Wednesday, September 22, 2010

on autumnal equinox

Today is autumnal equinox (at least where I live, though it's technically tomorrow if you're going with universal time), and the equinox is all about balance. We welcome the harvest time, the bounty of the earth, the fruits of the trees and at the same time we recognize the time of cold and dark, the barren time that is approaching. We put away our harvests to help us through the winter. We chop the wood that will warm us and light our dark evenings. We give thanks for both.

This is a great time to meditate on the balance in your own life. Write down all the things that you have begun, that are fruitful, and all the things that you intend to begin (be it a state of mind or a physical project). Think about how each of these things will bring positivity and creativity into your life. Then, write down all the things you've left unfinished. Think about why. If they no longer add anything to your life, then it is time to say goodbye. If perhaps they would add to your life, then bring about the intention to pick them back up. Also think about all those things and emotions that you wish to get out of your life. You can burn the list of negative things as a symbolic way to embrace that particular energy.

Remember the importance of balance. The human body is constantly striving to create a state of balance (homeostasis). Down to our cells, we are striving for balance. All of our life processes happen in order to maintain balance. Bring this natural state to your conscious mind, and to all aspects of your life.

Now is a great time to change some things in your life. Just open yourself up to that.

I also really enjoy celebrating the bounty of this time of year. Our farmer's have had some winter squash at market, and lots of delicious apples. These things along with certain spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger put me in the autumn mindset. Here in the desert, it's a lot different from the turning leaves of the east, but I can still sense the change. The birds are migrating south. The rains are coming to an end. The 100 degree days are still around, but the evenings are getting cooler and cooler. Plus, there's something in the air. I can almost smell it.

I'd like to leave you with a couple of recipes to celebrate the harvest:

Harvest Soup

2 apples, cored and cubed
2 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cubed
1 butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed
1/2 onion, peeled and cubed
optional: carrots, acorn squash, pumpkin
2-3 cups vegetable stock

Put everything in a crock pot or stock pot. For a slow cooker, cook on high about 4 hours. For a stock pot, bring to boil, and then reduce to simmer until veggies are tender. Once the veggies are all tender, scoop out half of the soup and puree it in a blender or food processor. Add it back to the pot, and mix everything up. At this point I usually add a little extra nutmeg, and it's nice to garnish it with walnut pieces. Try adding cinnamon or cloves for a little adventure. (recipe adapted from one found in How It All Vegan)

Harvest Barley Pilaf, Baked Acorn Squash, and Shitake Sweet Potato Salad

Harvest Barley Pilaf
2 cups pearl barley, cooked
1 cup lentils, cooked
1/2 squash (you choose), chopped
1 sweet potato , chopped
1 carrot, chopped
vegetable stock

Add everything together in a large saucepan, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender and vegetable stock is evaporated. Yum!

Baked Acorn Squash
Acorn squash
olive oil
maple syrup

Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds. Lay it scooped side down in a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes on 350. Turn it over and drizzle olive oil, maple syrup, and sprinkle cinnamon over the squash. Bake for another 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Shitake Sweet Potato Salad
sweet potatoes
shitake mushrooms
red wine vinegar

Cut potatoes into slivers and bake for about 30 minutes or until tender. Sautee the shitakes and garlic until just done. Mix together the red wine vinegar and mustard for the dressing. Put everything with the spinach, toss, and enjoy!

These recipes were all adapted from varying recipes I've found in books and on the web.

Hope you have a happy harvest. Enjoy it. Wishing you the bounty of the earth and much love and balance.