Hidden Richness – A Soup of the Week Post

I used to hate eggplant.

I think it has something to do with an overcooked eggplant Parmesan somewhere in my youth. But eggplant being much like anything else, once we have a bad experience, we tend to forever loathe and avoid the offending situation – or vegetable, as the case may be.

Since joining our local CSA a couple of years ago, I’ve rediscovered eggplant. When vegetables show up in the farm share each week, I feel morally obligated to like them, or at least find a way to live with them. And so I’ve experimented with ways to enjoy eggplant, most of them successful. I even made an eggplant Parm that wasn’t too bad.

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Last week, my husband brought home two aubergine beauties from the farm (not the ones in the photo – this week’s were much darker) and I immediately planned to make eggplant Parmesan for my mom. Life got in the way and it didn’t happen. If you know anything about eggplants, you know that you need to use those babies within a day or two or you end up with a very unattractive not-so-aubergine mass on your counter or in your fridge.

Since they were still perfectly edible but just this side of too soft for eggplant parm, I searched for another way to make that eggplant disappear. And I had to feed it to my Hub and Kidzilla – both professed non-eggplanters, despite many efforts to convert them.

Sigh.

As luck would have it, I found this recipe for Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup with Fresh Herbs over at Sumptuous Spoonfuls. (Via Pinterest, of course, because where else do you go to figure out what to do with soft eggplant?) The post promised the eggplant would disappear into the soup, leaving behind only a delightful buttery finish, not the taste of eggplant.

Sold!

And so I made it. And the Hub and Zilla ate it. Twice. They genuinely liked it. As I was dishing up the leftover soup the following night, I got to thinking about soup and life…because that’s what I do.

Sometimes life hands us the beautiful and everything goes as planned. We get the job we hoped for, complete the project, or lose that ten pounds. And other times we are left with slightly soft eggplant. It’s usable, but perhaps not desirable. Rather than toss those declining eggplants, perhaps we can find a way to repurpose and transform them into something delicious. (Can you tell I watched Chopped last night?)

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The eggplant did indeed disappear into the soup. You could tell it wasn’t straight-up conventional tomato soup, but it was delicious. It turned out sort of buttery and elegant, with a hidden richness that tomatoes alone would not provide.

Maybe life is like that, too – not quite what we expect or plan and not quite perfect, but with an underlying richness that comes from embracing all of the imperfections we encounter along the way.

Serve this soup with a fresh green salad and some rustic crusty bread for a light and satisfying dinner. And the next time life hands you some not-so-perfect eggplant, consider what richness you can create with what you have been given.

Mangiare bene vivere felici!

Eat well and live happy!

 

TToT – The One With All the Snow

I know, I know. Everyone is tired of hearing about the snow.

Believe me – I am, too.

We got a lot – our official local report is 32 inches, but my back porch says more like 36. Guess we fall in the “locally heavier amounts” area. This was taken around 1:30 PM…

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And here’s just two hours later…still well before the end of the storm much later Saturday night.

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But no matter the amount, the snow is upon us whether we like it or not so let’s grin and bear it and commence with a snowy round of thankfuls. I promise there will be a bit of light from the snowy darkness by the time we get to the end. Continue reading “TToT – The One With All the Snow”

TToT – The Never-Ending Cold

I still have a cold.

I think this must be the cold from hell, brought on by the unbelievably inconsistent weather here – unseasonably mild, then sub-zero wind chills, then up into the 30s, then down to the teens, then up to nearly 60 degrees, then a plummet to the 20s. No wonder my head is a mess.

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I’ve done all the home remedies – sick tea, my new favorite sick soup. Nothing is working so far – unless it’s all keeping it from getting worse, which I suppose can be Thankful #1 this week. How’s that for a silver lining?

Spring can come any time. Continue reading “TToT – The Never-Ending Cold”

Soup of the Week – Healing Cabbage Soup for a Cold

Know what you do when you suddenly come into an abundance of cabbage heads?

You make soup!

At least that’s what I do…

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For the last couple of years, we have split a CSA share with my Husband’s parents. As our season ended this fall, they were out of town so we inherited both halves of the share, including several beautiful heads of cabbage. I offered some to people I knew who might want it, but no takers. So I started thinking about what to do… Continue reading “Soup of the Week – Healing Cabbage Soup for a Cold”

TToT – We’re Here Already?

I can’t believe it’s the weekend again already.

I also can’t believe that Halloween and Thanksgiving have come and gone, that autumn is now two-thirds past, and we’re heading rapidly toward Hanukkah next weekend and Christmas not far behind.

Time moves so fast… What is it that Ferris Bueller said? “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I definitely don’t want that to happen. I want to be aware of the life I’m living.

And so it is good practice, especially in times when life is busy and stressful, to just…be. We need time to stop and look around, to find the quiet moments for which to be thankful, the moments that give our life meaning.

So let’s talk turkey… Continue reading “TToT – We’re Here Already?”

TToT – The Unexpected

I am not a fan of surprises.

Surprise parties, unannounced visitors, restaurant servers gathered around my table singing an unenthusiastic birthday song while I sit in my seat wearing a sombrero and smiling awkwardly at a cupcake holding a flaming sparkler? Not my thing.

But as I get older – and I hope wiser – I’m trying to embrace the beauty of unexpected things. You just never know when you might find a moment of fascinating and beautiful in the midst of the ordinary – like the sea turtle Zilla found living on the wood boards of the restroom at our hiking spot. Sometimes the unplanned and unexpected in life are the very things we never knew we wanted.

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For example, I can start here with my daughter, our Kidzilla. Before she was born, we were certain she would be a boy. We wanted to have a boy and we hoped for a boy, so we convinced ourselves that she was, indeed, a boy. As it turns, out she is a girl. A very pink, very sparkly girl. And we can’t imagine ever having wanted anything different.

In a million years, I never would have expected to decide that I wanted to work for myself, work from home, and want to make things like chaperoning field trips and volunteering in the school library the first items that go on my calendar. And yet, after Zilla was born, I found myself wanting that more and more.

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I never would have expected to choose to leave the “security” of a full-time benefits-included job and strike out on my own. Terrifying. And yet unexpectedly rewarding. I certainly did not expect to start taking sub-teacher days – and I definitely didn’t think I’d enjoy it. But I’ve been subbing a couple of days each week for the last couple of weeks and enjoying it quite a bit.

I did not expect the plans I had for my self-employed ventures to fall through. Nearly everything I expected and planned and attempted for the last year has somehow not gone as planned. But as it turns out, in retrospect, it’s very likely been for good reason and it seems has led to better opportunities.

For example, I most definitely did not expect to land three freelance contract in three days – but that’s exactly what happened this week. I’m still in a bit of shock. Of course I’ll continue to search and add more – such is the life of the freelance writer – but these are a very positive and encouraging start. And I expected my first few jobs to be, well, hateful. But these three are actually quite interesting and I’m excited about doing them.

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I’m sure I missed a memo or a posting or an invite somewhere this week because I most definitely did not expect my phone to ring with a video chat call on Friday evening. The next thing I knew, I was talking face-to-virtual-face with Clark and Lizzi and Kristi! That was an absolutely delightful surprise!

I never expected to find so many dear friends out there in so many places as a result of starting this blog. Nor did I expect the outpouring of good wishes, support, and encouragement that they provide in so many ways. I hope you all know who you are…I love you guys.

I didn’t expect my blood work to look all that great this week, but it’s quite good. Nor did I expect to buy jeans several sizes smaller than I thought I needed, or that I would drop (and keep off) ten pounds over the last couple of weeks, or that anyone would notice – ten pounds on a fat girl isn’t always that noticeable, you know? And yet all of those things have happened.

When asked what I do for a living, I never expected “I am a writer” to come out of my mouth. But it did. And oddly enough, mere hours after that utterance, I accepted my first contract. Coincidence? Who’s to say…?

20150902_125402I did not plant to have an impromptu girls slumber party last night with Kidzilla or expect that my Fab Hub would grab me in the garage for a good solid kiss this morning. Those happy surprises happened, too.

I didn’t expect to like the soup I’m eating right now, but it might be one of my new favorites.

And I certainly didn’t expect to go several days without Cat One making a fecal deposit somewhere unacceptable in the house, but it seems that even unexpected miracles do sometimes happen!

It’s a good day.

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Your turn: What unexpected things have made you happy and thankful lately? Do you like surprises or dread them? What is the greatest surprise you’ve had in life? 

You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em!

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TToT – Finding My Groove…and Peace

Wow. Just wow.

Well, I muddled through OctPoWriMo – sorta. I somehow anticipated having more time, producing more words, posting more posts…then life happened. I even missed a TToT or two which I truly never do. And now, here we are a week into November and NaNoWriMo I’m feeling a bit like I’m trying to climb a very slippery slope. All good intentions fall to the wayside, unexpected things fall in my path…you know…things fall apart.

But it’s not bad … in fact, things are rather good, I think. I did get some poetry posts in for October. I am writing for NaNoWriMo, albeit slowly. I’m just having a very hard time finding my groove right now, in all respects. It will come. I will get there.

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In the meantime, I am just enjoying autumn (well except for this last week of ridiculously hot and muggy temps…ugh), continuing to find my way, and keeping my eyes focused on the path ahead. And even though the sun does not always shine through the trees, there is much for which I am thankful…

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Continue reading “TToT – Finding My Groove…and Peace”

TToT – My People

There’s a lot going on around here right now.

The in-real world is pretty stressful and demanding right now and I’d be lying if I said I’m handling with anything close to finesse. I’m not. I’m exhausted. I’m not sleeping. My eczema is springing up like crazy. I’m getting pimples – and that’s ridiculous. I didn’t even have them in puberty. Why now for crying out loud? I’m cranky and nervous and I’m driving my family insane. Even the Rotten Cats are kind of staying away…

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So, yeah. Finding the thankful this week was not at the top of my Things-I-Can’t-Wait-to-Do list this week. In fact, Christina mentioned on Facebook that she was kind of wondering how to get the TToT done when you’re really not feeling it. At that moment, I thought my list was going to be one of Clark’s hypo-gratitude type posts. I think most of us have been there at least once. Right?

Well I’m kind of there again.

But at some point on Saturday morning it occurred to me that even though I’m really having a tough time seeing what’s going well right now, there is a lot of good in my life. It comes in the form of the people I have around me.

For example… Continue reading “TToT – My People”

TToT – Transitions and Getting Back on Track

Fall has always been a time of transition and fresh starts for me.

This year is no different. The change of seasons itself is a beautiful time of change – for me, the move from hot and humid to cool and comfortable is glorious. And I love the color changes, too. Although the fresh, bright greens of summer are beautiful in their own right, there is something special about the first pops of autumn color. And I’m looking forward to seeing more in the coming weeks.

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And even though I am no longer teaching, the start of a new school year always feel like a New Year’s of sorts – a time to get back into a routine, start something new, get a fresh perspective. Clean book covers, new school shoes, empty notebooks and freshly-sharpened pencils get me every time, even if they aren’t mine.

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Continue reading “TToT – Transitions and Getting Back on Track”

TToT – The Interim

Unbelievably, here we are at the end of summer.

School begins on Monday for Kidzilla, so this is our last weekend of summer freedom. But I still can’t pull my brain away from the thought that summer lasts until Labor Day and this whole back-to-school before Labor Day thing is nonsense.

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So for the next week, we’ll be sort of hovering in the interim between back-to-school routine and what should be the final days of summer. Of course, it’s all moot since summer doesn’t end by the calendar until late September. I guess the answer to the question of when summer ends is dependent upon the person you ask. 

But whatever.

While I’m a bit sad to see summer end, I’m also glad we’ll be getting back to a more structured routine with the start of school. I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of each season, but seasons must and do change. I’m ready, I think.

Regardless of what the school calendar says, it’s still the weekend and that means it’s time to stop for a few moments and be thankful for the good in life… Continue reading “TToT – The Interim”