It snowed last night – the first real snow of the winter with six or seven inches of the frozen white stuff on the ground; I laughed out loud when local friends posted photos on Facebook showing completely bare shelves where bread was once stacked – ditto for milk. Newsflash people: we live in the Midwest – it snows here – and six inches of snow is not the apocalypse. Lordy.
It’s beautiful when snow is fresh and new and I’m standing in my warm house gazing from the window; a million brilliant white frozen crystals bounce sunlight back onto the snow-covered plants, casting long dark shadows across the ground. Brown-leafed hydrangea stems now wear white pointed top hats; our koi huddle around the pond heater which keeps a 10-inch circle of water liquid while the rest of the pond is frozen and piled high with soft white flakes.
It’s January – the month of new starts, diets, cleanses, resolutions, goals and new beginnings; I’m resolving to stay away from the diets and cleanses choosing instead to continue my quest to listen to my body and eat as well as I can; resolving to not beat myself up in those moments I fail – and instead, to spend my energy focused on living as balanced a life as I can. For me, it’s not so much as what I’m ‘against’ as much as it is about what I’m ‘for’ – more positive, less negative and that includes being kind to myself.
I’m a big, big fan of Anne Lamott and I happened to catch one of her posts on Facebook last week; so much of what she writes speaks to me but this post in particular, hit a bullseye and I found myself saying, ‘Yes, yes and yes’ – it’s really worth reading the entire post but I’ll share some of it here:
‘ . . . as I’ve said before, getting on a scale is like asking Dick Cheney to give you a sense of your own self-worth every morning.
I can still get my jeans on, for one reason: I wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, volunteering random thoughts about my butt.’ ~Anne Lamott
I too, can still get my jeans on and I am indeed, sitting here in my very forgiving yoga pants, hair not yet combed this morning, sans any trace of makeup on my face, sipping my daily espresso and debating whether or not to remove the Christmas cards from my fireplace mantel; I may even put away the snowglobe sitting on an end table. That was the extent of our Christmas ‘decorations’ this year – I think we may have overdone the decorations (she says tongue-in-cheek).
The Professor and I have spent these last weeks sleeping late, enjoying leisurely brunches and watching copious amounts of television (something we don’t do during most of the year); our niece gave us one of her pieces of artwork for Christmas – a piece that I’ve admired for several years during our many visits to Cincinnati. It’s been framed and hung on the wall in our dining room – which then lead to repainting the walls and adding two new cabinets – see how one idea leads to another? I still have trim to finish and a few other touches but once it’s completed, I’ll share more photos.
All of the meandering in this post leads me to this: I’m learning to move at a little slower pace, to be aware of the light around me, to create – not only in my food, but in my writing, my photography and the space we live in – it feeds me, it restores me and my soul is happy and content – even with six inches of snow on the ground.
We wish you well in this new year; we encourage you to be kind to yourself, be kind to others, take the high-road whenever you have that opportunity and remember: we’re all in this together.
If you google ‘Cabbage Soup’ I’m betting that links to more than one variation of this recipe will appear. The first time we enjoyed this soup was last winter when we gathered with a group of friends we hadn’t seen for a few years. I asked for the recipe and followed it to the letter but since then, I’ve made my own very minor tweaks and now it’s not only become one of our favorite soups but it’s also quite easy because it really isn’t a ‘recipe’ but more an ‘eyeball-amounts-until-you-like-it’ recipe. If you want to add more beef, you can – just add more water and/or broth; if all you have is tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, those work too. We make ours with grass-fed beef and Jovial chopped tomatoes – but feel free to use whatever is in your own pantry. This is a great make-ahead soup and will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days – I send leftovers with The Professor for lunch!
UNSTUFFED CABBAGE ROLL SOUP
Makes approximately 6 cups of soup
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
- 1 28-ounce jar chopped tomatoes (we use Jovial)
- 4 cups chopped green cabbage
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- salt/pepper to taste
- In a large dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil, onions and garlic; sauté until translucent – about 5-minutes; add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper
- Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink, breaking the meat up into small pieces as you brown; add another pinch of salt and a few more grinds of black pepper
- Add tomatoes, water, chicken broth, bay leaf and cabbage; bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover, leaving the lid ajar slightly. Simmer for 30-minutes or until cabbage is tender and cooked through
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed; remove the bay leaf and serve immediately