Fog condenses and runs in rivulets down my windows as the sun steams through a water rich air. Grass glistens with droplets and the pavement fades in patches of damp grays. It's a beautiful morning still alive with vibrant greens, canary yellows, coral pinks, and lavender purples in last bloom through a late-summer heat. Harvest plants are starting to pop and the trees are dotting with orange, yellow and red in early preparation for the coming of fall.
Despite our family already participating in Back-To-School, there is plenty of summer left and fun to be had in the diminishing season. I'm not quite ready for pumpkin spice, fall leaves or the cold snap on the crisp air. So, we will continue to ride out the final waves of shimmering summer heat; including being outside till the dusk falls. That means, meal planning and attempting foods that need VERY little attention from me as my sights are on soaking up the laughter, playtime and activities with my kids. The time with them is fleeting at this age / stage as they grow and change so quickly. The time with them is fleeting in the current world as it changes even faster.
Sustainability Spotlight: I can't help but feel the ending. The changing planet is portending an end of the way we know the world, and the beginning of something...well, quite different. I see it in the weather, I hear it on the news, I view it in the open farm land sold to yet another developer for a franchise of food, retail or warehouse space. A vehicle to store, provide and ship "stuff." The stuff that ends up on the side of the road, and blown across the winds. The stuff that gets put out to the curb every trash day to be picked up, hauled, dumped and survive for (in some cases) hundreds of years buried in a heap of resources that we used and so easily discarded.
I live in a world where it seems that only a few feel this way; can envision the future for what it is - different, and in our current trajectory, that difference isn't "good."
I see memes that keep saying "where's my flying car?" in surprise that our today is not the Jetsons' future we envisioned as children. But...did you ever consider why they had flying cars? Did you consider why they lived in the clouds? I think it's because of overpopulation, destruction and lack of care to the Earth's surface; even then, the artists and writers were embedding a bold innovative future layered over destruction. The future we have envisioned all our life doesn't make the best use of preserving what we have today for humanity. No. It envisions a world that continues on like today and robs generations of natural environments, the planet itself, and forces invention and innovation to survive, but never asks us as a species to truly change.
Sometimes, it's like only I can see beyond humanity's horizon (I know there are plenty of likeminded people, but they are too few and too far between). That horizon is destruction, famine, agricultural demise, pollution, floods, wildfires, storms, and a veritable hellscape if we follow the current trajectory. It's depressing in many ways. It's also empowering because there is always hope - hope that what I do / teach / act like will become a part of the larger "change" we need for our futures. My kids are a part of those actions too.
Folks, there are plenty of options that are better than what we are doing now. Are they the "final" solution? - absolutely not, but they move us in increments to something better. A world without disposable plastics. A world of diversity of flora and fauna. A world of less "stuff." A world that is built upon not just human survival, but one that is built on human survival on this planet and leaving it better each generation to the one behind. It's a full 180 from what we are doing and it takes all of us. All of us to see, care, and believe in a future that isn't the ending, but really the beginning. I can't wait to feel that change in my heart and mind and know my kids, and their kids actually have a viable future.
You, me, everyone - that's the way we get there; try vegan, try reducing / swapping plastics, try materials and products that reusable, durable, and will last you a life time (like a cast iron skillet I use in this recipe). Simply try.
2 tbsp avocado oil
1 large eggplant (chopped and sweated for 30 minutes - liberally salt eggplant and let sit for 30 minutes untouched. Rinse thoroughly and dry in clean towels).
1 medium zucchini (chopped)
1 small yellow onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (sliced thin - Level 1 on mandoline)
(1) 14 oz jar marinated artichokes (drained and chopped)
3 small tomatoes (chopped)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried oregano
1.5 cups brown rice (long grain)
3 cups vegetable broth - divided (not stock; must be broth in this recipe)
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp filtered water
1 lemon (zested & juiced)
1 small handful parsley (chopped)
1 small handful fresh mint (chopped)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat avocado oil over Medium-High heat. Once it shimmers, add eggplant and saute (stirring infrequently) for ~5 minutes.
Add zucchini, onion and garlic and saute another ~5 minutes.
Next, add, artichokes through brown rice and stir to incorporate and warm all ingredients (~2 minutes)
Pour ~1 cup of the vegetable broth into the pan to deglaze it, stirring to scrape up all the browned bits. Now, pour the remaining 2 cups vegetable broth into the pan and stir; spread rice / veggies out evenly.
Cover (I used foil - you can rinse & recycle) and bake for ~50-60 minutes (until rice is done and most, if not all, liquid has been absorbed).
While your rice bakes, add all ingredients above in Herbed Vinaigrette to a mini food processor and chop to incorporate. Let the herbs marinate together for the bake time.
Once the rice is done, remove from oven (Carefully! It's hot) and remove cover. Pour Herbed Vinaigrette over the top of the rice and fluff / stir into the rice completely.
Serve warm with a side of roasted or steamed broccoli, asparagus or green beans for a full (and filling) meal!
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie