Tag Archives: #breakfast

Ful Mudammes: Thinking Out of the American Box About Breakfast

FUL . . . serve it up as part of a mezze (appetizer table), as a main dish, a side dish, hot, cold . . . or for breakfast.
FUL . . . serve it up as part of a mezze (appetizer table), as a main dish, a side dish, hot, cold . . . or for breakfast.

Ful is Arabic for fava beans (as hummus is Arabic for chickpeas). This is another popular Middle Eastern salad to serve as part of a mezze (Middle Eastern appetizer table), alongside of hummus, or all by itself. It is a street food in the Middle East and is part of breakfast in Egypt. There are many versions of this dish. This is mine:

FUL in the making
FUL in the making

 

FUL
Ingredients

  • Fava beans, 1 lb. dried (small) beans
  • Chickpeas, 1/2 lb. dried
  • Plum Tomatoes, 6 petite diced
  • Garlic, 1 TB minced
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup
  • Lemons, juice of 2 (1/4-1/2 cup – I use closer to 1/2 cup)
  • Cilantro, 1/2 bunch, chopped
  • Salt, 1 TB (scant)
  • Cumin, 1-1/2 TB
  • Red pepper, crushed, 4 tsp. (scant)

image

Instructions

  1. Rinse small fava beans and chickpeas, place together in a pot to cook, and add water 1-2″ over the top of the beans.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until done, 1-2 hours.
  3. While the fava beans and chickpeas are cooking, prepare the sauce.
  4. Petite dice the tomatoes. Cut the green beans as shown in the picture. Mince the garlic. Squeeze the lemons. Chop the cilantro.
  5. Add the extra virgin olive oil to a pan with the minced garlic and allow garlic to simmer for a moment.
  6. Add petite diced tomatoes and remaining seasonings except cilantro.
  7. Stir and simmer tomatoes and seasonings for a few moments until mixture is saucy. Turn off the heat.
  8. When sauce mixture is cooled, add cilantro.
  9. When beans are cooked and well-drained, place in a bowl or back in pot, and add sauce.

Ful can be served warm or cold. I prefer it warm.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter,@vegwithleslie.

Bring more meaning to your life with ritual

One version of Sunday breakfast at our house. All versions include Israeli or Jerusalem Salad.

Rituals and Habits: 5 Ways They’re Different

Recently I had a reason to contemplate the difference between ritual and habit. Actually, I suspect the assignment intended that I would understand the words synonymously, because that’s how many of us view them. I believe these practices are very different, though, and one of them is life-enhancing while the other diminishes our lives.

  • Rituals define a system. Habits are isolated practices and may even be out of synch with a system.
  • Rituals are purposeful and are performed with intention. Habits have no purpose other than to make certain an action happens without thought. They may have been intentional on the first performance, but the goal of a habit is that it become thoughtless, intentionless and well, just a habit.
  • Rituals communicate. Habits communicate nothing since they are thoughtless and intention-less beyond the intention that they happen without thought.
  • Rituals are an aid to focus. Habits are an indication of lack of focus or are at least not focused on the habitual action.
  • Rituals create meaning. Habits have no meaning.

Food Rituals and Habits

Since I like to write about food, I thought I might explain these differences between ritual and habit through the prism of food.

1) Rituals define a system, and habits are isolated practices. More than the words of liturgies, which are debated and interpreted, rituals define the boundaries of a religious system, the relative value of the parts within those  boundaries and how people are required to behave within that world.  Often those definitions include what one can and cannot eat.

Something that a person habitually eats may or may not express a worldview. Initially perhaps a choice was made about an entire diet, and that diet expressed a worldview, for example that good health is important. If that initial choice becomes a habit, though, it no longer expresses anything. Not only is that habit carried out without thought, it is carried out in isolation and not as part of a systematic worldview. If information changes about what constitutes good health, a habit will continue even if it contradicts the new information.

2) Rituals are purposeful and are performed with intention. Habits have no purpose other than to make certain an action happens without thought.

I can always tell when one of my own actions is a ritual and when it is a thought. I require meaning in my life, and it is hard for me to motivate myself to do all the things involved in living a life if I have no sense of meaning. When I experience a sense of meaning, I feel joyful and energetic. When I don’t experience that sense, I feel tired and unmotivated.

Of course we all need a habit here and there, especially in a world that requires multi-tasking. We can’t give all our energy to every little thing and need to do some things on automatic. It’s all about balance, though, and when my life becomes too automatic, too filled with habit, I am likely to become depressed. Conversely, when I make a conscious choice to do something familiar that has a particular meaning in my universe, I feel purposeful, satisfied and even joyful.

I put together a breakfast bowl for myself each morning. I looked up each item in my bowl to make certain it fulfills a particular purpose for my health and my ethical consciousness. Then I evolved a series of steps which remain the same each day so that I can put my bowl together fairly quickly and easily. It may look like a habit, but it isn’t. It is definitely a ritual. I am aware of the purpose of each item in my bowl, and each ritual step I take to fill my bowl generates a sense of happiness, comfort, meaning and satisfaction — a satisfaction that is every bit as important as the mere physical satisfaction of eating what’s in the bowl.

3) Rituals communicate. Habits communicate nothing since they are thoughtless and intention-less beyond the intention that they happen without thought.

The best way I know to say, “I love you” to someone I care about is to prepare and serve them a delicious and beautiful meal that I know represents good health as we know it today. If it also represents a set of ethical values that I know I share with that person, it deepens our relationship.  Although I’m a long-time vegetarian, becoming vegan, those values don’t necessarily have to be vegetarianism or veganism. It can be values like kindness to all creatures or sharing our resources,  talents and abilities.

Similarly, religious rituals communicate a worldview.  There are reasons that certain foods are prized and others are taboo or forbidden. Food laws and rituals are a theology and an anthropology, stated without words.

4) Rituals are an aid to focus. Habits are an indication of lack of focus or are at least not focused on the habitual action.

Again, it’s easy to tell the difference between a ritual or a habitual action. As I’ve mentioned before, my knife skills are unfortunate, odd as that may be for a former restaurant owner and cook to say. I have sliced my fingers on many occasions. It’s easy to predict when I will cut my fingers.

I make a salad every day called an Israeli or Jerusalem salad. It involves quite a bit of cutting since each vegetable is petitely diced. I’m told that’s called brunoise. If I follow a little ritual I created before I start to cut, my fingers remain intact. The ritual is to (calmly and with attention) clean my counter, put down a clean cutting board, get out my knife, sharpen it, and work my way through each of the veggies, tomatoes first, then cucumbers, then red bell peppers, then red onion, then cilantro. I add each to my large bowl as I finish it. When I’m finished, I mix the salad and clean up.

If I just grab my knife and cutting board and start cutting away at my veggies in a rush with 10 other things happening around me that also require attention, I will cut my fingers.

5) Rituals create meaning. Habits have no meaning.

One of the most spiritually awesome moments I ever had was about twenty years ago when I went camping over a Sabbath. In traditional Judaism, no cooking is allowed on the Sabbath. When I went camping every weekend along the Mississippi, I left early enough on Friday that I could set up camp, make my fire and prepare my Sabbath meals before sunset.

Of course there are Jewish rituals involved in the meal, but I had rituals of my own that I added, most of them involved in the food preparation. By the time I sat down to my vegetarian Sabbath feast on a Friday evening out in the woods, I felt like I was in harmony with the natural world around me and that I could fully enjoy a beautiful meal that harmed no creature. The results of my ritual preparations spoke to me of a meaningful, loving universe, even if it was just my reality, one I created, for a space in time.

I would have missed those oportunities for awesome moments if I had been in an automatic, mindless mode, performing habitual tasks.

Another version of Sunday breakfast, also including Israeli or Jerusalem Salad.
Another version of Sunday breakfast, also including Israeli or Jerusalem Salad.

How can I make my life more meaning-filled?

Can habits be elevated to rituals? Can rituals become routinized into habit? Yes, both can happen!

Take a look at the things you repeat in your daily life. If a habit no longer fills it purpose, to allow  you to do something that is important for you to do without investing a great deal of thoughtful energy in remembering and completing the task, get rid of the habit.

Or you could convert the task to a ritual, a series of steps that involve thought and intention and that express something meaningful.

Kids thrive on meaningful rituals. My own sons used to love to get out special holiday dishes for a meal with family and friends each year. When my grandson was born, I said, “We need a ritual” and suggested Sunday breakfast.  It was a statement that would have sounded odd to anyone who didn’t know me, but my grandson’s parents accommodated me, and 11 years later, we still get together every single Sunday for a meal that we all share in cooking. The meal has evolved over the years but remains essentially the same as when we started. It is meaningful to each of us in different ways at different times — but it is meaningful to each of us including my grandson.

Fill your life with meaningful rituals.

Yummm...good to the last drop and a ritual meal we all love!
Yummm…good to the last drop and a ritual meal we all love!

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Salad for breakfast

israeli_salad01
My favorite ingredients for Israeli/Jerusalem Salad: tomato, cucumber, red bell peppers, avocado, red onion . . . and sometimes I add a little finely chopped cilantro.

“The breakfast of champions is not cereal, it’s the opposition” …Nick Seitz

Finding a breakfast cereal without sugar can be challenging. Finding one that doesn’t taste like sawdust even more so. I propose a solution to this problem: an Israeli-style breakfast.

I visited Israel for the first time almost 40 years ago. Israel is one of those places that floods one’s mind and senses with thoughts and images. It resonates with the voices of its history and culture, voices which have become part of so many of us through biblical literature although we may have never been to Israel.

One of the most memorable experiences I had on that first visit was totally unanticipated: an Israeli breakfast. Originally a very simple meal, Israeli breakfasts have become famous. Many contemporary restaurants specialize in elaborate versions of it.

Israeli breakfasts originated with the halutzim (early pioneers). Quickly prepared from local ingredients, the meal featured a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onion and perhaps avocado, dressed with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Other typical components of the meal were soft cheeses, hard boiled eggs, pickles, olives and bread. Beans in the form of  hummus (a chickpea “dip”) or ful (fava beans) might also be part of the meal. Ful is the breakfast food of choice in Egypt and is served up with lemon, chopped garlic, onions and olive oil.

When I returned home from that first trip, I began to make a simple version of the Israeli breakfast every morning. Although my knife skills are unfortunate, I became proficient in the small dice typical of an Israeli or Jerusalem salad. We sometimes enjoyed dicing contests to see who could make the salad most quickly and with the most precision.

I love to make Israeli Salad. Because of its precision (some would call it tedious), it requires focus, especially if you don’t have great knife skills. For me, it’s “vegetative,” that is, a meditative exercise involving beautiful vegetables:

ISRAELI SALAD

Ingredients
(Serves four along with other breakfast items)
Plum tomatoes, 6 ripe but firm
Pickling cucumbers, 2-3 or Persian cucumbers,* 3-4
Green onions, 2
Red bell peppers, 1-2
Avocado (opt.), 1-2 ripe but firm
Cilantro (opt.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

*Pickling cucumbers are preferable because of their finer grain and because they require no deseeding. Persian cucumbers are even better where available.

Directions
Although not necessary if the salad is eaten immediately, deseeding the tomatoes extends the time the salad will last without drowning in its own juices. Cut all the veggies into a uniform 1/4″ dice. Chop the onions and cilantro. Add extra virgin olive oil, the juice of a lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

VIDEO #1: For a demo of the dice, see the video my son created of himself preparing Israeli/Jerusalem salad in my cafe (mandolin optional – I do it by hand): http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bzEcBa9bzu0.

VIDEO #2: Here’s one more video – a session I did at our Woodstock Farmers Market on the Israeli Breakfast. I’m a good deal slower and less expert than my son, but here’s the good news: if I can make this salad, anyone can! – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XNAdGkxq5vc

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.