I’m about to fall asleep when my husband, Ron, reaches out and shakes my shoulder.
“Are you awake?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say.
“What do you want for your birthday?”
“Hmmm,” I say. “I don’t know. Let me think about it.”
But I do know. I’m debating between various brands of juicers (Green Star or Omega – any thoughts?). Ron is going to keel over when he hears this. In the six years we’ve been together, I’ve never asked for a single item relating to the kitchen.
Not a pot.
Not a pan.
Not a knife, a spatula, or a whisk.
Growing up, I never learned how to cook. My girlfriends and I — we were women of a new generation. We were going to be doctors, lawyers, and mathematicians (and we are). There would be no time for preparing meals. (I’m not sure what our eating plan was — hired help? fast food? — we didn’t think about that part). I do vaguely recall taking a Home Economics course in high school. Men were required to take it too. We baked a pie. I stared at the aluminum container holding the crust and debated between leaving it or removing it. I wasn’t sure aluminum should go in the oven so I took it off. My pie looked more like a pancake.
People change, though.
Now I see our kitchen in a whole new light. Cooking spinach lasagna the other night, I sipped a glass of wine and turned on some tunes. I had to call my mother — twice — and ask her whether I was supposed to cook the whole wheat lasagna noodles or layer them in the dish uncooked. (The first time she said, “Cook ‘em!” and the second time she said, “Yes, I’m positive. Cook ‘’em!”) I cooked the noodles. The food was delicious. I’m no longer intimidated by the kitchen. Bring on the juicer!
I feel like a dog person who became a cat person . . . a skier who became a snowboarder . . . an evening person who became a morning person . . . because I drink tea now. Me. The coffee girl. Drinks tea. And I like it.
So many colors. Tons of flavors. I can drink it at night and it won’t keep me up until 3am.
I have an “emergency kit” in my purse. It contains essentials like a hair band, dental floss, an extra pair of contact lenses, and quarters. Now it also holds a tea bag. I added it after going to a restaurant the other day where they had three tea choices: icky, yucky, or gross. It reminded me of the days when I used to be a caffeine addict yet was stuck in a meeting where the only coffee option was a stale, burnt cup of sludge.
Anyway, so I now keep a tea bag tucked away for such predicaments. That’s me. The tea girl.
4 ounces low fat cottage cheese
1 cup (6 ounces) fresh strawberries, chopped
½ teaspoon blood orange zest
1 teaspoon juice from a blood orange
2 teaspoons honey
4 pieces WASA Sourdough Rye Crispbread (May substitute WASA Multigrain, Hearty Rye, Sourdough Rye, or Oats Crispbread)
Mix together strawberries, ¼ teaspoon zest, blood orange juice, and honey in a small bowl.
Spread cottage cheese on cracker, top with mixture, and sprinkle with remaining zest.
TIP: May substitute any berries, peaches, apricots, or pineapple for strawberries. You can also substitute a regular orange for a blood orange.
Refrigerate leftovers for 3-4 days.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Nutritional Value Per Serving
In the most recent issue of Newsweek magazine, Robert J. Samuelson wrote a column titled The Sad Fate of the Comma.
I have always liked commas, but I seem to be in a shrinking minority. The comma is in retreat, though it is not yet extinct. In text messages and e-mails, commas appear infrequently, and then often by accident (someone hits the wrong key). Even on the printed page, commas are dwindling. Many standard uses from my childhood (after, for example, an introductory prepositional phrase) have become optional or, worse, have been ditched. If all this involved only grammar, I might let it lie. But the comma’s sad fate is, I think, a metaphor for something larger: how we deal with the frantic, can’t-wait-a-minute nature of modern life. The comma is, after all, a small sign that flashes PAUSE. It tells the reader to slow down, think a bit, and then move on. We don’t have time for that. No pauses allowed.
My husband came home from work a few hours after I read the article and mentioned that a yoga instructor had visited his office as part of their Wellness Program.
“Did you learn anything?” I asked.
He said he learned that if people took ten minutes out of their day to sit quietly and relax, scientific studies show stress levels reduce drastically. In other words, he learned it’s important to pause.
He had a worksheet from the Mind/Body Medical Institute. Click here for the full set of instructions, but in a nutshell it simply says to sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and breathe (the easy part), as you clear your mind of active thoughts (the hard part).
Summers seems like an especially good time to incorporate the practice of pause because schedules can get so busy. You might be thinking: “That’s precisely the problem. I’m so busy I don’t have time to relax for 10 minutes.” But as the yoga instructor who visited my husband’s office mentions on her website, pausing will calm you down and clear your mind for better decision-making, ultimately giving you much more time.