Saturday, May 7, 2011

Motherhood and Lentils with Zucchini

Over the past few weeks N's schedule has settled enough that I've been able to get to yoga at least once every other week, and it's been such a wonderful thing.  I am reminded how much I love my teacher, but also how much I love the sangha, the community, of my class: everyone asks me about the baby, asks how I am doing, and really means it.

One of the wonderful things about my yoga studio is that the classes are more than just exercise; there is always a focus for the month, both in asana and in intention, and in the same coincidental way that horoscopes always seem to read your life like an open book, the intentions seems to speak to where I am spiritually with an uncanny precision.  During the month of May we are focusing on the lunar asanas and on mothers, both in the form of Kali, fearful and ferocious form of the mother goddess who destroys and takes away what is not necessary, and Durga, the mother of the universe who comes to care for us in our time of need.  And lately, that kind of mothering is just what I have wanted.

The celebration of motherhood in May is complicated for the IF community.  Many of us celebrate our own mothers, though of course those relationships have their own challenges; I know for sure mine does.  Many of us feel conflicted about motherhood, being blessed with children, but knowing loss.  Many more are waiting to become mothers, feeling robbed of what seems to come so easily for other women.  But I love the way my teacher has been talking about mothers in our class, reminding us that Kali and Durga are aspects of the mother within us, and that we should allow ourselves to be mothered, to be cared for, by our innermost selves.

I've been in a position lately to make some difficult decisions about what is and is not necessary in my life.  And as I stood there in ardha chandrasana (half moon pose), I thought about how I am taking steps to take away the things in my life that are not necessary, the things that are hurtful to me, and how I am tending to my own heart.  Part of this is eating healthily, part of it is practicing mindfulness, and part of it is something I won't yet reveal here because it's too terrific for a spoiler.  Suffice to say that change is coming, and that it will be good.

Happy Mothers Day to all of you -- the women who are biological and adoptive mothers of living and nonliving children, the women who will some day mother children of their own, the women who have mothered others--sometimes without even knowing how much they mattered, the women who wanted to be mothers but have put that dream aside, but also to the mothers, the nurturers, in all of us.

Kali, Durga, namoh namah.

(The Harvard Medical School Nurses study found iron rich foods like lentils to support ovulation and fertility in women ... whether that's true or not is up for discussion, but it doesn't hurt to include more of them in your diet.)

Spiced Lentils with Zucchini

1 or 2 T. olive oil
1 c. sweet onion, finely chopped
2 1/4 c. thin zucchini, 1/2" dice
1/4 to 1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. dried red lentils, picked over Water
1 to 2 t. garam masala
2 T. cilantro, chopped

Add just enough oil to coat a medium saute pan or skillet; place over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 2 or 3 minutes, until it starts to soften. Add the zucchini and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until the zucchini softens and starts to brown. Adjust the heat as needed so the zucchini cooks but the onion does not burn.

Meanwhile, place the lentils in a small pot and add enough water to cover them by 2 inches, plus a pinch of salt. Place the pot over medium-high heat; once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes; start checking for doneness after 6 minutes.

When the zucchini is tender and has started to brown, add 1 teaspoon of the garam masala; stir to combine, then taste and add garam masala and salt as needed.

Drain the lentils and add to the zucchini-onion mixture. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 or 3 minutes, until the excess moisture from the lentils has evaporated; the mixture should still be moist.

Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of the cilantro; mix well. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the remaining tablespoon of chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.
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  1. I needed this post tonight. Thank you!

  2. Happy Mother's Day Justine. Thank you for this wonderful post and I'm getting excited to read about your "terrific" news!

  3. what a beautiful post! I particularly love the idea of celebrating how we mother ourselves.

    I am eager to hear what this change is... a new job?!?

    happy mother's day to you and thanks for nurturing us all with wonderful recipes!

    love, inB

  4. So so glad you did this post exactly this way. It's a message and a form that heals. What a gift you are to so many women on this particular day. Happy Mother's day.

  5. Lovely post, Justine. Happy Mother's Day to you. And I can't wait to hear about your change...sounds interesting!!!

  6. It sounds like you have good things on the horizon. Happy Mother's day to you. I should have read this post before going to spend the day with my family yesterday. I was missing my mom, wishing I was a mom, like my sister-in-law, and sister, and happy to celebrate my mother-in-law. It was a very emotional day yesterday. One day though, I will be a mom, however it happens.

  7. Nurturing - it's what we all need, and all deserve. I'm excited about the change coming to your life (and the fact that you are tending to your own heart...something that is so necessary, so difficult to do sometimes).


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