Sometimes I think I should have been born a Libra. I have a tendency to mentally weigh gifts--both tangible and intangible--I've been given, and worry that perhaps I'm not giving back enough to measure up to what I've gotten. (There is a less attractive flip side to this, that sometimes I stew over giving a great deal to someone who never seems to give back to me ... which makes me feel like a much more mercenary and much less generous person than I hope I am, even if all I hope for, most times, is appreciation.)
We have friends who have, over the past few years, generously given us enough hand-me-downs for the kids that we haven't really had to buy very much clothing. This is a twofold blessing, of course, because not only have we saved the money we would have spent on clothes, but we've saved the sanity I would have spent on clothes shopping, which you now know is one of those activities that inspires dread in my heart.
But every time I put a load of new hand-me-downs into the laundry, and sort them into bins and closets, realizing that I will never be able to give clothes back to these people, because their children are older and larger than mine, I worry that maybe it looks like I'm taking the gift for granted. I try to give well-chosen birthday gifts, or find other ways to "compensate," but I never feel like it's enough. The hand-me-downs often get another life beyond our house, but that doesn't seem like it's giving "back" either ... it's more along the lines of paying it forward.
My CSA is another good example of the generous giver. Between winning our share this year, and enjoying the treats that are always waiting for me when I go to pick up our share, and feeling strangely cared for by the people who grow my food, I find myself fretting about the unequal benefit. I'd thought about offering up social media services for them at some point, but it turns out that they're actually really good at it, and I could probably learn some lessons from them. Event planning? They have that covered, too. Volunteering on the farm? Would be ideal, but not with a squirmy one year old on my back.
It could be that I'm just not good at receiving gifts. In fact, I'm sure that part of it is certainly that I'm just not good at receiving gifts.
I've been thinking about a similar equation in blogging, lately, too. The giving and the taking. The producing and consuming. There are lots of variations on this, of course. For example: there are some people who read, but never comment (please understand, my intention is not to inspire guilt here, but really just to pose a question). Are we obligated to "give back" as consumers of blogs, either in the form of comments or in the form of our own blog posts, contributing to the conversation? It's funny; I would never think to ask this question in relation to a reader and a writer offline, but somehow, online, because it's possible to give back, simply consuming without connecting feels irresponsible to me, somehow. There are bloggers who take without giving, too, of course ... who take comments without responding to comments, or who collect commenters but never seek out new blogs. Are bloggers who don't "give back" doing the blogging world a disservice? Or is their writing contribution enough?
Are you good at receiving gifts? Or do you have a mental scale, too, for better or worse? And do you think that scale applies, in any way, to blogging?
This week my farm made Baba Ganouj for us. In case you've never had it: it's a popular Middle-Eastern mezza dip made from eggplant and tahini., with a smooth, creamy texture and a slightly smoky taste. It's traditionally served with pita bread (toasted or fresh), but you could also serve it as a dip with cut fresh vegetables, potato chips, or tortilla chips.
1 large eggplant
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. lemon juice (depending on taste)
1/4 c. tahini
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and lie it
in a baking tray lined with foil. Bake, turning every 15 minutes. One
pound of eggplants will take about an hour. They should flatten and
turn very soft. Allow to cool for 20 minutes. Cut open eggplant and scoop out the flesh into colander and allow to drain for 10 minutes. Removing the excess liquid helps to eliminate a bitter flavor.
Place eggplant flesh in a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mash together. You can also use a food processor instead of by hand. Pulse for about 2 minutes.
Place in serving bowl and top with lemon juice and olive oil. Add other garnishes according to taste. Or, if you're like me and you're in a hurry, skip that step entirely.
Serve with warm or toasted pita or flatbread. Enjoy!