Well, we have made it into the second week of 2012. It’s funny to me how every few years, there is extra momentum around the new year. As January approaches we always say “This is the year!” “It’s going to be great!” “I’ll really, finally do that thing I always say I will do! Really!” But some years, and I am finding this to be one of them, everyone is filled with extra zeal and is extra energized with the promise of a whole new, bright, shiny year to accomplish things. Why is that? Is it the doomsday message of the Mayan calendar? I doubt it. Is it because 2011 was flop? Likely not. Is it that sometimes, in order to get the momentum going, we need to lean on the crutch of good intentions? Possibly.
Sometimes even good intentions can be hard to rally. The days have only started to get longer, and only in micro amounts. Here at the 49th parallel we are going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark with midday hardly what you could call bright. Still, if you get some light, however thin and grey it is, and some fresh air, however rainy it is, those good intentions slip into better focus again. I always find January to be a reflective month with some time spent looking back, some time spent looking forward, but almost all that looking is inward. What do I want from this year? From my life? How do I get there? What and who matters most? What do I believe I can do and how far am I willing to stretch to get there? Will there ever be enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do? Not likely, so how do I prioritize? How do I choose?
I have always wanted to write beyond the private and recreational writing I do.
Some of you may know that I am working on a project. I have begun to write a book, an expansion on this blog. Currently I have only self imposed timelines as I do not have a publisher. I wasn’t offered a book deal, but I plan to find my own and many hours of research have led me to two publishers that seem promising. My goal is to have submissions completed and sent in by my 30th birthday, March 2nd. Even typing that goal here is unnerving. Now I’ve said it out loud. Now it’s real. Why would I write a book when I have a blog? Why would I believe that someone will pay to make the book and someone else will pay to purchase it and have it in their hands? I can’t really answer that. All I know is that the cookbooks that I love most, that I treasure and turn to time and time again, are heartfelt with beautiful and inspiring images. As an artist, as a writer, all I have ever wanted is to share my ideas, to create beautiful images and to collaborate with others through inspiration.
This blog’s 2nd birthday is approaching later this month and that is a big milestone for me. When I first began Feasts for All Seasons, it was only a test, a trial run to see if I had the passion, the creativity and the patience to regularly create, test and develop recipes. In short this blog was meant as a dress rehearsal. Could I really find a way to talk about all those dishes? I quickly learned that the content that readers seemed to care about was not just the post with the slickest pictures or the easiest recipes but the posts with a back story, an opinion, or a story to tell. In these two years I have learned that I love this blog. I love the cooking, the photography, the storytelling, the recipes, all of it. It takes many hours out of my week, hours that could be spent doing any number of other things, but the ever increasing commitment feels right. Sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating — things don’t work out, I can’t seem to find just the right shot, or I have a crisis of meaning and wonder why do it at all.
So how did I get to today, to my 130th post? I’d like to say it was all grit and determination, sheer will and dogged dedication. I wish I could tell you it was as simple as the goal of one day holding a book in my hands that has my name on it, but many days, especially dreary dark days when my mind and heart are full of questions, it boils down to little more than, you guessed it: good intentions.
Yam and Carrot Soup with Ginger
This soup is like “good intentions” in a bowl. It is light and bright, flavourful and bracing — perfect for kicking you into gear during these long, dim winter months. Like most soups, the flavours are better developed with long, slow cooking, however, this nutritious soup can come together within about 40 minutes if you are using a food processor.
8 large carrots, unpeeled, roughly chopped
1 medium (about 1 lb) yam (or sweet potato), peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
4 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
water, as needed
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Greek yogurt or sour cream to serve
pinch of dried dill
Chop and prepare all vegetables. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the vegetables, including the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes, allowing the vegetables to get slightly browned and caramelized. Add the stock to cover the vegetables — you may need to add some water. Allow the liquid to come to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and let the soup cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft. Once the vegetables are very soft and can be easily pierced with a fork, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Be careful blending hot liquids. Return the blended soup to the pot and adjust the thickness to your liking with water or more stock. Season with the vinegar and salt and pepper as needed. To serve, reheat to nearly boiling, ladle into bowls and add a dollop of thick Greek yogurt or sour cream and sprinkle with a pinch of dried dill.