Clear Skies, Clear Minds, and Cabbage

Alex and I spent the weekend at Mount Madonna Center in Watsonville, just north of Santa Cruz. The view from the top of the mountain was gorgeous, particularly because the fierce winds of the week had blown out all the smog and left the skies clear. I don’t know if the wind continued to blow elsewhere over the weekend, but it was still and silent where we were – very calming.

The center is half visiting programs (yoga workshops, silent meditation groups, etc) and half residents who live there, take care of the property, and run the programs. We spoke with one of the founders, and he and 40 people went up there in the 70s with $1,000 each and started building. If it sounds like a bit of a hippie commune, it is – but the space is welcoming to all, hippies and non hippies alike.

Delicious meals were taken together in a common area and were based on the principles of Ayurveda. The catch was that there were only two meals served per day, with a light snack of crackers, peanut butter, jam and fruit served midday. By Sunday afternoon, none of us wanted to even look at another orange or banana.

Sunday afternoon we visited Live Earth Farm, a sustainable organic farm in Watsonville run by friends of Alex’s parents. Hearing their story about how they built the farm was inspirational and seeing how much they love and care for the land convinced Alex and I to sign up for their CSA that starts in April. I’ve always wanted to join a CSA so we’ll see how it turns out!

We got home late on Sunday night after grabbing burritos (we were ready for some hearty food) and didn’t have time to go grocery shopping. So the following recipe is what happens when you make do with what you’ve got!

Dijon Cabbage and Quinoa
Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds


  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions
  2. Heat sauté pan over medium high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat.
  3. Add onions and a pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add cabbage and cook for 5 minutes, or until wilted.
  5. Add vinegar, honey, and Dijon and stir to coat. Allow to cook for 5 – 10 minutes.
  6. Steam broccoli until bright green and tender, but crisp.
  7. When broccoli is done, add to cabbage mixture and heat through.
  8. Top quinoa with cabbage and broccoli, sprinkle with sesame seeds and a few grinds of black pepper.

The flavors are all unusual and quite distinct, but they work well together. The honey, Dijon and vinegar combine to create a vinaigrette of sorts, but cooking into the food mellows out the flavors a bit. Quinoa is a great way to add protein to a dish if you come home late on a weekend and you have no beans cooked/defrosted and no cans of beans to pop open.

I daresay this concoction is something I’d make again – which might have to happen as I still haven’t had time to go grocery shopping!

Look for a post tomorrow on how I’ve been making a very rookie vegetarian mistake and how I plan to fix it!


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