Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What I Stand For, and Quinoa Risotto

In recent posts after the PETA brouhaha, jjiraffe asks, "Is the advocacy angle necessary to blogging"?  and "How are you able to balance activism with your own life activities and not lose yourself?  Or is losing yourself necessary to being committed to a cause?"

I've been thinking this issue myself for a while now, and I've decided that you do need an advocacy angle in order to be a successful blogger ... depending on how we're defining advocacy.  I don't think you need a "cause" in the way that Faceb.ook defines them, but I think that our stories--regardless of what those stories are about, whether it's food, or running, or pets, or children, or infertility, or meditation, or Capitol Hill--are advocacy, for a way of life, for an approach to the world.  And if we're any good at it, hopefully those stories are an invitation to conversation.

I answered jjiraffe's post by saying that I think the way to be an activist without “losing yourself” in advocacy is for it to be part of your life, rather than something you do on top of it.  As I thought about it, I realized that the things I am most active about are the things that I am living anyway, and in the communities where I live, and they are things in which I involve my children, so that I’m teaching them my values as I’m acting on them.  Like local eating, for example, and environmental stewardship: we belong to a CSA where I took my son to pick vegetables and talk about farming; we frequent the farmer's market up the street and make friends with the beekeepers who make our honey; my son has helped me flyer in our neighborhood for a new charter school focused on sustainability.  And so my blog is also a part of those "causes": I write about being a locavore, for example, just as I've written about loss and IF.   They're both part of who I am. 

And speaking of local ... friends of ours were going out of town this week, and needed someone to pick up their share of organic produce with a local co-op.  They called us, and S. told them we'd be happy to oblige.  I mentioned that we've joined a CSA again this year (one that has fruit, and only for half a share--see my post about learning that it is indeed possible to have too much chard!); it was fun to get back into the mindset of cooking from what was on hand again.  I knew farther in advance what we'd be getting from the co-op, but what I didn't anticipate was the volume.  Two heads of lettuce, two pounds of carrots, two enormous bags of beans, two heads of collard greens, two and a half pounds of sweet potatoes ... and I haven't even gotten to the fruit yet.

So I've been busy cooking in an attempt to use it all before it spoils.

This is a recipe I found while scouring the internet for ways to use the most produce in interesting combinations in three meals.  I played with it a little bit, and I'm sure there's a lot more you could do with it; it seems like the sort of recipe that would be versatile enough to accommodate all sorts of vegetable combinations.  Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, as some people think, and unlike wheat or rice, it's an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It's also a good source of fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.  Enjoy this recipe with whatever is coming up out of the ground where you are.

(And I'd love to hear your thoughts on the advocacy/blogging/etc. issue.)

Quinoa Risotto

4 t. butter
2/3 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 t. canola oil
1/2 t. salt
1 T. fresh thyme or 1 t.dried
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/3 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 c. unsalted vegetable stock
1 c. water
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 1/2 c. sugar snap peas
1/2 c. grated parmesan

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove nuts and set aside.
Add onion, oil, and salt to same pan and cook 5 minutes. Add thyme and garlic and cook until onion is golden, about 3 minutes longer.
Stir in quinoa and stock. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup water, cover again, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in carrots and the final 1/2 cup of water if needed to keep quinoa very moist. Cover and cook until carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add sugar snap peas for last 5 minutes of cooking. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve topped with cheese and walnuts.
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  1. Geez, that's a whole lotta produce. What time should I be there for dinner? :) I think you're right about the roll of being an advocate on our blogs. It doesn't mean you have to be controversial (something I tend to be afraid to be sometimes), just that you believe in something. You are definitely good at incorporating your beliefs into your blog. It really shines through.

  2. I do think that advocacy is important. That said, I think that you can be active without necessarily being an "activist". I try my best to live in line with my beliefs and values - and I blog about my experiences. Because my experiences are shapes by my beliefs and values, then I guess it stands to reason that my blog is a venue for advocacy about what is important to me: health, awareness, living lightly, veganism.

    Once again, you've made me think! You really do have a way with words.

  3. I am SO glad my husband actually likes quinoa! I didn't think he would, but I've been using it a lot lately - and making risotto-ish dishes with it. and for us it's local; I get one grown in Tasmania.

  4. I agree with you about the activism. It's hard, sometimes, to integrate that into daily life. It takes effort. But the stuff I feel strongly about is often the stuff I talk/blog about (within the parameters of anonymity!). And they're not going to be the same topics for everyone.

    I have been absolutely off meat. I'm going to try this because I"m looking for ways to amp up my protein.

  5. Congrats on being included in Mel's round-up! This is such a great post, and I think you're right that living advocacy day-to-day is the best way to incorporate it into your life. Quinoa: I love it and never make it. Time to change that :)

  6. I just try to get my inner monologue out and that seems to keep my other advocacy ideas in check cause I could devote a whole blog or 7 to each idea that consumes my passion.

  7. Yay! I was stoked to see this post in the Round Up. It really got me thinking and I'm sure it got others thinking as well.

    I believe you're right, that we all advocate for something through what we choose to say on our blogs. While some people openly advocate for a specific group and it's very obvious what they are trying to accomplish with their writing, for others it's harder to pin-point. Obviously one of my blogs is advocating for a simplified lifestyle that veers away from consumerism. My other blog though? I'm not so sure what I advocate for there. I suppose I advocate for mindfulness and acceptance. I advocate being the best mother you can no matter what that looks like for you and your family. I advocate for being honest and speaking about all parts of our lives, even the ones that feel hurtful or shameful. I suppose, ultimately, I advocate for people to feel content in their lives, to speak out for what they feel is important and to not have to feel like they are hiding anything from anybody.

    But I really hadn't thought of it that way. I saw my blog as more of a space to find myself and others like me. There are many issues that I'm not sure of until I write a blog post, only then, when I've gotten it all down, do I see how I feel about an issue. My blog is a space where I can express myself and get feedback on that expression. I never thought that I was advocating for anything while doing that. But now I see that I am.

    Thank you for helping me gain a new perspective on my blog. I wonder if it will shape it's future in some small way. I'm sure it will.

  8. BTW - LOVED seeing your name pop up on Stirrup Queens Friday round-up. You really are an awesome blogger.

  9. I like your perspective on advocacy in blogging. I have a very personal blog that ranges in subject from being a Mommy to what strikes me about the world around me. I don't talk about politics but I do have a view of the world. I never thought of myself as an advcoate but I guess in some ways I am. Thanks for giving me a different perspective on what I do.

  10. It's funny that you talk about advocacy as a part of your life. Sometimes life makes you an advocate by thrusting you into a cause. I actually have two separate blogs because one is fully devoted to my advocating for awareness of my children's rare disease. I didn't feel like it was right to talk about other parts of my life on that one so I started a blog for "everything else on my mind". But I do advocate on that blog to for a belief that I can be creative in my efforts to create a loving home for my family. I guess it's all advocacy when you think of it that way.

    BTW, I can't wait to try this recipe. I've been wondering about Quinoa, but didn't know where to even begin.


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