish all the goals I set for myself by 12/31/–. These three factors converge to create a complete derailment featuring anxiety induced frustration and rage.

The January derailment occurs when holiday exhaustion meets the second half of the school year and then combines with the fact that my company just entered the first quarter of our fiscal year and I only have 12 months to accomplish all the projects we scoped.

Looking at them now, September and January seem to be two very dangerous and obvious kinks in the the railroad track. However, for the first time since embarking on my career and becoming a parent, I see and understand this pattern. More and more, I see that keeping the trains running on time, for me, is about two things:

#1–Recognizing when I need to calm the fuck down

#2–Knowing what it takes to calm the fuck down

During practice this morning, my yoga teacher said

“Notice if every little thing is pissing you off; then get stronger.”–Anna McLawhorn, Three Dog Yoga

Granted, she said this within the context of Warrior 2 (Virabhadra) which we had been holding for what felt like 3 hours, and we were all a little pissed off. But I heard it within the context of my own life and my own mental state.

“Every little thing IS pissing me off and I DO need to get stronger.” I need to get my shit together and take back the things that make my life work, like yoga and writing and sleep. Those are always the first things to go when schedules fall apart and life gets hectic. I need to calm the fuck down. I need to get grounded. I need to stay on track.



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Quinoa-Farro Cherry Salad

The inspiration for this recipe came from a vegan cookbook called PLUM: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro. I changed so much about the original recipe that it is no longer gluten, soy, or dairy-free–oops. It is, however, still a protein rich vegetarian salad that we use as a main course or side dish at our house.

1/2 cup Farro ( or pearled farro)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 chopped almonds
8 oz fresh cherries, pitted, quartered
1/4 small red onion
1 lime
1/4 fresh parsley
3 mint leaves

Here’s how to make it:

Quinoa and farro have very different cooking times. So, really, you should cook them separately according to their individual cooking instructions. However, I am lazy, so I use pearled farro, which cooks faster, and I soak it for an hour or so before I mix it with the rinsed quinoa and cook it together. That gets their cooking times closer. So make that major life decision and while your grains cook, take care of your chopping.
Pit and cut your cherries. Chop your other ingredients. Toast your almonds in a dry skillet for a few minutes to activate their flavor. Then let them cool before you use them. I go light on the red onion because it seems to stay with me for days, but feel free to increase the amount and use a finer dice. You do you.

Put it all together:
Fluff you grains and let them cook a bit before you put them together with your chopped ingredients. Then, toss it all together, season with salt and pepper, squeeze lemon juice liberally, and garnish with mint. We serve this over a bed of mixed greens, but it works on its own too.

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