Advent Conspiracy


Intriguing. Check it out.

Photo: Beginning of our Advent Candle Wreath, compliments Sara and Sonia. Photo by L.L. Barkat.



Fishsticks? (Or, "I thought you said you were vegetarian")


Astute viewers of the 30-Day Meal Plan will notice something odd. It's a vegetarian meal plan, but one Friday suggests fishsticks. And one alternate meal (at the bottom) is Thai halibut.

I guess you could say this anomaly is a little "grace at the table". Not so much the grace I've come to associate with giving my family food that keeps them healthy (hubby, from a family with a history of heart disease, has better than "optimal" blood pressure!). And not so much the grace that allows a few more lowly creatures to go on with their lives. But the grace of concession.

See, when I became vegetarian, it's not like I really asked my spouse. I just kind of drifted into a new ritual of meal preparation. Frankly, my spouse has been incredibly supportive of a lifestyle he didn't initiate.

So there it is... a little thanks for his great support. A small concession that also gives me a prep break. Fishsticks. Once a month, on Fridays.

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Wordless Wednesday: Joyful Pumpkins

Pumpkins in the Garden

Back to the garden these little guys went, to nourish the soil for next year. Joyful, aren't they?

Have a blessed holiday, with a plump measure of joy.



Moving Me with Mountains

Stones on Fence

Finally, it's not just beautiful people like Blue Mountain Mama who are talking about the mountains.

I was pleasantly surprised to read about mountain-top removal in the November issue of Books and Culture. Norman Wirzba reviewed three books that mourn, celebrate, and challenge.

Says Wirzba, Missing Mountains "consists of a collection of poems, essays, short fiction, and photographs...from several of Kentucky's best known and emerging writers and artists who have committed themselves to bringing a halt to mountaintop removal." (p.44)

On a slightly different note, he discusses Lost Mountain, which examines the "contradictions and failures of our economic life" while treating us to "a year-long tour that chronicles the destruction of Lost Mountain in Perry County, Kentucky." (p.44-45)

Finally, Wirzba highlights Coal Hollow, which "bears witness, through nearly one hundred black-and-white photographs and eleven oral histories, to the painful history that has culminated in MTR." (p.45)

And so the sorrow that Blue Mountain Mama has shared with us, even as she's stood and faced a hostile crowd, is not isolated. We can read it for ourselves.

Stones photo by J Barkat. Used by permission. Green Inventions Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.



Wordless Wednesday: Yearning

Ivy Up Close

Even though I'm currently running this photo on my other blog, I couldn't resist running it here. With this verse from my morning reading...

O LORD, we wait for you...
My soul yearns for you
in the night,
my spirit within me
earnestly seeks you.

Isaiah 26:8,9

Ivy Up Close photo, by L.L. Barkat.



Isn't a Meal Plan Restrictive?

Escarole Soup

I handed the 30 Day Meal Plan across the table. Three people had requested them, because they or their spouses were facing various health issues. And they'd heard that a vegetarian lifestyle could be helpful.

All the while, my friend C. watched with a little smile. She told me later, "I thought you were crazy. Like, how controlling is that to make a meal plan and follow it? But when I asked if it got monotonous to follow a meal plan, you asked me, 'What're you having for dinner tonight?' When I said I didn't know, you smiled at me, and I suddenly realized there could be freedom in following a plan."

In the same conversation C. was referring to, she'd finally decided she would fall back on "chicken". I probed, "How many times will you eat chicken this week?" She admitted they'd probably have chicken at least four or more times.

So she was going to eat chicken most of the week... broiled, baked, fried, maybe microwaved. But the 30 Day Meal Plan, should I choose to follow it that same week, would take me around the world— lentils made Indian style, pasta made Provencal style, black beans with a Mexican flair, chickpeas made African style, and so on. A rainbow of culture and vegetables.

C. asked me for the meal plan.

Is a meal plan restrictive? Not at all. There's freedom in knowing "what's for dinner tonight". A healthy option is planned right into the schedule. Shopping gets easier. Meal prep becomes a snap when you're not always trying new recipes. And nobody stands over you saying, "Did you follow the plan?" So, you can depart when you want to.

The meal above, for instance, was a departure. I had left over escarole, some fresh green beans, a small bunch of broccoli in the fridge. So, voila. Escarole soup. Lentil salad. Potatoes with green beans and broccoli.

Escarole Soup

Saute until light brown...

- 1 onion, sliced thinly

Add and cook until tender...

- 1 container vegetable broth
- 1/2 bunch escarole, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste


- generous pour of olive oil

Potato Greens Pan Casserole


- 1 small onion, chopped fine

Remove onions. Add the following in layers (greens in between a top and bottom layer of potatoes), cover, and saute until tender...

- 4 potatoes sliced thinly, salted and peppered
- green beans, chopped
- broccoli, chopped
- the sauteed onion & 1/2 tsp. dried fennel (can mix with the green layer)


Top with shredded cheddar if desired, and a generous pour of olive oil.

Escarole soup photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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A Prayer

Dewy Grass

As some of you probably know, my friend Charity has been diagnosed with cancer. Ah, but the way of our world now, with so many suffering because of what we've done to our earth and our foods— 1 in 3 Americans now get cancer (Steingraber, p.261).

Not that environmental causes have anything to do with Charity's case necessarily... her pre-existing health issues certainly make her vulnerable. But, at the very least, she represents the other vulnerable ones among us... the little ones, the frail and aged ones, who are also more threatened by toxic environments.

Anyway, I didn't mean to get up on my soapbox here (anyone interested in such a soapbox would be better served by reading Living Downstream.)

Indeed, I was originally just thinking of Charity, as today is her first day of chemotherapy. So, out in my little woods, I asked for a prayer for her. And this, this was what I found on today's page of Psalms...

from Psalm 142

I cry out loudly to GOD,
loudly I plead to GOD for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
and spell out all my troubles in detail.

As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
you know how I'm feeling,
Know the danger I'm in,
the traps hidden in my path...

I'm up against it, with no exit—
bereft, left alone.
I cry out, GOD, call out:
'You're my last chance, my only hope for life!'
Oh listen, please listen;
I've never been this low.
Rescue me from those who are hunting me down;
I'm no match for them.
Get me out of this dungeon
so I can thank you in public.
Your people will form a circle around me...

Grass, Fresh and Fallen photo by J. Barkat. Used by permission.


LL's Lament

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