♦ Comfort Zone

Dear Shaina,

Loved your letter and recipes and your total engagement with your life, despite the stress. I am also feeling the speed of the days flying by, even though, I technically have “nothing” to do!

My newest obsession also has to do with APPLEs, just not the pick-off-the-tree and eat kind.  I am seduced by my new MAC Pro laptop.   I can’t say its been the easiest of relationships, but the more I get to know it … well, I may actually fall in love. Learning new things, especially when they involve technology, is totally time-sucking and HARD! I am at the Apple Store for training almost every other day when I am in town.   I know almost all the trainers, where the bathroom is and… some really cool things I can do with my MAC.  And I just purchased a new camera which I also have no idea how to use. I have decided that I am going to spend all my time learning new technology, just to prove I can! That is, unless I have a mah jong game.  I do have my priorities!

Next week is November already!  Thanksgiving is practically here.  We are expecting about 40 this year (OMG)! I keep reminding myself that I used to do this and work 50 hours a week…so Thanksgiving should be a breeze this year.

Although Turkey is standard Thanksgiving fare, for me, it’s about the soup. I like to serve soup as an appetizer to warm up people while waiting for everyone to arrive.  My favorite is Mushroom Barley Soup; hearty, healthy and part of the tradition.  I always make a second soup just in case someone hates mushrooms.  I am big on having options so everyone’s happy.

Not sure what I will do for the second soup this year, but I did make some very healthy and easy cauliflower soup last week.  It was good, but a lot of people hate cauliflower so I may reserve that for family only (they’ll eat anything).  I am including the recipe because I liked it and I think this recipe could be easily adapted to other vegetables.

One more thought; I noticed that you had no pictures of yourself in the apple orchard last week. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t have been an issue because you usually only post pictures of food.  But it stood out for me because you did put in Arielle’s picture, which I loved, but you were missing.  If I were reading your blog and didn’t know you, I would think Arielle was you. It was odd to me because you put so much of your heart and your passion into this blog, yet you are invisible in a visual sense. I know that, on some level, invisibility is comfortable for you. You have nudged yourself beyond your comfort zone in so many areas, yet invisibility seems to have a stronghold on you.  I thought about your earnest quest to find yourself, to search for your path in life, to honor your urge to go for it, what ever it is…and all I kept thinking about was ‘what is lost cannot be found unless it is visible.’    I challenge you to practice visibility.

I better get back to my recipes so I can get to bed.  I loved our day at the beach and I look forward to hearing about the adventures you are sure to have the rest of this weekend.

 

Love,

Mom      xoxoxoxxoxoxoxoo

 

COMFORT IN SOUP

Making Soup is one of the easiest and comforting food items to prepare.  For one, soup recipes are very forgiving and provide lots of room for personal preferences and tastes.    These Soups are heart healthy, vegetarian, gluten free, and can be made using little or no fat. There is nothing like a steaming hot bowl of soup to warm up a cold day and nurture family and friends.

The quantities noted in these recipes are very flexible. Taste frequently and adjust to your taste.  Start off with the biggest pot you own as the soup tends to grow as you adjust flavors and ingredients.  Soup freezes well and is a treat to pull out of the freezer on a cold winter night.

 

Mushroom Barley Soup

  • Raw Pearl Barley

    1 ½  cup pearl Barley

  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 4-6 cloves of fresh garlic minced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 – 2 lbs sliced mushrooms
  • drop of olive oil
  • vegetarian soup broth
  • 1 Tblsp oregano
  • 1 Tblsp basil
  • Salt and plenty of black pepper to taste

Cook barley according to directions and do not drain or rinse after cooking. Sauté  onion, carrots, garlic and celery in a drop of olive oil in a large soup pot.

Add 1 to 2 pounds of sliced mushrooms to the soup pot and continue sautéing until all vegetables are tender, but not soft.

Add 4 to 6 cups of water seasoned with vegetarian broth. Add the cooked barley with the liquid to the soup pot. Add the seasonings, salt and pepper. Simmer until flavors have blended.  Adjust seasonings and ingredients to taste.

More barley if you like thicker soup, more water for thinner.  More (or less) carrots or onions or garlic to taste. This soup tastes better the longer it cooks and even better the next day.

Optional: A splash of soy sauce or balsamic vinegar can be added.

*If you don’t want to use any oil, just add all raw vegetables including the mushrooms to the cooked barley with with water, spices and vegetarian broth and cook until done.

**I used white button mushrooms, baby portobellas and even added some enoki mushrooms this year.  Vary the amount and type according to your preference.

 

Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3-4  cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 head of fresh cauliflower broken into chunks
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Shallots

Sauté onions, garlic and shallots in a tsp of olive oil in the soup pot until slightly translucent. Put entire head of cauliflower broken into chunks into the pot. Add just enough water to barely cover the cauliflower.

Add salt and pepper.

Vegetarian or Chicken flavored bouillon can be used instead of salt.

Cook until cauliflower is soft and cooked through.

Remove from heat.  Using a stick blender or food processor, blend all vegetables in the pot until you have a creamy white puree.  Adjust seasonings.  If soup is too thick, add a little water.

Simmer and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve hot and garnish with cut up green onions.

Can be frozen.

If cauliflower is not your thing, butternut squash can be substituted or try a combination of yellow squash and sweet potatoes.  Experiment with adding other spices and enjoy!

 

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