List of Five #5

1. Fave dish this week: I am a huge fan of mushrooms. Never for white mushrooms though: something about the rubbery texture, the bland slightly hollow flavor, the grey color of cooked (maybe overcooked) white mushrooms. On the other hand, in Chinese cooking, the main mushrooms I remember my mom using were nothing like the typical white mushroom of Western supermarkets. Our go-to mushrooms were shiitake (dried then reconstituted in hot water) and enoki (fresh, though we called them by their Chinese name, golden needle mushrooms, or 金針葫. We also used various fungi, including wood ears 木耳, “white wood ears” or snow fungus 白木耳, which would go into stews and bao filling.

So this week I found Maitake mushrooms at Costco. They’re also called Hen-of-the-woods. Basically, they’re a wild mushroom that is currently also being cultivated for sale. Whenever I see any specialty mushrooms being offered FRESH for a good price (because they can certainly get pricey!) I grab some home to them to try out.

I have to say, so far the tastiest way I’ve found to prep fresh wild mushrooms is to grill or sauté them in butter. With the maitake, I made half-inch slices through the entire bunch, then threw them into sizzling Kerrygold butter to soften and brown. And transform they did! Into lovely, golden, glistening specimens, which I then tossed with roasted cauliflower and cooked gemelli. Another drizzle of high-quality EVOO and Oh my! I felt like I was in the woods in a cabin savoring a meal prepared by elves.

2. Be prepared: You may have noticed that I’m a huge fan of prepping food whenever I can, so that when the day or moment comes that I actually want to eat a particular dish, or bake a particular dessert, many of the components are done, and the greatest barriers to eating at home – time and energy – are no longer present.

So this past weekend, my son wanted to try a cookie recipe out of a novel he was reading. We ended up doubling the recipe. 8 cookies went into the oven, and the remaining dough became 40 dough balls, which I then froze on parchment paper-lined pans and transferred to Ziploc bags, to pop out of the freezer and into the oven in whatever quantity we like any time.

While I had the flour, sugar, baking soda, etc out, I figured I might as well prep some brownie mix too. So I ended up prepping 2 batches of brownie mix and sticking them into 2 freezer Ziploc bags, then labeling them with instructions on how to go from mix to oven. I saved myself from ordering prepackaged brownie mix (which can be pricey) and can now whip up a batch of brownies whenever we want.

Here’s the recipe if you’re interested:

http:http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/dessertsandsweets/r/Gluten-Free-Brownie-Mix-Recipe

It’s pretty close to store-bought gluten-free brownie mix, and incredibly easy to whip up. I apologize in advance for facilitating convenient calorie consumption.

3. On Micro-adjustments: Most runners are familiar with this concept: as you’re running, be mindful of what you’re feeling in each part of your body. If any part whispers “pain” or “twinge,” make micro-adjustments until it feels better. This morning as I was huffing and puffing my way up my usual hill with the dog, up to her usual green space, this was what was going through my mind: “Am I feeling more tired than usual because I had a fitful night of sleep? Or because I’ve got a bit of a sleep deficit? Or is it because I just haven’t been doing enough physical activity, and I’m losing a bit of aerobic capacity? Maybe I should try to get to bed a bit earlier, and do this hill more regularly.”

These are what I would consider micro-adjustments – in this case, to my daily routine.

Life is a series of micro-adjustments, especially as we strive to be more mindful of what our own bodies, feelings, and thoughts are telling us. Through these minute (My NUTE) minute-to-minute (MIN it) adjustments, we stay pain-free, we get that much closer to balanced, and we reach our personal goals that much more easily.

On the other hand, if we don’t practice mindfulness – tuning in to subtle cues from our bodies and hearts – we tend to veer off center and sometimes find ourselves in a ditch. The ditch gets deeper the longer we ignore cues.

Any activity that requires concentration and a whole-body atttention facilitates mindfulness and requires micro-adjustments. For me, most of my favorite activities – walking, running, yoga and climbing; cooking, washing dishes by hand, folding laundry – these all allow for some daydreaming and also focusing on my body and heart. This is when my processing occurs. Without these activities, I would be a robot, simply doing, and forgetting to savor and process.

4. Book I’m reading: It’s time for Battle of the Books at my son’s school. A friend highly recommended Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea, so I read it a few months ago. It gives uncommon insight into the minds of fifth graders. So – knowing that I will soon be reliving middle school but this time as a parent – I decided that the subsequent two books – Mr. Terupt Falls Again and Saving Mr. Terupt (which follow the same group through 6th and 7th grades) – ought to be required reading for me. So I’m currently on the second book, Mr. Terupt Falls Again. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in how tweenagers think.

5. Fave quote this week: I’m still making my way through back issues of The Sun. Currently relishing an interview with Ralph Nader in the December 2016 issue. I leave you with a quote:

“Joseph Stieglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist from Columbia University, estimates that the Iraq War is going to cost us $3 trillion. Can you imagine what that sum of money could have done for our mass-transit system in the U.S.?…We could cut a lot of waste and put the money saved into public-works repair in this country. But do you know how many people in this country are working full time to get the Pentagon audited? … Zero. Do you know how many it would take to make a difference? Three or four.”

In this political climate, I only hope that we are all doing a little bit of something to make a difference. A little bit of something from a lot of people adds up to a HUGE difference. If one positive thing has come out of our most recent election, it’s that it’s woken many of us from our apathy towards politics. It’s brought the “fight” into us. I’m hoping that we can keep up the momentum.

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