Sunday, October 16, 2011


I made soup today.  Roasted chicken.  And it took 6 hours.  Seriously.

I began sometime after the second cup of coffee, but before the third.  Pulled the carcass of bones and tendons from the fridge; burnished skin, gelatinous broth congealed to the breast and thighs.  Johny Lang, Tracy Chapman, and Nina Simone took turns in the cd player as I listened to the wind blow outside.  Something about the cool caress of Autumn's fingers on my cheek leads me to the kitchen every time...

Nearly unconsciously I begin to peel the meat from the bones.

Soon this becomes a personal fingers sliding along calcium lengths, searching out the divots and undulations that hide the sweetest, darkest meat.  Peeling back roasted skin to coax tender slices of salty succulence from their place, separating cartilage from bone, sinew from muscle.  The meat drops into the bowl, the bones piling in a mound inside the soup pot.  Ribs, back, wings...vertebrae...skeleton abandoned.

Slice of onion, celery ribs with leafy tops, rosemary cut from the chilly planter on the porch--the single lonely herb left next to the brittle husks of basil and crispy sage.  Crushed ivory cloves of garlic, black peppercorns tossed into steaming water....the bones sink beneath an an aqueous grave.  Soft simmering....tempered heat....rosemary mist.  Satisfaction permeates my soul as I leave the room with a last glance toward the windows slowly filling with lovely steam....

Three hours later.

Delicious carcass and vegetable pulp.  Broth with....warmth.  Depth.  Marrow.  Drain, chill, skim the fat, smile softly...secretly at the thought of rosemary infused lusciousness.  Chopped panchetta into the pot, crisping.  Onion, glistening.  Fresh celery, carrots, herbs.  The broth from lifeless bones, resurrected into liquid gold. 

As I stir, I wonder.  This afternoon I received a call from a distant friend, we chatted.  Upon her asking about my day, I responded, "I'm making soup."  She laughed, "Like you open the can, right?"  I chuckled softly to myself.  As I added crushed sage and fresh rosemary....I wondered if she'd ever had soup--real soup.  Soup with love and time and marrow in it. 

Like life, soup is so basic.  But when was the last time you had soup made from the bone?  There is...vitality in it.  Pain and blood and pulse and joy and

Sometimes I feel like Campbells has taken over the planet.  Condensed it.  The Hallmark channel: "Open can, add one hour of time and the Jack Frost movie and sha-zam--Christmas eve!"  Do you remember actually threading needles, making cranberry popcorn strings for the tree while swapping "favorite Christmas past" tales?  Before Macys took over?  I truly don't mean to sound...old. (chuckle)  Or like some Martha Stewart commercial, but there is something missing...

Instant marriages--no such thing.  Instant parenting? (take one child, add a wireless device and their own tv...)  Friendships, home-making, dinner, holidays....I am internally battling this war against a condensed life.  I refuse to give in.

The last step.  After the simmer, the softening of vegetable and meat and corn, a cup of cream.  Fresh pepper....the aroma fills the house.  I go out to get the mail and the 45 seconds it takes to do so--leave me reveling in the warmth of deliciousness as I reenter.  Eyes closed....amazing. 


Monday, October 3, 2011

Swallow. There now, you're all better.

Mmmm.....quite the day and it's not even 2:30 on this rainy fall afternoon. I awoke to grumpy children after nearly losing a game of strip poker that surprisingly included my boss, my neighbor, & the mailman. (what, you don't dream like this?) Thank God for coffee makers with timers and toaster waffles--these two things save me from killing the boys on a regular basis. My 94 yr-old grandmother is staying with us for a few weeks to give my parents a break. This experience traverses a scale with a range from "Oh, how darling and cozy as she gets to spend cherished time with her great grand-children doing puzzles and drinking hot cocoa" to "Yes, Gramma--you need to put your teeth in to eat, I don't know where you left them."


He left for work, the children packed safely off to school carrying clarinets, clean gym uniforms and lunches. I settle Gramma on the couch for a very LOUD episode of Matlock and Hazel curls up at her feet. I attempt to bike for 20 minutes while watching Grahm, really I drank more coffee. Dressed, found the keys and off to do the shopping, hit the deli, & refill the wine rack. By the time I returned, I distinctly resembled a drowned rat, and the eleventeen trips with bags into the house didn't help matters.

Hot tea, deep breath. I love coming home. I spend actual TIME on how our home smells, hitting up this little import shop for the most delish incense that somehow magically combines clove and exotic spices with sandalwood and brown sugar. Y.u.m. However, beef burgundy was on the menu for tonight (seriously, any reason to open a bottle of wine at noon) and so I began seasoning the beef, browning it till the pan was lined with scrumptious crispy bits. In with the onion, a rasher of bacon for smoky lust, carrots and celery and half ( a bottle of wine....mmmmm, the aroma was heavenly. After simmering for a few hours, I'll finish it with cream and the boys will love walking through the door this afternoon. I put the bread dough on the back of the stove to rise, get Grandma some lunch and tuck her in for a nap.

Alright, switch up the laundry, sweep the entryway, vacuum the living room....and can I sit now? With a fresh cup of tea, I nestle into a corner of the couch with a magazine a neighbor had passed on. September's issue of Health--sporting a cover which told me I could melt 12 lbs in 28 days without hunger, purchase 8 energy foods, and "YES YOU CAN!" get stronger, cook healthier, and feel amazing every day!  Sha-zam, can we just bottle the cover?

And speaking of bottles....

By the time I had turned a mere 20 pages, I was in shock. I went and got a pen and paper and starting on page one, began to write the names of the drugs advertised. Lovaza, Cimzia, Abilify, Lyrica, Orencia, Restasis, Vesicare & Viviscal....twelve all told. This did not include the six suppliment ads promising vitality and sexual fulfillment, the diet pills and programs (5 total) and I haven't even gotten to the FOUR PAGE spread on Botox! Perhaps most frightening was the pull-out two page poster, "Yoga For A Beautiful Body" on which the entire back was two pages explaining Pristiq and the risk vs gain of its consumption.

What. The. Hell?

It was as if this magazine was one long subliminal (??) message that you need drugs. You are not good enough. You are not happy enough or thin enough or have enough eye lashes the way the good Lord above created you. Yet every model for the wrinkle creams didn't have them, and the poor bent over Pristique lady was facing a mirror image of her smiling self. The yoga chick was already in smashing shape and Allergy Woman was rolling about in a hayfield with a hairy dog. If you don't like.....anything....they've got a bottle with a pill for you, baby. The the results are dreamboat! (psssst, remember the titanic....)

I know depression. I divorced my first husband. I have three sons, I therefore understand stress. Anxiety and I sit down for tea once every few weeks. I have been on welfare after that divorce, gone hungry, and worked my ass off to get back on my feet and stand tall. There is no pill for that. I find, in general, that anything easy isn't worth a damn. If a pill can fix it, you're in more trouble than you know. Now PLEASE understand that I am SO glad that we live in a world of modern medicine that actually makes miracles possible. Cancer, diabetes, leukemia--we have amazing medicines that have altered the direction of humanity! (my youngest son, 11 lb hulk that he was, and I would have died if it were not for medicine and
c-sections) And there are times--absolutely--when medication is part of the answer. But a pill without change inside of ourselves--is just a lifelong addiction....dressed up with a prescription.

I suppose, most of all, I am appalled at the message in this magazine whose very title is "Health." It contains zippy recipes for new yogurt smoothies, and a fab way to do squats...but the real message?

Exactly what is healthy?

It is so much more than what is in the mirror, on the scale, in or a bottle.  It isn't instant....ever.

How have we lost track of that?