I lost my friend Sandy last Friday. Besides my grandparents, she is the first person I have been close to who has passed. I find myself thinking of her all the time. I have never really been clear about what I believe happens after we die. I can say that I have always thought there is something else after this life. Not necessarily heaven, not necessarily re-incarnation – just that I can’t believe that this life is it for each and every one of us.
As Randy and I watched an amazing sunset on Friday night (I finally understood “purple mountain’s majesties”), I just knew that Sandy could see it. It’s not so much that I felt her presence, I just felt certain that she was enjoying the beauty of her beloved Northwest as much as we were.
I am trying not to feel guilty that I didn’t get to see her healthy before she died. I am one of those people who feels like they never have enough time. Things that I love to do and people I love to see fall by the wayside because I feel like I don’t have the time. Yoga? Can’t fit it in. Same goes for knitting and playing the guitar. And the list of people I care about but don’t reach out to is a little embarrassing. Losing Sandy is a lesson for me – just take the initiative and reach out.
In Sandy’s spirit I have spent some quality time with friends this week. I saw my friend Kelly who I have known since 3rd grade. She has been a wonderful friend to me over the years and, for no good reason, I just don’t see enough of her. I also got to see some of my co-op moms last night for a Mom’s Night Out and just reveled in their company. And today, I got to see two of my friends from the Lamaze class we did when I was pregnant with our older son. We all had our babies within two months of each other and created the most amazing support network. Some of the people I feel closest to in my life are from this group.
One of those lovely women moved a ferry ride away a while ago. She has been a tremendous sport about coming over this way while I have been extremely lame about going to her. One of the things we caught up on is that she recently had some bloodwork done and found out she may be allergic to wheat, dairy, and eggs. She is, with good reason, reeling from this news.
On my walk home from the park, I immediately thought of a recipe to recommend to her. I mentioned it once here but didn’t give the recipe. It is something I have made several times already and that is saying something because I don’t repeat many recipes. Looking at the list of ingredients, you may wonder why this is a must make – please just trust me. The blend of flavors and textures is perfect. In addition to being extremely delicious, it is very healthy – whole grains, green vegetable, protein from the chickpeas and the almonds and the tahini…pretty much a perfect meal!
Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
As we are nearing the end of asparagus season, I would venture to guess that broccoli, cut in to small florets, would be a nice substitute. Do yourself a favor and make extra Tahini Dressing and store it in the fridge – you will want to make this again next week and it is nice to have extra dressing on hand. You can also make extra brown rice, drain it well, and freeze it. Cook’s Illustrated magazine recommends Joyva brand Tahini and I have to agree with them – you can find it on the peanut butter aisle.
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 or 2 cans chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch segments
3 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup almond slivers or slices, toasted
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. hot water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Cook the rice:
As though you were cooking pasta, bring a medium size saucepan of water to boil. Salt the water well and add 1 cup of raw brown rice. Cook at a boil, uncovered, until it tastes al dente, about 30 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Make the dressing: Place the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and a sprinkling of sea salt in to a food processor. Process well then stop and scrape down the sides. Turn on the processor again and add the oil and then the water through the feed tube. Scrape down the sides once more and process once more. Taste for salt and lemon flavor – add more as necessary. Set aside. (You can also make this with a bowl and a whisk – I just like the smooth texture that the food processor can give you.) Can be made up to a week in advance. Store in the fridge.
Finish the dish: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and saute until translucent – about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute until the onions begin to brown. Add the chickpeas and asparagus and a pinch of salt, then cover with a lid to steam – just until the asparagus turns bright green, about 2 minutes. Uncover and stir in the rice and almond slivers.
Drizzle each serving generously with the Tahini dressing and allow each person to add more to their liking.