Summer Solstice & Creamy Basil Manicotti

22 Wed, 2011 § 4 Comments

Dave & I have grown fond of observing seasonal transitions, marked by particular days.  Following earth’s transitions — while it may seem “hippie” & quirky to some — is centering & meaningful to me.  We don’t chant or pray or sing; we simply embrace the moment for what it is, celebrate it in our own way & take the lessons nature willingly offers.

Yesterday was the summer solstice, the first day of summer & the longest day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere.  Traditionally, this solstice celebrated a time of fertility, marked by outdoor festivities & gatherings.

Amidst the growing harvest season, it is easy to recognize the fertility & abundance of summer through experiencing the new foods the season brings.  We wanted to pause yesterday & take in all the sensory experiences accompanying summer — the sights, the smells — & appreciate the extra hours of sunlight.

Summer screams freshness & bounty which has the power to transcend us to our deepest childhood memories or cause a yearning to create new ones.

One of my favorite summer notes is the awakening aroma of fresh basil.

Stuffed with a sauteed clove of garlic, a small white onion, half a medium diced zucchini (remove seeds unless using young/baby zucchini) & pressed & crumbled tofu (about 10 ounces firm), I wanted our manicotti to sing basil.

Using Angela’s Creamy Avocado Sauce, I increased the fresh basil to about 1 cup, juiced a whole lemon & thinned the sauce with hemp milk to keep the creaminess of it but make it more sauce-like.  I stirred half the sauce into the sauteed vegetables, stuffed it into 6 prepared manicotti, lined them in a lightly oiled baking dish (which I had also smeared with a spoonful of extra sauce on the bottom) & poured the remaining sauce over the top.

Cover with foil & bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 350*F-oven.  Rotate pan midway if needed to ensure even baking.  Remove foil & bake another 10 – 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top.  Watch closely & don’t let it dry out.

Garnish with fresh lemon zest & oven-roasted tomatoes.  A dollop of plain Greek yogurt was also a nice, cooling accompaniment.

*There was extra stuffing mixture, which we saved to combine with leftover quinoa-millet pilaf for lunches.

To further enjoy this extra light, we picked up a few items over the weekend.

A small table, a chair, a rug, a cushion & candles created a cozy, little nook outside our french doors.

Last night, we enjoyed dinner on our little patio, which will become a more common theme around here.

An after-dinner walk in the woods behind our home would have been a perfect way to connect with nature & celebrate the extended sunlight; but as the light faded to golden shimmers & we sipped our tinto de verano, the neighborhood kids kept us entertained harassing Eisley.  Once they learned she preferred chasing sticks to being mauled, everyone seemed giddy, Eisley most of all.

Sometimes, it’s best to just take what the moment offers.

~

Did you celebrate the summer solstice? 

Where do you enjoy your meals?

Out of Paint

24 Fri, 2010 § 8 Comments

When Dave & I were preparing for our first Christmas together, I was really set on finding actual knit stockings…until we spotted these at our favorite import store.

We fill each shoe with small gifts on Christmas morning.  They are fun & different than stockings, but our favorite part about these are the stories they tell.

Each winter solstice, before our night hike, we paint our shoes.  We each commemorate a signifying aspect, memory or overall theme for that year through our painting.  In the end we may end up with a neatly-tied-together scene or a fun, mish-mosh collage of our life stories.  There is no way of telling, but the making of our stories is sure fun — in every aspect.

My [2007]star & [2008]tree were more symbolic, telling of new beginnings & finding harmony & balance through nature’s example.  2009 is a more literal image of our expanding family as Bodhi chases a recently adopted Eisley [she was our early Christmas last year].

Dave’s book is a year of introspection, reading & sharing information between us.  We learned a lot about each other & ourselves that year.  His joined “bands” & holly represent his Christmas Eve proposal to me that year — he was very sneaky because he painted that before he proposed.

From our three weeks together in Thailand to our desert wedding to moving to Arizona, how do we portray 2010?

Before our hike on Monday, we turned on Christmas music…pulled out the brushes…got our shoes ready…had our visions in mind…then realized we had left the paint in another box that was still at Christine’s.  😦 boo.

Looks like our shoes will be accompanying us to my parents’, so we can borrow mom’s paints & create on Christmas Eve — wait, if you are reading this now, then that is tonight!

~

I hope you are already enjoying your holiday celebrations!

Do you have a similar tradition of “journaling” through art or craft [it doesn’t have to be during Christmas]?

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with traditions at ARoadMoreBalanced.