A sweet and savory wild rice pilaf liberally studded with walnuts, dried cherries and fresh herbs is a colorful and delicious offering to present on a holiday table; it reminds me how generously sprinkling our days with love, compassion, and warmth towards one another in little random acts of kindness creates a life abundant with flavor, wonderful texture, and joy.
I've always loved the notion of “random acts of kindness”, or of liberally handing out little moments of joy, love, and gratitude to whomever crosses my path.
The world needs so much more of that, doesn't it?
Just reflecting on my own desire and on my own heart's hunger to experience more of that sweet compassion and kindness upon my own being, makes me realize that this “want” is certainly not unique to me; it is every human being's longing to be understood, acknowledged, empathized with, and just generally be treated with some respect, garnished perhaps with a little smile, as a “cherry on top”.
The beauty of random acts of kindness is that they really don't need much forethought; I find they're best given out intuitively and by simply asking the question, “how would I prefer to be treated?”.
Certainly, there are grander ways of sharing the love with others, ways that involve a bit more time, effort, or even resource; and all of those are wonderful!
But it can be quite simple: sharing a warm and genuine “hello”; or lifting up my eyes on my walk to meet another's eyes and giving a warm smile; or giving a hand to someone who is struggling with some bags, or needs a hand opening a door; or allowing someone to go ahead of me in line when I have a little extra time; or simply letting someone know, perhaps through a little sticky note, how much they mean to me, how much I think about them, how much I love them—all of those I can easily do.
I must say, the holiday season is truly so conducive to considering the state of things around me, and to making it a conscious thing to really attempt to bring more light and uplift to a world that seems so desperately in need of it.
Imagine if each of our days were generously flecked with little morsels of goodness and kindness, both towards our self and towards others...life would be like a savory and delicious little holiday wild rice pilaf, brimming with all sorts of scrumptious and liberally added tidbits that make the experience of partaking that much better, that much more joyful and pleasantly surprising.
And I'm a sucker for a pleasant surprise, aren't you?
So if the holiday season can refocus me on those things that matter and that are important, those things that are predominantly “interpersonal” in nature, where I can, perhaps, have some positive direct impact on another human being, then all the better.
There's something to this idea of sprinkling life generously with kind acts that heal and nourish the state of our humanness, and our connection to one another.
My hope is to become ever more aware and conscious of the need for it, and to listen to the world around me for my queue to act and to have the courage to be a light, because the more illumination we have, the better we are.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Holiday Wild Rice Pilaf with Toasted Walnuts, Dried Cherries, and Sage
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4-6
• 1/2 cup wild rice
• Avocado Oil (or other)
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 cup basmati rice
• 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
• 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (you can toast in a dry pan for a few moments)
• 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
• 1 tablespoons chopped parsley
-Into a small pot, add 1 cup of water, plus a pinch of salt; bring to the boil, then add in the wild rice, cover, and reduce heat to simmer; simmer for about 40-45 minutes, or until water is absorbed and rice is fork tender.
-While the wild rice cooks, place another pot or deeper-bottom pan over medium-heat, and drizzle in some oil (about 2 tablespoons); add in the garlic, and stir, and once it becomes aromatic, stir in the basmati rice; add a pinch of salt, then add in 1 ½ cups of water, and stir to combine; bring to the boil, cover, and reduce heat to a gentle simmer; cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until rice is fork tender.
-Allow both rices to cool slightly; then, to a large bowl, add both, along with the dried cherries, walnuts, dried sage, and parsley, and toss together to combine; check the seasoning (add a pinch more salt/pepper if needed), and serve.