Monthly Archives: December 2009

Collard Greens With An Asian Flair

31 December 2009

Happy New Year 2010!     

Where I live in the “Deep South,” there is a special meal that everyone eats on New Year’s Day:  collard greens, black eyed peas, and corn bread.  There are different reasons given for this meal, all having to do with good luck.  (Don’t ask too many questions about these reasons, I can’t answer them!) 

Anyway, …  also here in the “Deep South” the deep green colored, somewhat bitter leafy vegetables called Collard Greens and Kale are about the closest I can get to one of our favorite vegetables I learned to love in China, which I just call Cai Xin (pronounced something like Ch-eye, seen).  I’ve adapted my Cai Xin recipe to create what I think is one of the best ways to serve collards.  ( It works well for Kale, too. )  In honor of the New Year, I’m posting my recipe for Asian Style Collard Greens.  Since I’m writing this from memory and not testing it step-by-step as I go along, use your best judgment as you cook. 


  • A couple large cloves of garlic, sliced as thin as you can slice it, to make about 2 – 4 teaspoons worth of fresh, finely sliced garlic (depending on taste)
  • A piece of fresh, mild ginger, sliced as thin as you can slice it and then slivered again, to make about 2  teaspoons worth of fresh slivered ginger
  • Soy sauce, to taste  
  • A large bunch of collards, or two (how much is in a “bunch”? LOL)  If using bagged or frozen collards, one bunch would equal one bag.
  • A large, sweet onion, sliced into lengthwise strips, if you like onion in your collards.
  • A dash of corn starch, maybe up to 3 tsp.


Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. 

Wash the collards.  Remove excess stems so that what you mainly have is dark leaves.  Using a knife, cut collard leaves into pieces that are a couple inches square (half the size of your hand).  Set the trimmed collards aside until the water comes to a full, rolling boil. 

While the water is heating, also slice the garlic as thinly as humanly possible.  Depending on taste, this could be one whole clove of elephant garlic or many cloves of smaller garlic, so that it’s about 2 – 4 teaspoons sliced, depending on your taste. 

Peel a piece of fresh, mild ginger that is about the size of your thumb.  In my grocery store, the best ginger is large and plump looking, and is labeled “Hawaiian Ginger”.   Avoid ginger that is thin, shriveled, and dried out looking.   After it’s peeled, slice it as thinly as you can.  Then, lay it back on its side and slice again so that it is in tiny slivers.  Set aside. 

In a large wok or skillet, heat some oil over medium heat.  When the oil is warm enough to sizzle some water that is sprinkled in, it is warm enough to cook the garlic.  Brown the garlic in the oil until it is crispy (very light brown) but not burned (not dark brown).  In my experience, it is very easy to burn the garlic, but you do want it to be crispy so cook carefully and stir often.  When garlic is done, remove it from heat immediately and set it aside. 

Next, saute the onion on somewhat low heat until it is translucent, then set aside.

Clean the wok for re-use to stir fry the collards later. 

When water is at a rolling boil, put the collards into it.  I tend to think of this as blanching the collards.  They will turn a very dark green (kale will turn bright green).  Without reducing heat on the stove, bring the collards back to a boil and let them continue to boil for about 3 – 5 minutes.  (This is not a recipe where the greens are cooked “to death,” as so many Southern cooks prepare their greens.)   If you’re not sure when the collards are done, try a sample to see if they’re still tough.  Whenever they’re tender enough to bite easily, they’re done enough. 

Now, put oil into the wok, bring to a high heat.  Corn oil will work best for cooking at high heat, because it doesn’t burn.  When the oil is nice and hot, throw the collards into it and stir fry them.  One of my Asian friends says that she loves that beautiful, loud “sizzle” sound when she throws her vegetables into the wok.  The Asian view is that the sizzle seals in the flavors.  Don’t cook the collards too long, just long enough to sear them.  Keep tossing so they brown evenly and don’t burn. 

Add the cooked onion. 

A hint to keep your kitchen cleaner is to put some old newspapers around the stove on the floor, to catch any oil that splatters and pops when you cook at this temperature. 

Now, add in the slivered ginger.  The onion and ginger should mix in with the collards as you stir them. 

Next, using your fingers, sprinkle a tiny bit of corn starch over top of the collards, as if you were putting a light coat of talcum powder.  This corn starch will thicken any water that remains from the boiling process.  Toss them around a bit to spread the thickening sauce.  Now, sprinkle with soy sauce to taste and toss a bit more.  Turn off heat. 

Transfer to a serving dish.  Sprinkle with more soy sauce if needed.  Garnish with the crispy garlic. 

Note:  if the crispy garlic is too much of a project (because it does indeed burn very easily), just saute it with the onion and use it that way.  It will give the collards a delicious flavor, along with the ginger.

When I met my husband, he wouldn’t eat greens.  Now, this is one of his favorite foods.  It’s that good.

YUM!  Enjoy! 

Technorati Tags: ,


Filed under Recipes

Christmas Songs

December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas to our friends everywhere!  Please share these songs with us! 


Some Favorites we’ve compiled to share with our friends,

December 2006


O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!


Here we come, a wassailing among the leaves of green!

Here we come a wandering, so fair to be seen

Love and joy, come to you!

And to you, good tidings, too!

And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year!

And God send you a Happy New Year!


The first Noel, the angel did say,

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay.

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Noel, noel, noel, noel. Born is the king of Israel!

They looked up, and saw a star,

Shining in the east beyond them far.

And to the earth, it gave great light,

And so it continued both day and night.

Noel, noel, noel, noel. Born is the king of Israel!

This star drew nigh, then to the northwest.

Over Bethlehem, it took its rest.

And there it did both stop and stay

Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Noel, noel, noel, noel. Born is the king of Israel!


Hark, the herald angels sing,

Glory to the newborn king!

Peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled.

Joyful, all Ye nations, rise!

Join the triumph of the skies!

With angelic host proclaim,

Christ is born in Bethlehem!

Hark, the Herald Angels sing,

Glory to the newborn king!

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,

Christ, the everlasting Lord.

Late in time, behold Him come,

Offspring of the favored one!

Veiled in flesh, the God-head see

Hail th’ incarnate Diety.

Pleased, as man with men to dwell;

Jesus, our Emmanual!

Hark, the Herald Angels sing,

Glory to the newborn king!

Hail! The heav’n born Prince of Peace!

Hail! The Song of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Ris’n with healing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth!

Hark, the Herald Angels sing,

Glory to the newborn king!


Angels we have heard on high,

Sweetly singing o’er the plains

And the mountains in reply

Echo-ing their joyous strains!

Glo’oria, in excelsius deo

Glo’oria, in excelsius deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Glo’oria, in excelsius deo

Glo’oria, in excelsius deo.

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Glo’oria, in excelsius deo

Glo’oria, in excelsius deo.

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.


Silent Night, Holy Night

All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin, mother and child

Holy infant, so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent Night, Holy Night

Shepherds quake, at the sight

Glories stream, from heaven afar!

Choirs of Angels sing Al-le-lu-ia

Christ, the savior, is born!

Christ, the savior, is born.

Silent Night, Holy Night

Son of God, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

Bring the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus, Lord at thy birth,

Jesus, Lord at thy birth


Away in a manger, no crib for a bed

The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay

On the little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes

The little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes!

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from on high

And stay by my cradle, till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever, and love me, I pray!

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,

and take them to heaven to live with Thee there.


We, three kings of Orient are!

Bearing gifts, we traverse afar!

Field and fountain, moor and mountain

Following yonder star. Oh . . .

Star of wonder, star of might

Star with royal beauty bright.

Westward leading, still proceeding,

Guide us to thy perfect light.

Glorious now, behold Him arise,

King and God and sacrifice.

Al-le-lu-ia, al-le-luia,

Ea-rth to heav-’n replies,

Oh . . . Star of wonder, star of night

Star with royal beauty bright.

Westward leading, still proceeding,

Guide us to thy perfect light.


Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make . . . His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glo’ries of . . . His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.


O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;

Refrain: O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;


Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?


Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.



I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white


Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.
They know that Santa’s on his way;
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother’s child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.
And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas to you


Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.
Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.
In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He’ll say: Are you married?
We’ll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you’re in town.
Later on, we’ll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we’ve made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.
In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he’s a circus clown
We’ll have lots of fun with mister snowman,
Until the other kids knock him down.
When it snows, ain’t it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland

Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer,

had a very shiny nose

And if you ever saw it,

You would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer

Used to laugh and call him names,

They never let poor Rudolph

join in any reindeer games!

Then one foggy Christmas eve,

Santa came to say,

“Rudolph, with your nose so bright,

Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Then how the reindeer loved him

And they shouted out with glee,

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer,

You’ll go down in history!


Dashing through the snow, in a one horse, open sleigh

Over the fields we go, laughing all the way!

Bells on bob tail ring, making spirits light,

What fun it is to ride and sing, a sleighing song tonight! Oh . . .

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!

Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse, open sleigh!

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse, open sleigh!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas,

we wish you a merry Christmas,

We wish you a merry Christmas,

and a happy New Year!

Good tidings we bring,

To you and your kin

We wish you a Merry Christmas,

And a happy New Year!

Please bring us some figgy pudding

Please bring us some figgy pudding,

Please bring us some figgy pudding,

and bring it right here!

We won’t go until we get some,

We won’t go until we get some,

We won’t go until we get some,

so bring it right here!

Glad tidings we bring, to you and your kin

Glad tidings for Christmas, And a Happy New Year!

Leave a comment

Filed under Holidays

A Christmas Meditation on Peace



Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

The scene in which these words were spoken illustrates the extreme contradiction of the Christmas story: A glorious cloud of angels, singing to the poorest of the poor; a powerful man in history, born in a manger.  No matter what our religion, there are some observations that hold true about this story.

FLINCK, Govert Teunisz, Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds
1639, Oil on wood, 160 x 196 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris,
Web Gallery of Art,

Peace, like Christmas, is counterintuitive. To be at peace with our fellow man requires us to put down our defenses. This makes us vulnerable. (As vulnerable as a baby in a manger?) If I give up something to make peace, do I risk becoming poor? (As poor as a shepherd living in a field?) Might I be asked to give up things I feel I’ve earned the right to have? (Even the fish already in my nets, fish that I’ve worked hard to catch?) Might I be asked to give up the labels I put on people? (Even labels that protect me by defining my tribe and serving to limit my responsibilities outside that tribe?)

When we put aside labels and rights and power, we become open to very different, and creative, possibilities: What if I could be honest with the other person, without them using my honesty against me? What if I could lay down my defenses, emotionally or figuratively, and could put energy into things I want or love? What if the other person would work collaboratively with me, to find ways to have my needs met, without fighting against or hurting me? What if I could find a way to help that other party meet their underlying need, without giving up my own security? What if we can find a way to meet everyone’s true needs?

The path of peace is inextricably tied up with reconciliation and tearing down of barriers that separate us. When we examine the life of Jesus, we see a man who never allowed labels or positions to get in the way of seeing people for who they truly were. He taught radical ideas. He taught us to love others as we love ourselves; he taught us to forgive as we have been forgiven; he demonstrated that we can transform our enemy by seeing them as God sees them and thereby enabling them to see themselves.

This Christmas season, consider: What must we give up, to walk the path of peace? What must we actively do? Even when we have been wronged, why must we forgive our debtors? And, what does it mean to forgive another “as we have been forgiven”?

Does the idea of reconciliation mean that we just move on, that we ignore a wrong? No!  To advocate peace is not to advocate weakness.  Thomas Merton wrote, "Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice.  It demands greater heroism than war.  It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience."

Peace is not passive, either.  Peace is waged, just as war is waged, but peace is a force more powerful than the greatest weapon.  Weapons impose change from the outside in; but peace brings change from the inside out.  Martin Luther King, Jr., understood this force, which he called "soul force".  Like Gandhi and Jesus, King waged peace in a way which transformed those who were engaged with it.

The result of King’s war can be seen today.  Not only has segregation fallen, but the hearts and minds of formerly racist men and women were transformed by their engagement.  Peace wins through conversion of the opponent.

The purpose of peacebuilding — and mediation is a part of peacebuilding — is not to fake a peace. Mediation does not force anyone to agree to terms they don’t want, nor does it put people into circumstances they’d prefer not to endure.  The first task of peacebuilding is to enable communication.  This paves the way for people to listen to each other.  They can then find ways to meet needs and resolve conflict.  When needs are met – when root causes of conflict are addressed – reconciliation can happen.

Peace is a matter of achieving that which we have within us.  C.S. Lewis, speaking in the voice of Aslan, referred to the law of love as the "deep magic".  Peace and reconciliation are not easy; sometimes the trust and openness that is required to achieve great results is as contrary to common sense as is a vision of angels appearing to a ragged band of shepherds on a winter night.  But unless we take the risk, we achieve nothing; and until we achieve peace, we have nothing. What does it gain a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his own soul?

So, this season, my wish for you is, Peace!  Try it!*


*For those who live within my geographic area, I am offering a Holiday Special:  Give the gift of peace at Christmas!    Receive one half off any mediation booked prior to January 1st or which is given as a Christmas gift to someone you love.  Please just mention this offer when you book your mediation.  To book a mediation or to discuss whether mediation may be right for you or your friend, contact me here


Leave a comment

Filed under Spirituality

Free Majid Tavakoli, Iranian Student Democracy Activist

Be a witness to stand in support of democracy in Iran and, in so doing, let the oppressors know that power acquired through violence is no match for the power of peace.  Please learn about the issue from this blog post, then copy the links and forward them to your friends! 

Let’s help the video go viral worldwide! 

On December 7th, 2009, Iranian Ph.D. student Majid Tavakoli was arrested after speaking to a group at his school, the Amirkabir University of Technology.  He was severely beaten at the time of his arrest, and it is reported that he has also been tortured.  It is reported that he was made to dress in women’s clothing so that he could be photographed.  An effort was made to use the photos to humiliate him.  The effort backlashed: 

A movement has now begun for men to dress in hijab (a headscarf which is mandatory dress for women in Iran) and publish photographs of themselves on the internet, to express their solidarity with Majid. 

Wikipedia states: 

[Men who dress in hijab in protest to Majid’s imprisonment] are calling for an end to Iran’s mistreatment of prisoners including Tavakoli. At the same time they are also sending a strong a message of solidarity with women in their fights for equal rights. One message echoed by many Iranian men was "until Iranian women are free, Iran will not be free. Iranian men: let’s begin wearing the chador in solidarity with Majid AND the WOMEN of Iran".

One woman writes in commentary to the YouTube video (above): 

Never been this proud of our men. You guys define the word Ma’arefat. You proved that in this world it is possible to be manlier by dressing up as women. Our values have made a huge heap into the future and we are all riding the waves of this amazing cultural revolution, thanks to Majid and thanks to all these brave, honorable men.

Another person writes,

man ham majid tavakoli hastam, ich bin auch ein majid tawakoli, i am majid tavakoli, hameye mardome iran majide tawakoli hastan, drod be majide gahreman, nango nefrin bar welayate jahlo siyahiye waghih dar tamamiyatash az khomeiniye dajal ta khameneiye shirei, jawido sarboland irano irani

Join me in affirming, with the cloud of witnesses, "I am Majid".  Please forward this link to your friends. 

Technorati Tags: ,,

Leave a comment

Filed under News and politics

Thought for the Day

10 December 2009

"It isn’t enough to talk about peace,

one must believe it.

And it isn’t enough to believe it,

one must work for it."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Leave a comment

Filed under Spirituality