How “Now” Brown Cow!

I enjoyed one of the nicest breakfasts this morning and was pleased I could stick to something vegetarian as the smell of crispy bacon was pretty tempting.

The kids were in child care so I headed to the Brown Cow in Hampton and ordered the Smashed Avocado. I’ll definitely be trying to make this one myself. It’s essentially what looked to be a whole avocado chopped roughly and mixed with goat’s feta, semi dried tomatoes, chives and extra virgin olive oil piled on top of a potato rosti. I then added an extra bit of goodness and asked for a poached egg which they balanced on top, subsequently oozing down the avocado like a yolky mountain stream. I might try this at home with store bought hash browns as the base but only because I don’t have much time of a morning with the two kids. I made sure I tipped them (which you are not obligated to do in Australia so I’m hoping it earned me some good karma!).

My only regret is that I didn’t take a picture to post online. Next time…

Thank you Brown Cow!

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Accepting our limitations

“Spiritual practice is difficult in the beginning. You wonder how on earth you can ever do it. But as you get used to it, the practice gradually becomes easier. Do not be too stubborn or push yourself too hard. If you practice in accord with your individual capacity, little by little you will find more pleasure and joy in it. As you gain inner strength, your positive actions will gain in profundity and scope.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

This week’s teaching asked “Who am I?” (see post here). I have been contemplating this all week but the last 24 hours has seen the question change, for me, from the existential to the literal. One reason I started this blog was to give myself an outlet to mull over the different roles, or characters even, that I find myself playing out in my current life and help me to strike a balance between them all. Buddhism is at the very core of my being. It is how I view the world plain and simple. A friend commented this morning how easy it would be to be Buddhist if we lived in a monastery. How right she is! I am struggling on a daily basis with reconciling my Buddhist beliefs, my existential orientation, with the superficialities of being a modern woman in the western world. I have questions arising at almost every step I take at the moment. Should I buy that hand bag? Maybe I should donate that money to a charity instead? Am I really living in the moment with my son right now?  Did I truly listen to my friend’s story about the fight with her husband just now? Did I show her enough support? Should I have ironed my husband’s work shirt instead of writing my blog? He’s been so busy at the moment I know he would really appreciate it. Trust me I can question every action I take to the point that it disables me. The simplest task such as putting on makeup becomes a point of  analysis and criticism. Such is my body’s mind.

 So when I sat down at the computer today and the above quote from His Holiness popped up, I was so thankful. It is exactly the advice I needed to hear, “practice in accord with your individual capacity”. What a relief! It’s okay that I have limitations and failures. I am not enlightened. “Spiritual practice is difficult in the beginning”. Is it ever! Knowing this intellectually and knowing this whole-heartedly is two different things however. I can write about accepting my limitations but only meditation will enable me to truly accept them and no longer feel guilty. I will allow my actions to be guided by the intuition gained from my meditations and as I “gain inner strength, [my] positive actions will gain in profundity and scope”.

Bless you, Your Holiness. I’m off to meditate.

MM

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Vegetarian Recipe of the Week #1

Ricotta & Goat’s Cheese Tart with Beetroot Salad

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I thought I might share my attempts at vegetarian cooking with you. I made this recipe yesterday having had the day to myself to browse through books for vegetarian recipes my husband may also like. This one was a winner with me (Hubby kinda just shrugged and said “Yeah it was good”).  I got it from a magazine article entitled WhoFood with Michelle Reedy. The above picture is from today’s lunch and I can say that it tastes just as good the day after (though the salad isn’t as crisp naturally). Yesterday I went a whole day without having meat and didn’t miss it at all. Today I should be able to do the same as I’m going out to dinner with the playgroup committee (I hope they have some good vegetarian options otherwise I may just have to have their steak afterall).

What You Need

1 and 1/2 sheets shortcrust pastry, defrosted (or make your own as I did)

600g ricotta cheese

110g soft goat’s cheese

4 eggs

1 bunch chives, chopped (I didn’t have much left in my herb garden so my picture is lacking the green specks that are meant to be through it)

For the Salad:

1 bunch beetroot, peeled and grated

1 pink lady apple, grated

1/8 red cabbage, shredded finely

1/2 cup walnuts

1 bunch rocket, washed

3 Tbspns red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp seeded mustard

2 Tbspns extra virgin olive oil

Preh-heat oven to 200C. Grease a 25cm by 5 cm deep tart tin with butter. Lay the whole piece of pastry in the middle of the tin and cut around the edges or if making your own as I did, press the mixture firmly around the edges and bottom of the tin making sure there are no holes. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Prick base of pastry several times with a fork then return to the oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 160C.

Meanwhile, place ricotta, cheese, eggs and chives in food processor, season well with salt and pepper and blitz till smooth. Pour ricotta mix into baked tart shell and bake for 45 minutes or till firm. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Place beetroot, apple, cabbage and walnutes in medium bowl. In a separate bowl whisk vinegar, mustard, pil, salt and pepper, pour over salad and toss well. Serve with rocket leaves.

 

MM

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Who Am I? Teaching from 22.08.11

Once again I was fortunate enough to attend another teaching at my local Buddhist institute. Last night’s lesson was HEAVY. It’s meant to be an introduction to Buddhism but in my opinion (and I think the teacher’s too) it took a tangent that was quite advanced and may have overwhelmed the first-timer.

As usual, there was a brief meditation session at the beginning to get our minds focused and ripe to receive any benefits from the lesson. The tangent came about when a student asked what else could we meditate on if not the breath? The response was many things but the one that seemed to require the most explanation and thereby took up the bulk of the lesson was the question “Who am I?”  Ahhh… existential philosophy. My old friend from University. I must’ve spent hours debating various topics and reading many different books. I loved this topic and couldn’t get enough.

Now my mind is not what it used to be. After two pregnancies (I think Baby Brain has actually been scientifically proven to exist now hasn’t it?) and spending the majority of my time converting my perspective to the level of a 3 yr old (or younger!) I have lost something of the adult comprehension or clarity that I had in my 20’s (in spite of all the drinking that was done on campus). So this loss of mental acuity combined with it being late on a Monday night meant that I struggled to follow the lesson and must admit if I had not spent some time with these concepts earlier in my life then I would have had no idea what he was talking about. To give you an example, there was a lot of “I am me and you are you but only to me and to you, you are me and I am you”. Sheesh!

The best book I found on this topic, and still get great enjoyment from to this very day, is actually not a Buddhist transcript but in fact from a teacher of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy, that is, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and his work I am That. I can flip to any page of this book and learn something profound. Below is a snippet of his teachings on this topic to wet your appetites. The book is written in question answer format.

Q: Are persons real, and universals conceptuals, or are universals real and persons imaginary?

M: Neither are real.

Q:  Surely I am real enough to merit your reply and I am a person.

M: Not when asleep.

Q: Submergence is not absence. Even though asleep, I am.

M: To be a person you must be self-conscious. Are you so always?

Q: Not when I sleep, of course, nor when I am in a swoon or drugged.

M: During waking hours are you continually self-conscious?

Q: No. Sometimes I am absent-minded, or just absorbed.

M: Are you a person during the gaps in self-consciousness?

Q: Of course I am the same person throughout. I remember myself as I was yesterday and yester year – definitely, I am the same person.

M: So, to be a person, you need a memory?

Q: of course.

M: And without memory, what are you?

Q: Incomplete memory entails incomplete personality. Without memory I cannot exist as a person.

M: Surely you can exist without memory. You do so – in sleep.

Q: Only in the sense of remaining alive. Not as a person.

(This discussion goes back and forth with the Maharaj peeling back the layers of consciousness a little bit more until his final comment below)

M: You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be! Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passer-by.  A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply. To know what you are you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact: ‘I am’. The ideas: I am born at a given place, at a given time, from my parents and now I am so-and-so, living at, married to, father of, employed by, and so on, are not inherent in the sense ‘I am’. Our usual attitude is of ‘I am this’. Separate consistently and perseveringly the ‘I am’ from ‘this’ or ‘that’, and try to feel what it means to be, just to be, without being ‘this’ or ‘that’. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of your mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realize tour limitless being.

MM.

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Quick ant update!

The Cinnamon worked a treat! The ants have not returned and are no longer even coming out of the crack in the floorboards so I am pleased to have discovered a way to deter ants without killing them. Plus I like that I don’t have to leave any toxic residue from the chemicals around for my kids to potentially touch.

Still haven’t worked out how to get rid of flies. Performed a comedy sketch with my 3 year old trying to “catch” a fly with a cup and a piece of cardboard over the weekend. I didn’t expect this to work (it didn’t) but my son had seen me catch a spider this way and he was adamant that I could do the same with the fly. In the end, when I collapsed exhausted on the lounge, he announced that it had gone “home to his Mummy and Daddy”.

I hoped so and I haven’t seen it since so he may just have been right!

MM.

PS. Off to class tonight so will post shortly on the teachings.

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Even ants matter

Some ants discovered a knife I had absently left on the kitchen bench after breakfast this morning and had made an impressive path through the lounge room, across the hallway and kitchen floor all the way to the bench.

In the past I would’ve just wiped them up but I now honestly believe that doing so is to disregard and disrespect another creature’s life. So I removed the knife and cleaned the area as best I could around the ant trail thinking that this would solve the problem. It didn’t. I went out for several hours and came back to a still healthy trail of ants. They didn’t seem to have a destination now but yet they were still there.

Aside from what this says about how thoroughly I wipe my kitchen benches, I have Googled and am currently trialing Cinnamon as a deterrent. It seems to be working but once the trail has gone I will sprinkle some more into the crack between the floor boards they were using as their entrance point to see if this stops them coming in altogether. Here’s hoping!

Next thing I’d like to learn how to get rid of is flies. Being a rental we have requested fly screens but they have not been forthcoming. So in the meantime how do you get rid of a fly without killing it? Think I just have to live with them.

MM.

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When does a mother meditate?

Today I sat in the sun on my back deck while the kids played with their toys and meditated. It was brief and surmounted to taking refuge, focusing my mind on the breath a few times then coming out of that to read a few words from Lama Yeshe. The kids didn’t bother me for a good 20 minutes while I could do this and it was wonderful.

MM

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