Thursday, October 25, 2012

Food for the Soul: Roasted Beets

Beetroot, by Maria Livings and Marie Rodgers of Lush Designs

Let's celebrate autumn with the vegetable that is surely the juiciest, most autumnal root—the beet!

"The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies."
    —Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins

Beets aren't the friendliest things to cook, but you can be rewarded with candy-flavored little jewels of food if you're willing to put into some slicing and roasting time. 

Slice them up (wear an apron but enjoy the way your hands turn a lovely hot pink color). Toss in a few sliced carrots and let them get a little pink, too. Sprinkle some rosemary over beets and carrots. Roast at 400 or 425 until they're tender—about 45 minutes. 

You can make salads with roasted beets (red cabbage, walnut, red apples, and red wine vinegar is a good one), but after waiting for them to roast, I'm usually to impatient to do anything but eat them! Try roasting them at the same time as you roast a chicken.

Remember to save your beet greens, too, for a light reminder of the end of summer. If you have a juicer, the beet greens make a lovely pink foam for the top of your orange-carrot juice.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nature's Course

Daphne mezereum with butterfly, by Georg Dionysus Ehret
via Victoria and Albert Museum

The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind;
The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind.
The flower opens, the butterfly comes;
The butterfly comes, the flower opens.
I don't know others,
Others don't know me.
By not-knowing we follow nature's course.
    —from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf, by Ryokan, translated by John Stevens, via gardendigest

This Zen poem has come up in several contexts lately, and along with a conversation on Derrida and his concept of waiting for the revelatory presence of the Other, it has me thinking some about the mysterious, unfathomable depth of things.

It's a favorite topic of mine; I seem to find the theme in a variety of places—Italo Calvino's writings, for example. The mysterious Other has such potential for ethics and art. Accepting the Other as mysterious leaves space for authentic encounters to occur. And, when the concept is combined either with a scientific or Taoist/holistic perspective, the face of the Other shifts. That mysterious Other that seems to completely separate from me becomes a part of me. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Zen: The Life of Dogen

from Zen
via Rusty Ring

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch a wonderful movie, Zen, a Japanese movie about the great teacher Dogen. I can't recommend this movie highly enough. It's absolutely beautiful, visually and philosophically. It includes many famous sayings from Dogen's life, including this lovely conversation he has with a head cook:

I asked, "What are words?" The tenzo said, "One, two, three, four, five." I asked again, "What is practice?" "Nothing in the entire universe is hidden."

Trust me, this movie will make you see your own life differently. Maybe, like Dogen, you will find yourself on the shore, with the full moon above you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Admiring: Pioneer Illustrator

"Wood Thrush, Plate II," by Genevieve Jones
(from the Adelson Library at Cornell)

You may have heard the story of Genevieve Jones, and like me, been inspired by her. Now known as "America's Other Audubon," Genevieve was not well known until a book by Joy Kiser came out earlier this year. Genevieve illustrated the nests and eggs of birds in Ohio, and painstakingly produced books of her work with the help of her family and friend.

The more I've read about her, the more I'm interested in her supporting cast of characters—her parents, who spent all their savings to continue Gennie's dream after her death; her brother, who found the nests for her to draw; the hired local women who worked as midwives to hand color the illustrations her mother drew.

I'm also fascinated by the events that caused her to begin her project—a question asked ten years before, a failed engagement, an inspirational visit to Audubon's exhibition. 

The story of Gennie has me thinking about the cost of pursuing a passion, how sometimes the creative process seems like the kingdom of heaven, found hidden in a field. 

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