image_pdfimage_print

Comfort food

Stew sounded good tonight, but we didn’t have anything that seemed perfect to go into a stew, so I decided to skip perfection and just see what came out.

We have friends who hunt, and periodically we trade fresh bread for fresh meat. Some of it ends up in the freezer because we can’t finish all of it at once. One of the packages was elk stew meat, already chopped up into small-ish chunks. That seemed like a good place to start.

We always have stock of one sort or another, so I found beef stock and added that to my idea. Potatoes and carrots, which we generally have, were next, so I peeled the carrots, washed the potatoes, and chopped them. I found a can of stewed tomatoes and chopped those up, too. Oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, bay, and a few cloves of garlic went in, as did salt and pepper. I decided I wanted more tomato once everything was cooked, so I added in some tomato paste, both as thickener and to get more of a tomato base.

It’s good. It isn’t amazing, but it suits my needs right now. I needed comfort food, and tomato soup is something that generally helps my state of mind. This is more like stew, but it fits. I remember, when I was little, when it rained we would get to go outside and play in the rain. When we came in, we’d dry off and climb into warm clothes, and by the time we came back up there would be tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches waiting for us. I don’t know how many times it happened, but that’s a memory that is comforting on many levels. I wanted a piece of that memory tonight. I didn’t want an exact replica, since I was not in the mood for grilled cheese, but the stew helped.

Sometimes food helps ground me. It reminds me of simple pleasures. Cooking something and then eating what I have cooked makes me happy, too. It is more satisfying than buying soup in a can or at a restaurant. I can spice it exactly to my taste, make as much or as little as I want, and add random things as they strike my fancy. I am still not used to throwing food together without a recipe, but I had fun tonight, and the results were quite good. I have lunch for a few days, too.

Rain

This week’s Indie Ink Writing Challenge was a good one for me; I love this subject.

I challenged The Onion, who did a nice job on her challenge, and my challenge this week comes from Jan. “Rain. What does it do to you? Write about a memory or a story that involves some powerful emotions and rain.” I amended it slightly because there isn’t one specific story to tell, but there are several small vignettes.


When it is raining outside, when it is pouring down and thundering through the sky, I sleep better than any other night. Even if it is just a light rain, the water pattering on the roof and the windows lulls me to sleep and holds me there all night until I wake, rested. I don’t always sleep very well, so when the rain comes it is a boon.

I sometimes sit outside and watch the rain fall on the plants that need it so much here. There is little rain, so it feels like the plants expand to catch all they can when it does come. I’m probably anthropomorphizing, but I can live with that.

I grew up in a place where it rained fairly often. It was generally a warm rain, so, when we were very little, our mother would let us go outside in almost no clothes and play in the puddles in the backyard. I would turn my face up and catch rain on my tongue, feeling it sliding over my face and into my hair. When we came inside, she would dry us off, tell us to get dressed, and sometimes, if we were lucky, she would make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I still love that as a meal.

I used to ride to school in the rain. I would take off my glasses and just go, everything in my backpack bagged so it wouldn’t get wet, no worries. I felt free, speeding down hills and meandering up them. I could ignore the traffic more easily because of the sound of the rain. I would get to school soggy and dripping, but the pool had warm showers after swimming practice anyway, so by the time I went to class I was warm and happy.

When I separated my shoulder and was impatient for it to heal, the rain would calm me enough that I could sit and read for hours. Some days I would pace, wanting to be moving more than I could, but rainy days I could settle and be glad that my arm had a chance to heal without more damage.

Rain brings me peace. Rain helps me remember spring, something in short supply in the desert. Rain keeps me from feeling lost and alone. Hot chocolate or cider when the day outside is dark and dripping feels cozy and comforting. Sometimes, on very bad days (of which there have been a few lately), a hard rain will come to the desert, and I will go out and stand under our huge maple tree, letting the rain pour down from the sky and pound all of my pain into the ground. I can feel my muscles relax as the water soaks me to the skin. I need the rain to be happy, I think, and sometimes I miss it a lot living here. Someday I will go back to a rainy place and I will remember more of why I love it.