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Monday, August 29, 2016

Craving Fall Buddha Bowls | A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice

Craving Fall Buddha Bowls
Today I'm hosting a book tour stop for A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: a Memoir in Four Meditations by Christine Hale. This book is a little different than my usual read, and left me a bit puzzled when it came to writing my review. So, while the review that follows may seem a bit abbreviated, that is exactly the way that I wanted to present it. I hope you'll give it a chance.

Memoir for poetry fans. At first a bit of a turn-off, but the further I got, the more I became accustomed to her writing style.

Read like angst poetry or journal entries. A way to purge and let go of guilt, shame, self-doubt, neediness, hurt, codependence, and shortfalls.

Focuses mostly on the negativity that has invaded so much of her being. I sense that we're not being let in to happier aspects of her life.
Craving Fall Buddha Bowls
Relationship with her parents, her sisters, her partners, her children, and herself. She isn't afraid to put it all out there - abuse, divorce, masturbation, depression, sex, drugs, betrayal.

Glimpses of the Buddhism woven in that I'd hoped would be more prevalent, but they fit with the writing style. Little passages that hint at her practice is helping her let go and be mindful.

In the midst of a solemn ritual, they misbehave in tandem. In tandem with them, I catch on for half a second to what she's directed me to see: concentration inside chaos.

Tattoos as connection. Meaning.

I find myself looking for connections when reading anything, even (or especially) memoirs. While this wasn't easy to connect with as a whole there were moments - Buddhism, hawks (my spirit animal), motherhood, tattoos.

A journey of self-realization and self-acceptance.

Food wasn't the focus, but there were connections. Childhood apple orchards, honey bees, raspberries, watermelon "belly". Rice, green tea, cilantro, curry in Tibet (though the passage itself wasn't very appetizing).
Craving Fall Buddha Bowls
What I thought would best represent the book came from early mentions of simple meals the author would eat while on her retreats. Never really described those meals beyond simple. I envisioned nourishing Buddha Bowls, which are bowls packed with a variety of raw and roasted veggies, fruit, whole grains, nuts or seeds, and often a dressing.

I pulled a few of the ingredients from mentions in the book - a sunflower (seeds), apple trees, and honey. The other ingredients I chose to complement them. I'm craving fall right now, and these bowls are a culimination of my feelings during and after reading this memoir.

book cover

A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice

author: Christine Hale
publisher: Apprentice House (July 1, 2016)
genre: New Age & Spirituality / Meditation / Memoir
soft cover:274 pages

"foodie" read: no

opening sentence: The couch, upholstered in textued velour, muted greens and gold, clashes with the view through the storefront window behind us: the buckling asphalt parking lot of a seedy Tampa strip mall and the words PIERCINGS * TATTOOS, blazoned on the glass in biker orange and gunbarrel-gray.

teaser: Christine Hale grew up amid abuse, depression, dysfunction, alienation and isolation—her mother’s, but also, because her view was the lens that controlled the family—her own, her father’s and her two sisters’. She became a writer, a prodigal daughter, a single parent, a Buddhist disciple, and, late in midlife, a newlywed. In this non-linear memoir, she meditates upon the broken path she’s traveled: two divorces, an abandoned career, too much solitude, an unconventional and transformative relationship with a female spiritual teacher, and two children lost to young adulthood but recovered, in part, through an odd ritual of repeated tattooing.

about the author: Christine Hale’s prose has appeared in Hippocampus, Arts & Letters, Prime Number, Shadowgraph, and The Sun, among other literary journals. Her debut novel Basil’s Dream (Livingston Press 2009) received honorable mention in the 2010 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Hale has been a finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Presently, she teaches in the Antioch University-Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
Chistine Hale headshot

connect with the author: website

recipe inspired by the book: Craving Fall Buddha Bowls


yield: serves 4print recipe
Craving Fall Buddha Bowls

Craving Fall Buddha Bowls with Honey-Tahini Dressing

prep time: 10 MINScook time: 30 MINStotal time: 40 mins
Hearty, healthy and packed with flavors and textures; red quinoa, roasted sweet potato and spiced chickpeas, sweet apples, sunflower seeds and a honey-tahini dressing.


  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 small (6-8 ounces each) sweet potatoes
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground turmeric
  • pinch ground cayenne
Everything else for the bowl:
  • 2 apples (your favorite)
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup lightly salted roasted sunflower seeds
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
For the dressing:
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • small splash of white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the meantime, rinse the quinoa under cold water, then add to a small pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat to a slow, steady simmer until cooked through, ~15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork; set aside.
  3. Rinse and scrub the sweet potatoes, then cut off the tip and tail of each. Slice in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch thick half-moons. Put in a large bowl and toss with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread out on half of the baking sheet. Save bowl for chickpeas.
  4. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Pick off as many of the loose skins as you care to and discard them. Place into the reserved bowl and toss with remaining olive oil and spices, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread out on the other half of the baking sheet.
  5. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast for 30-35 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender and golden and the chickpeas are golden and a little crunchy, stirring and tossing each about halfway through. Remove sheet from oven.
  6. Cut the apples into large chunks and toss them with a little freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  7. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing, adding sweetener to taste (use maple syrup instead of honey if you need this to be vegan).
  8. Divide the quinoa, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and apples evenly between two large bowls; add sunflower seeds. Drizzle with as much dressing as you like and enjoy.
  1. This make a little more dressing than you need. Store extra in the fridge and drizzle over any fruit or winter squash. Or you can easily cut the dressing recipe in half.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.