Thursday, February 17, 2011


"Love everybody, all the time, for no reason at all." 
It's the time of year where wintry temperatures, even here in Arizona, evoke thoughts of quiet thoughtfulness.  We look forward to warmth and spring, seeing parts of ourselves in each season of the year.  I love that we cycle through four seasons every year, each shift in weather reminding us what it is like to feel hot, what it's like to sit with family during the holidays, how wonderful it is to plant seeds and watch them grow.
Growing up in the Church planted many ideas that I still carry to this day.  The eternal round idea still appeals to me, even though I have left many other pieces of Mormonism behind.  We have the circle of seasons, cycles of the moon, the biorhythms in our bodies.  Now I interpret it differently.  I think that whatever I send out with my energy, is what I get back.  After all, the Earth is round, not flat.
Today also happens to be graduation day.  Today, at 6:30 sharp, I will be sitting with my youth in our mentoring pair as she graduates from our ten-month program.  I have regrets but I also feel gratified.  Each day I spent with the community at Phoenix Youth at Risk was a leap of faith, a laboratory for change, a group therapy meeting, a magical process.
Mentoring my youth wasn't about changing her, it was about loving her without judgement.  It was ten months of practicing unconditional love, remembering that she was the possibility of all possibilities.  I wasn't very good at loving her.  I let preconceived notions hamper me.  Sometimes I could not see her. I have a problem with that.  Sometimes I don't see my 5-year-old either, or my husband, or my 2-year-old.  It's easy to see them as obstacles.  But then I wake up, remember that they are here happening forme, not to me.
As I reflect on my Mormon upbringing, the mentoring of the last nearly-year, therapy, and meditation, I see that these are mirrors in my life showing me me. So what do I do with that?  I own my shit.  If I own what's mine, then I can move from there.  Because it's only then that I truly see the world and people around me, without the film of my own issues blurring them from me.
"May I be filled with loving-kindness,
May I be well,
May I be peaceful and at ease,
May I be happy."
--Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart 

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Almond Roca (sugar-free, honey-sweetened)

Ever since the holidays we have been enjoying little bites of almond roca for an occasional sweet treat.  This candy is very easy to make.  Simple directions and a short list of ingredients make for an elegant dessert with a crunch.  I make it plain, but you can melt chocolate and drizzle it on top for a more decadent version.

When I use them, I soak raw nuts and seeds in a salty brine for a day, then dehydrate them a low temperature to improve digestibility.  The soaking removes enzyme inhibitors, which interfere with your body's ability to utilize the enzymes present in these raw morsels.  Then the dehydrating returns them to their crispy state, but doesn't kill the enzymes that are now available for absorption in the body.  It is still better to soak nuts and seeds even if you plan to roast them.  The enzymes will die, but at least the enzyme inhibitors are neutralized.

Almond Roca

1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup honey
1 cup chopped almonds

1. Melt butter gently in a saucepan.  Add honey while the butter melts, stirring constantly until nicely combined.  

2. Using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it reaches the "soft-crack stage" or the "hard-crack stage".  Use "soft-crack" for a softer candy that bends, but then cracks into pieces when broken apart.  Use "hard-crack" for a harder candy that is stiff, and doesn't bend when broken into pieces.
3. After the mixture reaches the desired temperature, stir in the chopped almonds until combined.  Then immediately spread onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper, or that has been buttered to cool.  Let cool for 45 minutes or so.  Transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely.
 4.  When you put your hand on the candy and cannot feel any more heat radiating from it, remove from the refrigerator to break into pieces.  Remove the pan and paper.  Break into any size you like.

5.  You can store the candy at room temperature, but it does get a bit sticky and the pieces hold on to each other.  I kept ours in the fridge until they were mostly gone, then started keeping the remainder in the cupboard.  Either way I prefer to eat them at room temperature, so if you store in the refrigerator, remove about 20 minutes before you want to eat it.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Comment Issues

Hi readers.  I have been having some formatting trouble with the comments, but for now I have at least returned it to the original options.  I'll keep working on it.  In the meantime, sorry about that!