Parsnip, apple, carrot and red lentil soup

Parsnip apple carrot soup

Parsnip apple carrot soup

I’m still feeling a little dazed, dizzy and down from being sick the other day. (Or maybe just from being Claire, but we’ll blame it on the sickness.) Last week I was thinking a lot about discouragement and ambition and the connection between the two – being afraid to try, being cabined, cribbed, confined by saucy doubts and fears. I was thinking about failure and success, about why someone tries, and how they determine whether or not they’re successful. And then I got sick and felt completely empty – like the black holes that Isaac likes to talk about. And then I came back to life and the world seems, honestly, a little overwhelming. Too much information, too much useless chatter, so much strange bad news. I feel very earnestly and passionately confused, which is actually a good feeling, like recovering your appetite, it feels good to care, good to think, good to be in a muddle. And it’s a good excuse for the nonsensical ramble pouring forth before you. I want to clear my head of all the clutter and distraction, I want to fill it with good things, I want to create a … well, a sort of a sourdough starter of thoughts in my head, a little culture of thoughts, and feed the starter with fascinating thoughts that other people have thunk, and let those ferment until they make sense to me, and watch it grow and become wild and full and, ultimately, nourishing, in conjunction with other ingredients that I might pick from anywhere! I want to take this nagging empty, insignificant feeling and fill it up with some sort of light. I spent some time this morning reading Emerson’s essay on self-reliance, and so much of it resonated that I’ll tell you all about it. That’s right, I’m going to quote an essay that’s all about the importance of not quoting other people, of thinking for yourself and forming your own ideas. Emerson says, “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within,” and I love the idea of this, as it speaks to me in my current mood – the idea that we should learn to ignore the judgments and values of others, their chatter about what is important and what is wise, and even what is good, to listen to the spark of light within ourselves, and to give life and value to that. “If they are honest and do well, presently their neat new pinfold will be too strait and low, will crack, will lean, will rot and vanish, and the immortal light, all young and joyful, million-orbed, million-colored, will beam over the universe as on the first morning.” You won’t worry about your abilities, or compare them to those of others, if you’re focussed honestly on the light within yourself – your own spirit, your own soul. “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” When David came home for lunch today, he said his idea of a good vacation would be to be Isaac and Malcolm for a while – to look forward to everything and feel good about your place in the world and about what you think and what you make and what you enjoy. As Emerson said, “The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the healthy attitude of human nature. A boy is in the parlour what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict.” I think its harder than he makes it sound, looking out from your corner and watching people and facts pass by, it’s a lot of work, but they have fun doing it, in their swift and summer-y way. Well, that’s it for now, folks, but you haven’t heard the last of this foolish train of thought! Be forewarned!

To quote Emerson one last time…”A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Of course, Emerson was speaking of the foolish consistency of starting each and every meal with olive oil, shallots and garlic. Last night I made this soup, and I didn’t want it to taste like every other soup I have ever made, so I decided to leave our shallots and garlic altogether! Shocking, I know! I had some very great fears that it wouldn’t be flavorful. But it was extremely deliciously flavorful, and bright and comforting. Lovely and balanced and creamy. I used a larger ratio of carrots to parsnips and apples, but you could easily adjust that to your taste and to the contents of your larder, if you have such a thing!

Here’s Bob Marley with Wake up and Live. If ever a man ignored the wolf pack and let his own light shine, it was this man. Happy birthday, Bob!

    Life is one big road with lots of signs, yes!
    So when you riding through the ruts, don’t you complicate your mind:
    Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy!
    Don’t bury your thoughts; put your dream to reality, yeah!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Vegetable soup that my boys like

Vegetable soup

Vegetable soup

Here at The Ordinary, we have an institute devoted to deciphering The Meaning of Christmas. Apparently, nobody knows what it is anymore, so we have different theories thrown at us with alarming speed. It’s bewildering! Is it the presents? (ask a seven-year-old!) Is it peace on earth good will to all men? Is it the food? Is it the partridge, sitting plumply in the pear tree? The time off work? The hope for snow? The solstice? And then, of course, there’s the Christ, which apparently somebody has stolen from Christmas. This one has been drawn to our attention by lawn signs and billboards. We are not experts, here at The Ordinary, nor are we Christian in any organized sense. And yet we understand about the Christ in Christmas. It’s his birth day, after all, that we’re celebrating! Of course, in our not-very-well-informed opinion, Christ as we understand him is not the sort of fellow to want some big hoopla on his birthday. And he’s certainly not the sort to pout because he doesn’t get a big hoopla from every single person on earth. The problem, for me, is that it often seems as though the people bemoaning the lack of Christ in christmas are the very same people who are opposed to gun control, suspicious of welfare recipients, supportive of lowering taxes for very wealthy people, and of wars that serve no function other than to benefit the oil companies and weapons makers. There’s a disconnect! You can’t have it both ways! Surely a person can’t seethe with righteous rage, as christians, that people don’t say “merry christmas,” without understanding the lessons that christ taught. Admittedly I’m no scholar, but shouldn’t we be working for peace, and helping all people, including the less fortunate, and recognizing the value of good will and good works over money? Charity and forgiveness! This is the time of year to reinforce those ideas, and remind us of their importance, and strive to make the light of our understanding last the whole year!! Holy smoke (get it?) I’m getting all preachy. I apologize!! I’ve obviously been spending too much time in the basement vaults of The Ordinary, pondering the reason for the season, as we examine tinsel through the magnifying glass, and dissect candy canes in petri dishes.

I’ve been making some fancy food lately, in anticipation of Christmas. Double-crusted this, and sugar-crusted that. I felt like making something simple, nurturing, and warming, which almost feels more in keeping with the season, in a way, if that way is that I love my boys so much, and I want to make them healthy and happy, and somehow making a soup they like feels like a rung on that ladder. It’s a very simple soup, just broth and vegetables, and we had it with pasta shaped like tiny shells. But you could serve it over rice if you preferred. And you could always add beans, if your children like them and you felt like upping the protein content, which is always a good thing. I used vegetables my boys like – potatoes, carrots, peas and corn, which also felt like a very basic and traditional type of vegetable soup, but you could always alter to suit your taste.

Here’s Jimmy Smith with God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I love this song, and I love this version!!

Continue reading