One Cup Of Gratitude, Please
Putting the focus on gratitude subtracts the sense of servitude from the actions that add up to mealtime.
By Nancy K. Crevier
There are any number of activities involved with cooking that are time consuming and, well… tedious. Shucking corn. Popping peas from pods. Prepping green beans. Washing lettuce. Picking (ouch!) blackberries. Spatchcocking the chicken. Chopping, dicing, mincing… The list goes on.
Not to mention the clean-up chores that go hand-in-hand with cooking.
I thought about this recently, after a back-numbing session of picking bush beans and washing, trimming, and prepping them for dinner. I sighed in boredom as I rinsed and re-rinsed the fresh leaves of lettuce. And I grumbled as I scrubbed the grime from the stove top.
Then I stopped and thought about the upside of all these things that were making me feel grumpy, and I was embarrassed.
How lucky am I to have lettuce to wash? To have clean water to wash it in? To have healthy soil to grow this harvest? How fortunate am I to have nearby farms that grow the corn I get to eat? To have hands strong enough to remove the husks and silk from each cob? To have multiple means of cooking that corn?
What’s to complain about when a little backache interrupts my day? That I have the strength to bend and stretch to harvest food is a blessing, and a few aches and pains are a reminder of that.
Instead of bemoaning the tiresome task of shelling peas, why not appreciate with every plink and plunk into the bowl the wonderful meal of which they will be a part? Why not take the time when prepping beans to meditate on the amazwing lifecycle that brought them from seed, to soil, to rain, to sun, to seedling, to blossoms, to bean?
How lucky am I to have a stove to cook on and the means of keeping it clean? That my arms can rub and scrub? That I have the ability to pay for the fuel for that stove, and a kitchen in which to place it? How lucky to have a home that is safe and sound.
I have the luxury of time to slice and dice, the tools to make that job easy, music to listen to while I chop and mince, and ears that hear those tunes. I have eyes that see the transformation of whole fruit to perfect cubes and the sense of smell to appreciate fragrantly simmering sauces.
Ouch. Blackberry picking. Well, it is hard to find the beauty in pricked fingers and snagged clothing, but honestly, what the birds don’t get, I do cherish.
Putting the focus on gratitude subtracts the sense of servitude from the actions that add up to mealtime. I am not entitled to the plenty that I have; it is all a gift. And who cannot be thankful for any gift that sustains and enriches?
I try to remind myself that it is only because of the skills of those I do not even know that I can enjoy the comforts that I do; that my complaints would not even make a sound, dropped into the bucket of the world’s troubles.
I am grateful. I am grateful for all the things I easily take for granted, and for the chance to honor the chores that lead to the dinner table, once and for all.
For each salad:
Several leaves of lettuce and/or spinach leaves torn into bite-sized pieces — throw in fresh parsley, lovage, or basil leaves if you desire
8 green beans, trimmed, blanched and cooled
8 sugar snap pea pods, blanched and cooled
4 red cherry tomatoes, halved
4 small yellow tomatoes, such as Sungold, halved
¼ of a small cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced
¼ of a small zucchini, quartered and sliced
½ small beet, peeled and grated
¼ cup finely grated carrot
1/3 cup marinated chick peas*
¼ cup crumbled feta or blue cheese (or other grated cheese)
Optional: ½ cup shredded roasted chicken, or shredded fresh grilled tuna, chilled
Place lettuce on plate and then artfully arrange the other ingredients, topping it all with the cheese and/or chicken/tuna.
*Marinated Chick Peas
2 cups cooked chick peas
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary (use twice the amount if fresh herbs are available)
Whisk oils, vinegar, tamari, garlic, and herbs and pour over the chick peas. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
Use this dressing on the salad, as well.