(Becky) I’m thrilled to share our blog today with new author, compassionate therapist, and dear friend, Lucille Zimmerman. We’re celebrating the fresh release of her new book on self-care for women titled Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World.
I was thrilled to endorse it and wrote: “This is a book that I want to give to every woman I know. It contains wisdom I wish I had at twenty, and reminders I still need at mid-life, to regularly refill my own well. Lucille shows that in order to have something to give to those we love, we have to replenish our physical, spiritual and emotional energy. With wonderful personal stories and a therapist’s keen insight, Renewed, is a like a cup of cold water to women who are parched for permission to take care of themselves.”
Seriously, you gotta get this book. Even better, pamper yourself futher and read it while you sip her comforting recipe for Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage.
Below are some personal words, a short excerpt on self-care and Lucille’s soup recipe. One of the reasons she loves it is because it allows her to chop veggies, a calming and centering activity for her. Enjoy!
I’ve noticed I’m the most stressed when I can’t focus on one thing. Right now I’m trying to finish up the grades on the counseling course I taught, I have a series of blog posts that need written, a daughter who is planning a wedding but is prohibited from driving until medical tests prove she’s not having seizures, and I’m launching my first book. Needless to say, the multitasking is causing me stress. I am in need of solitude.
So what do people gain from spending time in solitude? One researcher said the mere presence of other people obliges us to coordinate our actions. Right now I am alone. Snow is falling silently outside and the only sound I hear comes from water trickling in my office fountain. Right now I can do whatever I want. I can slurp my split pea soup while taking intermittent bites of a chocolate bar. I can sit on my chair with one leg tucked under in unladylike fashion. I can take a break to let the dog out, and I can sing badly while doing all of the above. I’m still wearing my workout clothes from yoga, my bangs are hanging in my face, and I don’t have on a stitch of makeup. These little freedoms are not to be underestimated.
Humans may be social beings, but solitude has been shown to have great societal value. It is like the rests in a line of music, giving information, nuance, and structure to the melody. Without it, our lives are a cacophony, a never-ending noise that wears us down. Solitude is essential for our spiritual experience – it is where we hear the still, small voice. Jesus was our model, showing us how to balance being with people and being alone. ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed’ (Mark 1:35), and ‘Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed’ (Luke 5:16). In these verses we see Jesus becoming known as a great healer and teacher, but he still took time to rest and pray.
So in spite of my to-do list, I put everything aside and took a walk in the sunshine. Then I made a tortellini soup. If anything brings my calm and focus back its sunshine, exercise, solitude and chopping fresh, colorful and fragrant vegetables.
(Excerpted & Adapted from Renewed, by Lucille Zimmerman, Abingdon Press. Lucille’s info and blog is at http://www.lucillezimmerman.com)
Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage: shared by Lucille Zimmerman
1 lb sweet Italian or turkey sausage
1 cup onion
2 garlic cloves, diced
5 cups beef broth
1 cup water
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
½ T. basil leaves
½ t. dried thyme
1 (8 oz) cup tomato sauce
1 ½ cups zucchini, sliced
1 (8 ox) fresh tortellini pasta
3 T. fresh parsley (use less if dried)
In a 5-quart Dutch oven, brown sausage. Remove sausage and drain, reserving 1 T of drippings. Sauté onion and garlic in drippings. Stir in beef broth, water, tomatoes, carrots, celery, basil, oregano, thyme, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 30 minutes. Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer 30 minus. Add tortellini last 10 mins. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
(Becky, the Mama.)
About a year and a half ago my daughter Rachel was in town, pregnant, and craving Tomato Basil Soup. The trick was to find a place that served a vegan version so she could indulge but still avoid dairy or meat-based broth. I think we drove to three restaurants before we finally found the place that served the soup she had in mind. And yes, she and her unborn child were absolutely worth it. But I determined that day to come up with a creamy vegan version of Tomato Basil Soup that we could make at home.
I, too, adore Tomato Basil Soup, especially the thick creamy version served at La Madeleine’s, a favorite French chain restaurant in the Dallas area. Alas, it is loaded with cream and butter and thus, with calories. The problem with trying to make any tomato-based soup with milk instead of cream (to cut calories), is that the acid in the tomatoes curdles the milk yielding a yucky mess you’ll have to sigh heavily about, just before you put it down the disposal. (Ask me how I know this.)
So I experimented with a can of coconut milk in place of cream and butter. Perfection. You really can’t taste the coconut flavor at all; it fades to neutral when paired with the strong tastes of the ingredients in the rest of the recipe. Even if you use the full fat can of coconut milk, this soup only about a 100 calories a cup. But you will not believe it when you taste it! On top of being delicious and easy, it is also vegan-friendly and nutritious. Pretty much the Perfect Recipe to keep in your Go-To Classic Recipes file.
I threw this soup together for a friend who dropped by unexpectedly for lunch one day, and she swore it was the best soup she’d ever tasted. Could not believe I whipped it up in just a few minutes. Plus it was ready to serve by the time our grilled cheese sandwiches came off the stovetop.
P.S. I hurriedly planted basil in a big pot on the porch this summer and it is still yielding oodles of leaves, which I used in this recipe. Greg spent a full day, in June, putting together three Topsy Turvy upside down tomato plants (as “Seen on TV”), put them on a fancy planter, then hooked them up to a complicated irrigation system. God bless him, the tomato you see in this picture is the one and ONLY tomato we’ve harvested, picked yesterday. But it sure was a pretty one.
Easy, Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (Vegan)
Yields about 10 cups of soup
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (with basil, if you can find it)
1 c. very lightly packed fresh basil leaves (or a good generous hand full)
¼ c. onion
2 garlic cloves
3 c. veggie broth
1 can coconut milk (Full fat version makes a creamier soup, but lite will also work. If desired, reserve a little for garnishing soup once it is in a bowl. You’ll find cans of coconut milk in the Asian section of almost all grocery stores now.)
1 ½ t. salt
1 T. sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1 t. pepper
Put ½ the can of crushed tomatoes into a blender or food processor. Add basil leaves, onion and garlic. Blend until basil leaves are still individual but tiny specks of green.
Pour this mixture into a soup pot. Add the rest of the can of tomatoes, veggie broth, coconut milk, salt, pepper and sugar. Stir and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Check to see if it needs more salt. Serve in bowls, and garnish if desired with a “squiggle” of reserved coconut cream.
I think any of our regular readers know my affections for kale at this point. I do love that cruciferous veggie (in fact, this recipe sneaks in two cups of it), but I’ve been keeping quiet about another favorite food of mine. Possibly the the humblest legume out there, the lentil.
I don’t have a funny or inspiring story to tie into this recipe, so I’m just going to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, talking geeky about health food.
“What’s a lentil?” You ask. Well, I didn’t know either until about two years ago when I started eating a plant-based diet. I wish I had known about them when I was a college student trying to eat healthy on a tight budget. A pound of lentils costs less than $1.00 and will yield 5 cups of cooked lentils. Each cup boasts a whopping 17 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber, folate (90% RDV), iron (35% RDV), magnesium, and much more, yet only has 1 gram of fat and 230 calories. All that, and they cook in 30 minutes (versus 4+ hours for most dry beans) with no soaking required.
Like most legumes, lentils aren’t a powerhouse of flavor on their own, but they pick up the flavors of whatever they are cooked in nicely. I use them in soups and spaghetti sauce all the time. This week, I discovered a new use for them. Instead of using canned beans or slow cooking kidney and black beans for my usual veggie chili recipe, I used lentils.
I know it’s warming up and, for some, chili is a winter dish, but I love any quick one-pot meal in the summer that doesn’t require turning on the oven or hovering over the stove for long. You can make a lot at once, and then take the next night off or easily pack up the leftovers for lunch at the office. And if you top it with a hit of diced avocado, some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime , it really brightens up the flavors and brings a bit of summer color to this warm dish.
What’s your favorite under-the-radar ingredient or food that you love to tell your friends about?
Rachel’s Lentil Veggie Chili
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. grated ginger
1 T. cumin
1 t. cayenne
1 t. salt
2 serrano chilies, whole
1 sweet potato, chopped
14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup (1/2 lb) dry green lentils, sorted for dirt & rocks* & rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups of frozen corn, thawed
2 cups kale, removed from stem
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (optional for an extra spicy kick)
Other: Brown Rice and/or crackers, avocado, cilantro, & lime
In a large pot, heat a little bit of olive oil and saute onions and carrots with a pinch of salt on medium heat until soft. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 more minutes. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add serrano chilies, sweet potato, tomatoes, lentil, and water. Cover and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for 30 minutes with the lid tilted, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid. Add corn and kale & optional red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If you want a thicker soup, continue to simmer uncovered until you reach the desired consistency.
Serve over brown rice or with crackers. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
*Before cooking any dried legumes, pour them onto a solid surface, like a paper towel and sort through them looking for sticks, little rocks, or clumps of dirt. Please don’t skip this step. I find something in probably 50% of my dried beans. You don’t want you or your guests to bite into a rock!
“My mother burns the toast as surely as the sun rises each morning. In fact, I doubt that she’s ever made a round of toast in her life that failed to fill the kitchen with plumes of throat-catching smoke. I am nine now, and have never seen butter without black bits in it.” Nigel Slator, Toast
Becky (“The Mother”)
Though I’m now a truly good cook, I’m still not always an alert cook, which means that I tend to burn food. The smoke alarm, for many years, was basically our dinner bell.
When my second born Zeke was about five years old I handed him a perfectly golden piece of toast. He took the toast and a dinner knife and walked over to the trash can and started scraping it. “Zeke, Honey,” I said. “You don’t have to scrape your toast today. Mommy didn’t burn it!” To which he looked at me, eyes wide and said, “Oh. I thought we always had to whittle our toast.”
We recently visited at Jared and Rachel’s home in Texas, having driven a couple of days from Denver to get there. With my adorable grandbaby flashing us a dimpled smile from his highchair, Rach and I couldn’t wait to roll up our sleeves, get into the kitchen, and cook!
Rachel made an amazing butternut squash soup for our lunch, and while it was simmering, she popped a pan of homemade croutons in the oven, giving me one job: to guard them. Then she disappeared to rock Jackson and put him down for his nap.
Rachel (“The Daughter”)
As I settled into the rocking chair with my sleepy baby, I was going over our lunch menu in our head. The soup was simmering, the side dish was all chopped and ready for consumption, the croutons were toasting.
Oh no. I left the croutons on 450 degrees!
Sure, a high temperature is a quick way to crisp up the chunks of bread lightly coated in olive oil and Italian seasoning, but they need to be watched closely with this quick cook method. The problem: my mom, notorious for burning the bread, was in charge of them. I considered texting her from the nursery to remind her to keep an eye on them, but I’d only asked her to do that one thing…surely she hadn’t already forgotten. I told myself, “Surely, Mom will smell them browning before they get too crisp. I can live with a little char.”
Before I’d finished the argument in my head (“Should I, or should I not, text her?”) I heard a loud “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!!” coming from the kitchen, an all too familiar sound from my childhood. This was not a kitchen timer, not the microwave, not an annoying cell phone ring…this was none other than the smoke alarm.
Still holding Jackson, who had been on his way to dreamland but was alert and wide-eyed now, I rushed to the kitchen. Through a smoky cloud, I see Mom carrying a pan of black char to the back patio.
Like the “Saturday Night Live” skit, “Really!? with Seth and Amy,” all I could say was “Really, Mom? Really?!”
Shoulders scrunched, an innocent smile on her face, mom sheepishly replied, “Soooorrry. I think I may have slightly over-cooked the croutons.”
How can you not forgive a face like that? It’s a little bit childlike, mixed with a lot of ditzy blonde, sprinkled with a dash of Steve Urkel. Did I do thaaaat? I may not need this sweet innocent face as often as my mom has used it, but it’s a family skill I’m proud to have learned. It works wonders on my husband…especially after he looks at the credit card bill. Did I buy thaaat?
The soup was amazing even without the croutons, especially with a garnish of Rachel’s homemade Cowboy Caviar and tortilla chips.
What occurred in the kitchen that day is a small window into the dynamics of our Mother-Daughter relationship. I have what a brain doctor called “Inattentive ADD.” Which means I’m not particularly hyper, but I’m ditzy, easily distracted and over-optimistic about things like time, limits, and reality.
Rach has always enjoyed rules and order and minimalist décor with the same enthusiasm that I enjoy flying-by-the-seat-of-my pants, ignoring messes, and filling every space with vintage clutter. My daughter owns a kitchen timer and actually knows where it is and how to use it. This astounds me.
Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup
This rustic soup is just enough sweet and just enough spice to warm you up on a chilly winter day or to eat around the fire pit on a cool summer night. You could even simmer it over the fire in a dutch oven and serve it up in over-sized mugs if you want a really rustic presentation and experience.
Drizzle of Olive Oil
½ red onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced or minced
½ cup baked sweet potato, mashed
2 cups of baked butternut squash, mashed
4 tbs white wine (divided)
2 cups veggie stock
1-3 cups water
Salt to taste
2 pieces of candied ginger (optional)
Garnish suggestions: croutons, tortilla chips, cilantro, sour cream (regular or non-dairy)
Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large pot (enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan). Sweat the onion and peppers in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt until soft, add garlic and sweat for two more minutes. Add two tablespoons of the white wine and stir. Add the veggie stock, 1 cup of water, squash, sweet potato, and candied ginger (leave whole). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer on med-low for 20 minutes. Remove ginger (unless you like the flavor a lot—I prefer small traces of it). Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer soup back to your pot and add more water if you would like a thinner consistency. Finish with remaining white wine and salt to taste. Garnish with your choice of toppings.
Notes: I happened to have leftover baked sweet potato and squash from making baby food when I first made this. As a quicker alternative, I’m sure you could chop up peeled sweet potato and squash and just simmer with the soup until they are soft all the way through. Though I think baking or roasting root vegetables brings out their best flavors.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Hello Mother, Hello Daughter
The URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/hello-mother-hello-daughter/
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