Last week Jackson and I flew to Colorado to stay at my mom’s for a few days. It was one of the best visits we’ve had there. Jackson adores his Nonny and Poppy and he’s finally big enough to really play with his big cousin George, whom he thinks hung the moon. Jackson asks for George every day. Every single day. So we watch a lot of videos to hold him over between visits. And George is so good and patient with his little cousin.
The day we flew in, May 1, it snowed and snowed and snowed all day. Not your typical spring visit, but we made the best of it. It’s not every year you see snow in May.
The next day, we had pictures scheduled for the book. The sun came out, the snow mostly melted and we were able to get some great shots thanks to our fabulous photographer Molly McMillan. This one will be used for the back cover.
Because one of us is usually behind the camera, I don’t have many pictures of me and my mom. These pictures are one of the many blessings that have come from doing this blog and book together.
After the photo shoot, we were pretty wiped out…and hungry! We both declared we were retiring from our one-day modeling career. Way too much work and not enough food!
With my sister-in-law Julie heading back to the house with the boys and Greg (mom’s husband) on his way home, we quickly transitioned from top models to cooks in the kitchen. Mom was going to run to the grocery store to get fixins for Messy Greek Sandwiches and Reubens and I’d get started on some kind of soup to go along. I rummaged through her pantry and held up a bag of lentils, “How about lentil soup?” “Perfect! I’ve had those lentils for months and wasn’t sure what to do with them,” she admitted. “Oh it’s so easy,” I told her. “It takes no time to get started and will be finished simmering by the time you’re back from the store.” Mom headed to the grocery store and I got started chopping onions and carrots. By the time Julie walked in with Jackson and George, I had the soup covered and simmering, happy to step out of my author/foodie hat and into mommy and auntie role again.
Mom came home from the store and said the house smelled just like her Nonny’s, my great grandmother’s, kitchen. I didn’t know her well, but I’ve heard story after story of her in the kitchen. She was quite the cook. One of my favorite pictures of her is one of her standing in her old 1950s kitchen with a yellow apron tied around her neck. Something about recreating the comforting tastes and smells from her kitchen makes me feel connected to her. I can imagine her cooking up a simple soup like this to feed her nine children on their very tight budget.
What foods and smells bring back childhood memories for you?
Simple Lentil Soup
Makes 3.5 quarts
1/2 cup onion (~1 small or 1/4 big onion), diced
4 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
Olive oil (enough to coat pan)
1 lb lentils, sorted for rocks and rinsed
8 cups veggie broth (2 quarts)
1 32 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 teaspoons steak seasoning
Salt to taste (may not need if broth has salt)
In a large pot, sauté onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil (or 1/2 cup of broth for a no fat version) with a pinch of salt until softened. Add lentils and tomatoes and broth. Cover and bring to boil. Uncover and lower to a simmer. Cover and simmer on med low for 20-30 min until lentils are cooked through. Season with steak seasoning and salt if needed.
I served this with crackers, roasted brussel sprouts, and smoky garlicky collard greens. It was husband and toddler approved.
Notes: I’ve found the type of pan and burner I use causes cook times to vary a lot. My heavy duty pans cook much quicker on my flat top stove than my old cheapies that don’t have that nice heavy flat bottoms…so cooking times may vary. It took closer to 45 minutes to cook on my mom’s gas stove top, but I think I may have left the pot uncovered there. If your pots tend to heat up slowly, give yourself some extra time.
(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.)
A sure-fire way to humble yourself is to announce: “I never (fill-in-the-blank)” publically. (Or worse, “My child will never…..”) And so when I declared, on Facebook that I almost never get sick, I should have known I was in for it.
For some unknown reason, for nearly a week, day after day, I forgot to take my daily regime of immune-boosting supplements (fish oil, odorless garlic, probiotics, super green food powder) and woke up one morning feeling as though I was swallowing razor blades.
I went on the attack with liberal doses of all my regular supplements above plus a couple of more exotic-sounding ones: olive leaf extract and astragalus. By mid-afternoon my throat had calmed considerably and by nightfall it did not hurt at all. (I did, however, get the standard stuffy head, runny nose bit – though, thankfully, without fever and it seems to be running its course fairly quickly.)
My husband was also out of town, so I had no choice but to practice good self-care and nourish my body as best I could, all by my lonesome.
In addition to honey-sweetened white tea (more nutrition-packed than green tea) laced with fresh grated ginger, and sips of Feel Good Blueberry Smoothie, I made two pots of healing soup.
First, I made a classic home-style chicken soup, a super quick and easy recipe I’ll share in coming weeks. The other, is my new favorite “healing soup” – a Thai Panang Curry soup, rich with cancer-fighting and immune boosting antioxidants from the ginger and spices, cruciferous veggies, shitake mushrooms (which contain a compound called lentinan, shown to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection and disease) and vitamin & mineral rich kale. Coconut milk, too, has healing properties. It contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Afriend introduced me to my first good Thai Panang curry , when she bought us both take-out containers of it during a working writer’s lunch. It was love at first bite. It hit all the strong flavor notes I crave: spice from the curry and ginger, slightly sweet and creamy from the coconut milk, a touch of tang from fresh lime, and salty-savory-earthy from the mushrooms, veggies and broth.
It sounds so exotic, but I do not make complicated recipes, especially when I’m fighting a cold, so trust me – this is quick and easy. Feel free to substitute any veggies you have on hand, or enjoy, in this basic recipe. I’ve included instructions for both tradition curry with rice and also the soup, in the recipe below.
“Healing” Panang Curry Soup
1 can coconut milk (I prefer whole fat as it makes a creamier soup).
1 ½ cups veggie broth (or chicken broth) — use 3/4 c if you prefer to make the thicker curry version
½ small jar Thai red curry (about 3 T – less if you prefer less spice) (This jar of curry is found in Asian section of most groceries now and is small, about the size of a baby food jar.)
1 t. fresh grated ginger (pinch of dried ginger if you don’t have fresh)
1 t. brown sugar
Soy sauce or sea salt to taste
1 c. rainbow slaw (or broccoli slaw)
1 large clove garlic
1 T. olive or coconut oil
1 T. butter
2/3 c. sliced mushrooms (I used shitake)
1 c. loosely packed, torn kale
1 fresh chopped tomato
2 sliced green onions
Slice of lime
Cilantro (sprig or chopped) and/or basil for garnish
Protein of your choice: grilled diced tofu, diced or shredded chicken; or cooked shrimp, 1/2 to 1 cup depending on preference. I use a small amount of chicken in the soup — as I like the veggies taking center stage in this soup. You could also sprinkle in toasted peanuts for added protein. For the curry and rice version I prefer shrimp, about 5 medium shrimp per person.)
Saute garlic with mushrooms, slaw and kale in oil and butter in a deep large skillet until just tender. Dump all the ingredients except the last three (green onions, lime, cilantro or fresh basil ) into a large skillet and simmer until veggies are tender but not mushy. Add chopped fresh tomato last, and stir to heat through. Ladle veggies and broth into each bowl, then garnish with a sprig of cilantro or basil (or chop it up and sprinkle), some green onions, and a slice of lime to squeeze over and stir in right before eating.
Variation: To make a more traditional curry instead of soup, use half the broth and put a scoop of jasmine rice in the middle of the bowl before garnishes. Sauteed shrimp is beautiful, artfully arranged around the rice and on top of the curry. You can use any veggies you like in place of slaw, mushrooms or kale. Add slices of cooked sweet potato and pineapple for a creamy pineapple curry. To add heat, use a few drop of siracha sauce or thai chili paste.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: “healing” Panang Curry Soup
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Kz
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved
(Rachel, the daughter)
Today was a gorgeous day, a two park kind of day.
Jackson and I started our morning with a walk to the little park in our neighborhood. He was happily throwing wood chips onto the slide when a man jogged past us. Jackson immediately took off, climbed out of the wood chip-filled playground pit and chased after the man, hollering “Da Da, Da Da.”
To my child’s credit, the man was bald like his daddy. He is close to the same age and height as his daddy with a similar build. The man was wearing nothing but a pair of royal blue athletic shorts almost identical to his daddy’s coaching shorts. In fact, the only tiny difference I could see between the jogger and his daddy was that the jogger’s bald head and broad shoulders were as black as a cup of coffee and his daddy is as white as a splash of cream.
I quickly grabbed Jackson and distracted him pointing to a fountain in the pond nearby. Thankfully, I don’t think the guy heard him. That could have been an awkward conversation. Um sorry, he thinks your his dad. Well, I mean, you look kind of like his dad. Not really. You’re bald and wear blue shorts that’s kind of it. Well, uh, have a nice run. I’ll see you at the paternity results hearing. Haha. Just kidding. <<Insert me laughing overly loud at my own bad joke.>>
We headed home for lunch and nap time, then met a friend at our city park. After a busted lip (Jackson’s) on the playground equipment, we meandered over to the volleyball pit, or in a 1-year old’s world, the biggest sandbox ever. Within minutes, Jackson dropped to his knees, held his hands up to the sky, then dropped them to the ground in an “I’m not worthy” bow. With his mouth wide-open, he took a big bite of sand, sat back up on his knees and smiled. Whoa-oa-oa-oa!! Excellent! Party Time! (Are Wayne’s World references out of style yet?)
Yes, today was a two park kind of day, a soak in the sun and giggle at my crazy kid kind of day. This weekend we had our first rainy cold front, though. It was a cuddle up and eat a bowl of warm soup kind of weekend. On Saturday, I sauteed up a whole bulb of garlic and a pound of mushrooms for a big batch of creamy potato soup. And on Sunday, I combined two of the coziest most comforting recipes, pot pie and shepherds pie, and made a topless veggie pot pie using the potato soup as the filling.
These two healthy recipes will warm you up without sacrificing your figure for those glorious two park days that pop up in between Texas cold fronts.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
2 T. olive oil
6 c. sliced mushrooms
1 head of garlic (10-12 cloves), cloves peeled and gently smashed
8 small red potatoes, quartered
2 c. almond milk
2 c. mushroom or veggie broth or leftover potato water
s&p to taste
In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are fork tender.
Heat olive oil on medium heat in a skillet, add mushrooms and stir occasionally until they soft and browned. Add garlic and a pinch of salt, saute until garlic is translucent. (Hint: Smash unpeeled garlic with the side of a wide chef’s knife to quickly pop off the peel and smash the clove simultaneously.)
In a food processor, blend mushrooms and garlic (minus a few for garnish if desired), add potatoes and 1 cup of liquid. Blend again. Add remaining liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste (it may take up to a few teaspoons.) Blend until smooth. If needed, warm up on medium low in the pot the potatoes were cooking in.
Be sure to reserve 1 1/2 – 3 cups of soup for a pie or two!
Topless Veggie Pot Pie
(using leftover Creamy Mushroom Soup)
3-4 servings (if you’re like me, you’ll wish you made two pies, so I suggest doubling the recipe)
1 9″ pie crust (I used Wholly Wholesome’s Organic Spelt Pie Crust which is vegan)
1 small onion
2 c. frozen mixed veggies (I used an organic corn, green bean, peas, and carrots blend)
1 1/2 c. creamy mushroom soup (see recipe above)
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium to medium high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt, saute until soft. Add vegetables and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute five more minutes. Pour in mushroom soup and season with nutmeg. Cook for 5-10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Pour mixture into pie filling. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove and cover pie crust edges with foil.
Cook for another 20 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: PCreamy Mushroom Soup and Topless Veggie Pot Pie (Two for One Recipe)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-IT
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved
(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) — I sometimes use 2 T. of jarred pesto instead of fresh basil if that is all I have on hand
¼ c. onion
2 garlic cloves
3 c. veggie broth (or chicken broth if you aren’t vegetarian and prefer this)
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.) Note: You can also make a the more traditional soup by omitting coconut milk and add 1/2 cup of regular cream, at the very end of cooking the soup
1 ½ t. salt
1 T. sugar (or brown sugar or 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.