Admittedly it’s been a while since I was a university student, but I seem to remember the campus as being a place where opening and expanding one’s mind and thoughts were strongly encouraged. Imagine my surprise when I read about student leaders at the University of Ottawa cancelling a free yoga class, open to persons with and without physical disabilities, on the grounds of “cultural appropriation.” Attempts by the teacher to keep the class open by renaming it “mindful stretching” were thwarted, due to Western oppression and colonialism and the resulting cultural genocide.
As a devoted yoga practitioner for nearly nine years, I have one thing to say about that: KISS MY ASANA.
I am a white woman, and so I generally shy away from using words like “cultural appropriation.” However, I think we can safely say that the Western adoption of yogic principles such as ahimsa (non-harming to other beings), satya (truthfulness), saucha (cleanliness), and samtosa (contentment) are not the same as playing Cowboys and Indians. Yogic breathing to encourage focus and serenity is not the same as dressing up in blackface. Balancing in a headstand is not the same thing as donning a black wig and a kimono and going as a geisha to a Halloween party.
There is a big difference between cultural appropriation and respectfully adopting elements of a culture that is not necessarily ours by birth.
I am Scottish-Norwegian by heritage; without adoption of other cultures, I should be at all times wearing a tartan or bunad, eating haggis and lutefisk, and playing on the bagpipes. My neighbours should be thrilled that other cultures have been introduced to me and I’m not currently playing the bagpipes or cooking lye-soaked fish.
We live in a big, beautiful, multicultural country. At my children’s school, they learn about Eid, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Pow-Wows, Chinese New Year, Moon Festivals, and Diwali, as well as the typical Christian holidays. The introduction to different cultures, traditions, and celebrations has made their lives richer. When my son wishes his friend a Happy Diwali, he is not appropriating Hindu culture; he is honoring his friend in a respectful way.
Sri K Pattabhi Jois, who is credited with popularizing the Ashtanga method of yoga, was thrilled about the number of people he reached through the practice. Ashtanga was largely unknown in the West in the 1970s, and its growth to being one of the most popular yoga traditions by the year 2000 was an incredible thing for him. To Pattabhi Jois, the more people practicing yoga, the better the world would be.
Practicing yoga has made me a better person. At the heart of yoga is the desire to do better, to be better, to live better. Yoga is more than putting your legs behind your head or reaching for your ankles while doing a backbend; true yoga is taking the contentment that is in your heart and spreading it to those around you. True yoga is putting kindness and compassion into the world and making it a little bit better. A yogi leaves a place a little bit better than when they found it. It is disappointing that the University of Ottawa cannot see that.
When my husband and I were still in the "courting" stage of our relationship, he took me to his hometown to meet his parents. His mother had made a glorious Caesar salad, complete with homemade croutons. Since it was our first meeting, I very politely ate a normal amount of salad, and I did not sneak back in the kitchen later to surreptitiously snack on handfuls of those homemade croutons, the way I would after we were engaged and they were stuck with me. I can think of few things more addictive than those savoury croutons, and now my mother-in-law just makes extra when we visit, in preparation for my gluttony.
Ah, but this post is supposed to be about soup. I love a warming, savory soup in the cold winter months, and this Portobello mushroom soup really hits the spot. You don't NEED to make your own croutons to top this creamy vegan soup, but I highly recommend them. In fact, you might want to double the batch so you can sneak back into the kitchen later and scarf them down by the handful.
Portobello Mushroom Soup:
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add onion and garlic and saute until fragrant and soft, about ten minutes.
Add the chopped portabello mushrooms and saute until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are soft.
Stir in vegetable stock, salt, pepper, parsley, and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender - or transferring contents to a regular blender - pulse until soup is smooth.
Stir in cashew cream or heavy cream. Serve with homemade croutons, and, optionally, Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place bread cubes into a large bowl. Whisk together olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper. Drizzle over the bread cubes, and toss to coat.
Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool. Sample a few, but save some for the soup!
Want more delicious soup to go with those homemade croutons? Try my Creamy Tomato Soup, my Butternut Squash Soup, or my Spicy Black Bean Soup.
I just love the term "icebox cookies." It's so quaint, isn't it? When I think about them, I feel like I'm being transported back in time - like I'm actually baking in my kitchen wearing pumps, a frilly apron over my crinoline-lined skirt, and pearls. Oooh, this dough is too soft to use. I know! I'll put it in the icebox! Maybe one day my ship will come in and I'll be able to buy one of those new-fangled electrical refrigerator units.
Do you know what's even better than the term "icebox cookies?" Making the actual icebox cookies themselves. For someone who loves to bake and who spends a high percentage of her week in the kitchen, I actually do not like to spend a lot of time making finicky or fussy things.
That's the beauty of icebox cookies; they are very easy to make, there is no finicky rolling or shaping required, and the dough can be made in advance and either refrigerated or frozen, depending on when you want to actually bake them. These peppermint crunch icebox cookies are scrumptious and give a lot of bang for your effort-buck. They are festive enough to leave out for Santa - if they last that long!
For the cookies -
Um, honey? What's in the fridge?
What do you mean, that doesn't look appetizing?
I wanted to tell that dough, "It gets better."
And the Ugly Duckling became a swan. The end.
Want more easy, festive cookies? Try my Classic Gingerbread Men or my Vegan Gluten-Free Peppermint Almond Cookies. Just want an easy, peppermint-infused treat? Try my Quick and Easy Candy Cane Popcorn.