Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I notice when I'm cooking, I always ask, "What is missing?" Does it need more salt, garlic, pepper, olive oil? I think this is a common thing. When we are in the kitchen and the meal is near completion some people taste, I like to smell, to figure out if there is something we didn't include that could make this more perfect. It always seems that in cooking, much like life; we're looking for what is absent.

I am having this thought now because for my mom and I what is missing is my dad. He isn't gone; he just isn't here with us. He is a Zen Buddhist priest and has received the distinct honor to serve as a guest abbot at the Zen Center in Atlanta, GA. This will serve to further his teaching ability and status with the Soto Zen affiliation, so he accepted. What this means for him, is that he spends 3 months in Atlanta, GA living in the temple and assisting. For mom and I, that means we are here just the two of us. 

Winter seems to be a good time for longing. It's cold and dark outside and the fire is burning inside and there seems to be space for reflection and yearning. The holidays help too. This year I missed my grandma who has passed and my grandpa who didn't get to be with us this year. We all have times when we long for people that have passed, friendships that are no longer, and relationships that have expired.

While my mom and I miss my dad terribly; we also know there are things to cherish about this. Remember, my glass is always full. My dad is getting to grow as a priest and mom and I have each other and lots of things to do. I remember my dad telling me over the summer that he was planning to do this. He told me that my decision to move out to Montana was the solidifying factor in him making this decision. Moving in with them meant that when he left, he wasn't leaving mom alone and that was important to him. I am glad that I can be here. Despite our many things to do, we still miss him, but longing is part of life. Longing teaches us who we really want in our lives. If someone leaves and we long for them, it means that we love them or at the very least really like having them around.

Now that I have shared my longing, let me fill up my glass and share what I DO have. I DO have a fabulous family and support system. I DO have a wonderful network of women friends who encourage me no matter how crazy my new idea. I DO have my health, I DO have friends who keep me laughing, and most important, I DO have me.

If you are longing for someone too; know that it's okay to have an absence in your life and that there are ways to fill up your glass. My mom and I are busy cooking, writing, entertaining, and supervising our crazy kitty, Frankie. On our first night just the two of us we made Spicy Salmon Patties, Asian Steamed Vegetables, and Steamy Mashed Potatoes. And don't worry there isn't anything missing from these recipes other than my dad here to be the taste tester.

He'll be back soon enough and we will all have grown, learned, and ultimately bring something bigger to the table when we are back together. So mom and I are filling up our glass that seemed empty without my dad and continuing to grow and learn and become better at being us. That is what is the most important thing. To grow into who we are in each moment. That is what I am choosing to use this time for. My mom is creating peace our home and in her heart. Whatever you longing for, may there be pe your owace in your home and heart.

Spicy Salmon Patties

1 can red salmon drained
1 egg
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. worchestershire sauce
2 tsp. teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp. fresh ginger minced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 cup white onion chopped
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper

Mix all ingredients listed above in large mixing bowl using your *clean* hands until all ingredients are incorporated. Then heat a large skillet with olive oil. Form salmon mixture into 4 even sized patties using your hands. Place formed patties into hot skillet and cook on each side for 3 minutes. Flip using a spatula much like you would flip a pancake. Each side should be dark golden brown.

Asian Steamed Vegetables

1/2 a head of fresh cauliflower sliced
1 cup sugar snap peas
3 carrots sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. fresh ginger minced
1 tbsp. sesame oil
Pinch each of salt and pepper

Place all vegetables and seasonings in a large microwave safe bowl. A steaming bowl is ideal here, but if you don't have one you can use a regular microwave safe bowl and plastic wrap covering it. Mix all ingredients in a bowl making sure the vegetables are coated with the sauce and garlic. Place in the microwave covering with plastic wrap or with the covering of the steam bowl and microwave for 8 minutes at full power. Stop the microwave and stir halfway through the cooking process. The vegetables will absorb the soy and sesame flavors and be slightly crisp and delicious. This is a great healthy alternative to sauteing vegetables and steaming creates a flavor seal so you will have rich flavor no matter what!

Steamy Mashed Potatoes

2 yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder

Peirce the potatoes with a fork and season the skin by rubbing olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder on the outside. Place the potato on a plate and microwave for 5 minutes. Once done the potato will be soft. Cut the potato up and mix in the sour cream (you can also add chives, cheese, and bacon if you like). Perfect healthy mashed potatoes in no time at all!

Mental Health Tip: Longing can be a magical feeling if we let it be.  Enjoy the coldness of the winter months and allow yourself to curl up into your feelings no matter what they are. Feelings are the way our hearts communicate what they really want. Let your heart be your guide this winter and cook for comfort!

Health and wealth in this new year from our kitchen to yours!

~"Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the Kitchen

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