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meatless albondigas (i.e. vegetable soup)


Meatless Albondigas

It’s nothing against the meatballs, I just don’t tend to buy or cook meat. But I wanted to pursue the taste, sort of, of albondigas.

Another note – I didn’t put amounts as it depends on how much you’d like to make. I used 1 onion, carrot, celery, garlic clove, tomato, half a pepper, quarter cabbage, and one packet of tomato sauce with a half cup of rice. 

This is what I wound up creating: 


  • oil
  • white or brown onion
  • carrot
  • celery
  • garlic
  • oregano (Mexican, if you’ve got it)
  • salt
  • tomato
  • pepper
  • cabbage
  • green pepper
  • rice
  • tomato sauce


  1. Slice or chop all vegetable ingredients to the size you’d like. 
  2. Sauté onions in the oil until slightly browned. Add carrots, celery, garlic. Make sure it doesn’t burn. If you need to, add a bit of water. 
  3. Add salt, pepper, oregano
  4. Add tomato, pepper, cabbage
  5. Add water to almost cover veggies. 
  6. Add tomato sauce
  7. Add rice
  8. Bring to a boil, then simmer until rice is cooked (about 20 minutes). 
  9. Serve with a slice of lime. 

*If you like spicy, add a jalapeño or other chili when you are sautéing the vegetables. 

induced meandering


It’s one of my favorite phrases, related to rainwater harvesting – induced meandering.

The premise is, whenever you can get rainwater runoff to slow down, to take a more circuitous route, to wind its way down a hill rather than rush full speed toward the gutter, storm drain, or gully below you increase the likelihood for ‘induced meandering’ – and the likelihood that this runoff will actually be a resource rather than a nuisance. 

If runoff can slow down it has the chance of sinking in as it makes its way down a slope. As it sinks in, it provides irrigation to the plants on its way. This not only waters those particular plants, but, over time and given enough precipitation, has the possibility to refill the aquifers in the ground below to contribute to the overall health of the larger ecosystem. 

Take, for example, the geraniums on the path in the image with this post. Granted, geraniums are fairly drought tolerant and hardy plants. That said, these geraniums never get watered, unless it is by the rain. Since we typically have a dry period between about April and November, that means that these geraniums last with basically no irrigation for about 7 months. That’s crazy, right? Well, yes – except for the fact that when it does rain, they are fed by the stream that flows, winds, meanders past them. This runoff from the road can be fairly strong at times. But as it encounters the path it is slowed down by both the organic matter and loose granite along the path.

At a certain point the stream encounters a sort of ‘speed bump’ and makes its way into the garden, continuing to wind its way past an avocado tree, a plum, on toward an almond and from that down to an apple. Typically this is as far as it gets, but were the rain and the flow to be slightly stronger it would continue on its way to the orange, down past the artichoke, and on toward the guava. 

The premise behind induced meandering is not just to slow the water down, to give it time to sink in, but also to ensure that, when possible, the rainwater never leaves but is all used, absorbed, and given the chance to sink in, rather than run off. 

So, how does one help to induce induced meandering? Easy. 

  • Observation – it is important to first watch how the water flows in a given area, or over your property. Where does it come from? Where does it go? Where does it run ‘fast’ and where does it slow down? Observe the path and pattern of the water. 
  • Action – once you have observed the patterns of the water it is time to experiment. How might the water be slowed in the fast areas? Typically this is done by either spreading it out, or by adding curves to its path. Perhaps it is a dirt road that gets rutted from the rain – add a rock or other ‘block’ near the top of the rut and water will spread out rather than make a deeper rut. Perhaps it is a downhill dirt path that, with each rain, gets cut deeper – add ‘speed bumps’ in the form of rocks or dirt to help slow the water down, to encourage it to spread out as it travels. 

Implemented thoughtfully, this induced meandering can provide irrigation to soil, plants and trees long after the rains have passed. The benefits are both immediate and long term. The more induced meandering, the more the overall health of the entire area, not just a particular plant or a particular tree. 

Induced meandering is not just limited to the garden, of course. 

Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the season of Lent, the 40 days (cuaresma in Spanish) leading up to Easter. Lent is often thought about as a time to ‘give up’ something – chocolate or sugar or alcohol, candy or sweets. But Lent is not just about sacrificing for sacrifices’ sake. The emptying of Lent is to create space for that which is to come, namely Easter. Life. Resurrection. 

More than ‘giving up,’ Lent allows time for examination – reflection and preparation. 

Induced meandering, if you will. 

A time when we find ways to slow down, to meander rather than to rush, to allow that which is life to sink in a bit, to find ways to go deeper and not always stay on the surface. A time to observe, to pay attention, and then to act – and in so doing providing the space to move from ‘rush’ to ‘replenish.’ 

advent: waiting


waiting                                                                                   © erin dunigan 2009


“Perfect fullness is always to come, and we do not need to demand it now. This keeps the field of life wide open and especially open to grace and to a future created by God rather than ourselves. This is exactly what it means to be ‘awake’ as the Gospel urges us.”

-Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas, Day 1

who is my… leper?


st. francis                                                                                    © erin dunigan 2011

For quite a while now I’ve been captivated by the life of Francis of Assisi, primarily as I have learned of it through the teachings of Franciscan (and Catholic priest) Richard Rohr. Francis is perhaps most known for his love of animals (he is said to have preached to birds) and of the created world (he acknowledged brother sun and sister moon) or even his conversion-related streak through town (really!). 

But what has captivated me even more than those aspects of his life, which I deeply admire, is his sense that God was calling him to ‘rebuild my church, for it is in ruins.’

Francis initially heard this as a literal calling – to rebuild the crumbling San Damiano church in which he was praying when he received the vision, and he did work to physically rebuild that church building and transform it from the ruins which it had become. But eventually Francis realized that this call from God was something larger still – to rebuild the Church (in the big, broad, wide sense) which had fallen into ruins in a spiritual sense. 

It is also said of Francis that, rather than take on the institutional church structures of the day, which perhaps may have embroiled him within the conflict that would come of that ‘fight’ he simply opted to model a different way of being in the world, of relating to Christ, and of relating to those around him. Instead of fighting against what wasn’t working, he stepped to the side and lived the life he was called to live – while still remaining within the bounds of the church, but finding a new and fresh way of incarnating that reality. He lived what he was preaching – giving rise to the quote most often attributed to him, “To preach the gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.” 

A central component of this dedication to living differently, to preaching the gospel at all times through the actual living of his life, was to embrace all of God’s creation – bird, sun, moon and stars, but also to embrace of the outcast, the marginalized, the forgotten and the ostracized. Nothing, and no one, was outside of God’s love and God’s care. 

“One day, Francis met a leper on the road. Something impelled him to dismount his horse and not only to place coins in the leper’s hand, but to embrace the leper. In so doing, he was filled with indescribable sweetness.

When he withdrew and turned to wave, he saw no one on the road. In that instant he knew he had embraced Jesus Christ. He knew then what he was to do with his life: to embrace Jesus in the poor and rejected, in those who previously had repulsed him.”

from St. Francis of Assisi: The Practical Mystic By Murray Bodo, OFM

This vision was apparently compelling to others – and Francis not only attracted a following, but was able to convince the Pope at the time (Pope Innocent III) to authorize this ‘Order of Friars Minor’ as they had come to be called. 

Rebuild my church, for it is in ruins. 

What might that look like, today? 

I can’t help but wonder if it might not look something like the life of Francis of Assisi…