Warm bellies, full hearts (aka we have it good)

     ImageRight now I am sitting next to a heater in a warm apartment gazing out a window that would have a view of the space needle if another apartment weren’t in front of it. My belly is full just to the brink of being uncomfortable and I am listening to the sounds of planes passing through the air.

     My morning was spent giggling and lounging around; planning my day and gazing through the window at the clear blue sky. There was no rush to be anywhere and even though my final paper is due this week I felt no pressure to work on it. Today is Sunday, the day of rest and I planned to spend it with those I love. Today was also the first day of J and I’s cooking adventure. We have committed ourselves to eating healthier and I am committed to learning how to cook. 

     Enter Cosmic Cashew Kale and Chickpeas with Confetti Quinoa. The moment I saw the photo on FatFree Vegan Kitchen I knew it was something I had to try. Surprisingly J chose this recipe too. It was settled. To make this Sunday meal even more special J decided to treat me and his group-on coupon to a spending spree at Whole Foods Market. 

     If I had to choose a phrase for Whole Foods it would be this: astonishingly overwhelming. While J grazed the cheese section I cruised the produce admiring the crimson red of the bell peppers and the sweet smell of citrus that floated in the breeze. We don’t have a Whole Foods in Oly so this was a special treat.

     Honestly if we did have a Whole Foods I don’t think I would shop there much. I love our local co-op and admire the hard working farmers in our community. Plus the co-op is cheaper and all of the money goes back to the people who live here (one of the benefits of buying local). 

     That said, I admit to gasping at the range of flavors of non-dairy ice cream in the frozen foods section and did buy a pint of dairy free egg nog for the holidays. When our shopping was done we had everything on our list and then some.

     The cooking part was fast and efficient (one of the benefits of having four hands instead of two) and before we knew it we were enjoying a decadent, delicious, high protein feast in the comforts of J’s own home.

     As I was doing the dishes after dinner I remembered something that J said this morning while we were planning our day. He looked at me and said “I have it good.” I have to admit that I feel the same way. Good food, good friends, and a full stomach on a Sunday night is an excellent reminder of how good we really have it. 

     I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. This meal could easily serve four so invite friends if you like. I packed the extras in two cute apple shaped tupperware containers that I found while shopping today. This way J and I will both have something to bring to work tomorrow without the morning rush.  

Photo and recipe by Susan Voisin of FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

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The Loss of a Pet

     Strange how your day can start off so great and come crashing to a halt in seconds. I felt good at work today, I got a lot accomplished and thanks to Thanksgiving break, I got to end my day at noon. I had plans to meet my research group at a local cafe at 3 and was going to eat my favorite salad with lemon tahini dressing beforehand. As I dodged puddles through the wetland that surrounds my office I admired medium sized dogs wearing rain jackets in the field. “You must look like their mother” the owner told me, his crinkled face hidden halfway past his gigantic umbrella. “Why is that?” I replied. “That one over there came towards you while you were walking down the trail and then stopped when you got close enough that he could see you properly.” I thought about texting this strange encounter to a friend but decided to keep it a guarded secret, something sweet and funny all for myself. 

     As I boarded my bus I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had my choice of seats. The few people who were already seated were calm and well-kempt, a big change from the screaming babies and explicit cell phone conversations that I suffered through during normal commutes. Because the bus was so calm I decided to forgo headphones and enjoy the sound of rain pitter pattering on the tin roof. It was then that I got the text … “You know that M went to heaven today don’t you?” It is almost too painful to write. No, I did not know that M went to heaven today and it was made that much worse by finding out secondhand through a text message. 

   It is hard to describe the first impacts of grief. Something hits you hard in the chest or waves past your head like a breeze only to catch you in a hurricane later. Everyone is different and every situation is different. I myself have experienced the deaths of many pets. The hermit crab who lost his shell, the other hermit crab who died of old age, the fish who refused to keep eating, the baby mouse that I found under the back porch. All were bathed in massive ceremonies. A graveyard in the forest dedicated just to them. 

     I have even experienced human death. Loved ones whom I still think of every day, whom still bring tears to my eyes when I see their picture or a movie that reminds me of them. Their smells, their laughter, that kiss in the breeze, the face that you could have sworn was theirs, that laugh that hits too close to home. This I know. What I didn’t know was how to face the death of a beloved companion. This is new to me. This is different. What is even more different is that M, the pet who died today, is not even my pet but the pet of someone who is now in my past. This is why I found out secondhand which I guess hurts in its own way. 

I will not go into details about M, her life, or how much she meant to me (though she meant quite a lot). I will however never again take for granted the love of an animal regardless of wagging tails, fluffy feathers, slippery fins, or slimy skin. In some ways pets are people. They are the greatest manifestations of everything that is good about the human race. This Thanksgiving take a look at your pet, or a friend’s pet and say “Thank you.” It only takes a moment but you will be glad you did. Like humans (and most other things in life), you never know how good you have it till they are gone.

RIP M – Thank you for sharing your love with the world. ❤ 

 

PS: These pictures are of my dog Saidie whom currently lives with my mom in Pennsylvania. I will be sure to give her a ring this Thursday (both my mom and my dog) to say thanks. ❤ 

 

Warm soup on a chilly November night

     I am currently curled in bed in dinosaur footsie pajamas reflecting on my life. Today I had a long day at work. Thoughts and worries were buzzing in and out of my head like a superhighway that refuses to slow down. After a brief meeting with a group from school I came home and immediately went to work in the kitchen. I needed soup.
  
     Sometimes you don’t just want soup … you need soup. Today I needed soup. Yes, it would have been easier to pop open a can and slide underneath the covers but good things are worth waiting for. As I sliced open the onion I felt my day unravel and with every stroke of my knife on the bright orange carrots I felt a slip of release. The aroma of my stock pot soon filled the whole house, enough to drift under my roommate’s door and lull her into the kitchen. 
      
    
      We talked about work, school, love, and before we knew it we were both enjoying the beautiful bounty of my ‘bad day’. Afterwards I had a wonderful talk with a friend whom I miss dearly and I found an amazing love letter underneath my roommate’s ukulele strings. There are so many things to be grateful for and yet somehow we manage to forget them when the cold comes in. So here’s to soup in November and one of my favorite winter staples for that chilly fall night. I hope this recipe is there for you when you need it most. 
 
 
❤ t
PS: If you want to add a little spice into your life I suggest cumin. I love the way it makes my soup taste and smell. Also , in my opinion, this recipe does not call for enough broth. I wait until about half way through the cooking time and add a half cup of water to the pot. This ensures that all of the spices are taken in by the lentils while making sure nothing burns in the process. 😉