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Gather

Gather

Hanukkah, Christmas, Festiuvs, Yaldaa or surviving 2017: No matter what we  just celebrated, we sent off last year with a bang and welcomed 2018.

New beginnings are a good time to press the wellness reset button, but healthy living can be a year-long lifestyle and need not be limited to new year resolutions. As we begin the year, I remind myself to set achievable goals, eat nutritious but delicious food, learn as much as possible, be kind to myself and others, let old wounds heal, practice gratitude, and make life as colorful as possible.

Last year was certainly colorful. 2017 tested me. But as I reflect on the last twelve months, I realize the positives outweighed the challenges and there was much to be grateful for. Mostly, the incredible people I have in my life and the extraordinary experiences we shared. Not surprisingly, many of those occurred around the table as we broke bread together, told our stories, laughed at our fortunes, waxed poetic about the future and perhaps even learned a bit about ourselves along the way. “Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind,” Einstein wrote, “life would have seemed to me empty.” Indeed.

I have written about gathering around the fire. Today, on a cold snowy day in NYC, I sip hot chai and reflect on the warm memories of last year. I smile remembering the gorgeous tables we gathered around, the delightful food we ate, and the marvelous people who’s company I had the pleasure to keep. Michael Polan says “the shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.” It is also a place where our fondest memories live. Where we receive the gift of love by those who prepared those meals for us. It is where we are reminded of the power of coming together.

My memories of this gift begin in Naz year zero. My parents have always been extraordinary and generous hosts. Bringing people together and creating countless memories is an art form they have mastered a thousand times over. The loving energy created around their tables, is my eternal source of inspiration. I wrote more about that here.

In the meantime, I want to point out the only difference between the first two photos in this post are 37 years and geography. Otherwise, in both photos you see my beautiful Mother at the head of the table of her loving home, and me really excited about what we’re about to eat! Just a bit of role reversal in who’s serving whom.

Happy new year from Basil and Roses! Below are a few of our favorite “gatherings” of 2017 and the recipes they inspired.

Wishing you a colorful and meaning year!

Naz

“Not what we have But what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” Epicurus

Pretty Pickled Onions

Roasted Cauliflower with The Evergreen Chimichurri Sauce

Beer & Basil Braised Brisket

Nani’s Classic Tomato, Onion & Feta Omelette (recipe coming in 2018)

Mama’s Mexican Fiesta (Fish Taco, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, Cabbage Slaw, Pico, Fresh Margaritas)

Tuscan Inspired Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Cannelini Beans

Persian Stuffed Peppers

Shirazi Salad (or Israeli Salad or Mediterranean chopped salad)

Sesame Crusted Baked Salmon

Cindy’s Fabulous Holiday Rib Roast (Recipe coming in 2018!)

Green Goddess Basmati Rice with Basil, Mint, Chive and an Unexpected Trip Home

Smoked Salmon & Creme Fraiche Canapes with Fresh Dill

Chickpea & Cauliflower Coconut Curry

 

Other Top 2017 Recipes to try:

Nani’s Healthy But Decadent Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy Thai Basil Beef

Citrusy Chicken Skewers with Mint-Basil Sauce

Panko-Crusted Dijon Cod

The Best Steak Of Your Life

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Medly

Mint & Cannelini Bean Tuna Salad

Roasted Cauliflower with Tangy Tahini Sauce

Baklava

Autumn

Autumn

The seasons honor the passage of time… I like that.  As the days get shorter and temperatures lower, my love for the beauty of nature grows.  Each season has it’s own charm but the scarlet, saffron and gold hues of Fall are uniquely special.  The days wane and the nights arrive sooner as we turn back the clocks- but there is much warmth and comfort to be found in the hues, flavors and traditions of fall. Beautiful foliage hikes, apple picking, warm cider, cozy woolen sweaters, fireplaces and butternut squash just to name a few. And after all Thanksgiving is right around the corner!

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In the wake of the post 2016 election era, embracing change has become an important theme. Regardless of our political positions, there is a new season to embrace. And although the road ahead is unclear, we must remain hopeful and optimistic. Change is hard. Change in inevitable. But change is good. Sometimes we must lose something, in order to gain something greater. Deepak Chopra says that “all great changes are preceded by chaos.” In nature, autumn is a perfect example. The changing color of leaves is due to cold weather and less light which affects the way plants create chlorophyll – the green pigment that captures light and powers photosynthesis and makes plants green. This disruption allows other tones to shine through giving leaves a more red or orange color. The loss and breakdown of one element, allows the splendor and growth of another through color and beauty.

In my garden, the Hydrangeas’ colors change as the acidity of the soil changes. Their slow and remarkable transition is filled with wonder. The white hydrangeas turn a mauvy pink, the blue turn green, the light purple turns a deep burgundy and the bright pink ones wear the cloak of deep magenta. Some growers intentionally force the color change by adjusting the PH and aluminium levels of the soil. I don’t do that and simply enjoy the organic change of the earth as time passes.

George Bernard Shaw tells us “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” This is a time of year where many of us come together in the spirit of family and charity and focus on gratitude and self reflection. Change begins from within each of us. I hope America can find that spirit as we transition through our modern challenges and honor the passage of time with grace, understanding and respect for the nature of life and ultimately, for each other.

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Hafiz of Shiraz:

“Leave the familiar for a while.

Let your senses and bodies stretch out

Like a welcomed season

Onto the meadow and shores and hills.

Open up to the Roof.

Make a new watermark on your excitement

And love.

Like a blooming night flower,

Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness

And giving

Upon our intimate assembly.

And Change rooms in your mind for a day.”

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Musical Inspiration:

~Vivaldi Four Seasons violin concerti,  Autumn- 1725