Friday, July 15, 2016

Saving the Fawns

I was just starting to bake a birthday cake for my husband when I heard an awful sound.  A thud that could only be a car hitting a big hunk of flesh out in front of our house.  I’d just sent my kids plus one from down the road outside to play a half an hour earlier.  I felt sick.  

When I ran outside, the car was partially hidden by a bush, but I could see the driver getting out and looking back, worried.  Shit.  When I got closer I saw it.  A deer.  A doe.  She was still alive and flailing, but one of her hind legs wasn’t working and she couldn’t get up.  She was in the middle of the road and the school run was on.  We live in the country, but this was our busy time of day on a road that many will speed on and not see her.  Then I realized the bigger problem.

We live on 5 acres in the country.  About 5-6 years ago, we finally finished fencing in 4 of these acres of pasture and we’re the only place around without a dog.  As a result, it seems, a doe drops one or two fawns in our pasture every May and there they stay until around September when they can finally jump the fence.  More than one passerby has inquired about the deer ‘we raise’. During this time, the mother doe spends a lot of time going back and forth from our pasture, which involves crossing the road.  Often leaping out of the bushes blindly.

This year, we had twins.  We’d only just started seeing them about 2 weeks ago so I’d guess they were 4 weeks old, but I don’t really know anything about deer, so it’s a rough estimate.  I do know they were still nursing and are very little and cute.  The doe who was laying on the road was obviously their mom.  She was engorged with milk.  God, now I had to babies who were going to starve to death in our pasture, and we were leaving in two days for a two-week camping trip.  I was still recovering from the feeling that one of the kids had been hit, so I wasn’t thinking very clearly.  But I couldn’t figure out if we should put the doe down quickly, or drag her into the pasture so the fawns could nurse while she dies to buy them some time.  And as awful and crazy as that sounds, that’s what we decided to do.

By ‘we’, I mean one woman stopped on her way to school (who had a gun and could help if we needed it) and two 20-something fellows in their work truck on their way to a job whose mom lived down the road (and reported nearly hitting this very same doe before).  When I presented my dilemma (I seemed to be in charge because it was in front of my house and was sort of in posession of her offspring) we decided to call the Fish and Wildlife people.  They didn’t quite know what to do at first, but then agreed on the ‘drag and nurse’.  So the 4 of us,, plus the Fish and Wildlife officer who came out managed to get her onto a tarp, without getting kicked, and dragged the poor animal back near her fawns.  By the time we got her there, she had gone into shock and soon afterwards died.  We left them alone, but my guess is that her fawns did not nurse.  All this time, the 11 year old boys had been standing at opposite ends of the road flagging traffic all this time and my 9 year old daughter was in tears.  And my cake was still half done.

The Fish and Wildlife had fairly good news for me.  Turns out that this was my (sort of) lucky day.  Today was a big regional meeting for them in Vancouver and on their way home, some of the officers could stop by and take the fawns up north to some kind of wildlife sanctuary where they can care for orphaned animals.  We’d have to wait until later though.

So that’s good.  But now I have 3 traumatized children and myself and a cake.  We all went in and had a snack and the kids seemed to need Lego.  We talked a little, but sometimes, things are too raw to talk and Legos are the best course of action.  The woman who had stopped came back over and came in for tea and we talked for a long time and exchanged numbers. Then, I was exhausted.  

Fast forward to later that day.  I had finally recovered from the morning, had resumed packing for our camping trip, and was getting my cake batter into cake pans when the Fish and Wildlife folks showed up.  4 of them in 3 trucks.  They seemed very confident that, armed only with a camoflaged blanket, they could capture these two fawns by just walking up to them and putting them into a dog kennel.  Doubtful, but lacking a better idea, I showed them where to go and stayed back in case they needed anything.  I put my cake in the oven and brought the timer out with me.  

Well, not surprisingly, it turns out they couldn’t just walk up and catch the fawns.  Our fawns were already pretty fast and they were scared.  I saw that the officers didn’t really have a viable plan B and that it was time to come up with one.  So, I took my cake out of the oven and made my plan.  We had 5 adults and 3 country kids and, more importantly, 100 feet of portable electronetting.  The kind you use to keep your chickens or pigs in place with, hooked up to a battery.  While two of the officers were doing laps around our 4 acres chasing the fawns, I walked out to the barn to fetch the netting.  It’s 4 feet tall and kind of a pain to deal with.  So I asked the 2 other officers and 3 children, and together, we started setting a trap in one corner of our pasture.

Sure enough, once we put it in place, 2 people were able to chase the fawns into this area and we were able to catch them.  I was lucky enough to catch the second one.  If you’ve ever had a 3 year old throw a wild tantrum and had to hold them tightly to keep them from hurting themselves or someone else, you know how this feels.  I had my left arm holding the front legs against her chest and my right arm gathering her rear legs into her belly and laid on her until the others could bring the kennel over.  Her face was scratched from bashing herself against our fencing in the chase and her heart was racing.  Her ears were as soft as they look.  She was so beautiful and scared.  It felt like my prize for having such an awful, emotionally exhausting day to hold her for 30 seconds.

The whole process probably only lasted 40 minutes, but it was late-afternoon, and when we looked around, we realized we’d drawn a crowd.  The part of the pasture all this had taken place in was right by the road.  We don’t have a busy road and it certainly isn’t a place people just walk around to their neighbor’s house.  But no fewer than 5 vehicles were pulled over in the road and in my driveway and multiple unfamiliar faces were leaning on our fence together watching the show, speculating on what was going on.  Even my neighbors didn’t know as neither of them had been home in the morning when it happened.  The next hour or so was spent telling the story, disposing of the doe’s body, washing tarps, putting away the netting and packing up the fawns for their journey.

It was my husband’s birthday.  He got home from work while I was still cleaning up.  We went in and I called the people who’d helped earlier that day to let them know how it all shook out and had dinner.  And the cake.  I can’t believe I managed to bake a cake during all this, and after persevering with it, it tasted as awful as a cake can taste.  We told him the story at dinner and everyone was still pretty raw.  I was glad we had a vacation coming up.  We miss our fawns, but there is no shortage of deer in our area and one doe… maybe one of her children... has been hanging around.  Maybe she’ll start using our pasture next year.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Onion gravy makes everything better

It seems like I only get really excited about the boring foods.  I should call my blog The Boring Food Blog.

We just finished Thanksgiving.  I made a LOT of gravy.  I poured it on every meal for the past week and now it's gone.  I still had a little leftover turkey and roasted some veg to go with it.  I was all set to just serve that for a quick supper and call it good.

But it wasn't good.

It's cold and rainy this week.  And there is a little category of food that you make to spruce up the other measly leftovers you're trying to stretch out.  If I just have a little soup or leftover stew, I'll make a quick pan of biscuits.  If I have some leftover meat and veg... or a few sausages... I want gravy.


Of course gravy is best made from meat pan drippings.  But you don't NEED it.  You can use the flavor you get from really cooking down some onions.  You can use mushrooms too, if you have them.  Here are the basics and I'll give you some flavor-building ideas you can use depending on your needs and what you have on hand.  You can make this gluten-free, vegetarian, whatever.  I'll give you what I do.  But first, I want to share a nice cheater tip with you.  I almost always have some home made chicken and beef stock in the freezer.  But I also keep a little pot of this Better Than Bouillon paste in the fridge.  It keeps forever, the ingredients aren't bad, and it makes a quick flavor booster when I haven't planned to thaw stock ahead of time.  I use the beef one in gravy in a pinch, and even to stretch REAL gravy when I need to.  If you want vegy gravy, use a vegetable bouillon or try stirring a teaspoon of Marmite in with the frying onions.

Gravy ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 medium onions, in thin, half-moon slices
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5-6 mushrooms, sliced (optional) (you can also use reconstituted dried mushrooms, just remember to save the soaking water to add later!)
  • 2 Tbls flour (for gluten-free, we can come up w/ something else)
  • 1/2-1 cup red wine (I don't know why you couldn't use white wine if that's what you had.)
  • 2 cups of stock (or water, if that's all you have)
  • 1/2 tsp of dried thyme or 2 springs of fresh
  • 2 tsp. Worstershire sauce (optional, or Tamari, or Braggs Liquid Aminos)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

  1. First heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Use a pan that will hold about 2 quarts.
  2. Melt the butter, add the onions and salt.  Stir them, cover, reduce heat to low and 'sweat' them for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove lid, turn heat back up to medium.  Add mushrooms if you've got them as well as thyme.  Saute your onions until they are nice and mushy and getting golden.
  4. Sprinkle in your flour, stirring it around to make a roux.  Keep cooking for another minute, stir, 2nd minute, stir, 3rd minute.
  5. Add your red wine, stir the pan and let it cook until most of the boozy smell is gone.  
  6. Add your stock/water, and bay leaves.  Give it a good whisking and whisk every minute until it comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer until it is nice and thick.  
  7. Season w/ salt and pepper so you like it and serve.

For gluten-free gravy, I wouldn't make a roux with flour.  Instead, take a tablespoon or 2 of arrowroot powder (or cornstarch... but I like the arrowroot powder), whisk it into your COLD stock or water, then pour it in AFTER you deglaze with the wine.  That should thicken up just fine and taste great.

Serve this with sausages and mash.  Some fried tempeh or a nut loaf.  The next day, pour it over a thick slice of toast w/ your measly sausage leftovers.  If you want to get all fancy, sprinkle some fresh parsley over the top.  That'll give you a vegetable!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Unsustainable Sustainability

Unsustainable Sustainability

Warning: This is a really personal post I wrote to reach out to others I know who are falling into a similar hole. I'm not in the mood for spelling corrections from readers who should look elsewhere for entertainment.

10 years ago we moved out to the country on our 5 acres and little house with our newborn baby.  We are both long-time city dwellers, save for a little over a year living and working cooperatively on a big organic farm a few years back.  We both valued ‘sustainable living’.   Minimizing our carbon footprint, raising our own food in a way that creates both healthy food and improves the land year after year.  We value doing things ourselves with our own two hands and raising our children in a way that teaches them these practical skills in an environment that is quiet, mindful and in touch with nature.

Does this sound familiar?  It should.  I think everybody is doing it.

So over the past 10 years, we’ve raised 2 children (8 and 10 right now), maintained a flock of laying hens from 10-20 birds, raised about 25 meat birds each year (and butcher them myself), keep honeybees, have a big vegetable garden, fruit bushes and trees, big compost bins.  Installed rain barrels and tried making biodiesel.  We split wood to heat our house with a wood stove.  And that’s just outside the house.  Inside I cook all our meals from scratch.  And when I say ‘cook’, I mean the stove is on 2-3 meals/day.  I make my own chicken stock, bake my own bread (used to grind the flour too), make yogurt, mayonnaise, salad dressings.  I make my own herbal medicines, tonics and salves for when we fall ill. We use eco-laundry balls instead of soap, used cloth diapers, hang all our wash to dry (dryer for emergencies like stomach flu), have no microwave and only have one, old non-smart cell phone.  We use natural products to clean like baking soda and vinegar.  We don’t use deodorants or any body care products with fragrance.  We’re all natural.  But that’s not all.  We now homeschool both of our children.  We do yoga, tai chi and meditation.  My husband has a 9-5 job.  I have worked periodically outside the home on a part-time basis… usually self-employed.

Are you exhausted just reading that or does it just make you want to vomit with all the goodie-goodieness of it all?  I’m torn.

So for the first 5-6 years of this, I would say I was pretty sick.  Not that you’d know from looking at me.  I may have started having kids when I was 36, but I’ve aged well with my healthy diet and yoga-ness.  I’m slim with good skin and look healthy and wholesome.  But I was dying.  I had my babies, but did not stop to let myself be helped or heal. I just jumped back into the garden and pushed harder. I was exhausted at the end of every day.  Every year, I was weaker.  I was so stressed and put so much pressure on myself to live this healthy, ‘sustainable’ lifestyle, that I was burning up all of the love and happiness inside.  I was trying to reach out and meet other people, make friends, be part of our community and school… but nothing was coming back.  I think people could sense the pressure and moved far away.

Finally, two years ago I couldn’t do it anymore.  At 44, I stopped sleeping.  It was like one day I would lay down on my pillow and be unconscious within 5 minutes and sleep like the dead all night long.  Then the next, I could not fall asleep.  All night long.  Maybe around 4am I would drift off, but 6am always comes.   I tried Chinese herbs, which had helped me in the past.  They helped a lot while I took them.  But I emptied our savings account with my doctor appointments and bills for them.  So I stopped, and so did the sleep.  I started going crazy.  I knew that other women in my family had sleep trouble and used Ambien.  I asked to borrow a few and they worked.  So I asked my doctor for them and she write me a prescription.  Finally, sleep.  But not always.  I found that I could often stay awake even when taking such a powerful sleeping pill.  Or I woke up 4 hours after taking it.  This went on for months and months with only 3-4 hours of broken sleep every night.  I tried a different pill, but it made me feel so strange I stopped.  I started taking double doses of my sleeping pills, which worked sometimes but made me feel awful.

So much for Ms. Natural… abusing prescription drugs now.

After a month of not sleeping, I started to realize that I had anxiety.  My heart would race at the slightest thought of something worrying.  I would panic for a week before a dentist appointment. Grind my teeth if I did sleep.  I broke into a sweat in the dentist chair.  I became depressed.  The things that I used to enjoy doing, or that used to fill me with love, didn’t interest me anymore.  They just sounded like too much work.  I didn’t feel much love for my children. My temper grew incredibly short with them too.  I didn’t love my husband at all.  I just didn’t love.  I was filled with so much despair for any kind of future for myself.  I dreaded even thinking of the future.  I cried every day.

Now reading this, it might be very easy to see what was wrong and what needed to change.  But it’s been so hard to let go of anything.  It sounds so stupid to value my garden more than my own health, but I'm crazy like that.  I kept pushing on.  I put on the acceptable can-do face when I was out, finishing my to-do list at home.  But people knew.  My best friends called me on it finally.  They don’t even live here, but they got together and decided they were going to come down on me over the phone and get me to find some help.  So I did.  My doctor, a therapist, a psychiatrist, back to a meditation community.  I was going to try and fix my crazy self. This all helped.  But very slowly.

Then we took a 3-week vacation.

I didn’t want to go.  3 weeks in the summer over in England and France visiting family when I can’t sleep and there was so much to do.  But something inside wanted to be that person instead of the one I was.  So I booked it, thanks to financial assistance from our family who wanted us to come, and found a house-sitter.  And we went.  And I spent at least half of my days sleeping late and most afternoons up in my room laying down and reading a book or in a coffee shop reading a book.  It was great.  I didn’t care about my garden, cat or chickens at all.  After the first day, I just couldn’t care less.  I could rest.  I was cooked for (thank you to both of my MIL's), my husband and other family spent time with the kids, and I just rested and visited some friends and was a tourist.  I felt better.  I loved my family.  I liked myself.  

I still had trouble when I got home.  I kept seeing my therapists.  But gradually, that stopped.  I realized that I needed to rest.  I needed to have fun.  I need to sit in meditation every day.  I need to love my husband and let him love me.  I needed wider margins in my life.  So I got a massage from a woman I know. We went to high school together and have the same birthday. It was wonderful.  Now, instead of spending my money on therapy, I spend it on 2 massage/month.  It’s wonderful.  It’s so indulgent that I almost always feel guilty about it.  But I keep it up.  I feel so much better.  She’s also a wonderful woman to talk to. Talking to her makes me feel normal in a community that I don’t feel like I fit into.  It made me realize I need more women like her to talk to.  

So now I’m still homeschooling, still cooking, still gardening, still taking sleeping pills.  But I’m not doing meat chickens this year.  I’m not trying to do it all perfectly.  We eat sandwiches for dinner more often and I buy sliced bread sometimes.  We plan vacations.  We go camping whenever we can and have fun.  My to-do list is more like aspirational writing.  It’s a guideline.  When my kids fight me on lessons, I stop for the day.  When I start feeling like a horrible homeschool mom and my kids aren’t learning anything, I take the rest of the week and declare a vacation.  I started a women’s group to reach out more intentionally to the women I know and want to be closer to.  This is not easy for me to be so laid back.  It still takes effort.  But it’s working.  Almost 2 years after it started, I feel rested and able to set a better pace for myself.

Anyway, I’ve met other people who’ve gone through something like this.  I’m sharing this so you know other people have done this too and there is another way through it.  You’re overworked, especially trying to do things so perfectly, so sustainably, that you realize that you forgot one key resource that needs to be sustainable.  Yourself.  My own health, my own inspiration, the relationships that nourish it all.  These underpin everything.  I think I always paid that lip service, but never really did it.  But I’m doing it.  I have to make myself do it a lot of the time because I’m a do-er.  But I’m healing.  There are hundreds of thistles in my garden, and I haven’t brushed my daughter’s hair in 3 days… but I love her and I’m healing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 13 of my Not Perfect Detox: I'm so done with this.

'Mom, you need to eat more!'

So I'm really tired today and I'm tired of my detox.  I think I feel so wiped out because I had a couple of days this week where I had to really push through past exhaustion to the end of my day.  I pay for even one of those days anymore, but two days of it requires real recovery time.  That's just how it is.

I still don't have the energy to go running, but I wanted to get outside and MOVE so I took my son to the wetlands with me for a 'run'.  We jogged together for just a few minutes for fun, then walked the rest of the way marveling at the high water and signs of spring.  When we got home, I had to just go back to bed.  My son suggested that I'm not eating enough and need to 'eat some real food... not this detox stuff'.  I smiled.  I feel the same way, buddy.  I love that my kids tell me that.  I love that they put their faith in nature and eating eggs and oatmeal and chicken stew and broccoli.  It made me so happy that I sat down and joined him with his breakfast and told him I felt a little better.  Then I took a nap.

I always tell people to do some exercise during their detox and I usually do.  For one reason or another, I've had to cancel on my fun-runs the whole time.  Thank goodness for my yoga mat.  Nothing says 'gentle, loving movement' like a little yoga in the living room.

No, this detox is not going to fix my insomnia or my complete inability to adapt to stress.  Yes, it's good for my body to stop eating gluten for a few weeks.  It's good for anyone to clean things up and do an anti-inflammatory diet for a few weeks for 3 weeks.  It still helps me remember what it's like to eat a diet that makes you change how you cook and shop for a while.  And that helps me do my job better.  But I need to keep digging deeper for that and just keep eating and resting and doing what I can.

This detox helped me REALLY appreciate any old food.  A simple bowl of egg fried rice or a bowl of chili with no cheese on it and no cornbread on the side.  These are wonderful things.  Totally satisfying and nourishing.

I find myself thinking that I'm done with this.  We should just stop now and go back to normal life.  2 weeks is enough.  But I'm going to do this...  I'm going to take a few deep breaths, get through this day and see how I feel about it tomorrow.  One more day can't hurt and it might help me get over this hump.  I can do anything for one more day and I think I remember thinking the same thing last year and it got better.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Day 7, tired of cooking

I've got a busy week coming up.  We've had a sick house this week.  I needed to do some serious cooking this weekend.  Get some main dishes made up ahead.

On Saturday I spent so much time cooking food for our detox and a couple of meatloaves for easy kid meals when they don't like our food, and making some cough syrup (and all the usual things), that by dinner time I was too exhausted to serve a vegetable.  Kids had meatloaf, we had chicken and black bean stew.  If I hadn't had a bunch of veggie sticks and dilly beans in the fridge for the kids, I'd have cried.

This isn't the first time something like this happened.

I'm looking forward to the week ahead.  This real food crusader gets a break from cooking.  2 meals a day are coming from a package.  A detox smoothie.  Medical food.  That used to totally gross me out.  But now it sounds like bliss.  No thinking about food, no planning, fewer dishes.  I just get a break from food.  I'm going on a food retreat for 2 weeks.

I will also complain miserably about the smoothies in a few days.  But I can do that.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Day 6 of my Not Perfect Detox

Boredom Kicks In

I've eaten the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day for the last 6 days.  Dinners have had slightly more variety.  Boring?  Maybe.  Bad?  No.

The thing about not getting to have what you want when you want it for days on end, is that initially, I might get frustrated and depressed about it.  But then I just relax and get used to it.  I'm getting used to that uncomfortable feeling of being hungry and wanting toast.  I still don't like it, though.  I get used to having a chocolate craving and just dealing with it.  I get used to feeling a little sleepy and not self-medicating with caffeine.  I just have to sit with whatever feeling I have and not change it.

I was listening to a dharma talk by Robert Beatty, who is the dharma teacher at the center we are part of in Portland.  In it, he was addressing this.  We feel things that we don't want to feel (hungry, tired, depressed, angry).  Sometimes we are with people we don't want to be with (the list is endless).  Sometimes terrible things happen in our lives.  We spend a lot of time trying to get rid of these uncomfortable, undesirable feelings.  We grab a snack, we stop for a coffee, we watch TV, we get stoned.  He talked about how in meditation we 'fast' from our usual activities and usual reactions to life.

That's one of greatest benefits about doing a detox... for me.  Yes, it's good for my liver and my blood sugar.  Yes, my cholesterol levels will improve.  Yes, I will lose some body fat.  But what I benefit most from is fasting from using food and drink to quench difficult feelings, and doing it mindlessly.  At the end of 3 weeks, I feel more intimate with the physical feeling of emptiness... and with a more spiritual feeling of emptiness too.  It's all part of the same package.  I feel like I gain some mental focus and am more gentle with myself when I'm feeling some of the un-ease of the unwanted feelings.

So for breakfast, I have oatmeal with cinnamon, apple and flax seeds with a little cream and nothing to sweeten it (I'm probably the only person who includes organic cream on a detox). I had some of my favorite vegetable soup for lunch along with some rice, eggs and greens.  It's a good lunch!   We have such an abundance of delicious, healthy food!  It's crazy to think of this detox diet as anything but one of decadence.  But it takes going a step further to remind me of that.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 3 of my Not Perfect Detox

Today I will do something my future self will thank me for.

I'm not going to post every day.  The inspiration will fade soon, especially as the group meetings at the office start up next week.  Good news for me today, I fell asleep naturally last night.  I've had a few blips of this happening, so the journey is not over.  But I'll take it.

So some of us got talking about giving up sugar.  It's amazing the emotions that come up when faced with giving up certain foods.  I totally flipped out when I gave up sugar for 3 weeks last year.  One day I just broke down and cried, got mad and had a real wobbly.  Dark chocolate withdrawals.  Intense.  Some people aren't ruled by sugar.  If you find the thought of giving up sugar for 2-3 weeks terrifying, think about it.  It might really be a great gift for yourself.  I love this cartoon from Hyperbole and a Half about a person who could use a break from sugar.  It always makes me laugh.

I still want chocolate after most meals.  But I don't want to have a headache.  I still want to share my husbands regular ice cream snack in the evenings, and I do now and then.  But it always means I have to get up to pee at night.  I always end up eating some of the cookies and things I make with the kids, but I don't do lots of it or I feel crap.  It's reached the point where the consequences to eating a lot of sugar seriously outweigh the short-term benefits.  Besides, I've got less of a taste for them.  It takes time and goes up and down.

Giving up all kinds of sugar for 3 weeks including natural and artificial sweeteners is a real commitment.  I make exceptions for a little bit honey or maple syrup if they are an integral part of a dressing/sauce that is going to make an otherwise wonderful meal for everyone.  Dropping sugar and sweeteners for 2-3 weeks could be the single most important dietary step for many people.  Heck, just give it one good week!

Cooking ahead
Today I did a bunch more cooking and I think I have a nice variety of foods in the fridge and freezer for nice meals.  It really does take a few days to gear up for this.  That's why I don't like to be too hard on myself for the first few days.

My lunch of rice, eggs and greens:
For lunch the past few days, I've had my BEST lunch of rice, greens, eggs and tahini sauce.  I say best because I love it and it ticks all the boxes.  I've written about it before here.  I talk about soaking and cooking brown rice for better texture and nutrition, and give my tahini sauce recipe.  For this, I make sure to make a batch of rice every 2-3 days that I can fry up.  I also try to wash, chop and bag some chard or spinach so I can just throw it in the pan with the rice.

I made a batch of my Creamy Vegetable Soup today.  When I need food to be easy and nutritious, this soup is my favorite.  It's quick, helps me clean out my vegetable drawers with the last bit of this and that before I go shopping.  And it has ALL the things I need to eat more on a detox... or just to be healthy.  Chicken stock, onions, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, potatoes, mushrooms ... you can leave a few of those out and still make a great soup.  But it's a pureed soup.  I have a cheap immersion blender, which I use A LOT to make pureed vegetable soups and smoothies.  You can use a blender or food processor, it's just messier.  If you need to omit the cream, the potatoes are enough.  Could add some cashew butter for extra creaminess.  If you need lower carbs, cut the potatoes.  As long as you add the basil or pesto at the end, it will be really good.  Also, if you need it to be higher in protein, you can add some leftover chicken or some cannelinni beans.

Made a batch of hummus too (yes, I was in the kitchen a lot today, but I can start to slow down now).  Hummus is cheap and easy to make.  You can make it from canned garbanzo beans, but I think the BEST hummus is from freshly cooked chickpeas cooked with kombu.   The kombu helps them soften, but it also adds so much good flavor.  Here is a rough recipe:

Simple Hummus

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2 square inches of kombu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbls sesame tahini (unsalted)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (you'll need more, but start here)
  • 1/4 cup (one large lemon) of lemon juice.

  1. Soak your chickpeas overnight (or at least 8 hours).  Change out the water, add kombu, bring to boil and simmer for about an hour.  Pressure cooking makes it a little faster.  Drain out the liquid but save it.
  2. In your food processor, first put your garlic in to mince.  
  3. Then add chickpeas, tahini and salt.  Blend up best you can.
  4. Add lemon juice and a little bit of the bean liquid.  Blend and taste.
  5. Add more liquid, salt and lemon juice to adjust to your taste.
  6. I serve it by spooning out a portion, then sprinkling some sweet paprika on top and drizzling it generously with olive oil.
So fried rice dishes, vegetable soup, hummus and I've got a bean soup frozen too.