Whenever my creativity ebbs for recipes, flavor combinations or even sustainability spotlights on this blog, I do two things: a) give myself grace (and a break) and b) go to the library. That's right, there are people in the world that still use (thankfully and often!) the local library; I hope you are one of them too!
The library allows a place to explore; everything. You can travel the world, or you can take a peek inside humanity's past. You can learn a new skill or how to fix a leak in your home. You can embark on journeys to fantastical worlds across space and time, or you can feel the emotions of falling in and out of love through prose. There are so many different adventures you can take or have, and they are all there for you; housed across the street, down the road and inside a hallowed space called the Library.
Sustainability Spotlight: As a voracious reader, I run through books in a mere day or so. See, my secret skill is that I can speed read and have a high level of comprehension. When the letters, words and sentences move across my mind in minutes, I no longer see the physical page, but fly beyond it all inside my mind. I "see" the projection of those words as actions, characters, and energy; almost like a movie. Reading is my meditation; it transports me outside of the current world and into new ones.
As a child, one of my most provoking and treasured memories involves reading. In the second grade (when I was 7), I wanted to read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe because I loved the animated movie so much. It was my favorite story! I found the books up on top of the myriad of shelves in the school library, and as I excitedly placed it on the checkout desk in front of the librarian, I was informed "No." I was dumbfounded and sought clarification as to why I wasn't allowed to rent this book. The answer "You can't read this, it's too advanced, and you wouldn't understand. It's not for you." As the book was slid aside, I crumpled a bit inside. Not only was I seeing the story I desperately wanted to read pulled just out of reach, but I was also mentally unprepared to hear that I couldn't read a story I already knew and loved.
When it came to books at the library, I was rarely (if ever) told "no." I shopped for books at the library like it was the best store in the world. I was not only encouraged by my father, but it was a special bonding activity my sister and I did with him every (or almost every) weekend growing up. My mother at the time was home with us during the week, and Saturdays were a day she could sleep in and rest while my sister and I went with my Dad to the library. He perused music (first records, then CDs), she perused thriller (Fear Street series was a particular favorite of hers) and I explored...literally everything. Didn't matter the genre, and covers weren't the judge of the book quality (though they obviously help with drawing interest). I had stacks! I brought them to a reading table and started each book. If I liked the writing style, into the "rent" pile then went. I had so many, I had to be given a cap - 10 books each time for rent. It may not have been in reality, but it felt like hours that we spent at the Library those weekends, and I loved it all!
So, when I came home upset from my attempt (and ultimate failure) to rent a book at school, the story and tears spilled from me. When I calmed down a bit, my Dad looked at my water stained lashes, and said what has become a mantra for me in all my life, "Don't believe anyone who says you can't. You can if you believe you can." That weekend, he made sure I found The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and helped me rent it proudly from the local library. Fun fact - it's still one of my favorites. A great story, both from the novel and from my experience with it!
This Sustainability Spotlight is two fold, but very simple.
One: the library is sustainable, free, and using it to fuel our knowledge, creativity and adventurous sensibilities should be a priority in the world. Rather than collecting books, you can rent them over and over and over again from the library and reduce your footprint on the chemicals used to make the books (paper processing is one of the "dirtiest" manufacturing processes from a pollution perspective) and use of natural resources (wood).
Second: don't let anyone make you believe you "can't" do something! Sustainability is about choice, it is about believing in yourself and your capabilities, and it is 100% about believing that we CAN. We can change the world together through our small changes and actions. You CAN and we CAN - together, if we all support one another and our children, sustainability will become our lives and not just a dream we are striving toward.
1 head of cauliflower (cut into oversize florets)
1 cup long-grain brown rice (I used Jasmine brown rice)
herbed salt (to taste - start with 1/4 tsp)
black pepper (to taste - start with 1/8 tsp)
Za'tar (to taste - start with 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tbsp avocado oil
3/4 cup of my Mediterranean Pesto (I used leftovers from the big batch made in the linked recipe)
1 cup de-seeded, de-stemmed and chopped cherries
2 tbsp avocado oil
1/2 tbsp champagne vinegar
2 tsp agave syrup
1/2 fresh orange (juiced)
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F (on convection setting if you have it)
Boil rice according to package directions in a large pot (with lid) of salted water (Note, I always have to add additional water as my grains boil - keep some ready to add as needed to avoid burning) for ~30-40 minutes stirring occasionally.
In the first 10 minutes of boiling your rice, set a steamer pan with the cauliflower over the rice and cover with a lid. Steam cauliflower for ~10 minutes (we are just par-cooking here so we can flatten the florets in the next step - do not overcook in this stage).
On a silpat lined lipped pan (jelly roll pan), add your pre-steamed cauliflower and toss with the 1/2 tsp avocado oil, salt, pepper and Za'tar to coat evenly.
Now, take a flat object (I used a small oval plate) and "smoosh" (yes, that's a technical term ; ) your cauliflower florets so they look like mini cauliflower steaks; one by one.
Slide your pan into the oven and roast for ~25-30 minutes (or until golden in places).
Once your rice is done cooking, stir in your pesto and remove rice from your pot (clean bowl or plate) so it stops cooking / steaming - set aside rice.
Mix all ingredients in the Macerated Cherries list above and set aside.
Once the cauliflower is done, remove it from the oven to cool slightly.
To assemble, spoon rice onto plates, top with cauliflower and then drizzle with cherries and juices. Serve immediately.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie