To nourish your mind as well as your body

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, November 30, 2009

I recently had a moment when I felt afraid to speak my mind. This edge of the abyss ‘should I speak or should I go’ sensation is uncomfortable. These moments happen all the time, to everyone, on a variety of subjects. But I think the worst is when it happens with someone you love - and you don’t feel secure enough in your relationship with them to open up. Not even about something that worries you deeply.
I was taught from the time I was very young that people are people - regardless of their race, gender, religion, or whatever other discriminatory marker people choose to employ. I believe this with all of my heart. Unfortunately, these days, due to all of the media hooplah and political teeth gnashing, some of the people who instilled this magnanimous belief system in me in my boot up days have begun to make audible exceptions to this otherwise all encompassing rule. Now I hear that discriminating against people with alternate sexual preferences is considered ‘okay’ because 'people have a right to their opinion’. 
I’m sorry, but no. It’s not okay. 

I don't disagree that everyone has a right to their own opinion; of course they do. And I would never claim to know absolutely what’s right for someone else, or what they should and should not believe. But there is a very large difference between voicing an opinion and spitting poison. Whether or not you agree with a gay person’s right to marry (or even admit their own personal preferences aloud), it still does not give you the right to be verbally abusive towards them. 
People should be treated with respect and love. 
I don’t consider this a ‘liberal’ belief. I believe that it's a human one. I hope it is, anyway. I would hate to think a person’s politics have that big of an influence over the depth of their compassion.
When you’re following a recipe, one wrong ingredient can throw the whole dish. Too much salt, an under-ripe avocado, a timer off by ten minutes - there’s a balance and a necessity for at least semi-conscious attention to be paid.
Why is it so difficult, then, for us to take that extra moment to make sure we aren’t burning our relationships? Love and respect can shrink behind worry and fear with just a few words of hate, leaving behind a pile of shriveled carbon on the ruined baking dish of a previously rewarding and inspiring personal relationship. 
And the person who uses the hateful language isn’t the only one to blame in these situations. The rest of us, who sit idly by, letting the words be said without doing anything are equally as culpable. And it is our shame at our own lack of courage to speak up against such things that truly closes the deal. 

That's the case, anyway, for me.

I feel shamed for not raising my hand and saying 'please do not use that language around me, it's offensive'. I feel sad because I felt so adrift and alone that I couldn't say that to people I should have been fearless and welcomed with. I never want to feel that way again.

I'll close this up, because I realize it's just emotional yakking and no one's probably read this far anyway. I just want to put this out into the world, so that it exists somewhere other than the inside of my head: I've forgiven the people who spoke so caustically. I have yet to forgive myself. I'm not sure when I will.

We are all on this earth together, walking the road to death together, breathing each breath and creating each life, giving and teaching love. Why is it so very hard for some people to let love be their guide rather than hate? What's the point?

Anyway. I'm done.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Zucchini Bread

Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks for all the love in your life by feeding the people you love with delicious food. This year, I brought a zucchini bread of my own machinations to make up for a rather embarrassing incident with a rice crispy treat attempt. Don’t ask. 
Healthy Zucchini Bread
6 egg whites
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup Splenda baking sugar* (You can use 1/2 cup sugar if you want, but this tastes just as good.)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups shredded zucchini (~3 zucchini, depending on size)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins (thompsons seedless are great, or the big goldens)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly coat two 9x5 loaf pans with cooking spray (Baker’s Joy is what I use). 
In a large bowl, add the egg whites, oil, applesauce, sugar sub, and vanilla.  Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture on low speed until thick and foamy.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. 
For the zucchini, I used the thick holed end of a wide cheese grater. When you get down to the end, use a corn cob sticker or a fork to hold the zucchini to avoid chopping your fingers along with the mix. This is not a meaty bread.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg white mixture and turn the electric mixer onto medium speed until all is well blended. Turn off the mixer. The rest is by hand.
Fold in the shredded zucchini, then the walnuts, then the raisins and cranberries. Stir with a spoon or spatula until well combined.
The batter should be thick and not runny. If you need to thicken it, add whole wheat flour 1 tbsp at a time until satisfied.
Pour half of the batter into each prepared loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick stuck into the center of each loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
Let the bread cool in the pans on a wire rack. I used those predone loaf pans from the store this round because I was travelling with the bread and I wanted something with a cover. The ones at Ralphs come in three packs and are very handy. Just let the bread cool in those, stick the plastic top on, and you’re done.
If you’re using a normal loaf pan, let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaves out of the pans onto the rack to let them cool completely.
Each loaf should make 9 1-inch slices. Delicious.