Wordless Wednesday: Heaven in My Own Backyard

Looking Up

But you, O LORD, are...my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3

After today, I'll be on vacation until next week. Hope to see you on Friday.

Looking Up photo, taken at my outdoors "secret spot." L.L. Barkat.

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Of Chickpeas & Chickadees

Give Us This Day

The authors of Redeeming Creation suggest that knowledge is the beginning of committed stewardship. They believe that if we know creation on a "first-name, right-name basis" (recognizing the difference between a chickpea and a chickadee, for instance), we may begin to love it and want to care for it. (p.98)

This reminds me of Jim Merkel's suggestion in Radical Simplicity— to go to the same outdoors secret spot every day for a year, to map the area... learn every plant and animal there... explore the soil...watch the insects...listen to the birds.

In both cases, the idea is to develop a rich and intimate knowledge of the world and its creatures, as a first step to caring.

So maybe you might spend some time outdoors this week (I've been doing this in below-freezing weather and loving it!) And maybe you'll see a chickadee (do they migrate? I don't even know.) In the meantime, I'll take care of bringing you the chickpeas...

Curried Chickpeas & Cukes

Curried Chickpeas

Fry 'til quite brown:
- 1 medium onion

Add & saute quickly:
- a couple of garlic, minced
- about a 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled & minced, or smashed using mortar & pestle
- 3/4 tsp. turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. curry powder (Shan is a good brand)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. onion seed (Indian name is "calonji")

Add & cook until very thick, like a reduction:

- 1/2 cup diced or pureed tomatoes
- water, about two inches high in pan

Mash above with potato masher, then add & cook about 15-20 min, or 'til thick:

- about 3 or 4 cups canned or cooked chickpeas
- water to cover
- salt & pepper to taste

- 1/2 tsp. garam masala
- small handful chopped cilantro
- good pour of olive oil

Serve with sliced cucumbers, yogurt, spicy cabbage, and rice or flatbread.

About Chickpeas: These lovely golden legumes have been shown to lower cholesterol. They contain excellent amounts of protein, fiber, iron (more than any other legume), calcium, and the B vitamins thiamine and niacin.

Cabbage with Cilantro

Spicy Cabbage

Saute 'til soft in small bit of oil:

- 1/4 diced onion

Add & saute 'til limp:

- 1/3 of a green cabbage, chopped
- small sprinkle of mustard seeds

Add & let sit covered a few minutes:

- about 1/3 of a chili pepper, minced (red looks nice, green works though)
- small handful chopped cilantro
- quick pour of olive oil
- about 1 tsp. of sugar
- salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

All photos by L.L. Barkat.

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Wordless Wednesday: Garden

Bird Bath

"This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden..." Ezekial 36:35

Painting by Saima Barkat. Used with permission.

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30-Day Meals: Lentil Soup

lentil soup

In a post called Smallness of Scale over on Seedlings, I mentioned that I live with the "boundary" of a 30-day meal plan.

It's quite freeing to do this. I always know what we're eating on any given day. My shopping list is a no-brainer. We eat our favorites again and again, without repeating them too frequently. There's built-in variety, both taste-wise and health-wise. And now I can cook without recipes (after awhile, they become second nature).

Waste is minimized, as meals often use parts of the previous days' meals. For instance, if you double this Lentil Soup recipe today, you can thicken the leftovers tomorrow, add a dash of hot sauce and worcestershire sauce, and use it as a base for Shepherd's Pie. Just add a layer of mashed potatoes, top with a small bit of cheddar, and garnish with olive oil.

The complete meal plan is in the sidebar here on Green Inventions, but the recipes.... well, I need to post some. Others are in the books that are in the Raw and Veggie Book Lists (also in the sidebar).

Here's my first attempt to get the recipes out:

Sausage-Flavored (without the Sausage) Lentil Soup

1 good pour olive oil
3 garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced

Add & saute quickly:
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 TB Frontier organic "Bac'uns"

Add & cook 35 min:
2 cups dry brown (green) lentils
1 cup or so tomato puree
water to cover

Add & cook 15 min:
2 potatoes, cut in chunks
2 carrots, sliced

good pour soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 TB rice vinegar
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
pour of olive oil

Cooking times may vary, due to lentil size and age.
Serve with crusty bread. Simple salad. Crisp-fried thin onion slices/mushrooms (makes a great garnish).

About Lentils: These legumes were one of the first crops ever cultivated. At about 18 grams of protein per cup (compared to 15 in a 3 oz. beef patty), lentils hold their own in the health department. They also have an excellent balance of fat and carbohydrates. High in calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and potassium, they're a great choice for both kids and adults!

Simple Seasonal Salad

winter salad

I like to buy ingredients in season. They're usually less expensive. After all, who needs to pay $3.50 for a cucumber? (That's the going rate at my local organic produce store.) This salad has escarole, apples, dried cranberries, walnuts, and gorgonzola. Substitute as you like!

Simple Dressing


Delectable food begins with the finest ingredients a cook can find or afford. I like to use these simple ingredients, poured and sprinkled directly over the whole salad, to taste. Olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, oregano, garlic salt, fresh ground pepper.

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Wordless Wednesday: Child

Child in Sunhat

...when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a child; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world... Proverbs 8:30-31

Photo by Sara, age 9.

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Recycle, Reduce, Reuse... Rethink?

Many people who care about creation are into the three R's. Recycle, reduce, reuse. But I find I've had to concentrate on a fourth one... "rethink."

Mostly, I realize that much of my thinking has been molded by advertising and societal views of what is cool, fulfilling, and rewarding. This affects even the simplest areas of life.

Take food, for example. My TV shows a woman using Hamburger Helper (food in a box, which is not good for my family, and is also a source of consumer waste). This woman is smiling because she has made her family happy (so says the commercial). And all this, without stooping to the indignity of creating a meal from scratch (or perhaps wasting "precious" time).

It is a strong message: you can make your family happy without degrading yourself, or without effort.

Is it true? Will food in a box make my family happy and healthy? Have I escaped some kind of drudge work that would suggest I'm less-than-important if I did the work? I'm not saying that I never cook anything out of a box, but I've had to rethink... what is it that truly brings health, happiness, and meaning? Is life really like the commercials say?

If life is not like the commercials say, then maybe convenience is not a primary value, nor effortlessness, nor throwing away the old for the new, nor buying the new to create happiness. And maybe my role in my family is not entertainer, but Guide and Mentor and Nurturer.

Photo by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

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Wordless Wednesday: Desert

Found Objects Art

Desert, by Sara Barkat, age 9. Using found objects.

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Salt of the Sky

Ocean & Rain1

If there were no salt in the oceans, there'd be no rain. The salt goes up to the clouds with evaporated sea water, where it helps facilitate raindrop formation.

I consider, then, Jesus' discussion of how we should be the salt of the earth.

Just as the rain would not fall without the salt of the sky, quenching thirst and giving growth, we will not refresh and nourish others if we "lose our saltiness" on the earth.

Oh, Lord, let me be good salt.

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13

Ocean & Rain watercolor with salt & photo, by L.L. Barkat. Inspired by an assignment on SoulPerSuit