Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lighter Than Air: Chardakopita

After my last post, it's hard to figure out where to go.  But life does move on, no matter how absurd it may seem.  And so we continue to cook, and plan, and live with love and with intention. 

This week I told my yoga teacher that I would probably not be applying for teacher training.  I had originally intended to wait a little bit longer--at least until the 12 week scan--but I had to tell her that I was pregnant, because I was having trouble remembering what I should and shouldn't be doing any more, and what modifications I should be making when.  An anxious mind is not exactly conducive to producing a state of present-ness and focus on the body and breath during class.

She gasped, and said "congratulations!"  I'm sure it was not exactly a surprise, since when I'd gone to the informational meeting, I'd asked about becoming pregnant during training, mentioning vaguely that if my body cooperated, I needed to listen, since we'd "had some bad luck" before.  Though she seemed disappointed that I wasn't going to go through with it, she asked me which midwife practice I was working with, and recommended I talk with them about my yoga practice.  I was glad I told her, but I left the studio feeling a little like the water lilies we'd seen on our recent canoe ride at Lake Nockamixon: beautiful in bloom, closing for the night.

Later that night, she sent me an email, saying she felt like she hadn't given me enough information, asking whether I was having trouble conceiving or whether I'd miscarried with a regular yoga practice previously, and noting that if it were the latter, my midwife might suggest that I stop for the first trimester.  She also invited me to consider taking her Sadhana class that will be starting in September, which, though it wouldn't be like teacher training, would at least offer some yoga "off the mat." I explained my history, assuring her that I have no reason to believe in a connection between my practice and the losses, since I was practicing most regularly during my first (picture perfect) pregnancy, and told her that I had no intention of giving up my practice.  It turns out, she replied, that teacher training might not even run this fall (yet another thing out of my control!), but that if it did, perhaps (deep breath) she could help me through the first part of the training, and I could finish the second half later when the baby was older.

I had to re-read that sentence several times; I couldn't believe my eyes.  And while I'm not sure if it's really possible to fit it in now around work AND doctors' appointments AND home (actually, it sounds fairly insane), the possibility made me feel hopeful.

I came home from class to munch on this for dinner, which I'd made earlier in the day.  This is by no means the traditional Spanakopita; it swaps puff pastry for filo pastry (which lowers the fat content), but it's really quick and tasty. I substituted chard for the spinach, and the original recipe said you could also substitute kale or silverbeet.  You could probably even exchange a sliced leek for the onion. Using low-fat ricotta and reduced-fat puff pastry will cut the calories even further.  Whatever you decide to do, enjoy its lightness.  It's not every day that a vegetable will be an excuse to eat puff pastry.

Spinach and Ricotta Pie

7 oz. baby spinach leaves, or kale or chard with the center ribs discarded
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium brown onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (or 1 t. dried)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tbs chopped fresh mint
1.5 cups (300g) ricotta cheese
2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry

Preheat oven to 400. 

Heat oil and saucepan and gently fry off the onion and garlic until onion is softened.  Steam or microwave or saute greens with onions and garlic until wilted (I did the latter and it worked fine). Cool and squeeze out excess liquid. If you are using silverbeet or kale, chop it coarsely.

Combine spinach, ricotta cheese, onion mix, rind and herbs in a bowl and mix to combine.

Oil two oven trays and heat in the oven for 5 minutes. If you have them, using pizza trays with the holes in the base will ensure a nice, crisp crust on the bottom.

Place one sheet of pastry on each tray and place half of the cheese mixture in the middle of each, leaving a 2" border. Fold the edges of the pastry over the mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until pastry browns.
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