Chicken-Rice Soup for a Cold (or Anytime)

Sierra came down with a rather wicked cold last week: fever, cough, sniffles, all of it. There’s not much sadder than a sick baby toddler? 16-month-old – you can cuddle her, wipe her nose, give her all the water she cares to drink, and tell her she’ll feel better soon but does she truly understand? This week she finally seems on the mend but we’ve been laying low and eating lots of soup (and cake for the grown-ups because why not?).

I made one of my classic many-vegetabled soups (garlic, onion, carrots, sweet potato, potato, parsnip, turnip) and pureed the pot into velvety smoothness on Saturday afternoon while she had a long nap. The sun streamed in as I enjoyed my solitary lunch and hit the clementines (or tangelos?) placed just so on the counter. There was a blessed respite from the ongoing construction project next door and I took a moment to be thankful for the quiet. The little things, yes? Two months in with no end in reasonable sight I’ve started appreciating Sundays ever more, as it’s the one day a week they don’t work. Morocco, you never fail to challenge.

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Making Good Use (+ A Beet Soup)

Making good use of beets by turning them into a velvety, dairy-free soup that’s spiked with lemon juice.

She totters around the downstairs of our rather enormous house and I let her, hanging back with my cup of coffee (if it’s morning) or tea (if it’s late afternoon) and granting her the illusion that she’s on her own to discover what there is to discover. My intrepid explorer; I hope one day soon her path is the granite of the Sierras rather than the cold, slick tiles of this house (though admittedly granite can be cold and slick too).

There’s a rather astonishing number and variety of birds in our neighborhood; often they fly in great flocks over the slightly pollution-stained houses and somewhat raggedy palm trees and alight on bougainvilla branches and garden walls. There’s one in particular that sounds like a blue jay and every time I hear it I think of being in the redwood forest, maybe Armstrong Woods in particular, the quiet hum of the trees and rushing water and hot summer pressing down all around me. Intellectually I know of course that there are no blue jays here – mourning doves, sea gulls, small white cranes, …. yes, but no jays or other birds similarly familiar to we North Americans – but if I take a moment to close my eyes I can almost believe I am in California of an August afternoon with nothing much to do other than listen to the leaves falling down to carpet the dry ground.

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The Weekly Pot (+ Sweet Potato and Vegetable Soup)

We’ve been listening to a lot of Pete Seeger’s great album “Song and Play Time” – which apparently my brother and I listened to when we were kids – after my dad got Sierra hooked on “Ha, Ha, This-A-Way” while we were in California this summer. I don’t love a lot of the ‘popular’ children’s music out there but you really can’t beat Pete Seeger. It’s a truly lovely little album that becomes more catchy the more you listen to it. Funny how that happens. I’ve especially been humming “Soon As We Cook Sweet Potatoes” when I make soup, because, lucky me, I often can and do find yams/sweet potatoes (Japanese yams is what I think they are) here at the market. I’ve been tucking them into salads but mostly have been making vegetable soups heavy on the yams and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge.

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Easing the Bite (+ Roasted Veg Soup + Cornbread Muffins)

This morning I went to my first yoga class since September. (And that September class was a prenatal class, so not full of the usual vinyasas I so love which means I guess technically I haven’t gone to a class since last August. Woah.) It was conducted entirely in French and wasn’t that an experience, my French not being up to snuff too well just yet. I discovered I can still hold a decent plank and do an adequate crow and a shoulder stand, and despite not always knowing exactly what my instructor was saying I muddled along well enough (I think). Now I would like to go to another class maybe tomorrow, please, or at least as soon as possible. Before then I’d like to have a bowl of vegetable soup and a cornbread muffin to restore myself and my stretched-out muscles.

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A Cooking Weekend (+ Butternut Squash Soup)

A few weeks before we left for Morocco, I invited our friend Clare over to my parents’ place for lunch. This was still in the rather sleep-deprived early weeks, when Sierra wasn’t too keen on being by herself for too long. So my cooking and baking endeavors — because of course I had to keep those up — often were accomplished in bits and pieces throughout the day. I think she was starting to be a better napper at that point, so I could slip away to make a persimmon puree to stir into cake batter, or put together a quinoa and apple salad as quickly as possible. Still, I had to peservere — just because I had a new baby my wish for good food hadn’t disappeared! Quite the contrary, actually. I craved lots of hearty, healthy dishes incorporating lots of vegetables (nothing new of course) with, yes, the more than occasional sweet treat.

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Keeping it Easy (+ Turnip Soup)

[Casablanca, December 2013.]

Since the new year: more runs along the ocean, beaucoup de spinach and sweet potatoes (the excitement I experienced upon having acess to these two relied-upon vegetables cannot be understated), hauling out the ‘big camera’, marinating on some possible story ideas, countless cups of coffee (can’t be helped it seems), some regular 8-hour stretches of sleep, pretty cold temperatures at night, a small party. Also: vegetable quiches and the hankering to make another pot of turnip soup.

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