You thought I forgot about you. Not so at all. I also did not forget about my promise last Friday.
However, yesterday I was having one of the those great days where all your effort is validated. I was too busy celebrating with baked goods and wine to put my gratitude into words.
So today, you get two stories of gratitude and a soup recipe. What a deal.
28. A really great day
Yesterday was my first day of volunteering. It has been a long slog to get a volunteer position anywhere and we moved our Moroccan holiday back so I could attend the interview for this position. The slightly embarrassing part, for me, about this volunteer interview is that I applied for the position of the woman who interviewed me. We also did our PhDs at the same university at the same time. Regardless, I have the volunteer position and yesterday I walked to ‘work.’ It was a great fall morning. The morning rain shower was over and it wasn’t too cold. In a fit of optimism, to go along with my excitement about this first day, I packed a bag to hit the gym on the way home.
The day went well. It is a very self-directed position, but I got to show off my people skills, handled some Tudor artefacts, and proposed a new project. Perhaps a bit overkill on the first day, but my boss sent me a very excited email at the end of the day, so I think I am on the right track. It felt good to be back in this particular field and it validated my choice to step away from traditional Academia.
On the way home, I talked myself into actually going to the gym for my run. Which at first I was regretting because running on a treadmill SUCKS HARDCORE after running on the street, but I sweat more than I have in a long time, so I figure that is a bonus. When I got home and immediately ate a brownie and the last slice of pumpkin cheesecake, I felt completely justified in my snack choices.
When the days are getting shorter and you feel your mood dimming with the sunlight, a day like yesterday is needed to remind you that it is just the season that is going dark, not your life choices. It gives you something to talk about when the day goes dark at 3 instead of desperately looking for a re-run you can stomach watching, yet again.
Yesterday I was thankful for this great day and the validation it brought to a very hard decision.
27. Homemade soup
Another great part of the day was making dinner. There are some days when I can’t be bothered making dinner. It doesn’t usually come from exhaustion, but lack of inspiration.
One of the contributors to our travel exhaustion at the end of Morocco was linked to food. We were exhausted with the lack of choices. For almost as long as we have wanted to go to Morocco, we have wanted to own a tagine. A conical baking dish and the meal prepared within. We kept ignoring the ones that would pop up at TK or at John Lewis. We were determined to get an authentic one from Morocco. After about Day 7, we were over it. If I never see another tagine in my life, it will be too soon. Don’t get me wrong, we had some wonderfully flavourful tangines in our 18 day adventure, but we also had a lot of not-so wonderful concoctions.
On our first day home we made Potato Leek Soup. It is an incredibly simple recipe. But for some reason it is also a magical one. I am not alone in this thought. Julie Powell, author of Julie & Julia, cited Julia Child’s version as the spark for the year-long cooking project which ‘saved’ her life. In my kitchen it served as a bit of a saviour as well. But for our stomachs. I was still throwing up from my last round of Moroccan Malaise and this stayed down nicely.
Creating this very simple meal revealed to me perhaps why I was so reluctant to eat in Morocco near the end. I had no hand in the creation of the food. In this last year (and a bit) as a housewife I have found much joy and inspiration in cooking. I complain and moan and pout, but overall I find it very calming to go through the motions of creating meal from scratch and watch it come together just as it should. When my timing and rhythm is right, the plate-ing of a dish is the equivalent of a circus TA-DA.
Today, I am thankful for home-made soup.
‘SPICY’ RED LENTIL SOUP
2 Tbl olive oil
1.5 tsp cumin
.5 tsp coriander
.25 tsp cinnamon & red pepper flakes
1 medium red pepper (de-seeded and diced)
2 medium carrots (peeled and chopped)
850 ml veggie stock
225g split red lentils
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon & pepper flakes for about 30 seconds. Mix with the oil. Add the pepper and carrots and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).
Add the stock and lentils and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the lentils are tender (about 20 minutes).
Blend in whatever way works best for you. I do batches in the blender with the steam vent open. Others use a food processor.
Serve with either a dollop of plain yogurt or onion bagel & Gruyere croutons.
* these are the measurements from the original Weight Watchers recipe. I don't measure anymore and just sprinkle spices and salt flakes until it looks and smells right. The spices are usually are a bit more equal in my version.