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.
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2 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
4 teaspoons sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, chopped
½ tablespoon pine nuts
2 teaspoons Kalamata olives, pitted, sliced lengthwise into quarters
1 tablespoon fresh basil, thinly sliced
2 pieces WASA Multigrain Crispbread (may substitute any WASA variety)
Toast pine nuts in small skillet until lightly browned, set aside.
Place 1 ounce mozzarella on each crispbread.
Sprinkle with ½ tablespoon of basil, 2 teaspoons sun dried tomatoes, 1 teaspoon Kalamata olives, ¼ teaspoon pine nuts. Serve immediately.
TIP: Substitute any nuts for pine nuts. Substitute feta cheese for mozzarella if desired.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Nutritional Value Per Serving
The work day was coming to an end. I was at my home office working on an article, and any moment I expected to hear my husband put his key in the lock and walk through the front door.
I adore this time of day.
I used to dread it, but I’m in a honeymoon phase. Dinnertime is almost here and I’m so in love with cooking.
Oh, sure, I’m thrilled to see my husband too. I enjoy hugging him and kissing him and sitting down together to talk about our days. But not that long ago, early evenings felt a little burdensome. Inevitably one of us would look at each other and ask: “So what are we going to do for dinner?”
Ugh! What a dilemma. We were usually at a loss because our cupboards were bare and besides, we were sick of the two recipes that we rotated through night after night after night after night.
Ever since we committed to making fresh, wholesome meals from scratch (or mostly scratch), our evenings have changed drastically. Our kitchen, for the first time ever, is abundant. We have fresh fruits and muffins, ingredients for homemade pizza, and spinach lasagna ready to reheat. We have a refrigerator full of red lettuce, apples, cherries, and tomatoes. Also we have a huge bowl of salsa because I’ve been on a salsa kick. (Basically, for the salsa I use the recipe from this book, combining corn, tomato, onion, pepper, carrots, black beans, parsley, garlic powder, and paprika. Then I add a little lemon juice, raw honey, and Dijon mustard for the dressing. I use it on everything – on top of mixed greens for a nice salad, as a topping to a veggie sandwich, on top of brown rice, as a dip for baked tortilla chips, etc.).
This week I’m experimenting with a variety of homemade salad dressings. When it comes to salad dressing though, my forever favorite is simply balsamic vinegar on top of baby spinach. I usually throw in pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and sautéed shitake mushrooms. The original recipe (which I copied from a menu in a restaurant whose name is slipping my mind) also called for bow tie pasta (I use tri-colored).
Tonight for dinner we’re having taco salad, and I’m going to mash up some avocados to make guacamole as a veggie dip. I’m excited about this.
People! How come no one ever told me cooking can be so fun?