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The Art of Sacrifice, A Time for Renewal


Chef Amber Michelle

Asparagus Soup With Chopped chicken and Walnut Oil

The Art of Sacrifice

A Time for Renewal

As the end of Lent approaches this weekend with Palm Sunday, a sense of renewal springs forth in our hearts and minds. After six weeks of discipline, any six weeks, there are bound to be changes. Reflecting personally, I learned the difference between pride and dignity. I gave up one and retained the other. I surrendered, became vulnerable, and found myself more approachable, more open to suggestion and I definitely received more assistance, direction, and kindness by doing so.

What did you sacrifice? What did you learn? Do you have a sense of renewal? This is the time for reflection and adopting or discarding the lessons of whatever sacrifices you may have made. One reader ate a completely vegetarian diet for Lent. She now knows she's a true carnivore, but she's glad to have had the experience and has decided that while she doesn't want to be a vegetarian, she will reduce her portion sizes, eat more organic vegetables and enjoy a very particular "lightness of being."

Making ourselves new again is something we can do throughout the year. A friend wrote me that he wants to continue six week cycles throughout the year, of giving up something, and replacing it with something else he wants to do or learn. He put a stationary bike in front of his TV. He wants to train for a Spartan race, so every six weeks, his self-prescribed Lenten season, he will engage in a new activity or practice to help him achieve his goal. I think these examples are the true spirit of Lent.

For this chef, of course, it's all about the food. I'm changing some of my recipes. Combining concepts, substituting acids and oils, using ingredients in different, unorthodox ways, and employing methods like simple steaming to taste the new flavors of spring, instead of going for the deep caramelized, umami sensation.

My Vitamix as my muse, I pop asparagus pieces, stems and all, into the chamber, and cold stock to fire up a soup for dinner, with only a little salt, it takes eight minutes. Add a chopped garnish of whatever cold leftovers there are, today it's leftover grilled chicken. A drizzle of nut oil is fantastic. It's the first time I've made soup entirely in a blender. No longer too proud to fail, I feel dignified in my newly pursued education. I've realized that we can all rely so heavily on past accomplishments that we may become too stuck in our pride to venture forward into personally uncharted territory.

As for the next six weeks, well...I think I'll just swim in this space of enlightenment for a while, watch the snow melt and ease myself into renewal. Maybe I'll even steam some fish.

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