Recipe: Salmon cakes

Revanche at A Gai Shan Life recently asked for recipe ideas, and this is one of my favorites. I know I’ve shared this recipe with a close friend, but I couldn’t find a copy of it in my email or when I searched my blog. So I’m remedying that situation since I’d like to keep a copy of it anyway, just in case I lose the book in which I found it.

I didn’t originally find this recipe in a cookbook or on a website, but in a book about perimenopause, of all places. The recipe produces a single loaf or the mix can be baked in a standard muffin/cupcake tin and produces 12 “hockey puck” sized salmon cakes. I like to freeze them so I can pull two or three at a time out of the freezer and defrost as needed to make a single serving. These work equally well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and are easy to make ahead.

Canned fish can be a really good source of protein that doesn’t cost much. I love to eat fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna fresh, but it’s often cheaper and easier to buy it it in a can. Even wild-caught fish is usually affordable when it’s been canned. It’s also very shelf-stable. (Now I’m thinking I need to put a can or two of sardines in my earthquake kit!) My edits to the recipes and comments are added in brackets.

Salmon cakes

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups canned salmon [I use one large can of wild-caught salmon]
1 cup steel-cut oats [I use Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel-cut Oats]
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup liquid from salmon plus water
2 eggs
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced [of course you can use a yellow or red pepper, too]
1/2 cup onion, diced

Preheat oven to 350º F. Drain salmon and save liquid. Remove large bones. [I usually don’t find large bones, but if I do I’ll just crush them up. They are usually quite soft and just add more calcium.] Slightly beat eggs in a medium bowl and add salmon, oats, salt, pepper, and salmon liquid plus water. Mix well and let stand while sautéing vegetables. [I usually cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight or for several hours at this point so the oats can get soft. Letting it sit for at least an hour helps, especially if standard steel-cut oats are used. Without the longer resting time I’ve found the cakes to be too crunchy.]

Dice pepper and onions. Sauté in butter until tender. Stir vegetables into salmon mixture. Spoon into an oil-sprayed 12 serving muffin tin and bake 10 minutes until golden brown. [I’ve usually had to cook these for closer to 20 or 30 minutes to get them golden brown.]


You can have some fun jazzing these up by adding different herbs and seasonings — dill would be an obvious choice, or maybe even grated lemon peel — and veggies, such as chopped mushrooms, chopped celery, shredded carrot (?), or olives. Just make sure any crispy veggies have been sauteed first to soften them up. Enjoy!


Eat your (wild) greens!

I’m definitely in a cooking/food phase right now. Since I’m trying very, very hard to not eat any grains, I’m consuming lots of veggies these days. Besides the veggies I buy at market, I’m also eating greens from my yard. But not the typical greens that people grow like kale and lettuce. I’m harvesting weeds.

“Weed” is actually a relative term. Hard core organic gardeners will tell you that a weed is simply a plant growing where you don’t want it to grow. Even grass can be considered a weed if it invades your flower beds. Many of the plants that are typically considered weeds are edible, and an adventurous person can make some decent meals with these plants that are free for the taking.

Dandelion greens from Next Barn Over Farm

Dandelion greens from Next Barn Over Farm

Dandelion greens

Most people have heard that dandelion greens are edible, but have you tried them? They are rather bitter, but can be made more mild by blanching. Saute in olive oil with garlic, a few anchovy fillets, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Toss with pasta for a filling meal, or enjoy them without the pasta as a side dish.

I haven’t actually eaten the dandelion greens from my yard yet, but I’m working up to that. I typically get a deep craving for bitter greens in the spring but not so much at this time of year.

Lambs quarters

Mature lambs quarters

Mature lambs quarters

In the U.S. this is a little known edible plant. Just last weekend, though, I was watching Rick Bayless’ Mexico — One Plate at a Time and in one segment he was raving about a quesadilla he was eating in Mexico City that was filled with sautéed lambs quarters. Lambs quarters is supposed to taste like spinach. I haven’t tried it yet, as I’m not fortunate enough to have any growing in my yard. I saw some today while I was out walking the dog, but I didn’t want to pick a plant growing in a stranger’s yard without knowing whether they use pesticides.


Common purslane from Wikipedia

Common purslane from Wikipedia

I’ve tasted purslane several times over the years and have never found it very compelling. Recently I decided to give it another try since I have a lot popping up in my yard and the nutritional profile is so compelling. I searched for recipes and found surprisingly few, although one web page raved about how fabulous purslane pairs with cucumbers. So, I made a cucumber salad dressed with homemade vinaigrette and added purslane leaves from plants pulled out of my garden beds. The salad tasted…OK. I can’t say the purslane added anything flavor-wise, but I ate all of the salad over the course of a couple of meals with some cold roasted chicken. I think I may try adding it to scrambled eggs for breakfast one day.

Wood sorrel

I only learned about this plant within the last month, but it is my favorite backyard “weed.” During the annual volunteer day at my work, I spent several enjoyable hours at City Farm. While I was weeding a herb bed, the program manager pointed out this plant to me and requested that I not pull it. I asked him what it was; I had seen it in my own garden and always pulled and composted it. He told me the name and noted that the area restaurants paid quite a bit for this little plant. He had me try a few leaves and I was hooked. The taste is tangy and I find it a delicious addition to green salad.

Here’s a link to a fancy-looking salad recipe that features wood sorrel. I just bought some organic apricots at the farmers market yesterday, so maybe I’ll give this a try. Ever since I’ve learned how yummy wood sorrel is, I’ve been careful to leave it in place when I’m weeding my garden, just as I learned at City Farm.

Have you tried any edible weeds yourself? Would you be likely to give any of these plants a go?

A few final notes:

  • Be safe and don’t pick weeds from areas you think may be contaminated with toxins or pesticides. I feel safe eating the plants I’ve noted because they come from my own yard.
  • Spend a bit of time looking at photos of an unfamiliar plant from various angles and across the course of its growing cycle so you can be confident that the plant you’re picking is what you think it is. Better yet, carry a field guide or check the plant against those same sources after you bring it home if you have any doubts.
  • My chickens would go crazy for all of these greens. If you have a pet rabbit, guinea pig, or bird, perhaps they’d like these as a low-cost treat, too.

A nourishing soup recipe

I had some periodontal work done yesterday afternoon and it has really wiped me out. This is the second periodontal procedure I’ve had since January and I still have at least one more to do within the next month or two. As a person who has had minimal dental work done in my lifetime (short of wisdom teeth removal under general anesthesia I’ve needed nothing besides routine teeth cleaning until now) it seems the Novocaine shots are the most excruciating part of the whole procedure. Yesterday I actually writhed, whimpered, and had tears streaming down my face as the doctor injected the front part of my mouth.

Afterwards, I made it home via the el and an eight block walk (because I’m trying to get more exercise and I didn’t want to wait for the bus), and then thought that I should take advantage of the remaining daylight to mow my lawn. And the elderly neighbor lady’s lawn, too. Let’s just say I was pretty tired after such a demanding afternoon and lay on the couch doing nothing the rest of the night.

I needed to cancel my trip to the office today and squeeze a nap in this afternoon, but by late afternoon I was finally feeling more recovered. Then it occurred to me how wonderful it would be to have a bowl of this soup.

Whenever I’m feeling not my best, a bowl of tasty, nourishing soup goes a long way towards restoring me. Turmeric, one of the key ingredients in this recipe, has been used as an anti-inflammatory for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, and the other seasonings in the soup soothe, warm, and comfort me. It’s vegan and has no fat or oil in it, but I find it still satiates me. It also freezes quite well, so I will often make a double or triple batch to put up for another day when I need the healing properties of soup.

The recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. It’s an amazing cookbook and I highly recommend it for more mouth-watering recipes than just the one soup. Like the previously posted recipe, I’ll be adding some bracketed comments of my own.

Masoor dal soup

10 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 cup red lentils (masoor dal), picked over, washed, and drained
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon lime juice [I just juice half of a fresh lime]
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use as desired)

Tie the cloves, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. [I use one of those cloth teabags and just clean it out to re-use the next time I make this soup.]

Put the rinsed lentils and 5 cups water into a heavy 2 1/2-to-3 quart pot and bring to a boil. Remove the scum that rises to the top and discard. Add the turmeric and spice bundle to the pot. Turn heat to low, cover so the lid is slightly ajar, and simmer very gently for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the spice bundle and discard it. Put the soup in a blender or food processor (you may have to do this in two batches) and blend until it is smooth. [If you have an immersion blender, you can use one here. However, I never blend this soup. The lentils have softened so much that it seems unnecessary to me.] Add the salt, lime juice, and cayenne. Stir to mix.

This soup may easily be made ahead of time and reheated. [The author recommends serving homemade croutons on the side. I like it without the croutons and will eat it with toasted bread or pita, or with a scoop of rice right in the middle of the bowl. Naan would be even better!]

Baked oatmeal recipe

The busyness continues here, severely cutting into my writing time. Truly the adage that you can have anything you want, but not everything you want applies to more than just finances, it also applies to time management.

Besides my (more than) full-time job being extra demanding at this time, it’s also Spring which is the most critical season to gardeners. I’ve decided that I’ll scale back my usual food gardening this year for a few reasons, but I still have to manage the perennial beds and keep the small lawn in the back tended.

March and April were really rainy so it was difficult to find a day or two that fit my requirements of being dry enough (meaning that a day or two had passed to dry out the soil) and when I could step away from the work computer for several hours. Finally, the universe provided me with not just one but two days like that last weekend. Hooray! I spent both days weeding, dividing and moving plants, and pruning. I can’t say I’m completely done, but I’ve made enough progress that I am happy.

The weather here has not just been very wet, it’s also been quite cool. Warm, hearty food like baked oatmeal is perfect in these conditions.

I first tried making baked oatmeal a few weeks ago so I could bring some to my mother. I had plenty left for myself and was happy to find that it froze well, too. Last Monday night I decided to make another batch, tweaking the recipe a bit to better meet my personal tastes.

I wasn’t sure if I could post the original recipe (from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book) so I checked into copyright rules first and ran across an article that put my mind at ease.

As I made the recipe for the second time I ended up changing the recipe a bit more than originally planned since I ran low on some ingredients and made substitutions. This recipe as presented in the book has several suggestions for modifications to create different flavor combinations, so I knew that changing the type of dried fruit would work.

While changing the amount of sugar in a baked item such as bread or cake can affect the structure and texture, I felt confident decreasing the sugar in this recipe, too, since here the sugar is more for flavoring. (I like sweets, but find that the amount of sweetness I prefer is usually less than in standard items.)

Finally, the biggest change I made was in substituting other flaked grains for some of the oatmeal. I had planned to swap rolled quinoa for a small portion of the old-fashioned rolled oats, however it turned out that I was much lower on rolled oats than I thought so additional substitution was required.

Why rolled quinoa? Quinoa is a seed that provides a complete protein. Like the whole grains in this recipe, it also is very filling and high in fiber. While I do like the taste of standard, whole quinoa, I’ve found that I don’t like the texture of rolled quinoa as much, so when I substitute rolled quinoa in a recipe, I don’t do a complete or large substitution.

The result is even more delicious to me. 🙂 Bracketed notes throughout the recipe indicate how to adjust this recipe back to the original version. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Baked Oatmeal

1 cup steel-cut oats
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats [original recipe: 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, and omit other rolled grains]
1/2 cup rolled quinoa
1 cup rolled barley
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar [original recipe: 3/4 cup packed brown sugar]
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced apple
1/2 cup dried cranberries [original recipe: 1/2 cup diced dried apricots plus 1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger]
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk [original recipe: 1/2 cup milk]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish (or coat with non-stick spray as I did).

Place the steel-cut oats and the butter in a large bowl. Bring the water to a boil, and pour over the oats. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, stir in the rolled grains, brown sugar, apple, dried fruit, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond milk [or milk], and vanilla. Stir into the oat mixture. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

(Note that this *entirely* fills a 9-inch baking dish to the top, so be careful when filling. I placed the baking dish on a cookie sheet as it baked just in case there was a spill, but it is not a very “wet” mixture and should not bubble over.)

Bake, until the center is set, 35 to 40 minutes. (I found that it needed a full 40 minutes or even a bit longer in my oven.) Remove from the oven, and serve warm with milk or cream for breakfast, or warm with whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt for dessert. (Or just eat plain, without the dairy accompaniments, like me. Yum!)

Yields 16 servings. This freezes well, so make it, portion and freeze, and you’ll have healthy breakfasts for many hurried mornings!

Odds and ends revisited

I’ve been really busy lately, and when that happens writing is the first thing that gets dropped. I just focus on the basics at times like this: provisioning and feeding myself well, getting enough sleep, and fitting in a bit of down time.

Last weekend was the typical crazy mix of weather Chicago is known for. It was gray, wet, and chilly on Saturday, and some parts of the metropolitan area even got a bit of snow. I wasn’t too upset when I was told that my volunteer time wasn’t really needed last Saturday and I could stay inside where it was warm and dry instead.

A few weeks ago I took on a volunteer commitment for select Saturday mornings: being an escort at a family planning clinic in my neighborhood. I think free speech is a wonderful civil right, and that people should be able to get alternative viewpoints when making big decisions. I also think it’s reprehensible behavior to block folks from accessing a health care facility and shouting mean and spiteful things at them as they try to enter and leave. Really, if you’re going to be standing with a rosary in your hand, don’t you think you should be more Christ-like and not berate men for being cowards because they are walking with a woman volunteer escort to their car?

Since it was so miserable I did a lot of baking last weekend. I made a cake on Saturday afternoon with rhubarb and applesauce in it. It’s delicious and I think I’ll make another to bring to Easter dinner next weekend. Both the rhubarb and the applesauce were put up by me in the freezer last year, so I am continuing my freezer-purge challenge.

On Sunday morning I made a baked oatmeal recipe from the King Arther Flour Whole Grain Baking book. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while, and my mother gave me the perfect excuse to do so. She’s in a rehabilitation center for a few days as she recovers from knee replacement surgery. That morning I phoned her to check some details before I drove out to visit her. One of the things she talked about is how she gets oatmeal every morning, but she can’t eat it because it is so slimy, even though she usually loves oatmeal. Since she also commented on a problem she was having that would be helped by a good dose of soluble fiber (oh, mom!), the idea to bring her some of this baked oatmeal popped into my head. (The “food is love” concept works just as well, child-to-parent as it does parent-to-child.)

I’m not sure if she’s been enjoying the servings of baked oatmeal I left for her since I haven’t had a chance to ask her, but I certainly have enjoyed it during this winter-like weather we’ve been having. When I got up yesterday morning there was snow on the ground!

Good thing I got the lawn cut before dark on Sunday. Even though it was cold here on Sunday it was dry and sunny and a perfect day for me to try my new reel lawnmower. I have a perfectly good gas lawn mower, but I’m going to sell or trade it. City lots aren’t that big and since I’ve eliminated all the grass in the front through native landscaping, I have only a small lawn in the back to cut. I love the mower and the company I ordered it from was awesome. They had the best price on this highly rated mower, charged no shipping fee, and I received the mower on Saturday morning after ordering it on Friday morning. Amazing!

Visiting my mom on Sunday involved an hour’s drive on the expressways. As I drove in my trusty nine year-old car, I thought about how much I liked it. My car is pretty swanky, actually. I have power windows, a power driver’s seat, heated side mirrors, cruise control, and automatic headlights.  A few years ago I had the standard radio replaced with one that allows me to plug in my iPod/iPhone so I can listen to podcasts and my own playlists instead of just the radio or a CD. It’s very comfortable and I’m glad that I didn’t buy that Prius.

The 40-mile drive to northwest Indiana didn’t use much gas and I topped off the tank for about 20 cents less per gallon than it costs in the city, too. Rising gas prices may hit me in other ways, but I drive so little that I’m sure to stick within the $30 a month I’ve budgeted for fuel even if I do take a few more drives down to visit my mom.

Now I have to get back to work. I’ve had a nice little break here as some issues behind the scenes got fixed, but I’ve been told everything should be working now. I’ve been doing a lot of system testing in the last few weeks. It’s very disruptive testing browser-based systems because whenever the slightest thing doesn’t work right the techies want you to clear your browser history and restart. I hate having my browser cookies blown away several times a day because it means I have to enter my name and password every time I check personal email, Google Reader, or even try to pay a bill. Ah, well. At least I don’t have to reboot every time.

Odds and ends with food

I intend to get back to documenting my Spain travels at some point. Yes, really! Its just that so many other things have been going on and its difficult making time to write.

I spent two evenings this week blissfully stationary on the couch with some knitting and not with my work laptop in my face. I loved those evenings. I could have been writing, but I really need to have downtime that does not involve working a computer.

I do need to stretch my fingers and my mind a bit and write, but all I’ve got today is some odds and ends stuff about food. It took a good week plus to get my home-cooking mojo back after vacation, but I did really good this week. I made one loaf of banana bread, some all fruit jam, and a ham.

Much of this week’s cooking had a common theme: I have too much food in my freezers. Yes, freezers in the plural. I have the refrigerator/freezer in the kitchen, a spare refrigerator/freezer in the basement, plus a dedicated stand up freezer in another location in the basement. I like to freeze stuff. A lot.

So many foods can be frozen, and a freezer can be a single person’s culinary powerhouse. Forget all those “cooking for one” columns and cookbooks. I cook up big batches of stuff, portion it out, and then freeze it for later. Containers of soup and chili are wonderful for lunch, but I also love to freeze portions of rice, sliced bread, and lots of seasonal fruit.

About a week ago, while digging in my freezer for a bag of frozen brown rice I realized that I have a lot of frozen fruit left that I should use. So Saturday afternoon I pulled out a few frozen ripe bananas to defrost and Sunday morning I made banana bread.

I had also noticed a partial bag of frozen strawberries. I typically buy a big flat of strawberries at the farmers market every year, then clean and freeze the berries whole. I do the same thing with blueberries, and also freeze lots of rhubarb every year. Frozen berries and fruit are pretty versatile and it’s good to stock up when local stuff is in season. I’ll often add frozen berries and bananas to smoothies, but I didn’t make very many smoothies this year, I guess, so there are quite a few bags of frozen berries left. It’s also nearly rhubarb season again, and I have quite a bit in the freezer from last year. Time to start using them up!

The all fruit jam used up three cups of frozen strawberries. That’s a tiny dent in what I still have in the freezer, so I am thinking that one of these rainy days I may cook up a bit pot of traditional strawberry jam and can a few jars. In the meantime, I’m loving this all fruit jam mixed into plain yogurt.

Making the all fruit jam is super simple and involves only apples, berries, and water. Use one peeled, cored and diced apple to one cup of diced berries. (I use a granny smith apple because it is lower in sugar and is a good cooking apple.) If you’re using fresh berries, add about 1/3 cup water to a saucepan and then add the fruit. If you’re using frozen berries you likely won’t need any additional water. Simmer gently for about 90 minutes, occasionally stirring or using a potato masher to combine the fruit well. Cook it down to a consistency you like (mine was somewhere between apple butter and apple sauce), then remove from heat. If you want it really smooth you can puree it in a blender, food processor, or with a stick blender. I like it without any further blending. Because this jam is made without any additional sugar it is not highly sweet, but the pure fruit taste really comes through and I love that more than sugary sweetness. After cooling, it can also be portioned out and frozen in cubes or dollops for later use.

The ham I baked had also been sitting in the freezer quite a while. I’ve had sliced ham dinners twice this week and will now move on to casseroles and making soup with the bone. Some of the soup and maybe even some of the casserole will wind up back in the freezer for lunches and convenient evening meals, but at least I’m chipping away at the total volume, right?

What have you been cooking? Do you use your freezer much?


Am I moving forward here or going backwards? For a few days there I thought my health was improved, but over the past week that has not proven to be a permanent condition.

I worked out 2 days last week and 2 days the previous week, after taking off nearly 3 weeks from my typical routine. I didn’t do the one hour cardio sessions I had been doing, and instead narrowed those down to 30-minute sessions on my solitary days and just strength training sessions while working with the trainer.

Still, I found myself dragging quite a bit after the work outs. I was very tired, and during cardio I sometimes experienced some pain in my right lung. Then, last Friday as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that the dreaded rash (Pityriasis rosea) was back again. I guess this means it never really went away 100%, as it’s supposed to be the sort of thing that doesn’t recur.

Now I have two things to deal with that make it nearly impossible to keep up my stress-relieving and health-building exercise regime. *sigh* Plus I’m so darn tired most of the time.

I seriously think I may have something like walking pneumonia considering that I’m still coughing (mostly in the mornings and evenings), still have swollen lymph glands in my throat that have me popping ibruprofen every 4-6 hours or so, and besides the nearly inescapable fatigue my lungs are starting to hurt more on a daily basis. Guess it’s time to back to the doctor, although I don’t that there’s much to be done here other than rest and try to destress as much as possible.

The pace at work has not been helping. We are under incredible pressure to get a lot done over the next 6 weeks, and I’m in charge of keeping about 10 people motivated and all pulling together to get things done, as well as put together plans and designs myself. Hard to do when I find myself feeling the need for a nap every afternoon.

I did get some good news this weekend and had some fun stuff going on. The contractors came through on Friday (3 of ’em!), plus a cabinetmaker who was going to see if he could adapt the solid wood, custom cabinets in my 1950s kitchen to accept modern updates like a dishwasher and a slide in range. I hope to get some better news on the bids now that they’ve seen the place. I know at least one of them mentioned he had quoted so high thinking he was going to have redo the electrical panel in the house, and when he saw that it was OK as is, he thought it would make a big difference.

Jamie, Rachael, and Valerie all came over for dinner Friday night and we had  a great time knitting and talking. Then on Saturday night I went over to Rachael’s to hang with her and Jamie, each some pie (the last of Rachael’s pie of the month club winnings), and (finally!) watch Changeling, a movie I’ve left sitting around in it’s Netflix envelope for weeks now.

I baked a rhubarb cake on Saturday during the day to take to my mom’s for Easter Sunday dinner, and did my grocery shopping. In an attempt to get *some* exercise while not irritating the rash too much, I took the dogs out for a walk and threw in a few minutes of jogging here and there.

We walked through the Forest Glen neighborhood and while the day was colder than normal, it was very sunny and dry. I think the dogs enjoyed the exercise and I was happy to find out that the guy in Forest Glen who originally advised me on where to get chicken feed still does have chickens;  they’re just not left to roam all the time like in the past, which is why I thought he had gotten rid of them. He has what looks like 2 Buff Orpingtons in a pretty cool homemade coop bordering the alley. A local kid saw me looking at them and told me that the hen was sitting on baby chicks. I love that! Too bad the guy wasn’t around so I could talk to him.

Easter Sunday in the morning I made a blueberry crisp to bring along, since mom doesn’t care much for rhubarb. I drove down to mom’s place with Annette and the niece and nephew, so it wasn’t a solitary ride. Dinner was great, the rhubarb cake was a big hit (even mom tried a piece and seemed to like it), and I got to visit with her flock of Rhode Island Red hens. It’s quite obvious their RI Red rooster is keeping his flock of ladies busy, as many of them have bald patches on their backs.

Despite having what may sound like a light weekend I was exhausted every night and today found myself having to take a long afternoon nap just to get enough energy to finish my work day.

Today is another cold day, with the addition of grey skys and rain. I actually am not complaining about the rain since we needed it and I was getting tired of watering the pea bed so often. I did manage to make a pot of soup tonight, and it’s a perfect night to enjoy that soup, a hot cup of tea, and then get into bed early with a book.

Such is life these days.

Control and comfort

I’m a control freak and I realize that. Digging deep into my life as I was growing up, there is an explanation for this. I won’t go into great detail here as I try not to get too heavy on this blog; I have a therapist for a reason, and that’s the proper venue for such revelations.

I only note this fact here to introduce the reasoning behind my nearly fanatical focus on food and exercise in the past few months.

I am NOT in control of what is going on around me these days, and I find that very stressful and anxiety-provoking. I am buffeted by the crazy economy and an internal reorganization at work; by a wildly changing mortgage market that impacts my ability to lock down a monthly budget on which to live, and; by the wacky legal system and it’s impact on my personal space/life due to divorce. (*STILL* no final agreement on paper or date for this to end and me to be living alone…arrggghhhh!)

One sure thing I CAN control is what goes in my mouth and how I expend those calories. So, my freezer is pretty much full of containers of the various soups I’ve cooked up nearly weekly over the past 2 months, as well as the fruits, veggies, and other freezable things I’ve put by such homemade crepes and bread. It makes packing lunch every day pretty easy, and it is a great way to make sure I am eating healthy, nourishing food.

I love soups, and I’m a big fan of beans and other high-fiber veggies. So when I ran across a recipe for Garlic Lover’s White Bean Soup I had to try it. This is gooooddd soup that’s really thick and stew-like. It’s vegan, but can be adapted for those who love meat. (I had some chopped ham on hand so I added it near the end.) I talked so favorably about this soup to my friends that I’ve been chided once already for not yet providing a link to the recipe. My friends, have at it and enjoy!

Today was a very special day for Chicagoans as our former senator was sworn into the office as president. Many of us took a break from work to cluster around the television on our floor (perpetually tuned to CNN and usually spewing dire financial news or disasters) to watch the key inauguration activities: Obama’s swearing in and his acceptance speech. I’ll admit that I was one of the people wiping tears from my cheeks. I still tear up as I see the replays of his speech on the news programs.

I know that Obama is just a man and that he will likely make mistakes, but it is such a relief to have real hope for the direction of this country. This is also an area where I have no control, but it makes a big difference to have a person that I trust and admire in this position. And the fact that so many outside of this country responded with great enthusiasm to this event, too, gives me great hope and comfort.