Welcome Cactus

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This is a blog for the curious. I'm happy you stopped by. 

Making Soup

I love to be in my kitchen. Whether it's prepping meals for a whole week, making something from HelloFresh, or taking the time to make a complicated new recipe, I'm never happier doing "chores" than when I'm cooking. I typically use cooking time to have reruns of The Office playing in the background, my dog is always at my side (he's waiting for me to drop something delicious), and I can see the goings-on of our neighborhood from the window. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.

While any time spent making a meal in my kitchen is enjoyable, cooking soup has always been my favorite. I can't quite place my finger on why I love it so much. Is it the therapeutic repetitive motion of chopping veggies? Is it the sound of sizzling onions and simmering broth? It probably has something to do with the mouth watering scents that fill the air. Cooking soup seems like so much more than a means to an end. The process feels spiritual to me. 

Cooking soup takes time, which means I can settle into my home for the day. Once everything is in the pot, it simmers anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. It means there's time to enjoy the afternoon. I spend many Saturdays in the fall snuggled up on the couch with my dog Harvey and a good book, waiting for the soup to be done. The process of making soup can be just as cozy and comforting as the soup itself.

When my husband and I got married we took a “mini-moon” to his parent’s cabin for a few days after our wedding. Nick’s mom, Grandma and godmother had stocked the cabin with cookbooks, a menu, and all the groceries we needed to try some new recipes from the cookbooks. Our first meal as a married couple was Ina Garten’s tomato soup from her Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook. It’s still one of our favorite meals, and we made it this year on the first cool-temped day of September. 

One of the best things about soup is that you don't necessarily need a recipe to make something delicious. Every fall I look forward my grandma's split pea soup. She always makes me a few bowls to have in the freezer, and those are my favorite meals of the year. But when I asked for the recipe, she couldn't tell me specifically. "Oh you throw in this and that, let it simmer for five or so hours, and salt the begezzus out of it..." How does she do it? I still couldn't make her famous split pea soup without guidance, but I have begun to throw some soups together with whatever I have on hand.

I owe all the credit for this new found skill to Episode 54 of the Lazy Genius Podcast, "The Lazy Genius Makes Soup". Here, Kendra shares three questions to ask yourself before setting out to cook soup, as well as some very helpful cooking tips. I've made several soups since listening to this episode, and they have all been DELICIOUS. She's right, orzo is a magical soup pasta. 

I hope you're enjoying autumn. I hope you're taking the time to do the things that you love the most in this season. For me, that's making soup. I wish I could share a bowl with you!

My Back-To-School Reading List

Awfulizing, catastrophizing, and worry