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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Thoughts on Sabbath

I'm listening to a fascinating interview by Terry Gross about Sabbath on NPR. I also read something about this author (Judith Shulevitz) in this past week's NY Times Sunday Book Review. (Random trivia: during the weekend my brother told me that Shulevitz used to live 3 doors down from he and his family. I've even referenced Shulevitz in an article I once wrote about Sabbath several years ago. What a strangely small world we live in.)

There are some things she says that I don't connect with -- this woman, Judith Shulevitz, is not very strict in her spiritual practice (in this case, Judaism) in many ways. She says she doesn't pray, and she's not very consistent in going to temple. She even acknowledges that while she practices Sabbath, she's also ambivalent about it. And her husband isn't observant.

Regardless, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to the idea, reasons, and many of the habits of Sabbath. She found herself wanting more out of life. So it's a quizzical interview in some ways, but lovely in many others. Perhaps I also enjoy hearing two people spend time talking about the appeal of knowing God, without fully knowing him. It's so enlightening and fresh... Good reminders to people who maybe spend the majority (or all?) of their time with others with whom they share the same beliefs.

I've always understood Sabbath to simply mean "stop" -- a time to remember that we are human beings, not human doings. More importantly, it is to be a time to practice what we are going to do forever: to enjoy the presence and worship of the Lord unhindered.

I don't want to give too much away, but two things that Ms. Shulevitz said really struck me, and enlarged my understanding -- and hopefully, my practice. Her latest book is a result of extensive research into the history of Jewish Sabbatical practice. She says that Sabbath is intended to be a collective rest. Not only a time set aside for spiritual devotion, but a time where that worship is to be shared. People are to enjoy restful meals and conversation and leisure together. I did not know this. I've usually used Sabbath to get time alone, to reflect, to turn off -- and use that time to read and be quiet, often outside. But she says that Sabbath is not intended to be a time of "personal liberty and unfettered leisure." Hmm.

Furthermore, she says that the goal of Sabbath is that "you as a human should not be exerting mastery over the world." That is why the Jews have so many prescriptions to not do any work. She points out that during the other six days of the week, we exert great effort to conquer the world and have dominion over it. We seek to harness resources, to make our own mark, to maximize our efforts. But one day a week, Shulevitz states, "let the world be as it is, and you be in it." Wow.

These both feel much bigger than what I have understood Sabbath to be. Like Shulevitz (though for entirely different reasons), I am ambivalent about them. In a small, almost two year old sort of way, I want to stomp my foot and just say that I like my Sabbath keeping the way it is. They are life-giving for me, and I look forward to them every week. So her challenges sort of bug me. But I cannot deny that there is a remote, faraway appeal that I can't ignore. I've been so focused on getting Sabbath to be "less of me and more of Thee" that I have neglected the larger community focus (both personal and global) that her statements point to.

See what you think. It's about 40 minutes. Well worth the time.

March 31, 2010 Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Monday, March 29, 2010

United Nations

I went on a tour of the United Nations today. And honestly, it was pretty darn spectacular. Their were no amazing displays, and the main room, the General Assembly, was closed for roof repairs. (I guess the big January snows did a number on the roof). But I saw two things there that reminded me of Right Things in the World.

Check out The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thirty profoundly stirring statements.

I also was moved by the Millenium Goals, 8 tremendously important things they are working to have accomplished by 2015. Eeesh -- only five years to go, and when you read the list, you'll see we have a L-O-N-G way to go.

Both of these documents fall under the title of "social justice," which has gotten a bad rap of late, thanks to dear old Glenn Beck. He seems to have a rather convoluted notion that to be for social justice as a Christian means that you think the government needs to giving everyone a handout. I think something much different; I think that the government is surprisingly inefficient and wasteful machine, though I will say in the same breath that I am very thankful to live in the US with the governmental systems that we have.

I just don't put much hope in the government accomplishing societal change on a grand scale. I want the government to support those changes, but I also know that governmental bodies of all stripes get stymied by dissent and political shenanigans and boondoggles and pork and all that yada yada. I believe in something far more constant than government -- the church.

I only wish the church would take our job seriously. We are called to give water to the thirsty, food to the poor, to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, to bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted, to set the prisoner free. Look it up -- all those things are in the Bible. So when I saw these great documents at the UN today, I rejoiced in the truth they contained. And I was reminded that none of them will be remotely possible without the aid and power of the God of Justice. How I pray that God's people will get serious about being God's hand and feet in the world, and live out our calling. I see it happening in fits and starts -- church groups pouring into Haiti, Christians leading the way in fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa, Christian aid groups maintaining presence in the extremely poor regions of the world. We must sustain such life-giving service around the world, leading the way in justice and compassion.

In other words, may they know we are Christians by our love.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Staying Put

I want to share an interesting article with you about a friend of mine, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Perhaps Jonathan's greatest accomplishment is that he had the wisdom to marry a former student (and current friend!) of mine, Leah Wilson... I have appreciated Jonathan's writing. He is remarkably prolific for someone is not even 30 years old... maybe that makes me a little jealous too! Author on a Mission Finds Joy in Staying Put.

This particular article clicks with me because I moved around frequently in my growing up years: landed in 3 different kindergartens in one year, moved after 1st grade and 5th grades too. Rough waters for a shy kid (yes, believe it or not) who was a bit too much inside her head and not terribly gifted socially. Let's put it this way: I read encyclopedias for fun. By the time I graduated from high school, I had not lived anywhere more than 6 years.

I vowed that when I grew up I would stay in place. I would not move. So since arriving in Santa Barbara for college in 1979, I have remained. (Admittedly, not a difficult call on some levels. It's a lovely place to live.) But as Jonathan says in the interview, "Stability... is a commitment to face into [a] problem and grow." After stepping away from a wonderful church community and ministry last year because I just knew it was time to do so, I had to work hard to fight the urge to move and "flee" the discomfort of such deep change. But staying put has forced me to face many things, to dig in deeper to some key relationships, and be stretched in new ways. I am grateful. For me, the beauty of being in one place has given me roots that have sunk down deep. I love running into folks I knew 25 years ago, and seeing what has happened in all those years since. I am blessed by marking time in landmarks and memories and history with others.

In terms of a career of working with students, I have had to say goodbye so often. As I have said during graduation ceremonies, "My job is to watch people leave -- this is not easy." I have told them that each one of them gets a room in my heart, and when they move, I do not turn over the bedroom to someone else or redecorate. Instead, I leave the room empty, with the bed made and the light on. I am ready any time they want to visit. This has been one of the joys of staying put.

More could be said. But all for now.

P.S. I'd also highly recommend one of Jonathan's books from last year, co-written with his college pal Shane Claiborne, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals. I assigned it for Westmont Mayterm class on Summer Internships, and the students really enjoyed it. We also had a great time interviewing Jonathan via Skype during one of the class meetings. He is thinking outside the box in many ways, and I learn from him. I especially like his work related to "new monasticism."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Camper

My tummy is feeling fine. Great dinner tonight -- Thank you Martha. Stewart, that is.

Before I share it though, I must share a funny story. Because for some reason, funny things happen to me on a regular basis.

I went to Eller's Donuts today to order some donuts for my church's Easter sunrise service. Full disclosure -- they know me at Eller's. I have picked up donuts there for years. Mostly for youth group activities, but there has been a few "I-need-a-donut" moments in my lifetime....

But I digress. The owners are tremendously warm, generous people. They have always gone above and beyond the call of duty. I am so impressed with their hard work and willingness to do anything to provide quality service.

They also have a limited grasp of English. I believe they are originally from Thailand. They have a great menu on the wall, one half that lists all the donuts they sell, the other half with all of the Thai dishes they offer at lunch time. It's a funny combo to look at.

I have had more than one comical conversation with these folks. I have a longer story that I won't share here about a previous encounter with them when placing a large order for Easter. ANYWAY, today I show up to place the order and there is a young woman at the counter whom I have not seen before. She starts dutifully taking my order, and halfway through, the owner who knows me comes out.

She has a big grin on her face and says, "Hah-low, Hah-low, How ah yoo?" We smile and exchange greetings.

Then she says, "Hey... You no fat no more!" and puts her hands to her throat, apparently showing that I've lost my double chin. I just DIE laughing. I mumble something about not quite being "no fat no more," and then she tells me, all 4'8" and 90 pounds of her, that SHE is fat, grasping at the skin on her arms to show how "fat" she is. It gets funnier and funnier.

We finish my order, and she shoves a bag with donuts holes into my hand. I leave, and I choose to eat 2 of those darn donut holes. Because I no fat no more :) Even though my body can't handle gluten anymore. Funny morning.

Here's the great dinner recipe. You will love it!

SWISS CHARD, MUSHROOM AND QUINOA SALAD (picture the quinoa in the photo on a bed of sauteed chard -- deeeelish!)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound Swiss chard, stems and leaves cut into 1/2 inch pieces, rinsed well (about 10- 1/2 cups)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 garlic clove, minced

12 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1/8 inch thick

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese

1. Cook quinoa according to package. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook swiss chard, stirring occasionally, until wilted and tender, about eight minutes.

2. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and season with pepper. Add red pepper flakes and toss. Transfer to a platter.

3. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the garlic to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring until garlic is slightly golden, about one minute. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to release juices, about three minutes. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoons salt and season with pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, about five minutes. Stir in quinoa and heat through, about one minute. Add thyme. Serve mixture over swiss chard. Top with Parmesan.

Servings: 4

Sunday, March 21, 2010

All Songs Considered, SXSW, free music, etc!

Attention music fans: Just a quick post... In case you haven't noticed or heard that there is some great stuff out there on NPR's music website:
This is just scraping the surface of the musical goodness on this website, but I'm assuming you can find your way from there. Ciao.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stillness & Motion

I feel like I heard from God this morning in a couple of nice ways...

First from Henri Nouwen quote of the day:
A Still Place in the Market

"Be still and acknowledge that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). These are words to take with us in our busy lives. We may think about stillness in contrast to our noisy world. But perhaps we can go further and keep an inner stillness even while we carry on business, teach, work in construction, make music, or organise meetings.

It is important to keep a still place in the "marketplace." This still place is where God can dwell and speak to us. It also is the place from where we can speak in a healing way to all the people we meet in our busy days. Without that still space we start spinning. We become driven people, running all over the place without much direction. But with that stillness God can be our gentle guide in everything we think, say, or do.

Then I read this in a devotional:
Spirituality is clearly rooted in living ordinary life with extraordinary awareness and commitment... it is so easy to go through life looking feverishly for special ways to find God when God is most of all to be found in doing common things with uncommon conscientiousness.
Today is my weekly Sabbath day. I got in the habit of taking Saturdays for this (rather than Sundays) years ago when I started working for a church. Today I woke up slowly, read and prayed a bit, then went into the garden and picked some green onion and swiss chard. I sauteed them in some olive oil, fried up some eggs with them and had a very nice breakfast (with a requisite cup of coffee, of course). My day will be simple -- some exercise, a little reading, some doodling around the house that helps bring some order to my personal life. I will heed the words from Nouwen and from Benedict, to revel in the ordinary with acute awareness. I thought about dear old Jack the cat and got a little wistful -- I missed his tail talk in the morning as I made my breakfast. But I enjoyed the birds as I hung laundry and noticed a large black lizard in the woodpile next to the patio. The warmth of the sun felt good on my face.

As I gather myself this Sabbath day and get my wits about me after a full week, I then want to take that stillness that can only come from the Spirit of God into another week of motion. Let's help each other do this.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Goodbye Old Man

Today was a very blue day for me. I had to put down my cat of twelve years, Jack (AKA "Jacko" and "Grandpa"). After at least a year of decline, where I paid more in vet bills than I care to admit, I had to come to the realization that it was time. After he was gone, the vet was able to really probe and confirmed he had a mass in his stomach that was untreatable.

The funny thing is that while I enjoyed this cat, I wouldn't say I was dramatically attached. He was just great to have around. Since I worked at home, he was around A LOT (notice the photo). When it came time to say goodbye, I was really sad. Lots of crying. My friend Steph consoled me later with this: "the time spent together represents a clear slice of life and the attachment defies reason sometimes." So I'm just letting go and not needing to make sense of it all as I get weepy over a darn cat. I feel like Jack Nicholson in "As Good as It Gets" when he sobs over Greg Kinnear's dog Verdell.

Then I remember that whenever I've put a cat down, I not only mourn the cat, but I think I also mourn what he represents. (Right now I'm remembering our cats Simon and Garfunkel from my childhood). I got Jack in '98, when I realized I would never have kids and I just wanted something else to think about. No no -- he wasn't my child. Please. Like I said, he was just good company and a distraction. And today I think I realized that saying goodbye to him also caused me to reflect back on the often turbulent times of these last 12 years, and far too many seasons of loss and grief.

So I allowed myself to shed many tears today and also smile at some fond memories -- he always sat in the laps of one of my students when they came to visit; he slept on my shoulder when I took a nap; he was very social with everyone who came by the house to visit; he loved shoes; he was never a snooty, aloof cat. He loved people and always wanted to be where the action was. Thanks Old Friend.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Cleaning 2010

The sun is out, the birds are singing, and Daylight Savings commences this weekend. I'm not waiting till the official Start of Spring -- it's time to purge some junk. I have two new albums playing as I do this: The Pursuit by Jamie Cullum and then Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing by The Welcome Wagon. No meaning behind the music choices -- I just like listening to new music. Which makes this Painful Process of Purging easier.

I'm starting with my home office. Oh my. True confessions time:
  • Apparently I compulsively collect notepads -- especially from hotel rooms. You could track my travels from the last several years just by looking at the notepads in a drawer I haven't cleaned out in awhile. OK, ever. But I absent-mindedly keep shoving hotel notepads in this drawer.
  • I have a huge need to own highlighters.
  • It appears I have a similar need to own Sharpie markers.
  • I own very few functional pens. Again, many appear to be from hotel rooms. You know what I mean - the cheap stick pens. What is wrong with me?!
  • I found a Starbucks gift card under ... well, the notepads. I checked the balance online. It had a forty dollar balance. I need to clean more often.
  • I used to do calligraphy. I completely, totally forgot I had this hobby. In the 80's I think.
  • I have at least twenty old-school computer floppy disks. What do I do with these? Must Google.
  • I used to wear watches. This is another habit I faintly recall. Since I bought a cell phone in 1999, I stopped wearing watches. I have found 3 watches so far in desk drawers.
  • We don't even want to talk about the drawer with all the cell phone cords. I don't have it in me to tackle that one today. Not if I want to feel like I'm getting somewhere.
  • Owner's manuals: I just found the owner's manual for my Palm PDA. Good grief. I probably had that in 1999. How do I not throw this stuff away? EEK. The directions to a BopIt Extreme toy... This is scaring me... ah, now I am looking at the directions for my Casio Adding Machine. Shoot me now.
  • If anyone needs a forest green WWJD key lanyard, I have one. Really, don't call all at once.
I just found a bumper sticker that says "Simplify." I'm... speechless. Back to cleaning...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Odds 'n Ends

I usually like to post only when I have something of some substance... a story, a quote, a recipe, some train of thought, new music, a book recommendation...

But this week... well, it's been a full week. Not complaining, but it's Friday night and I'm bushed. I wish I was good at taking photos -- I'm not talking about wishing I had the ability of creating and framing picturesque shots. No doubt that would be really nice. I'm simply talking about remembering to do so. It's just not on my radar. But I do have some mental photos I could share...

1. Serving at Rescue Mission with students from Providence Hall on Monday. I have taken students to serve at the Rescue Mission for at least eleven years. Sadly, I have to say that I never run to my car as I head off and think to myself, "Oh goody, I get to go to the Rescue Mission tonight." It always starts as a decision rather than a desire. But as I walk up to the entrance, I know it's the right place to be. This time I had several nice conversations with the clients there, and cherished watching high school students muddle through those awkward attempts to engage, and sometimes succeeding.

This week, the mental photo that is still with me is when I sat with a gentleman during the chapel service who wept throughout most of it. He was talking to himself much of the time, and I couldn't understand what he was saying. But once in a while, a song would be announced, and he would say a line or two from it before we started singing. Or a scripture would be announced: "Stephanie is going to read Psalm 23..." and he would whisper, "The Lord is my shepherd..." He wiped his eyes, mumbled, sniffled and smiled. At the end of each song, he would clap first and loudest. Oh Jesus, you love him so much. Please take care of him. I don't even remember his name. But you do.

2. Teaching at Providence Hall on Wednesday morning. We have spent the last 3 weeks in C.S. Lewis' classic Mere Christianity. This week we landed on the chapter titled Sexual Morality. I did not want to tell the students that we were going to talk about sex this week. Why would I do that? I went to CVS and bought 8 tubes of Super Glue, and handed them out to the faculty before class. I then opened class with the announcement that we would have a "bonding experience," and asked them to find a buddy. Then I asked each teacher to fan out among the group and put a sizable drop of Super Glue on the finger tip of one member of each pair. Then I asked the pairs to hold those Super Glued digits for 30 seconds. Naturally, the bond was strong. I waited for the nervous giggling to subside, then said, plain and simple, "Sex is like Super Glue."

They all yelped in surprise and perhaps a little dismay... "Not another awkward sex talk..." I'm sure they thought. But Lewis has such solid, breathtaking things to say in this chapter. Take just a few minutes and peruse it. Here's my favorite sentence:
The old Christian teachers said that if man had never fallen, sexual pleasure, instead of being less than it is now, would actually have been greater.
Marvelous stuff. The class recovered and we had a fantastic, surprisingly mature half hour conversation together. After class, one of the teachers who missed the discussion asked the students what we talked about. He was a little surprised to hear we talked about sex, and a student chimed, "It was great. She treated us like adults." I really like high school students.

3. A warm and wonderful breakfast on Thursday morning. Mundane, to be sure. I opened my refrigerator earlier in the week and saw far too many tupperware containers. I had no business going to the store when I had plenty of tidbits -- but none of them were substantial enough for a meal, and didn't look too exciting either. But I trying to pursue a spiritual discipline I call simply "manna," where I seek to rejoice in what God has given and receive it as a gift, rather than wish for something else.

Thus on Thursday morning I saw polenta, some chard, some leftover pesto, an opened can of diced tomatoes, and some green garlic from Fairview Gardens. I sauteed all of those ingredients in two teaspoons of olive oil, cracked two eggs over it, and had the best darn scrambled eggs I could have imagined. I was delighted and full.

4. Bible study in Mark 5:21-43. I currently meet with several folks from my church who are a little newer to the faith. They have asked me to teach them how to read the Bible and how to pray. We studied a passage this week that I have honestly read through I can't tell you how many times. Yet sitting with these friends, the passage was once again a wonder to me. It was lovely to see how Jesus met both Jairus, a respected leader with a dying child, and a woman with twelve years of unpleasant suffering, and gave generous and gentle attention to each of them. He brought the esteemed leader down low in earnest prayer, and raised up the degraded woman and healed her not only physically but also emotionally and socially. I am so thankful for the eyes, ears, and hearts of these newer friends who are reminding me that the gospel really is good news.

5. Consulting with a youth pastor in So Cal. I meet twice a month via Skype with a youth pastor down south. He is hardworking and faithful and to date hasn't received much training. So his church hired me to support and equip him. We are having a good time. I had an agenda of things to cover today, but as we started, I could tell he had plenty swirling in his head. So I let go of my agenda, and listened. Our conversation went all over the place. And it was great. We shared much about how to truly care for the people we work with, and identify their talents and calling. I was blessed to listen and be supportive.

It reminded me of something I read yesterday:
Listening in the spiritual life is much more than a psychological strategy to help others discover themselves. In the spiritual life the listener is not the ego, which would like to speak but is trained to restrain itself, but the Spirit of God within us. When we are baptised in the Spirit - that is, when we have received the Spirit of Jesus as the breath of God breathing within us - that Spirit creates in us a sacred space where the other can be received and listened to. The Spirit of Jesus prays in us and listens in us to all who come to us with their sufferings and pains.

When we dare to fully trust in the power of God's Spirit listening in us, we will see true healing occur.
I want to be attentive, and not miss the small gifts that are all around me. I realize that sentence sounds like a poster in a dorm room. But in the midst of a full life with plenty of things gonging and clanging around me, I can still be aware and see what is truly substantial and real. As I call on the Spirit each morning He answers. But He also continues to call for my attention throughout the day. I want to hear Him.

Stop. Look. Listen. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Leadership & Community

I meet weekly with several lead pastors (thank you, Skype!) for pastoral coaching. (I would love to come up with another term for it, but I haven't landed on one so far.) It's not really training, because they are all capable and filling their positions at their churches well already. It's more of a combination of encouragement, accountability, experience, leadership development, feedback, problem solving and strategic planning. With good stories and laughter thrown in.

So I am thinking about the question "What is true, godly leadership?" all the time. I always have. I was a student body officer throughout high school (shocker, I know) and thrown into leadership with Young Life way before I was ready. And throughout all those YL and youth group years I spent the bulk of my time investing in volunteer leaders and in students wanting to be leaders.

I am currently reading a book in my morning prayer time titled The Rule of Benedict: Insight for the Ages. It examines the Rule of St. Benedict, gives daily reflections on the application of this monastic way of life, and ideas for how to live it out today -- not necessarily in the context of living in a monastery (phew). I read it for insights and disciplines on what it means to be the church and what it means to be Spirit-filled and sensitive to God throughout my day.

The last few days of reading have been related to how a leader is to give correction to members of the community. I find many points in today's reading so poignant and powerful. Listen as you read. Which one(s) resonates with you? Many of these statements gave me great healing and direction:
  • The place of punishment in the Rule is never to crush the person who is corrected.
  • Community -- family -- is that place everywhere where we can fail without fear of being abandoned and with the ongoing certainty that we go on being loved nevertheless.
  • Perfection is not an expectation in monastic [community] life any more than it is an expectation in any healthy environment where experience is the basis both of wisdom and of growth.
  • A monk is asked, "What do you do in the monastery?" And the monk replies, "Well, we fall and we get up and we fall and get up and we fall and we get up." Where continual falling and getting up is not honored, where the wise ones who have gone before us, are not present to help us through, life runs the terrible risk of drying up and blowing away before it is half lived.
  • The idea that the spiritual life is only for the strong, for those who don't need it anyway, is completely dispelled in the Rule. Here spiritual athletes need not apply. Monastic living is for human beings only.
  • Our role [as leaders] is simply to try to soothe what hurts them, heal what weakens thems, lift what burdens them and wait. The spiritual life is a process, not an event. It takes time and love and help and care. It takes our patient presence. Just like everything else.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wingin' It

Either I'm a fool or I'm getting cocky...(don't answer that) but these days I'm starting to make stuff up when it comes to cooking. And I'm pleased to report: So far, so good. That might mean I'm not taking enough risks as I experiment, but work with me here. I'm still learning how to cook...

I don't have fancy shmancy, haute cuisine names for this stuff. But I must say, both of these meals were quite tasty.

WINTER VEGETABLE "What do I do with all of these greens" SOUP
3-5 leaves swiss chard, diced (my nominee for Prettiest Winter Vegetable)
3-5 leaves kale, diced
2 long stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 sprigs cilantro, diced fine
1 onion (optional), diced
4 cups broth -- vegetable or chicken
3 large potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 tsp each: cumin, turmeric, salt
1-2 tb olive oil

1. Saute celery, garlic and onion in 1 tb olive oil over med/low heat, 2-3 minutes.

2. Throw in rest of greens (cilantro, chard, kale) and saute 2 minutes.

3. Pour in broth, add potatoes and spices. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover tightly (I made this in a large stainless steel pot -- I'm sure it would work in a crock pot too) and simmer for at least two hours.

4. In last hour, add arborio rice.

This was my favorite part. The rice kernels slowly swelled with flavor the longer they cooked. And honestly, it tasted even better the next day, when the rice kernels were simply bursting from having absorbed the broth. It became more like a stew at that point.

Serve with corn tortillas (for gluten-free me) or corn muffins. Deeeeelightful.


1 large spaghetti squash (don't be a hater. They are amazing!)
3 tb olive oil
3-6 leaves swiss chard
3-6 leaves kale
1/4 c walnuts
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 c parmesan
1 tsp kosher salt
pine nuts

1. Bake the spaghetti squash in the oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees by slicing the squash in half (be careful, this is harder than it looks) and laying each half face down in a rimmed roasting pan with at least an inch of water.

2. With 15 minutes left, steam the kale and chard in a pan of water for about 10 minutes to soften them up.

3. Put the oil, walnuts, garlic in a food processor (I use a Cuisinart Smart Stick, my favorite cooking toy). Add the steamed greens, first pressing them against a wooden cutting board to squeeze out excess water and then roughly cutting them up. Add the parmesan and run processor until pesto becomes a thick paste. You may need to scrape the sides, add a bit more oil. Add salt and spin again.

4. Pull out the spaghetti squash and shred it out of the shells with a fork. I scrape it down to the skin. Put the squash in a saucepan, put in a tablespoon of butter or olive oil and stir it up with some salt. (see photo)

5. Add pesto and mix it all in. Top with pine nuts and a bit more parmesan. FOOD COMA.