I am beginning to pack again for the last leg of my European travel — Slovakia. As I often do before a trip, I went to the library to borrow a book that I otherwise would not read if I wasn’t stranded midair on a transcontinental flight — Simone Weil’s Gravity and Grace. I leafed through the pages and found the following sentences, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love. Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” Weil believed in the meditative power of the inner supplication we call “attention” as a superior tool for self-transformation. Instead of will, she suggested we try to “cure our faults by attention.”
I was piqued by the topic of attention because it seems to be the hardest thing to have in this age of multi-tasking and non-stop stimulation/distraction from every direction. Sometimes my entire family is glancing at different devices and returning emails and texts when we eat our meals. It is not that we need it all the time, but I think it would be nice to truly pay attention to each other as if we are all on our first date with someone we like.
In another of Weil’s books First and Last Notebooks she writes, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” This was true for her time, but much truer for ours — a time when attention is often carved into little snippets and thrown at whichever way the wind is blowing.
On the day the DOW fell nearly 600 points, let’s pay “absolutely unmixed attention” to the part of lives that are not and can never be commodified — our most intimate relationships, our moral fortitude, our spirit and our understanding of what it means to be human — and be thankful that that essential part of us is well.
For food, I cooked cauliflower fried rice. The versatile cauliflower did it again! This “fried rice” is absolutely delicious.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
1 medium cauliflower, florets only
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/3 carrot, finely chopped
5 to 6 stocks green onion, chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 to 3 thin slices peeled ginger, minced
2 eggs + 2 egg whites, beaten
1 red Jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry paste
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon or less fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoon canola oil or other cooking oil, separated
Red pepper flakes to taste and for garnish
Pulse the washed and dried florets in food processor in small batches. Make sure the florets are completely dry and don’t over process. I hand chopped a small batch to give it a little more texture.
Beat the eggs and egg whites with a pinch of salt and a pinch of minced green onion, garlic, and ginger. Let it sit while you prepare the other vegetables.
Mix curry paste, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar in a small bowl.
Heat a non-stick pan on medium high with 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir fry the egg mixture for about 2 to 3 minutes. Using the spatula to cut the egg into small pieces while stirring. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large wok on high. When the oil is hot, add garlic, ginger, onion, jalapeño, white part of green onion and stir until aromatic, about 4 to 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium high or medium if the wok becomes too hot and the content begins to brown too much.
Add cauliflower rice into the wok and continue to stir for about 3 minutes. Add frozen peas and continue to stir for about 2 minutes. Add the green part of the green onion and stir for another 2 minutes.
Pour in the soy sauce mixture and stir until well coated and dry, about another minute or two. Make sure the cauliflower race is not over cooked and mushy. It needs to be al dente.