Think about the things you do each day without question. What do you always find time for? What is a natural priority? What do you do especially for yourself, that makes you the person you are?
There are two things I do — come rain or come shine, come heck or high water.
PUT WORDS ON A PAGE
There is nothing I’d rather do than write. A poem. My book. Notes about a speech I’d like to give on relationships.
I love a blank page. It’s an odd thing to love, but I do, as long as I can choose what goes on the page.
Laundry can be piling over the edges of baskets, AirBnB guests arriving in three hours, not to mention a stack of paperwork calling me to sort, file or answer.
I’d rather be writing. So that’s what I do in the early morning. It’s my time to write, no matter how busy the rest of the day is.
EAT GOOD FOOD
I eat healthy, colorful, delicious food. Not because I think I should, or even that I was raised that way, but because I love real food, good food, food that’s beautiful and inviting and has eye appeal. There’s nothing more beautiful to me than a plate full of color.
To be fair, I was raised in Iowa, where practically everyone had a garden brimming with fresh peas, green beans and sweet corn. Potatoes, squash, cabbage, lettuce…
But also to be fair, the Midwest is the land of jello salad, canned fruit and overcooked everything. Food is over salted and meals are meat driven. If you and I visited any church potluck or family table, you’d agree wholeheartedly that Iowans don’t necessarily know what to do with the gorgeous bounty outside their backdoor.
Mostly I eat meals I’ve made myself. Yes, I’m one of “those people.”
I’m the person who takes the time to peel a butternut squash, cube it, toss it with a little olive oil, salt, and cracked Tellicherry black pepper (from the Malabar coast of India), and bake it about 30 min at 450 degrees (stir once).
This sort of thing seems easy to me. It’s a natural part of my day.
Creating healthy food is simple enough to do, but not many folks I know (with no one but themselves to cook for) bother with the peeler, the cutting board and the cubing. I truly do not understand why fast food wins so often in America the beautiful, but it does.
I drive by a drive up window handing out who knows what and consider it a fascinating and mysterious event. (I would understand totally if the food tasted wonderful and digested easily.)
For me, the result of baking the butternut squash or buying fresh beets with tops and making use of all of it is worth the time and effort. Besides, I like the way the house smells when delicious things are happening in the kitchen.
Food prep is part of my daily flow. I do a little at a time no matter what is going on in my life.
Apparently, it’s my thing.
I’m also the kind of person who discovers a new-to-me-food, such as forbidden rice (jet black and full of minerals) and of course I buy some and give it a whirl. I wonder what this rice can do for me. I play with it. I notice how it cooks up so perfectly, each grain singular and separate.
It becomes a new favorite. Besides being nutritious, it’s quite the backdrop for all other colors of food, glorious food.
I enjoy bringing home vibrant vegetables and dreamily imagining (in my free brain moments) how to use them. Sometimes I look through Bon Appetit magazine for inspiration (yeah, it’s even bedtime reading…).
I’m curious about answers to questions like “How does a Meyer lemon get along with fennel?”
Turns out, Meyer lemon and fennel are magic together. They have a great relationship!
(Peak season for Meyer lemons, by the way, is November through March. They are a cross between a lemon and an orange.)
Here’s something I tried recently.
Start with 2 fennel bulbs. (If you think you’re not wild about fennel, this will change your mind.)
Wash them, and saving and setting aside the fronds. Cut bulbs in half (top to bottom) and place cut side down on a cutting board. Slice lengthwise (again, top to bottom) in 1/2 inch pieces. Brown in skillet with olive oil in two batches. Then put all the fennel back in the pan and add 1/2 c. broth (chicken or veggie). Also add the juice and finely grated peel from one Meyer lemon. Cover and cook gently until tender, about 10 minutes or so.
Remove the cooked fennel from the liquid and reduce the liquid until it’s a little syrupy. Then toss the fennel back in to coat it. Serve topped with shaved Parmesan and the green fronds from the fennel.
It was delicious. There I was at my table set for one, exclaiming aloud as I ate.
This morning I did the butternut squash thing, followed by baking (at a lower temp) a few fingerlings and yams, too, just for good measure.
I’ll use it over the coming days, say, to make a warm salad. To mash or stir into soup. I’ll have fingerling potatoes with my morning eggs and add mushrooms, onions and baby greens. For lunch or dinner, I’ll do butternut cubes on a bed of baby greens, with a few other veggies, a sprinkle of feta, and a simple dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and call it a meal. The next day I’ll make a colorful pile of squash cubes, black beans, crunchy red pepper, purple cabbage and grated carrot. (And yes, though some of the veggies are raw, it will be a warm pile ’cause it’s winter…)
Every health professional says “eat more vegetables.” It’s not hard to eat more vegetables. Step one buy them. Step two wash and cut them up. Step three eat them.
I thought I would make fewer dirty dishes after Eric passed. So far in ten months, I can still create quite a kitchen scene, just like when Eric was around, except now there’s no 5″11, 175 lb good lookin’ guy wearing a smile who walks in, rolls up his sleeves and whistles while he works.
Life moves on, yes, it does. And now for the paperwork waiting patiently behind me.
P.S. Please tell me a little something about what you (always) do.