Coming back to myself

4 Comments

I have not been myself lately, Aside from still battling the lingering effects of the cold I have had for the last nine days, my energy has felt foreign to me. I am usually a very cheerful person but I have not had that effervescent feeling for a while and I don’t know why.

Sure, we are seven weeks through the nine crazy weeks of summer at the lodge and those weeks lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, but this is different. This feels like something has shifted and I can’t quite explain it to myself, let alone describe it to you. Whatever this funk is, it has even caused me to shy away from writing and that is not normal.

Thankfully, today is my day off. When I feel out of sorts, the first thing on my list of things to do is organize my house. I purged my closet of the clothing I have not worn in the last six months and that helped me feel like I had gained some control of the chaos in my mind. As much as that helped to start the process, the best place I can go to feel grounded and to get some of myself back is my kitchen. I reorganized my fridge, made my salads in a jar for lunches this week and I have ribs cooking slowly in my crockpot for dinner. Just the familiar smell of those ribs is bringing me back to a feeling of contentment. My disconnection is slowly being reconnected the more I focus on the things that are important to me and forget the stress that lingers outside of my four walls. I would be doing myself a disservice if I continued to wallow in whatever this low tide is that has been trying to drag me down.

These words may not be the exact phrases I would normally choose, but I’m writing and that is the last piece of the puzzle to get me out of this feeling of despondency and bring me back to myself, one word at a time.

Soup’s on

Leave a comment

Summer is a crazy time for me. The lodge is busy and I have the knack of having a multitude of side projects in the works while surviving my busy summer hospitality job. Some days feel like a smooth paddle on a calm lake and others feel like a roller coaster ride through Hell. By mid-summer, I am physically and emotionally drained and I need something to make me feel centered again.

Writing is a good place to start the process of realigning myself. Writing is cathartic. Typing words onto a screen makes the rest of the world fade slowly into the background until there is nothing left but me, my laptop and my imagination. The minutes and hours I spend writing make me happy and bring me to a level of calm that is somewhat hypnotic. There is only one other thing that can take me beyond hypnotic to being completely detached from reality and that is cooking.

It is 38 degrees today with humidity and my gut told me that it was the perfect time to make a summer corn and zucchini chowder. When my parents were still alive, the times we spent in the kitchen together were some of the happiest moments of our lives. My mom was the queen of baking sweet treats for everyone and my dad loved to cook. My brother and I inherited his passion for creating tasty dishes and homemade soups. My dad was never one to use a recipe, unless he was making Martha Stewart’s Shortbread, and his food was almost always delicious…..I will save the story of his scrambled eggs made with eggnog for another day.

To me, there is no greater satisfaction than creating something from a bunch of random ingredients. Individually those ingredients can taste good, but when you combine them in a way they compliment the flavor of the others, that is sheer bliss. The bacon is fried, the onions are rendering in the bacon fat and the rest of the ingredients are ready to be thrown in. The result will be a tasty summer chowder that would make my dad proud.

At the end of the cooking process, I will sit down to a comforting bowl of soup for dinner and feel thoroughly decompressed. My mind will be back in its happy place and I will relish the memories of my mother calling us for each and every dinner, regardless of the menu, by saying, “soup’s on”.

 

 

 

 

 

Just things

2 Comments

There are a million wooden spoons.  I’m sure I could go into any store, from a Walmart to a high-end Kitchen store, to replace the one I have.  But the one I have has a special function none of those other spoons would have. My spoon has the ability to transport me back in time.

img_3524

This wooden spoon is the spoon my mother used to stir her brownie batter and, when I was being good, was the spoon I was allowed to lick the leftover batter from until it was clean.  When I became old enough to take over in the kitchen, I was entrusted with the spoon and left on my own to make the brownies without my mom’s help. Even though I was far beyond those childhood years, I still licked the spoon.

This wooden spoon has had an epic journey and has lived in many kitchens but it now finds its place in my home.  It was one of the only kitchen items I chose to keep from my mom’s vast collection of kitchen gadgets after she passed away. It shares its space with the shiny stainless steel utensils, in just as shiny a container, on the counter in my kitchen.  It looks like a misfit toy lost in the pristine surroundings of Santa’s workshop but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There are times when I am afraid to use the spoon for fear that it will break and I will lose the last tangible part of the life I shared with my mother.  It feels like the last piece of her I can physically hold on to, have her feel close to me and be six years old again in our kitchen.

People will tell you “things are just things”, but when those things can keep you connected to people you have lost, those things become so much more than “just things”.

 

 

 

Party on Weight, Party on Girth! ~ Part Duh

12 Comments

A couple years ago, I was in the same mindset and wrote this post and here I am again. Like most people who struggle with their weight, I have good moments and bad moments. Working in hospitality gives me even more of a challenge having to be around food all day, every day. And the icing on the cake (yes, I had to use a food reference) is that we just hired a new chef at the lodge and have been tasting all of his wonderful creations.

It has not escaped my attention that my body is not as willing or able to break down many of these treats complimented by cream sauces and bacon. Many years ago, I followed a very regimented plan where the only processed foods I ate were the meals I processed myself. I knew exactly what I was putting into my mouth and I could pronounce every single ingredient.

I have been slowly getting back into the way I used to eat. Every week, I make five or six salads in a mason jar for my lunches. It is a quick process to prepare lunch for the week and even easier to grab a jar and know I am having a very healthy lunch. I am going to make my own granola tonight for my breakfasts and my body will react well to the fact there are no preservatives that it has to figure out how to break down. I don’t need any more random ingredients stored in fat cells because my digestive system can’t come to the proper conclusion on how to dispose of the mysterious ingredients.

Weight and Girth (thank you Saturday Night Live) have been jamming in the basement of my viscera for far too long and the eviction notice is waiting to be served. Today I had my last Peameal Bacon on a bun from my Aunt and Uncle’s restaurant, at least for a few months. My fridge will be stocked with fruit and vegetables, whole foods and water.

It’s time to start the party in another room in my body and let Weight and Girth take up space in someone else’s basement. And by sharing this with everyone who reads this blog, I am making myself accountable to kick those two out on the street.  Party on Weight, Party on Girth…..just not in my world anymore. Schwing!

Boys will be boys, and then they make you dinner

11 Comments

I stopped by my brother’s house on Saturday to pick up my empty Tupperware containers.  The rule is….if I get them back, I fill them up again.  I love to make soup and they love having homemade soup for lunch, so it’s a no-brainer.

My oldest nephew was in his car behind me and we pulled into the driveway at the same time.  After most of the family had an appropriate amount of time to make fun of his morning hairdo, I headed to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients for the three soups I was making that afternoon.  I was just about home when my phone beeped with a text message.  It was from my nephew asking if I had dinner plans for the evening.  His parents were going out for the night and he wanted to make something nice and have me join the two boys for dinner.

I have written two previous blog posts titled, “Boys will be boys and then they make you cry”.  I’m sure you can surmise what happened next.  Yes, the tears appeared at the thought of a 17-year old boy not taking advantage of an empty house to have his friends over.  Instead, he made steak, baked potatoes and a salad for his Aunt and his brother.

Suddenly, the dynamic of boys being boys was replaced by a dinner that the three of us enjoyed and gave us time to catch up.  There were no sibling shenanigans, my older nephew cooked, my younger nephew cleared and stacked the dishes in the dishwasher and I sat staring at these two faces who seem like they should still be seven and four, not seventeen and fourteen.

In a world where the character of some children can be questionable at best,  I sat in awe of the two young men sitting with me at the dining room table.  To say my brother and sister-in-law got it right is an understatement and I am so proud to have these two young men in my life.  Now, if you’ll excuse me…..I have something in my eye….again.

Do good, feel good

8 Comments

Over the last few years, I have found myself very driven to spend a great deal of my spare time volunteering.  I have always liked helping people so this step was a natural progression in my desire to offer my time to help those in need.  With a background in hospitality and a passion for cooking, it came as no surprise to me that I have combined all of those things about myself and I have become very active with our local Food Bank.

When you weave your way into the world of volunteering, you see just how many people are right along side of you, driven by the same aspiration to lend a hand where they can.  The faces you see in your daily life suddenly become the hands behind the volunteer work that you didn’t know they were a part of.  They don’t do it for the recognition, they simply do it because they want to help.

I have been very fortunate to become a part of a group of people with a vision that continues to grow to serve our small community.  Sure, there are a few people who need more recognition than others and an occasional public pat on the back, but there are always a few of those people in every crowd.  Thankfully our intentions come from the same place and we put forth the same effort to achieve the desired results.

(image credit)

If you have ever entertained the idea of volunteering, I highly recommend it.  Just knowing that your efforts make such a difference in people’s lives, regardless of where you volunteer your time, is a truly heart-warming feeling.   And there is no shortage of places that could use an extra pair of hands or two.  The amount of time you commit to volunteering is always up to you but every second you spend helping those who struggle is well worth the time you take to show other people that you care.

 

 

Soup for the soul

4 Comments

There is something comforting about being safely tucked inside on a snowy winter’s day.  What makes it even better is having homemade soups simmering on the stove and having the house smell like home.  It is a nesting feeling for me being in my kitchen and having the aromas of what I chose to create permeate my house.

I love to cook and I absolutely love to make soup.  My dream would be to have a restaurant that focuses on soup and fresh-baked biscuits and goodies, allowing me to get back into baking and making wedding cakes again.  I also love to play Scrabble and I thought if I ever was able to own a restaurant, each table would have a Scrabble board and I would call my restaurant “Alphabet Soup”.

This weekend, I have been creating big pots of soup to portion out for meals and keep in my freezer, as well as give some to my brother and sister-in-law for their lunches.  Some soups are staples and the recipe is followed to the letter.  Others are made on a whim whenever I feel the need to pair flavors and see if it works.  These were the flavors this past weekend:

(image credit)

  • Cream of Mushroom Soup with Sherry
  • Cauliflower, Pear and Blue Cheese
  • Broccoli, Peach and Brie

I keep holding the dream of having my own restaurant close to my heart.  Every dream needs a time and a place to come to fruition.  Perhaps now is not the time and maybe this is not the place, but I continue to hold onto my dream in the hope that it may become a reality.  Soup maker by day, writer by night.  What could be better?