I’m going to break my own rule today and post a real-life photo of my child. Today, I can’t summon the self-control it would require of me NOT to show you my Darling. Here are some photos documenting bits of our perfect Valentine’s Day together. I love this child and the always interesting chaos he invariably leaves in his wake. What was I thinking giving a wine glass to an eight-year-old anyway?!
I’m so excited. According to the training schedule provided by the Running Room, my half marathon training is now underway. Someone recently asked me if knowing that made my heart sink, and I was delighted to report that the very opposite is true. I’ve come to terms over the years with knowing that bio-mechanically, I’m not really built to be a long-distance runner (can you say spacious, child-bearing hips, anyone?). In fact, at a recent physical, my doctor told me so once more, reinforcing what I’d already come to expect, given the daunting number of injuries my body succumbs to as I run and run and then run.
But thankfully I’m now older and wiser and I know a thing or two more about not pushing myself when I feel little twinges that threaten to be not so little. I’m beginning to have a sense for which twinges are potential injuries and which are just that – twinges to be run through. I’m diligently cross-training this time around and I’m fitter this time. The sun is beginning to shine around here and the blue blue sky is like a draught of water to my parched and wizened winter soul. Tis the season for running. And I’m so glad.
My running group meets on Sundays, usually at 3:00, though we switch it around for kicks sometimes. If you ever want to join us, it would make me so happy. Just let me know and I’ll get you all the deets. We’re shooting for a May 26 1/2 marathon this time and you’ll love it so much. The sunshine will make your skin prickle.
Everybody! I just attended my first cooking class! It was a Thai foods cooking class and I loved it. As I sat there watching the chef show us all sorts of cool things that were entirely new to me, though I love cooking and of course, eating (Did you know that bone-in meats are substantially more flavorful than boneless? Did you know that if your purpose is cooking and not garnishing, you should always use cilantro stems or roots, not leaves as leaves lose their flavor quickly once heated? ME NEITHER!), I thought of my dear, childhood friend Richelle, who sent me the recipe for this soup. I felt strongly in that moment that hers needed to be our next soup. So here you have it. I present to you gorgeous Number Nine:
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (a standard size tray package)
4 cups chicken stock
2 chicken breasts, cut into small dice
2 Tbsp. Gourmet Garden™ Lemon Grass herb paste (the stuff in the tube or the real thing, if you can find it)
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup half and half (10%) cream
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tsp. red curry paste
1 1/2 tsp. Sambal Oelek chili paste (or Sriracha, as an alternative but you may need less)
2-3 Tbsp. tomato paste (to taste)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups cooked rice (long grain white or brown rice or try a mix of long grain with wild rice for some added texture)
Fresh cilantro, parsley or basil leaves shredded for garnish
Cook rice and set aside (or use left-over cooked rice).
Heat large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp. oil. When hot, add mushrooms and cook until golden and tender. Remove to a plate. In same pot, add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and heat. Add onion, red pepper, and saute just until softened. Return mushrooms to pot. Add broth and chicken and heat through. Add lemon grass paste, fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce and simmer 5 minutes.
It occurs to me, looking at this photo, that I’m bored of looking at soup shots in this green pot with only appearances by my yellow pot to spice things up a bit. I’m now more thoroughly convinced than ever before that I need to add a new one to my repertoire. I’m doing this for YOU, people. Because I don’t want you to have to look at the same two pots over and over again, ad nauseum. It’s not right that you should have to. For my next blogging-slash-friendship investment, I’m going to get either purple or turquoise. What’s your vote?
But now, down to more serious business. You’ll need to add milk, turn heat to low, then cover and simmer 2 minutes.
In a small bowl, add curry paste, Sambal Oelek, tomato paste, 2 Tbsp. water and cornstarch and mix until incorporated. Stir into soup until combined and heat until soup simmers, thickens very slightly and has a velvety appearance. Add cooked rice, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste. (You can also add more curry paste, tomato paste and/or Sambal Oelek to taste at this point, as well).
Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, parsley or basil leaves and serve with additional Sambal Oelek for those who prefer a hotter soup.
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Total time: 2 hours 20 min
Yield: 6-8 servings
And just as a joyful aside, just look at the day outside today that I get to sit and feast my eyes upon. I hope yours, wherever you are, is just as beautiful.
I didn’t originally plan to include this soup in the project because though it’s delicious and my kids eat it without complaint on a very regular basis, I make it so often it doesn’t feel all that special anymore. It occurred to me, though, that it may well feel special to YOU, as perhaps you’ve never heard of it. This is my go-to meal (or one of about five, rather) for when I haven’t planned ahead for dinner and then at 4:00 pm it dawns on me that I’ve got nothing – nutritious or otherwise – planned to feed all these ravenous bellies. Just be sure to keep some tortellini and some spinach in your freezer at all times, and you’ll always be ready for when the dinner doledrums threaten to overtake.
1 Tbsp. butter
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped. (use it all – honest!)
4 cups chicken broth
6 oz. (170 g.) cheese tortellini
14 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
or 2 1/2 cups skinned, chopped fresh ripe tomatoes
10 oz. (300 g) bag of spinach, stems removed
8-10 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
parmesan cheese, grated
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute about 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook halfway (about 5 minutes if frozen, less if using fresh.) Add tomatoes and their liquid; reduce heat to simmer and cook just until pasta is tender. Stir in spinach and basil and cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serves 4.
*I should add that if there are to be any activities of the – ahem – romantic persuasion – planned for the subsequent evening, be sure to ensure that both parties partake of this pungently garlicky soup. Ahem.
I found this beauty many years ago in a Cooking Light magazine, and though I tried, I couldn’t find a link to it on their website. I think it was called something then like Instant Black Bean Soup. It’s quick and it’s fabulous. I think I may have made it a hundred times. Here it is:
2 – 15 oz cans no salt added black beans, undrained
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1 tbsp chili powder
1 – 16 oz can less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
5 tbsp low-fat sour cream
5 tbsp minced green onions
5 tbsp chopped cilantro
Place beans and liquid in a medium saucepan; partially mash beans with a potato masher. Place over high heat; stir in salsa, chili powder, and broth. Bring to a boil. Ladle soup into bowls; top with cheese, sour cream, onions and cilantro. Yield: 5 servings.
I’ve been spending more time than is usual for me at the local hot yoga studio. I crave Bikram when the weather turns in the Fall and when the blue sky morphs into an unending gray. Though I still think of myself as a runner in terms of my exercise life, in the winter I’m really becoming a Bikram sort of girl. The sensation of lying down on my mat in the still darkened room – this precious place of the no-talking rule – and of feeling my toes begin to curl in the longed-for warmth are ones that I’ve begun to crave. The older I grow, the more averse to cold I feel. When I dwell on the fact that Winter is upon us, I feel cranky, and so in general, I try to ignore Winter and seek instead to bring comfort to myself in whatever ways I can. Bikram and its accompanying warmth feature prominently here.
A good day there in the studio is when I lay down, flat on my back, for our first Savasana and I feel clear. Savasana is the Corpse Pose, which is where one lies on one’s back, heels together, toes splayed apart – deeply relaxed. The backs of one’s hands rest lightly on the mat and palms face loosely upwards. One teacher shone out insight for me when he melodically crooned that we could trust in the floor as it held us up. As he said it, I felt my shoulder blades spread wide and sink deeper down into the floor than I knew was possible before that moment. I felt relaxed on a whole other level. I felt bright and clear as though I were a color. A brightly deep turquoise, perhaps. Something with a back note of profound.
We are instructed to look at one spot on the ceiling and to be fully present – no zoning out – with our eyes open. Some days that’s harder for me than others. Some days, I find my gaze dragging away from my designated spot without fully realizing it. A fuzziness resting somewhere in my peripheral vision seeps in, threatening to obscure my focus. I’m fascinated to note that I can fight it; blinking my eyes helps me to stay clear and strong. On good days, I can’t see the fuzziness at all and I’m reminded of a clear and chilly fall day where the colors are so bold, you can see for miles and miles. The perfect clarity is the day’s defining characteristic.
Well, my littlest buddy has seen me do a lot of food blogging of late. He feels that he’d like to get in on some of this titillating action with a recipe of his own! He’s the resident expert on bananas (recently he announced triumphantly that he’d eaten SEVEN bananas on the day in question!) and more particularly on a little recipe of his own devising – Banana Pudding. He’s typed it out himself for your culinary pleasure and hopes that your kids will enjoy it as much as he does. He adds that this recipe is perfect for bananas that threaten to be overripe. He’s so cute it sometimes stings my eyes.
- Put a banana into a bowl
- Get a fork and mash up the banana
- Get a spoon and some penut butter
- Put the spoon full of penut butter into the banana bowl
- Get your fork and mix it up [this is tricky!]
- Eat it![ It is really good!]
Ok, this one is fantastic. I absolutely loved it. David Rocco, in the introduction for this recipe, says This soup yields big return for little effort. He also says that using fresh porcini is essential, though I went my own wooded path and used instead a combination of shitaake, cremini and portabello and loved, loved, loved the results. This soup felt very special, though one would obviously have to be a mushroom fan to appreciate this. I know that not everyone is, though the knowledge makes me sad, for I’m a girl who wants everyone to love all the same things that I love. This is the first soup in the series that starts with this:
4 large fresh porcini mushrooms
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 sprig nepitella, or combination of equal parts mint and oregano
5 cups vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Clean the mushrooms by rubbing off any loose dirt with a clean dishtowel. With a paring knife, cut off any tough parts of the base or the root. Roughly chop the porcini.
Put your soup pot on medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. All the porcini go right into the pot. Stir them around. Once they’ve absorbed the oil and butter, add the herbs, a splash of the vegetable stock to prevent the porcini from sticking, and salt and pepper. The porcini will soften up and you’ll have what looks like a thick sauce. Pour in enough of the remaining vegetable stock to cover the porcini. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and a good handful of Parmigiano. Drizzle that into the pot. Stir it and you’ll see the egg break up and form into little silky strips. This helps thicken the soup. Serve immediately. And then go buy Rocco’s book. Not only is the food I’ve made from it delicious, but the book itself is a work of art. Here’s a little peek: