cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door.
I am half way through yoga class, in pigeon pose to be exact, when I realize that I am not, as the instructor encourages us to be, fully present. The Grateful Dead song Uncle John’s Band keeps playing in my head, and my brain is sneakily adjusting the lyrics. Ain’t no time to hate, barely time to wait, has become Ain’t no time to eat, barely time to sleep. What I want to know is: where does the time go? Because as of November 1st, Thanksgiving and Christmas basket season is once again in full swing.
A few years ago, I took over coordinating my Saint Vincent de Paul Society’s annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Basket program. SVDP is an amazing organization, focused on helping people with the basics: food, clothing, utilities, medicine, etc. I love being a part of it. And during the holidays, we go into overdrive, providing holiday meals and presents for fifty or sixty needy families in our neighborhood. I love this project. I really do. But making everything come together with clients, sponsors, donations, and volunteers, isn’t easy. It always does come together, and it will again this year. But I won’t catch my breath until after the Christmas baskets go out on December 19th.
“Exhale and fold forward,” says the instructor. As my head touches the mat, I am calculating how many Thanksgiving sponsors I can call when I get home, and trying to figure out how to do everything that needs to be done for the Thanksgiving baskets this week, and still get to bed on time, maintain my running schedule, eat nutritious food, and have some down time. This results in a fair amount of frustration, until I realize that it simply can’t be done. As any good cognitive behavioral therapist would point out, my irrational beliefs are leading to my unhappiness.
Therefore, as I lie in Savasana, or corpse pose, at the end of class, I replace the irrational with a dose of reality. I’m not going to get to bed on time, I’m not going to have much down time, and I probably won’t run three times every week anymore until after Christmas. I’m going to suck it up, and get those baskets out, and whatever sacrifices of my usual routine this requires will be well worth it, because everyone is going to get their turkey and dressing and pie, and Santa isn’t going to miss anybody’s house. Not on my watch.
I do, however, still need to eat, and I’m not going to make it across the finish line fueled by Taco Bell. My go-to dish during the work week is stir-fry.
I use what is currently growing in the garden, supplemented by whatever looks good on my weekly run to Lenny’s produce market, and I vary the sauces or flavorings that I use. Large amounts of vegetables, a small amount of meat, seafood or tofu, served with a tiny amount of grain (often brown rice or quinoa), I make enough for 3-4 meals at once. I have a relatively high tolerance for repetition, and will happily eat this for lunch and dinner for a few days.
The key to a good stir-fry is to have everything ready to go before you start cooking, then begin with the ingredients that require the longest cooking time (meat, then the densest vegetables, followed by lighter vegetables or seafood). Cook the vegetables quickly over high heat to maintain a crisp texture.
This week’s stir-fry:
- 1-2 tsp cooking oil
- 1/2 lb thin-sliced pork chops
- ½ onion
- 1 indian eggplant
- 1 carrot
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 yellow zucchini
- 1 green zucchini
- 10 mushrooms
- 1 head broccoli
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sriracha hot chile sauce (very optional!)
Cut all vegetables into approximately 1-inch pieces. Combine sauce ingredients and set aside. Heat wok on high, add small amount of oil, and cook pork for 1-2 minutes, then add vegetables, starting with the densest (vegetables are listed in suggested cooking order in this recipe). Saute quickly, stirring constantly. Add sauce and toss to coat. Serve over ½ cup of brown rice or other cooked grain. Makes four generous servings.