One of the things I do in the summertime is participate in a series of rooftop yoga/meditations. I’ll be honest, I mostly go for the free day by the pool at the swanky hotel that hosts this series. I pay the fee for the early morning classes and then change into my bathing suit and pretend I’m a hotel guest for the rest of the day. I think this opportunity is encouraged, but because I’m not rushing off to a ‘real’ job, I’m one of the only ones who are able to take advantage of this benefit.
Like anything, some classes are better than others. The meditation portions are always the most interesting because there are so many different ways to practice/pray/meditate. I love being exposed to new philosophies and teachings. Remember when I wrote about the “Rockstar Shaman” who put edible gold drops underneath our tongues?
One particular session was run by a brother/sister duo with all sorts of tattoos and jewelry adornments. They were poster children for Burning Man. (I'm mildly obsessed with The Burning Man events as a voyeur but I could bet you a million dollars that I will never ever attend this party in the desert.)
The sister led the yoga asana portion. Fine. No big deal. Nothing out of the ordinary. The brother was in charge of the meditation portion. He wore sunglasses, a fur wrap which admittedly was cool looking, but an odd choice for summertime attire. Rings on his fingers, in his ears, and nose. Feathers woven through his hair, and scarves flowing every which way. He looked very... curated.
I was prepared for his session to be a total poser bullsh*t situation, yet, as always, I realized appearance based judgments are incredibly unfair. We have no idea what’s inside someone’s heart, soul, and mind. We get so caught up with the vision of our eyes, we miss seeing the truths of others through the lenses of open minds and hearts. Aha!
The meditation was lovely, and I learned something from him that has stayed with me long after that sunny rooftop day by the pool. I learned that when we do a practice it is not the DOING that makes the practice. It is the RETURN, the coming BACK after we lost our way, got distracted, drifted away from the pursuit. That’s when the true benefits of a practice show their faces. So simple, and yet such a profound way of thinking, right?
When I think about returning to practice I think about my friends in recovery. So many days, weeks, years of sobriety or commitments to healthier actions. The meetings, the coins, the sponsors, the steps. It’s inspiring work - the return to those tools again and again.
We may not all have high stakes practices like those battling addiction, but those people are the beacons that shine the way for me to return to my own personal pursuits and practices.
What are some practices you’ve left along the way? There are a few short weeks of 2018 left, can you gift yourself a sweet return to something you started this year? Can you re-dedicate yourself to a practice that you know will bring you calm and peace during the frenzy of the holidays?
I cook on a clock. I bill my clients by the hour for weekly drop offs and it is, for the most part, a set allotment of time. It is my job to shop, cook, prepare, and deliver within that assigned time. So I’m organized and efficient, but I also pick and choose my short cuts.
There’s one dish that doesn’t afford me any short cuts. Risotto. (AKA the labor of love in the kitchen.) It’s one of my favorite things to make and one of my favorite things to eat. Because risotto requires 18-22 minutes of continual stirring, it’s my practice to make it every-once-in-awhile just to slow down. With this dish I can’t do four things at once, I must find stillness and dedication, and give my undivided attention to this one pot. Stirring risotto is a meditation in and of itself.
On my daily instagram I’ve been sharing a lot of New York Times recipes. Have you gotten yourself a daily subscription yet? It’s one of my favorite resources for kitchen inspiration. Melissa Clark’s recipe for spinach risotto is perfect for this cozy time of year. And its evergreen color would be a gorgeous addition to your holiday table.
Spinach Risotto With Taleggio
8 ounces cold taleggio
10 ounces/8 packed cups spinach, any thick stems removed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, finely diced
3 cups finely diced celery
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
1 ½ cup Arborio rice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, more as needed
¾ cup dry white wine
3 ½ cups good vegetable or chicken stock
Cut the rind off the taleggio and discard. Dice the cheese into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside at room temperature as you prepare the rice.
Line a colander with a clean dish towel and place spinach inside. Heat about 8 cups of water until boiling, then pour over spinach; the spinach will wilt. Let spinach sit until cool enough to handle, then use the dish towel to squeeze out the water. Transfer spinach to a food processor and blend with 1 tablespoon butter until smooth. (You’ll end up with about 1 cup of purée.) Reserve.
Melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, celery and garlic; cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in rice and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook until toasted and golden, about 5 minutes.
Stir in wine and cook until it’s absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring often but not necessarily continuously, until the stock is finished and the rice is cooked through but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir in spinach purée, then taste and add more salt, if needed. Add taleggio and stir to melt. Serve immediately.