Monday, November 29, 2010
Sauteed Fennel with Roasted Garlic and Thyme
Last November I went on my first silent retreat. I wanted to do something that challenged me and also scared the crap out of me. A 5-day silent retreat was the best idea that I could come up with.
For those of you that have never experienced a silent retreat, it's basically just what it sounds like. The retreat center that I go to is a Buddhist center situated in the middle of 15 acres of forest. After the first meal, we take the vow of silence and do not break it until the end of the retreat. There are usually "interviews" with the teacher where you can speak and ask her questions about meditation or what is coming up for you in your practice. Outside of these specific times, everyone operates in total silence.
I was so thankful to be going again this year. It's a very different world there. Everything is controlled by the ringing of gongs and bells. Movement is slow and intentional. And you can't beat seeing the entire sky lit up by stars every night.
You might think that the silence would make you feel a little crazy. It does for me at times. But, I also really appreciate the quiet because we usually get so little of it in our fast-paced world. It's nice to slow down for a change.
I was standing by a lake there when the first flakes of snow fell. Just a few flakes at first. Then a few more. The next thing I knew I was watching a flurry of snow fall before my eyes into the water. It was gorgeous. Please remind me of this the next time I am exhausted by my inbox of email and the pile of dirty dishes that never seem to stay clean.
My favorite part of the retreat, of course, was the food. I can never tell if the food there is amazing simply because they make amazing food or if it's because it is one of the few times in my life where I sit and do nothing besides focus on what I'm eating. I'm sure it has to be both.
During my last meditation session I grew anxious and eager to come back home. Part of me was concerned about driving on the icy roads. Part of me missed my life in Seattle. And part of me just wanted this fennel. It's good to be home.
This recipe comes straight from Birgitte Antonsen's Vegetarian Holiday Feast class at PCC.
Serves 4 - 6.
4 to 6 small to medium-size fennel bulbs, cut into quarters
12 to 15 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper
Place the fennel, garlic, and olive oil in a skillet. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, then add thyme, broth, salt, and pepper. Let simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, covered. Serve warm.