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Sweet Potato Cilantro Onion Soup

Sweet Potato Cilantro Onion Soup

2 pre-baked sweet potatoes – sliced in semi-circle rounds

1 small onion (Vidalia) – chopped roughly (or ½ a medium one)

2-3 cloves of garlic – chopped

1 c – cilantro leaves removed from the stems

1 c – chicken broth or vegetable broth

3 c – filtered water

4 tb coconut oil

½ c of walnuts

½ c of Daiya chedder cheese

1 tsp of black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-bake your sweet potatoes at 350 for an hour (can be done the night before).

Sautee chopped onion in 2 tb of coconut oil. When translucent and fragrant, add in the garlic and continue sautéing for another minute or so.

Add 1-3/4 of the sweet potatoes and mix thoroughly to coat with coconut oil and sautéed onion garlic mixture for 3 minutes on medium heat. (Save the ¼ sweet potato to add to final bowl)

Add 1 c of broth and bring to a boil.  In the meantime grind the walnuts and cheese in a food processor or Vitamix blender until they become blended crumbs.

When boiling turn down heat to low and add the cilantro (reserve a few leaves to chop and use for garnish), 3 cups of water, black pepper, and walnut cheese crumbs. Stir to combine thoroughly and cook on low for another 5 minutes or so.

Remove from heat and return to the blender, blend until smooth. Add a slice of the sweet potato remaining to each bowl, and chopped cilantro to garnish. 

Bon appétit! 

RIP Legend Pete Seeger

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RIP Pete Seeger

I loved cleaning up the Hudson with you and the kids from Fieldston Outdoors. I felt your passion and presence as larger then life then, and cleaned with my campers believing with all my might that if you knew we could make a difference then we most certainly could. RIP PETE SEEGER 

FROM MY DEAR FRIEND & MENTOR ~ THE LEGACY OF ONE OF HIS:

Dear Friends,

When I awoke this morning my wife Lilia looked at me and simply said, “Pete died”. I knew which Pete she meant. Pete Seeger.

I immediately went to my writing table in the kitchen and wrote this poem.

I hope it is something that will give you a sense of how extraordinary this person was.

Sadly because it was written on a computer you cannot see the tear stains that landed on the keyboard as I wrote this.

Best wishes,

Lewis Harrison – Writer and Teacher
The Harrison Center for Personal Development
* * * * * 
For Pete

Pete Seeger has left the building,
But he still lives.
More than lives, he looms over us.

He was just a simple musician,
A folk singer and a banjo player with a spirit so large,
A spirit vibrant and influential
that his being would dwarf Mount Rushmore,
If a spirit it could be carved in stone.

He was a working man,
From religious dissenter colonial stock,
He dipped his toes into Harvard,
For the blink of an eye,

Then walked, hitchhiked, and freight-trained,
Singing with Woody Guthrie through the American landscape,
and the American Drama,
for seven decades.

He usually sat in the last row,
Avoiding the spotlight,
Intentionally directing it onto others.
Even so we always sensed that he was back there somewhere,
strong and, smiling, with a deep stubbornness,
Doing what needed to be done.

His stubbornness was driven by an authentic righteousness and sense of the “good”.

With Woody Guthrie,
From union hall to union hall,
Singing for dignity,
And for racial justice, human rights, fairness and a living wage.

He rescued the five string banjo from obscurity,
Filled small halls with the Almanac Singers,
Then Carnegie Hall with the Weavers,
He left the Weavers it is said because he refused to do an add for a cigarette company.

Pete Seeger was a Rock star before Rockn’Roll even had a name,
He liked rock n roll,
They said he was annoyed when Dylan went electric,
Pete said he didn’t care,
“I just wanted to be able to hear the lyrics.”
They certainly heard his,
All the way into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

He was the most spiritual of human beings,
But he didn’t waste his time pontificating,
about God, not-God etc.

Pete was spiritual in the best sense of the “Word”,

He weaved love for others,
And his activism with his music,
Then emblazoned on his banjo the phrase,
“This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.”

Pete was stubborn in all the best meanings of the word.
For what was right he would not back down.
When a tsunami, a hurricane, a volcano,
An earthquake, of evil and bad intentions was thrown at him,
Pete with the guidance and support of his wife, Toshi,
stood unwavering for what he knew to be just.

He knew he would continue to stand for what was just,
Even if he was the last man standing.
He fought tyranny with his art and music during World War II,
and throughout his life served as a beacon for what is right in the world.

He was investigated for sedition,
Harassed by the FBI and CIA,
Picketed and jailed.
And he was subpoened by Joe MacCarthy’s cult,

And asked his who his friends and fellow travelers were?
He responded with unwavering constitutional clarity
and told them – none of your business
and and none of your business .

They convicted him of contempt of congress,
and told him to pack his bags – he was going to jail.
Then they blacklisted him.
He never got to jail, at least not for this. (He was arrested as needed to support what was “right”).

So he went back on the road,
Singing to thousands of young children,
In camps and conferences, 
Here and there.
For the Left for what was right,
And left of center as well.

These children grew up to be;
Activists, pioneers, environmentalists and visionaries,
He through them also completely changed American society in the 60s and onward

Eventually the Supreme Court said he was right
And congress was wrong.
That they were in contempt of the constitution as he had said
That he could name or not name any darn names he pleased.

Pete “outlived the bastards” to quote Bruce at Pete’s Party.
Most of those politicians are long forgotten,
In the dustbin of history.
Pete played on,
Walking and singing and activating the best in us.
Eventually he walked across the stage at the Kennedy Center,
Receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor.

Pete refitted the old negro spiritual, “We Will Overcome”,
Changing the “will” to “shall“ because it “fit the mouth better”.
It became the anthem of the civil rights movement and a symbol of a seminal moment in American History
Young un’s? When you Wiki, or Google, Leadbelly, Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, or any other great cultural and musical influencers
Look at the footnote and in the background,
There is a good chance you will see Pete Seeger smiling

Today’s passing of Pete is the day the music lived.
Remember the day the music died?
Bye Bye Miss “American Pie”.
Even Madonna sang it.
Don MccClean wrote it.
Don McClean’s friend and mentor? Pete Seeger.

Integrity? Pete’s picture should be in the dictionary next to the word.
He took the old African folksong “Mbube”
Helped “Turn, Turn Turn” it into The Lion Sleep’s Tonight”
and reweaved it for American ears with the Weavers.
When he learned that it had been written by
Solomon Popoli Linda a songwriter in Africa,
A man that was still living,
Pete made sure the man received credit for the song
Sent him a check from his own pocket,

You might think all this is enough for one life?

One day Pete and Toshi decided they didn’t like the way the Hudson River looked or smelled.
Here Toshi and modern “Moses” Seeger”,
Led us across our own River Jordan to the Sloop Clearwater,

From the mountaintop in Beacon, N.Y,
Pete saw another promised land,
Respect for nature.
Many festivals and many projects came out of Toshi’s and Pete’s vision.
They both lived to see the continually unfolding miracle that is today’s Hudson River.
So he made it through 90 years and more,
And there was a big 90th birthday party at Madison Square Garden for him.
His musical children, grandchildren and great grandchildren sang his songs to the world,
And there he was in the background smiling and singing.

And this was the Pete we thought we knew.
During this time a friend of mind was given the honor
of going through and organizing the unknown Seeger,
Hundreds of songs Pete had kept in storage
Songs he had never published nor even sung in public.

Back in the 1960s they banned him from TV’s Hootenany,
But in 2011 he was walking through the streets of Manhattan,
Cane in hand with their children and grandchildren
Leading an Occupy Movement protest on Wall Street.
The Police shaked his hand and thanked him

Music and activism. Activism and music.
This was the rhythm and harmony of his life.
“How Can I Keep From Singing?”
This was his autobiography.
This is what he did,
This was who he was.

This book changed my life. The title says it all.

Pete Seeger was “wary of great leaders”,
He created a wave of small leaders, by being Pete.
He didn’t teach, he sang and lived.

All these small leaders changed
And continue to change the world.
This was reflected in his concert rule “The audience must sing.”

The great Zen Masters teach,
To live life fully is to “Chop Wood and Carry Water.”
His grandson says that Pete was chopping wood just ten days ago.
Peter Seeger understood what needed to be done
When his Harvard professor told him,
“You can observe but you cannot do”
Pete understood his destiny,
he needed to leave Harvard.
And hop onto a railway car.

I met Pete Seeger twice.
Once I was introduced to him as an activist at a folk festival,
It was like meeting a “Beatle” for me,
More than meeting a Beatle.

I asked for his autograph and a for a “photo-Op”.
He smiled at me, laughed and said “Oh come on!”
I should have known better.

About a year later,
I was at the Ecofest Festival in Riverside Park in NYC,
The first musician came on the stage at 8:00 am.
There were a few people milling around doing set up and such.
And a scattering of people in the audience,
Maybe twenty people spread among two hundred seats.

There in the last seat in the last row, focused on the music,
Listening intently,
Supporting the music,
Loving the music and the musician was Pete Seeger.

Pete! Thanks for the many gifts you gave us.
For the gifts you gave us,

So long. It’s been good to know ya,
But I know you had to be rolling along.

Veggie Saute

veggiesauteSauteed veggies are a common dish for me to prepare with whatever tasty vegtables are available and seasonal at the time.

Brown rice 1 cup

Italian Tuscan Kale 2 leaves

3 cherry tomatoes

2 button mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic

1/8 of an onion

sprinkle of tamari (GF)

1/4 tsp of turmeric

1/4 tsp of ginger

I always start the saute the same way, with some olive oil and thinly sliced garlic or onions.  Once they start to become fragrant and translucent I’ll add in some spices – like turmeric, oregano and cayenne.  [Note: It’s best to use turmeric with black pepper also because it amplifies the effectiveness of it’s active anti-inflammatory nature by 1000-2000%!]  Shortly, I’ll add the next batch of veggies – in this case it was button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes roughly chopped (could be also with zucchini, bell peppers). I like to let these cook for a short while, a few minutes stirring occasionally so they get soft and the flavors start to marry with each other.  You can add any type of grain you like next (quinoa is also nice), here I’ve got some cooked brown rice, which I added about a cup to the pan with a little extra olive oil (about a TB). Stir the rice to coat and allow it to absorb the flavors already in the pan.  I chopped up some ginger super finely, about a 1/2 tsp and add to the pan, with a sprinkle of tamari (gluten free) stirring as I add.  And finally, in a few more minutes, add your leaves – whatever green leafies you like best – here I’ve added 2 leaves of dino kale (Italian Tuscan kale). Here I’ve omitted the stalks, as I didn’t blanch it or steam it first and the stalks are a bit tough. I always add the leaves last – it could be spinach, arugula, or swiss chard easily as well.  Voila! Super healthy snack or meal.

Who Is A Bottom Feeder Anyway?

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I recently heard someone I thought I respected call someone else a “bottom feeder.” I felt myself cringe. Usually my respect and admiration is greater for those who are less judgmental and don’t need to name call. Labels can dis-able. Somehow this time the opinionated statement sent my mind spiraling into a series of questions.  What constitutes someone being deemed a “bottom feeder?” What’s wrong with feeding on the bottom if you are on the bottom? And am I a bottom feeder because I recently hit a bottom myself?

Taking big risks means sometimes I find myself falling down hard, but I pride myself on my bounce-ability. I like to go for big dreams, and pursue whatever I desire with gusto. Yet, occasionally, I’ll misjudge or misstep, and arguably even those experiences are meant to be my lessons of contrast. So I pick myself up, dust off, and continue gladly along my path.

Bottom feeding. Feeding on the bottom. What is one to be, do, have if one doesn’t take advantage of the resources closest at hand to move through experiences and gather strength to move onward and upward? Even the notion of onward or upward can be debatable, we really have nowhere to “get to.”

Yet, life feels like I am on a journey of self-improvement, growth and learning through my creation of multi-faceted experiences. I like to squeeze every drop out of life I can, saying yes until the cost is too high along my way.

If I’m a wild child feeding on the marrow of life. It may seem from one’s narrow point of view to be feeding on the bottom, to me it may be am elevated perch from where I was previously resting, and I will quench my thirst and sate my hunger.

Superb Spaghetti Squash Lasagne

ImageThis recipe was totally inspired by a close close friend in Florida.  He regularly would cook for me and was quite the excellent chef.  Our last meal together before I headed out west was a spaghetti squash dish, so the other day I spied these amazing yellow veggies in the store and had to take one home.

It’s a nice light summer alternative to real pasta.  For anyone watching their carbs, it’s a terrific treat when paired with tomato sauce.  This is a creative variation for all of you who, like me, like to play in the kitchen.

What you’ll need:

spaghetti squash

1/2 small vidalia onion (or yellow)

5 garlic cloves

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1/2 a medium box of non-GMO tofu (or 1 whole tofu small box)

2/3 cup of black beans (canned ok)

olive oil

Daiya cheese

tumeric, cayenne, oregano, sea salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare:

– Pre-heat the oven to 350

– Slice the squash in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. Season the scooped out side with sea salt, pepper and drizzle liberally with olive oil.

– Place scooped side down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45 minutes.  You can do this a day prior.  While the squash is baking, prepare your sauce.  Using homemade tomato sauce is simple to make and always a pleasure to eat.

– Slice up about a 1/2 of a vidalia (or yellow) small onion into semi rounds and smash and chop 3 gloves of garlic

– Add these to a couple Tbs of olive oil on medium heat and add in a generous sprinkle of tumeric, black pepper, cayenne, and oregano is nice too. Saute til they are fragrant and translucent.

– When I’m in a hurry I use chopped tomatoes in a can with basil. If I can take my time, I use whole peeled tomatoes in a can and squeeze them into the pot by hand.  I buy the 28 oz. size so there’s always left overs for another dish if you’re cooking for 1-2 people.

– Simmer on a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes with a lid stirring occasionally, and then turn down to very low for another 5 minutes til all the liquid is gone.

– In another pan saute another chopped 2 garlic cloves in olive oil and slice up your tofu. This is going to form your “cheeze” mixture, like a ricotta consistency.

– Add your slices of tofu and 2/3 cup of black beans (already cooked) to the pan.  Stir and mash together a bit over medium heat.  You may add more olive oil and salt and pepper to the mixture until tofu and beans and garlic are nicely combined into a chunky mixture.

– Once your spaghetti squash is done and tender, you use a fork and scrape it all out of the outer skin.  It should come out very easily.  Put it all into a roasting pan, combine tomato sauce generously with the first layer of squash.

– Add the second layer of squash on top, and then add your tofu and black bean mixture, top with more tomato sauce and last sprinkle liberally with Daiya mozzarella shreds /cheeze (it’s gluten free, vegan, soy and casein free and delicious and melts well)…  then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, plus an extra 5 minutes on broil to be sure the cheeze is very melted. (You may use any other type of cheese, however, this is a very excellent complement.)

Bon appetit!

Serves 4 – 6

ImageThere are times that even when we try try try nothing seems to work.  It’s easy to get frustrated and annoyed at the world, it appears that everything else spirals in the opposite direction of what we want in such short order.  Lines at the store or bank take forever, all the traffic lights are red and stop and go, we just miss our connection at a bus or train station and must wait. In fact, I’ve always ix-nayed the word “try,” as in when we are “trying too hard” we’re totally in our heads, a space of duality. Times like this it’s best to slow down and pay attention to whatever we are thinking being in opposition with any semblance of The Flow.  Where is that special point of flowing-ness?  How can we re-align ourselves with ease, joy and glory where life just is effortless and enjoyable again?

My first cue to take a pause is my moodiness.  When I’m in a space of being out of sorts, I’ll just stop and focus on nature for awhile.  Or focus on nature and meditate.  I’m grateful for being here and just breathe into the softness and gentleness of my soul.  Checking in, yes, I’m still here whatever, however, wherever “here” may be.

Now I’ve learned some supportive grounding breath work tools: squeeze muhla banda (Sanskrit for root or base, beginning or foundation, which means basically do kiegels), then squeeze your heart, place your attention on your crown at the top of your head and breathe from above in the heavens into the top of your head and down through your heart and center of yourself out of your root chakra into the earth, and then back up again pulling from the earth upwards.  This is a great start to clearing gunk out of your system to regain grounded-ness and clarity, which allows for creativity and wisdom, as well as power and energy, love and communication, vision and intuition, and magnetic vibration!  We are the abundance we seek. There is nothing we are not!

Happy clearing.