Sunday, July 29, 2012

Eggplant & Pesto Inspired Pan Seared Sole

I think we were getting a little bored with the avocado and egg salad thing.  And I got a little lazy this week when things got rough at work.  I've still been recovering and catching up on sleep.  But tonight I made an Italian Eggplant Parmesan inspired sole.  It was meaty, rich and delicious.  A nice change from the fruity and sweet lately. 

What you need...
1 Eggplant sliced, salted, pressed for at least thirty minutes
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion diced
1 head of garlic smashed and chopped
2 cups sun dried tomatoes soaked in water for thirty minutes then chopped coarsely
2 cups shitake mushrooms stems removed and chopped in strips
1 tablespoon dried oregano (herbs de Provence would be really good but I didn't have them)

Fresh Caught Sole
1 tablespoon ghee

2 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pistachios

a handful of olives for garnish

How to...
1.  While eggplant is being pressed, saute onions and garlic for a couple of minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil
2.  Add the mushrooms and saute for four minutes
3.  Add the sun dried tomatoes and saute until the mushrooms turn golden then add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste
4.  Add a couple of tablespoons to a pan and fry the eggplant until golden on both sides, add more olive oil if needed. 
5. Pan sear the sole in ghee on both sides over medium heat.  It will cook fast in 5-10 minutes.
6. In a food processor add the basil leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil and pistachios and process until a pesto. 
7.  To assemble line the plate with eggplant, top with sun dried tomatoes, place sole on top and garnish with pesto and olives. 


Saturday, July 28, 2012


More kernels of wisdom from Reframing Organizations.  This one is a short list of  the sources of ambiguity on page 25.
  • We are not sure what the problem is.
  • We are not sure what is really happening.
  • We are not sure what we want.
  • We do not have the resources we need.
  • We are not sure who is supposed to do what.
  • We are not sure how to get what we want.
  • We are not sure how to determine if we have succeeded.
Could change be as simple as identifying a source of ambiguity and making it clear, safe and understandable?  Creating a a safe environment is a constant theme in my work.  My colleagues ask for a safe space all the time.  We live in a culture of fear and ambiguity.  Fear can stunt progress and stifle relationships. 

A certain amount of safety creates a space where people can innovate and grow.  It seeds relationships and opens up communication.  It allows information to flow smoothly and for ideas to cross pollinate.  Simultaneously, being too safe can make people lazy and compliant.  My hypothesis is that a ripe tension between safety and healthy fear can create productive innovation and a lively, vibrant community. 

From an organizational standpoint, I see all of the above sources of ambiguity flowing around and stunting growth.  Would defining just one of these pave the way for change? 

    Using Frames to Understand Conflict

    Have you ever felt crazy at work?  Like your perception of reality is not at all like those around you?  And when you ask for feedback or clarification, you get an unreasonable response which furthers the feeling of being crazy? 

    I have recently experienced this.  Honestly, my saving grace is email and documentation of events.  No one disagrees with the documentation, but no one involved validates the conflict or even confronts the ethical questions that arise from them.  The documentation grounds me.  The responses shake me up. 

    The events at work have caused me to reflect deeply.  During the course of a few weeks in my new position, I had a flash of insight when I realized that my view of leadership is incongruous with others in higher or equal positions.  I began to see a philosophical divide but couldn't pinpoint it exactly. This triggered a memory of a book that I read during my Masters program at Seattle University.  Reframing Organizations, Artistry, Choice and Leadership by Lee G Bolman and Terrence E Deal.

     I'm rereading this book again and it has helped me better understand the events. This book divides the view of an organization into four frames or lenses in which to view its functions.  Each frame has a much different language and understanding of dynamics and events. 

    Human Resources
    Metaphor for Organization
    Factory or Machine
    Carnival, temple, theater
    Central Concepts
    Rules, roles, goals, policies, technology, environment
    Needs, skills, relationships
    Power, conflict, competition, organizational politics
    Culture, meaning, metaphor, ritual, ceremony, stories, heroes
    Image of Leadership
    Social architecture
    Basic leadership challenge
    Attune structure to task, technology, environment
    Align organizational and human needs
    Develop agenda and power base
    Create faith, beauty, meaning

    The upper leadership at my organization is very structurally and politically oriented.

    I have a human resources and symbolic preference.  I have framed my new job within this context and it has been received with a welcome and relief.  I realize now the reason my peers need this view so desperately is because it does not exist at the upper level.   This has caused a deep organizational thirst for something more.   

    During the course of the events since starting this position, I unknowingly entered the political frame when I requested money for a powerfully symbolic project.  This caused deep chaos and ambiguity for a few reasons:
    1. I was speaking a symbolic language upper leadership didn't understand.  But I was confident and sure of the power of this symbol.  This was confusing to them. 
    2. I was asking for resources in a political framework in which money is always held tightly and fought over by tribes.  Money is the currency of power in the political framework.  You do not ask for money without expecting a conflict. 
    As a result, communication broke down. I was asked to follow up in an unreasonable and time-consuming way.  Instead of complying, I responded that I could not effectively do my job under those circumstances and I walked away.  They could keep the money if they wanted to. 

    The choice to walk away was personal, not political.  Their request was unreasonable and I wanted to focus on my core duties.  But the choice cracked open the framework.  Suddenly, upper leadership's framework shifted to a Human Resources frame.  They need me to be successful for their own political currency.  Keeping money is only useful in politics to a degree.   

    We reached an tentative agreement.

    Without understanding the frameworks, the events would still confuse me.  Now I see that the conflict arose essentially from a leadership guided by different frameworks than mine.  I also see that my role in trying to seed change is in communicating and helping people discover the power of the Human Resources and Symbolic frames in an organization that misunderstands them.

    Sunday, July 22, 2012

    Culture and Values

    I've been thinking a lot about culture.  It underlies everything.  Culture is a reflection of unwritten values and perspectives.  Sometimes we profess a certain set of values but we act on others.   It often creates organizational confusion. We lack integrity.  We are not walking the talk.  Organizationally, we lose our motivation to perform.  The system can not be trusted. 

    What is going on here?  Why are humans so complex and contradictory?  And really, why do humans create cultures that do us harm?   That can truly break our heart?  It doesn't make sense. 

    One of the takeaways from a cultural competence workshop I did last week is helping me work through this. On one side I placed a brainstorm of my values.  These are the principles that are important to me and that I can get excited about.  On the other side are my needs or how I want people to view me. 

    We hope that there is always alignment between the two.  That is where the delicate balance of acting with integrity lays. 

    My Values
    My Needs (How I want people to view me)
    Be Right
    Liked or likable
    Independence / Self-Reliance
    Thoughtful  and resourceful
    Continuous learning and personal growth
    Effective and reliable
    Mutual Respect
    Be respected and appreciated
    Service to others
    Able to get things done – competent and effective
    Has integrity, is principled and ethical
    Honesty / Truth
    Trustworthy and direct

    But sometimes we struggle with integrity in this model.  For example, if I don't feel appreciated by someone it is difficult for me to act in service to that person.  Or if I don't feel like I'm right it makes it difficult for me to feel competent. 

    What happens to me personally when there is not alignment?
    1. I get angry.  Anger is my personal trigger.  It alerts me to something being wrong.  Others may feel fear, guilt, sadness or shame.
    2. Then confused and frustrated.
    3. I feel misunderstood and unappreciated.  This makes me sad. 
    4. I self-reflect and try to make meaning and learn from the situation.
    5. I act if necessary. 

    And then it happens again. 

    At an organizational level the outcome is much more complex, usually results in exclusion and disillusionment of key constituents and eventually leads to dysfunction if left unchecked.  It will only correct itself if there is an institutional and cultural commitment to continuously learning through feedback and reflection. 

    Self- assessment is key. 

    Leadership needs to ask itself if it is really is aligning its actions to its mission and values. If it isn't it needs to rethink itself, its professed values, its actions and how it wants to be perceived both internally and externally.  Without wholeheartedly taking this step everyday, we will continue to create cultures that harm our own intentions and relationships.    

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Ginger Apricot Fruit and Spinach Salad

    I don't like spinach or greens.  It is certainly not the first thing I reach for when preparing a meal.  But in an effort to be more healthy, I've been exploring ways to incorporate them into my diet.  Spinach with garlic in scrambled eggs is pretty good in the morning.  But I've discovered that sauteed kale is even better. This experiment was a result have having a bunch of mature spinach in the refrigerator and guests coming over for dinner.  I wanted to make the salad shine and it all came down to the dressing. It turned out zesty, surprising and yummy. 

    What you need...

    For the dressing
    1 thumb size ginger chopped finely
    2 cloves garlic smashed and chopped
    1 tablespoon clarified butter
    3 apricots chopped - (I didn't skin them but you could if you don't like the texture)
    1 nectarine chopped - (I didn't skin them but you could if you don't like the texture)
    6-7 pods of cardamon
    2 tablespoon coconut oil

    For the salad
    1 bunch of mature spinach washed, cleaned and spun
    1 nectarine or peach thinly sliced
    1 cup of cherry tomato cut in half
    1/2 avocado diced
    1/4 cup almond splinters
    1-2 cup crab meat (optional) - our guests graciously brought up some to add.

    To do...
    For the dressing
    1. Saute ginger, garlic and butter a couple of minutes on medium heat
    2. Add the apricots and nectarine and let the juices simmer for 2-3 minutes
    3. Open the cardamon pods and grind the spice to add flavor and pow!
    4.  Add the coconut oil
    5.  Let everything simmer for 5 minutes at least
    6.  While you assemble the salad let this cool. 

    For the salad
    Add all the ingredients together and then toss with ALL of the dressing.  The avocado may get mushy and add to the dressing.  This is okay.   It will make a thick coat.  This highlights the texture of the spinach and compliments the sweetness of the peach.  Yummy. 

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Creamy Butternut Soup

    Today, I'm feeling some withdrawals from carbs.  Just not feeling right and having flashes of intense cravings.  And a little less energy at the gym.  I'm not sure what to blame the carbs or hormones right now but it is part of the process of learning about my body. 

    This soup was a lifesaver.  It was easy and delectable.  Almost sinfully delicious and completely Whole30 approved. 

    What you need...
    5-6 garlic cloves smashed and chopped
    1 tablespoon clarified butter
    medium sized butternut, skinned, seeded and chopped
    1 can coconut milk
    2 tablespoon cashew butter
    1/2 cup cilantro chopped for garnish

    To do...
    1.  Saute the garlic in butter for a couple minutes
    2.  Add the butternut squash and coconut milk.
    3.  Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes until the squash is soft.
    4.  Add the cashew butter and stir it in.
    5.  With a handheld blender blend the soup until creamy.
    6.  Serve with cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

    Just an aside, I love coconut and I love this plan because I can eat it everyday.  It is the secret to the pow behind this soup.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Baby Shrimp, Avocado, Egg and leftover salad

    This one was easy and easy to modify and improve.  In a desperate need to pack lunch today I improvised with what was in the fridge and at lunch time was pleasantly surprised at the flavor sensations of this simple salad.

    I think I'll make a variation tomorrow. 

    What you need...
    one hand full of steam green beans (leftover from the night before).
    a hard boiled egg
    1/2 avocado
    1/2 cup baby shrimp
    1/2 cup olives (your favorite)
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

    To Do...
    When packing for lunch don't put the egg in the salad before hand.  Just place in the bowl with fixings.  The same is  true for the avocado.  You can disassemble these when you eat the salad. 

    Place the rest of ingredients in the bowl together, top with olive oil and salt and pepper. 

    Enjoy all the ingredients together at lunch, peel the egg and scoop the avocado into the salad.  Mix and sample as you like .   

    Pan Seared Scallops with Coconut Cauliflower Puree and Dill Veggies

    This is my seventh day on the Whole 30 plan.  Today I had my first craving for carbs and an almost desperate flash to get crackers.  The need came and went quickly.  I observed it with interest wondering what the trigger was.  Likely, it was the workshop I attended.  At lunchtime the smell of their lunch wafted throughout the room.  And while I was driving home, it triggered. 

    I don't cook scallops.  Ever.  This was my first time.  I always think of them as fancy and upper class.  They seemed unreachable.  But this plan is stretching my culinary skills so why not?  This was delicious.  The sweetness of the scallops, the spicey fresh dill and the coconut creamy puree were heavenly. 

    All the food that I have had on this plan so far is delicious.  It definitely doesn't feel like a diet. 

    What you need...

    2-3 cloves garlic smashed and chopped
    1 tablespoon coconut oil
    small head of garlic cut into to smaller pieces
    1/2 can of coconut milk

    10-11 Scallops
    1 tablespoon clarified butter

    4 carrots cut into chips
    1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
    3-4 tablespoons fresh dill chopped

    Salt and pepper to taste.

    1 avocado
    1 cup sweet olives (or your favorite)

    To do...
    1.  In a pot saute the garlic in the coconut oil for a minute.
    2. Add the cauliflower and let it cook until the garlic is golden but not burnt
    3.  Add the coconut milk, cover and let simmer until the cauliflower is soft.
    4.  While this simmers steam the carrots with a tablespoon of dill in a steamer for 15 minutes.
    5.  While the carrots are cooking, melt the clarified butter in the pan at medium heat.
    6.  Add the scallops and pan sear them until one side is golden, then the other (10 minutes max).
    7.  Remove them from the heat. 
    8.  When the cauliflower is soft, puree them in the pot with a hand blender. 
    9.  Assemble the plate, start with a bed of carrots, top with the puree, place the scallops on top, sprinkle with tomatoes and then dill. 
    10.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
    11.  To add more fat sprinkle with avocado and olives to taste. 

    Definitely worth doing again and my husband said it was something to serve to guests for sure!

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Chicken and Pineapple

    So today I broke a 19 year love affair with aquatarian/vegetarian life to experiment with the Whole30 wholly.  Such a meaty diet deserves some compromise to see if it works.  I have been eating seafood everyday for four days and I just get tired of it.  So today, it was a break with history to rediscover chicken.  I confess my gut needed to adjust a bit to it but my taste buds enjoyed it. 

    Here is how it went...

    1 lb thin sliced chicken breast (my husband insisted that breast is better than thigh)
    a spoonful of clarified butter
    3-4 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped
    1/3 onion chopped
    1/2 small maui pineapple chopped
    3/4 red pepper
    1/4 cup basil coursely chopped
    1/4 cup slivered almonds

    To do...
    1. Pan sear the chicken at medium heat in the clarified butter.  Turn over when it is a gold brown.  Brown evenly on both sides.  Remove from pan. 
    2.  Add garlic and onion to remaining fat and let it cook for half a minute.
    3.  Add pineapple and red pepper.  Let it heat up and reduce, the flavors really combine.  About 10 minutes for real flavor, this gets better the longer you let it sit.
    4.  Add the basil and cook another couple of minutes.
    5.  Top the chicken with the pineapple and sprinkle with slivered almonds. 

    I served this with steam beans topped with clarified butter and let the almonds flavor them as well.  Satisfying. 

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Crab, Spinach and Coconut Salad

    Crab, Spinach and Coconut Salad

    I'm learning that when ordering at a restaurant the Nicoise salad is a good choice without the potatoes.  I had one last night at the 35th Street bistro with cold smoked salmon but the warm green pesto topped salmon Nicoise at the Nordstrom cafe was even better today at lunch. I love olives. 

    So, inspired by the Nicoise but working with what was in my refrigerator.  I made this salad for dinner. 

    To start combine the following in a bowl:
    1. A couple handfuls of baby spinach, washed and spun dry
    2. 1 nectarine chopped
    3. 1/2 a mango chopped
    4. 1/2 cup basil chopped
    5. 1/2 lb crab meat precooked and sweet
    6. 1 bell pepper chopped
    7. 1/2 cup sweet green olive.  (I love these olives, they are bright green and sweet and I need to find out their name)
    8. 2 hard boiled eggs sliced
    9. 1/3 cup coconut flakes
    To make the dressing:
    1. Combine 2 tablespoons coconut vinegar with a 1/4 cup avocado oil. 
    2. Toss completely so all leaves are slathered. 

    I enjoyed the sweetness of the fruit and crab and if the spinach is completely saturated with the dressing it cuts the bitterness of the spinach.  Very satisfying.

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Banana Ice Cream

    This one is not unique, it is a recipe I ran into on pinterest:

    This is banana only ice cream. The kids and I love it.  We have had banana ice cream every morning since its discovery. 

    Simple to do...

    Freeze sliced bananas in a plastic dish overnight.  In the morning, blend them in blender until creamy.  The creamy part takes awhile but it is worth it.  You will need to stop the blender a few times to push the banana to the blade.  I also stage dropping the slices in, the banana bounces around like rocks in the blender.


    I top a dish with raw cashews and/or pistachios for an after workout treat.   

    For the kids:
    We create parfaits with banana ice cream, coconut yogurt, granola and berries.  They love how decadent it feels but it is so healthy and even dairy free!

    Shrimp Scramble

    Yesterday I was loving the combination of lime, cumin, coriander and cilantro.  With little left in the fridge but eggs and shrimp and went all out and created a scramble for dinner.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and no one complained about eggs for dinner!

    Whole 30 Shrimp Scramble

    3-4 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 red bell pepper chopped
    1 stalk brocolette chopped
    2 tablespoons cumin and coriander each
    1/2 pound of fresh, local shrimp
    juice of 1 lime
    5 eggs
    1/2 cup cilantro
    Salt and pepper to taste

    How to...

    1. Saute garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes over medium heat
    2.  Add bell pepper and brocolette then the cumin and coriander and cook for 3-5 minutes
    3.  Add the shrimp and saute, add the lime juice
    4.  When the shrimp begins to turn white and pink, add the eggs.  I crack them right in the pan and scramble them in the center then slowly mix in the rest of the food as the eggs firm and turn yellow.
    5.  When the eggs are completely cooked (no slime) turn the heat off and add the cilantro, salt and pepper. 

    Sweet and tangy!

    Whole 30 Sweet Potato Hummus

    Sweet Potatos will likely be the theme for a while.  They are nutritious, dense enough to satisfy me and they are amazing in just about anything.  I love hummus but on the Whole 30 diet all legumes are off limits.  So I compromised and came up with this sweet dip for carrots and sugar snap peas. 

    Whole 30 Sweet Potato Hummus

    1 head of garlic, peeled, smashed and coarsly smashed
    1 quarter red onion chopped coursely
    1 tablespoon of olive oil
    1 sweet potato peeled and thinly sliced this coursely chopped (thinner and smaller the quicker they cook)
    2 tablespoons cumin and coriander each
    2 small zuchini (from the garden) cubed
    juice of half a lime
    1/2 cup raw cashews
    3 Tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup cilantro chopped
    Salt and pepper to taste

    How to...
    1. Sautee garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat for a couple minutes.
    2.  Add sweet potatos then the cumin and coriander.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.
    3.  Add zuchini and saute with lime juice.
    4.  Cook until the sweet potatos are soft no longer than 10 minutes.
    5.  Add mixture to a food processor and blend until combined.
    6. Add cashews, olive oil and cilatro and blend some more.
    7.  Add salt and peper to taste. 


    Whole 30 Sweet Potato Salad

    My first day on the Whole 30 diet forced me to be creative with food in the kitchen. I hadn't prepared for the restrictions when I went shopping that day. In fact, making the decision to go on this diet really snuck up on me and suddenly I decided - Today is the day! July 11th!

    My motivation? I want my energy back. I want to sleep well. I want to be able to something other than just work. Here's to hoping this diet works.

    whole 30 Sweet potato salad

    1 Sweet potato, peels removed and chopped into cubes
    3 spears brocolette chopped into rough cubes
    1 Heaping tablespoon of coconut oil
    1 orange, cut into cubes
    1/2 cup raw cashews or other nuts (the sweetest of cashews is stunning in this but almonds could be good too)
    1 avocado cubed

    How to...
    1. Steam the sweet potato amd brocolette in steamer for about 20 minutes.
    2. Remove from steamer while still hot and add coconut oil. Let it melt and cover them.
    3. Add orange and nuts. Mix gently.
    4. Top with avacado as a green garnish. Don't mix it unless you want a creaming avacado dressing.

    This was delicious and I ate it all in a day. I'll make it again today.