Thursday, May 31, 2012

Baked Tofu for Summer Salads

We had a spate of HOT HUMID weather recently, the kind that zaps your energy and makes putting supper together a challenge.  Ice cream would be perfect - but that's not an option for us, so we often resort to salads this time of year.  I gather whatever veggies we have, and may add beans, hard boiled eggs, cold shrimp, leftover chicken, or cheeses.  But the other day I decided to make Helen's Baked Tofu from the Barrett Art Center cookbook, and to cut that up for the protein in our salad.  I marinated it early in the day, then baked it later, chilled and cut it up - and it was a hit!  I love this stuff and it's really quick and easy.  Here's the recipe:

1 # firm tofu
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2Tbsp. olive oil
1Tbsp. tamari soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh herbs, or less dry ones - I used rosemary, Thai basil, and dill
pepper to taste

Slice tofu into 8 slices, place in shallow baking dish.  Mix marinade and pour over tofu.  Marinate for an hour, or longer.  Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

In the winter I like to make this and serve with rice for a hot meal. 

Happy summer cooking!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Power of Words

I've had two important experiences with words in less than a week.

The first one was when I was trying to explain the story line of a book I recently read and liked.  It was Ann Patchet's Run, and tells a complex story about three families whose lives intersect in powerful ways through adoption.  In trying to describe it to a few friends I used the terms birth mother, adoptive parents, adopted children, etc.  But these are issues I am not in the practice of discussing, so I fumbled at one point and used the term "real" to distinguish the biological child.  Of course, I didn't mean that the other children were not "real" or that the relationships were determined by biology.  One of the women in the group has an adopted child - and she was on me fast!  I felt lousy for the rest of the afternoon and tried to shake it off.  As someone who tries to be sensitive to other people's feelings, I felt badly that I had messed up here - that someone's feelings could have been hurt by my careless use of words.  That was the unpleasant example of how important the words are that we use - a place where I need to work harder.

The delightful experience was today when my husband told me a little story about our grandson.  Landen is approaching 4 and is particularly observant.  He was visiting the other day and Al was getting him a snack.  When Al gave him a spoon, Landen handed it back to him and said, "No, I want a gold one.  Becky gives Marcus and me the gold spoons because she says we're special boys."  I'm thrilled that he carries this message inside that he is special.  Such a simple statement made one afternoon that I don't even remember - but it made an impression on him, and helps to confirm his place in the world as one very precious child.

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Memory

Memorial Day as we know it  began after the Civil War when various communities organized to honor those who had died in prison camps and battles.  It wasn't until the 1960's that the 4th Monday in May was established as the national holiday and the three day weekend was assured.  By this time it had grown to not only pay attention to those who had died in military service, but also to thank those who were currently serving.

I've seen a number of postings on Facebook in the past couple of days that remind people that this is a holiday that should be taken seriously.  One showed a young woman stretched out on the ground over the grave of a loved one;  another was a poster that said something like "This is not National Barbecue Day."

Because it has become a three day event, and the beginning of the summer season when pools open, decks are cleaned up, tomatoes get planted - the weekend does offer plenty of time for fun and celebration.  And I think that's fine.

Hopefully, most people can use this opportunity to also spend a little time in reflection on the meaning of the day.  That will vary for all of us.  For my aunt, it means going to the cemetary to put fresh flowers on my uncle's grave.  He did serve in Europe in WWII and came home safely, living a long life of serving in other ways as a civilian.  For my father in law and his sister, it will mean remembering their brother who went down on a ship in the Mediterranean.  My dad will remember comrades who were lost in the Pacific.  For many of us we will remember friends from school who died in the Viet Nam War, or the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And we will think of all those who have given up time from their families, sacrificed safety and comfort, missed out on all the little ordinary things we take for granted to answer to the duty that calls them.    And we offer our sincere and humble gratitude.

Today what I was also thinking about was how we choose to use the freedom and life that we've been given.  I remember men and women who did not go into the military; their way of serving was different, based on their strong belief that war is something to be resisted with all the strength, creativity, and courage they could gather. I think of Franz Jagerstatter, Dorothy Day, and others for whom working for peace was their life's work, sometimes leading to their deaths. That is also a path of great sacrifice.  For me, I give thanks for the witness of these brave people this day, too.

I don't know which path is "right".  I'd like to believe strongly enough in the way of peace that I could say definitively that we should not have to have people in the military.  But that doesn't feel realistic.  So for now, I contemplate the lives of those who have sacrificed so much, and figure out what small part I might play in contributing to a world that will be better for my grandchildren and all our children.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What We Wear

This morning clothes are on my mind. 

I just got back from a family visit in Seattle - my parents and brother and sister in law, and  their boys are all there.  My aunt flew in to join us. I have spent time today going through mail, and unpacking my suitcase.  As I put things away I was thinking about whether the choices I'd made before I went worked, what notes would be helpful on my packing list for the next trip.  I pulled on some old shorts and a comfortable shirt to start my chores and was conscious that I would never wear these things there.  In fact, I was acutely aware, the whole time away, that my clothes didn't really measure up.

I'm not accustomed to paying so much attention to what I wear.  I go for comfort, practicality, and color. I spend much of my time doing messy things - painting, playing with and caring for  little ones.  When I go out I may go through my wardrobe, choosing what feels fun - reminiscent of what I loved doing when I was seven and played dressup with an old box of my mother's and grandmother's castoffs.  The operative word is "feels" - I only have a couple of small mirrors in my house, so I don't really see what I look like.

But visiting my family is another story.  Part of the problem is that they have lots of BIG mirrors in their homes.  You can't help but catch sight of yourself.  My sister in law, Lori, is petite and beautiful, and has a style that is well suited to her active life.  My brother has a job that requires a very professional look.  My parents, both in their late 80's and looking much younger, always dress nicely;  my mother, in particular, pays considerable attention to her looks, and could easily model for the "woman of a certain age" in her tailored fashions.  So I find my haphazard method of dressing doesn't really feel comfortable there.  I become self conscious.

That makes me think about why we dress the way we do.  The basic needs are for protection and modesty.
And then there's style.  We say a lot through our clothes.  While I am not often a mindful dresser, I do love Project Runway for the creativity involved.  One of the pieces of mail I opened this morning is from the Metropolitan Museum announcing the opening of the show on Prada and Schiaparelli - which I'll go see.  There's the art of clothing design that intrigues me, and I'm fascinated by the motivation behind people's choices of apparel. 

So how has your style developed?  What messages do your clothes convey?  How much of your time is given over to what you wear - in shopping, making, dressing, caring for clothing?  I'd love to hear from you.