Morning has come. Night is away.
Rise with the sun and welcome the day!
Although we’re surrounded by rhythms in nature—the alternation of day and night, the changing of seasons, and the phases of the moon—modern life and technology can sometimes make it challenging to stay connected to those natural rhythms around us.
Rhythm. In the form of a lifestyle, a pattern of life, rhythm often offers stability in chaos and comfort in times of uncertainty. For me, the past month has been a bit challenging, at best. Due to circumstances beyond my control I had to limit my blogging and deal with a few unexpected and difficult situations. I also had to cancel plans to attend the International Plant-Based Nutrition Conference. Bummer. I had been looking forward to it. Fortunately, I had two very good friends who were there and kept me posted. Also, for those of you who may be interested, Abby (from the blog Abby’s Kitchen) attended and provided a nice summary here.
As with many challenging times, it’s often hard to see the light when the tunnel seems deep and long. However, what seemed to help me get through my little tunnel of darkness were the rhythms established in my home, particularly the ones I’ve created for my son’s environment. These rhythms helped me to focus on the series of events that have become the pattern of my toddler’s day, simple pleasures that can often be overlooked on a day to day basis. These rhythms helped me to find deeper meaning and confidence in each new day.
I was recently introduced to a chapter about rhythm in home life in Rahima Baldwin Dancy’s book, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher. In it, Dancy explains the different stages of learning that children go through from birth to age six and provides insight on how to understand and enrich your child’s natural development. Dancy explains how creating a rhythmical home life is nourishing, not only for children, but also for parents. This chapter really resonated with me because I’ve often thought that part of my son’s happiness would, in large part, depend on the daily routines (rhythms) created in his home environment. Dancy goes on to practically guarantee that creating a rhythmical home life will also eliminate 80 percent of discipline problems. Why? She says:
Because the child is so centered in the body and in imitation, rhythm is one of the most important keys to discipline. It both guides the child’s life by creating good habits and helps avoid arguments and problems. So much of discipline for young children involves self-discipline on the part of adults: keeping regular rhythms in home life, working on your own patience and emotional responses….
While preparing breakfast in the mornings, I often like to start my day listening to classical music. When my two-year old hears the music he confidently says, oat-neal coming! As my pot of oatmeal cooks, he plays quietly and sometimes comes to me to say, lis-ning to cass-cal muzik, pano, Sho-pahn! His words make me smile every time and I can’t fully explain the joy I feel when I hear him recognize he’s listening to piano music, especially when the music playing IS indeed that of Chopin! He knows I’ll soon say À table!, a French phrase calling him to the table and letting him know the meal is ready. When I do, he quickly leaves his toys, books or whatever he is involved with to quickly come to the table to eat. After breakfast, the rhythm of the day continues. He has time to play and then we normally go out, perhaps to one of our parent/toddler classes, a play-date, or to a park. I often give him a heads-up, about 10 minutes in advance, before we leave our home. He then recites what he knows his next steps will be, pee-pee in toy-yet (toilet) first, put on shoes, then go down elevator, then zoom zoom in car (or stroller). After our outing, he often says, time for yunch, then continues to “remind” me time for dodo (sleep) will come next (he loves his naps!), along with everything else we do in the day all the way until it is bedtime and we continue the routines we’ve associated with preparing for sleep at night.
We move through this rhythmic dance every day, he and I. Although there are slight changes from time to time, the basic rhythms remains. They’re comforting and nourishing for him, and surprisingly for me as well. I now have a greater appreciation for these rhythmical creations that have helped us move through our day with ease, feeling more grounded, confident, patient and centered.
When I pass through the natural rhythms of the year, I sometimes take for granted the wonders of each seasonal change. This autumn I hope to be more mindful of all the ways this season can bring new meaning to me, my family and particularly my son. I encourage you to also explore ways to create nourishing rhythms for your days, weeks and years.
To celebrate pumpkin season, I recently made one of my husband’s favorite breakfasts, Peach and Pumpkin Pancakes. I realize this is an unusual flavor combination as peaches and pumpkins are usually opposites from one another in terms of growing seasons. However, at times you can find both in the same season and when combined they ar delicious together!
Here, peach and pumpkin come together in warm and inviting pancakes that evoke nostalgic memories of both summer and autumn with every bite.
Peach and Pumpkin Pancakes
Adapted from Deb Perelman’s Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes found in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
Makes eight 4-inch pancakes
½ cup pumpkin purée (see below)
½ cup sour cream or plant milk (I’ve used cashew cream, hemp milk, almond milk, or oat milk)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cardamom
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
coconut oil or butter for pan
1 peach, halved and pitted, very thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 250F. Whisk together the pumpkin purée, sour cream or milk, egg, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. The batter should still be a little lumpy.
Bring a cast-iron skillet (or your heaviest skillet for best browning) to medium-low heat. Melt coconut oil or a pat of butter in the skillet, and ladle about 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet. Leave at least 2-inches between the pancakes to allow the batter to spread out. Arrange two peach slices to cover the top of the batter. Let the first side of the pancake cook until the edges begin to dry and bubbles form on the top, about 3 to 4 minutes. Use a wide spatula to get completely underneath your peach/pancake puddle and flip the pancake in one quick movement. If any of the peach slices move around, gently nudge them back into place and cook until the pancakes are golden and the peach slices are nicely caramelized. If you notice they’re browning too quickly, lower your heat.
Transfer pancakes to a tray and keep warm in the oven while you continue to make the rest of the pancakes.
Serve the pancakes warm, alone or with maple syrup.
Martine’s Notes: I’ve made these pancakes with sour cream or plant milk. The consistency is a little thicker with sour cream, but I prefer to use plant milk simply because I often try to find ways to reduce our intake of dairy. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Both options make very delicious pancakes.
If you can only find fresh peaches but not pumpkins, canned pumpkin will also work. If peaches are not in season, you won’t be able to create the same look with the caramelized peach slices, but you can get a similar flavor by making a purée of pumpkin and frozen peaches to add to your batter.
Finally, if you have any on hand, a pinch of ground anise is also a nice addition to the combination spices.
Pumpkin purée can be used in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. It’s great to make at home as you can also freeze it in advance to ensure you’ll have plenty on hand to add to soups, desserts or other seasonal dishes. As a general rule, keep in mind that three pounds of fresh pumpkin will yield about three to four cups of purée.
Roasted Pumpkin Purée
Preheat oven to 350F. Choose 1-2 sugar pumpkins (the small ones, not the ones used for carving jack-o-lanterns). Slice the stem off then cut pumpkin in half, horizontally. Scrape out the pulp and seeds and place the halves cut side down in a baking dish (or sheet) with a few tablespoons of water. Roast in oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or until pumpkin is tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Scrape the flesh from the skin and purée in a high speed blender.
If you like you can then season the purée with salt and pepper. However, I prefer to keep mine unseasoned until I know if it will be used for something savory or sweet. Unseasoned, the purée can be used to make soups, pancakes, pumpkin bars, pumpkin pie and/or a variety of other seasonal dishes.