Monday, December 26, 2011

The Flavour of These Days

There is  something indulgent about the holiday season, all the tastes and smells and sights that give pleasure.  I am good with this season of celebration as long as it sidesteps the madness of the consumer driven holiday.  I don't want to know about angry shoppers or maxed out credit cards or .....  Call me the Christmas ostrich but I am sticking my head in the sand to holiday madness, to desire run rampant.

Today a walk in the foggy rainforest, salal glistening in the rain but we, the walkers, protected by the forest canopy.  The dreamy feeling of walking through the forest of hulking green giants in the fog.  Christmas chocolate in the pocket, just in case.  Smoke from the chimney at dusk when we return home.  The reflection of Christmas lights in the window.

I am savouring  a slate wiped clean of commitments and plans by the holidays.  A day for leisurely cooking and baking of plant based treats.  Blogging friend, David Ashton at Snow Branches often reminds us about extending our compassion to the animal world by declining to eat them.  For me I am more conscious of it at this time of year seeing how simple and delicious it is to eat a plant based diet.  Vegan shortbread made with "Earth Balance" and panela sugar, my mother's old carrot pudding recipe (read plum pudding but less rich) made vegan by using canola oil and EB, kale chips (recipe here) a holiday main dish created by my nutritionist daughter that includes nuts and white beans, and many other treats.  The joy of spending time in the kitchen together creating and laughing,

Tenzin Palmo in her book "Reflections on a Mountain Lake" responds to a question regarding vegetarianism & Buddhism by saying: "These days, more and more lamas are becoming vegetarian, especially the younger ones, partly for health reasons and partly because they recognize the hypocrisy of talking about universal compassion and then sitting down to a steak or a chicken dinner."

the modern family enjoys the holidays!

As we spend the evenings together we have been enjoying a few movies on the computer.  I was introduced to "Dr Who" via the Christmas special which reminded me a lot of the old children's story "The Lion, The Witch And the Wardrobe."  We watched a Christmas episode of "Supernatural", a favourite show of my daughter's which gave me nightmares in which I was accused of being a witch at a border crossing.  I pleaded I was not a "dark witch".

The solstice sock monkey

As a new year draws near the following thoughts from Tenzin Palmo form a strong part of my resolve for my myself. "It is not enough to hold vast views.  If there is no correspondence between these views and our conduct, we are in danger.  Guru Padmasambhava once said to King Trisong Detsen, "Your view must be as vast as the sky, but your conduct must be as finely sifted as barley flour."

I hope your holidays are filled with simple joys and the opportunity to contemplate the year that is slipping through our fingers and look forward with gusto to the one tiptoeing up the path.


  1. until last spring i'd been dragging my feet about becoming fully vegan... i've been a 'mostly vegan' vegetarian for more than 30 years, but last april i became a dedicated vegan after i visited a commercial dairy farm. an old friend manages it (and 'manage' is truly the only word for what they do), and he gave me 'the grand tour'. that was the end of my feet dragging. when we see something with our eyes we can no longer pretend that it doesn't happen. when we see only female calves we can no longer pretend the males haven't already become veal. justifying the small amount of dairy i'd been eating because it was 'organic' just flew right out the window.

    yes, yes, our conduct must be as finely sifted at barley flour - and opportunities for further 'sifting' are always arising...


    tumblr *is* wonderful! i'm following you now so i can keep up with you. ; )

  2. Plants are eaten here too. Reading the labels one finds out how much dairy there is in everything - even vegetarian chili! I am ready for a cleansing, a slowing down, a step back from even the simplest of holidays...a time to reconnect with my art, the passage way to spirit for me. Peace.

  3. Lynne - I must confess to being a lazy "almost" vegan, especially when eating out. I get to see my own greed when I don't want to forgo the muffin that has egg in it or look for a restaurant that has vegan options.

    Leslie - I am feeling a cleanse calling too. I believe this was traditional in days gone by after a period of feasting came the fasting! Look forward to seeing your new art.

  4. interesting post. i am not a vegetarian though i do have the "wider view" of owning mostly vegetarian cookbooks. Now I need to get back to using them. LOL. I started up again with eating chicken and other meats when i moved up north for some reason. However a friend's comment about watching some movie on TV that took you into chicken/cow/pig slaughterhouses re: awoke me as to the cruelty involved in eating meat. So hopefully I can get down to the small grains of flour and work harder on getting away from meat this year. I am not sure I could eliminate eggs and yogurt though.

    glad you had a lovely time with walks in the woods and daughter cooking. blessings, suki

  5. Thank you for this reminder! We've been vegetarian for decades and with all the travel for work found ourselves slipping into "lower on the food chain" foods. I admit I have trouble feeling the same level of commitment to a salmon as I do to a calf, cow, chicken or pig. However, as you wrote: finely sifted behaviours are the truth of practice. So... Vegan matcha shortbread will be the goal for today!

  6. This is a wonderful week for evaluation...closing out the year and preparing for this next journey. Treats and lovely walks in the wooded places are soul centered. The photo of your living room with windows is a true sanctuary...magical. I am slowing down, staying warm and staying out of the's all good!

  7. After braving the Boxing Day bedlam at Future Shop yesterday (to get a $25 printer), I'm definitely looking forward to a misty rain forest walk today with chocolate just in case... (I made a dangerous discovery recently: a lot of dark chocolate is vegan.) I'm still working on ditching that last difficult bit of lazy almost-veganness too. Thanks for the introduction to kale chips - maybe I should go back into Future Shop and look for a dehydrator... And thanks for the kind blog plug - the critters need all the help they can get.

  8. suki - yes a fun winter project to explore those vegetarian cookbooks! We are going to watch a movie called "Forks Over Knifes" tonight which may seal the final few steps of the way for me to becoming a confirmed vegan. thanks, as always for your kind wishes, blessings in return.

    Lynette - it is easy to "veganize" things at home. Traveling especially in the hinterlands makes it hard. I hear NYC is a vegan's dream for eating out.

    Blue Sky - yes, slowing down, staying warm, and staying out of the frenzy, that is what I love about the holidays. One of my favourite things is to sit down with my journal on New Year's Eve and look back at the old year and look forward to the new one. It has become a delicious ritual for me.

    David - You are a brave man and really you should have had chocolate in your pocket for that little foray! Yes, there are some fabulous dark chocolates that are vegan (camino is one of my favourite but there are some really good raw ones that are a little pricier and quite delish)

    Yes, how to sift that barley flour a little finer! I see my attachment to tastes and unwillingness to walk out of the bakery without a muffin! You can do the kale chips in the oven, apparently, though I have a cheapie dehydrator (good for so many things)

  9. In your honour, had a lovely vegan meal in TO tonight. More tomorrow!

  10. And to wash that down, you could watch Forks Over Knifes. We enjoyed it last night.

    Vegan meal in TO. My daughter is guessing: Fresh, Live, Hogtown Vegan, Hot Beans??

    Enjoy the big city!

  11. Thanks, Laura, wishing you the same!

  12. (an update) I used to be the only vegetarian/vegan in our little three lawyer firm. I had been raving about the movie Forks over Knives. Over the past month, both of the other lawyers borrowed the DVD from the library and both of them became vegans. I'm still stunned...