Time to Nest
I love this time of year, when nights are longer, and days are shorter. Today is a gray day…all the better. I return home early yesterday morning, 12:58 AM if you are counting, after nearly two and one half weeks on the road. Week One is in New York City for the second week-long photo shoot for book three. Week Two is in Austin, Texas to speak at Hospice Austin’s major fundraiser for the year. In between, I am home for two days, just enough to spend a little bit of time with Duncan, Greta, and Mr Fez, do my laundry, repack, and head back out. Now, I’m home. I’m making Slow Speed Soup. I couldn’t be happier.
Set the Fire
On my last day in Austin, I can’t wait to get home. I know exactly what the shape of my first day will be. After waking up, I feed Mr Fez, dress, and head over to Cindy’s to fetch Greta. Once home, she trots back and forth while I bring in armloads of wood and set them beside the woodstove. I crumple up a few sheets of paper, lay dry kindling and a few smaller pieces of cord word on top, and before I strike the match, I make sure that the flue is open at the back of the stove. By experience I have had a few times when I missed that later step only to have my house start to fill up with smoke. All good. I strike the match…it’s the last one I have, too. Matches start a list of things I need to pick up at the store. I’m pretty good a holding a fire overnight, so heading to the store can wait, plus I can always go over to one of my neighbors to borrow a few and catch up on the neighborhood news. The paper catches and I see a cheerful flame lick the dry tinder.
On the kitchen counter I see gifts of potatoes, carrots, and winter squash from Duncan and Olivia, who have just left on their own three-week journey to South America. I bring out my big blue enameled Dutch oven and place on top of the stove, a cutting board and knife to the counter, and begin to chop.There are a few stalks of celery in the fridge to add, and a handful of herbs, too. I pour some homemade vegetable stock over it all. While it comes to a boil, I put on the kettle for tea, and then turn the pot to simmer for an hour. Later I add a can of tomato sauce, and one of black beans, cook up some pieces of bacon, chop them up and add them, too.
Reading and Relaxing
I look around and see that there are piles of mail, recycling, laundry, dust bunnies and crumbs on the floor. I briefly ponder–shall I go straight to chores or take a break and spend the day on the couch with a good book. Greta is already there. Mr Fez is on the chair. It’s as if they are showing me that my next step is relaxing. Ok. I get the picture and set myself down next to Greta. She adjusts a bit, turns her head to give my hand a lick, and lets out a sigh. I pick up the copy of A Gentleman in Moscow that my host in Austen passes on to me and open to page one hundred-fifty–that’s where I got to on the plane. (I was so engrossed in it, I missed nearly all the cues from the flight attendants for beverages and snacks.) Every hour, I take a break to stir the pot, stoke the woodstove, make another cup of tea, and let Gretapie out for a break, too. Even with two naps, I finish the entire book. It’s one of the best reads I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Have you read it, too? It’s only 9 PM, but I head off to bed and sleep until the clock says 6 AM west coast time but who’s counting?
Life at the Speed of Slow
It’s dark when I come out to the kitchen. I feed and water my four-legged family and go outside with them. We all breathe in the cool wet Washington air. I start the kettle and they pad back inside to take their places on the couch and chair. I wrap up in a blanket. Those matches are on my list. When the rain lets up, we’ll head out for a walk. The dust bunnies and edits for book three? Tomorrow. Today, I’ll have one more day of life at the speed of slow.
Here’s the recipe for Slow Speed Soup.
Slow Speed Soup
- Enameled Dutch oven or big covered pot
- Cutting Mat
- sauté or frying pan
- 6-8 Potatoes chopped
- 2 Carrots sliced
- 3 stocks Celery sliced
- Enough stock or water to cover
- Some oven roasted tomatoes from last season optional
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 can black or other colored beans
- Rinds from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese hiding in the cheese drawer. If you don't have the rinds, you can grate cheese over the soup before you eat it.
- 1 tbsp thyme, or other herb of choice
- A few pieces of thick bacon, cooked and chopped
- 1/2 bag Frozen peas
- Chop and slice the vegetables, place in the pot with tomatoes (if you have some), herbs, and cover with water or stock.
- Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer, and cover.
- Check in an hour.
- Puree about half of the soup in a blender, and return to the pot.
- Stir in a can of tomato sauce, black beans, and rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (if you have them.)
- Cook up some thick bacon. Chop it up, and put it in the pot, along with the frozen peas.
- Cook for another hour or so on low.
- Add salt and pepper to your taste.
- Ladle some in to a bowl, and grate more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top if you like.
- Even better on the second day when the flavors blend.