Feeling Powerful, Feeling Powerless, And Knowing Both are Okay

Soups/Salads / May 5, 2020

PART 1 – Cooking in the Time of COVID
It’s okay to Live in the Moment.

It occurs to me that we are lost in a sea of bad news while being horrifically engulfed in a tide that never recedes. That’s a lot of bad going on. It’s been so long since I’ve seen the shore I don’t remember what dry ground even feels like. Sure, I have experienced a lot of “interesting events” over my many decades here on earth, but these are unprecedented times. I don’t recall ever feeling so disconnected, unsure, or fearful. There is no compass point we can rely on for parsing this information or translate what’s going on. Some out there may teeter between believing this is either an alien virus leaked from Area 51, or a political tool to scare and control us. I’m not even going to say I’m somewhere in the middle, because even my “gut reactions” are all over the place.

I miss being sure.

I wish I had the magic bean for us to plant a mighty stalk that grows above the clouds of uncertainty letting me peer into truth. Or that I could hire a translator that would smile through horn-rimmed framed lenses while setting everything straight. And, I wish I could sleep without terror.

All of these thoughts are not necessarily productive or logical. What, then do I need?

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Peaceful setting along the back-roads of home give me a sense of calm and confidence.

I have mused over the last few weeks that my uncertainly isn’t all due to a lack of access to the truth, but from my former reliance on it. Have I learned how to live my life only when there are guardrails on my daily path and no forks in the road? Have I succumbed to thinking there is a guaranteed future that was taken away from me? Worse still, could it be that my fearfulness is of my own making, and that it rises because I am trapped into believing the ability to avoid suffering, failure, or death is possible?

A wild notion is developing in me that might be the simplest answer to all of this; a kind of parallel truth we may be missing. And that is, what if we all suddenly knew these three things deeply, and in doing so could take back the control we’ve given over to EVERYTHING and EVERYONE else?

  • NUMBER ONE: We all have huge worth, and it exists apart from being measured by what we own, or who we know. We will never not matter to someone. Also, E F Hutton isn’t God. Mr. Rogers was right. And you are actually kind, smart, and important.
  • NUMBER TWO: Our health is truly interconnected to our social responsibility. It does require effort to be well fed and we should seek to spend more time doing it right. Also, our diseases can be partly blamed on our own attitude towards who is responsible for telling us what’s healthy (you are, by the way), our disrespect for our fellow living things, and our constant effort to mitigate our self-loathing.
  • NUMBER THREE: We will all die and that’s okay. But for most of us, not quite now. This minute you are still alive, viable, and powerful and you can make a difference. Failure is survivable. You really don’t need anyone to add you as a Friend. And what I really want to tell you is being famous isn’t nearly as important as being vital to one person right now.

Those three bullets can be summarized like this:  If we have respect for self, are aware of the existence of things beyond our own selves that are equal in importance to our own appetites, and can cultivate an ability to have full joy by focusing on the present, we just might get through this. (And the other trials that will surely come!)

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Feeling lonely? Make bread! You and the living yeast can be buddies for the day!

PART 2 – Feeling Joy in the Time of COVID
Do What Makes you Happy.

Our bodies have an amazing super power:  The ability to smell and taste. Both which gives us such a rush of pleasure and joy we should revel in this being life’s greatest gift! Joy has been shown to boost endorphins, strengthen our immune system, and even out our ability to handle stress. I love when someone puts a good bit of food in their mouths and then begin swooning with happiness! Is this not a goal we should all strive to have?

For several weeks now my recipes have taken a turn towards comfort and familiar foods. I have rediscovered good beef stew. And remembered why creamed peas make me happy. Whether you choose to download and cook these recipes, or just enjoy the photos and the accompanying drool they provoke, I hope they help you feel powerful, even without a beanstalk.


Onion & Pepper Tender Beef Stew

Over Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4


Ingredients:

1 ½ lb Stew Meat Chunks (at room temperature, and patted dry of moisture)
2 T oil
½ large green pepper cut into strips
¼ large sweet onion cut into strips
2 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 t dried oregano
½ paprika
1 bay leaf
1 t salt, ¼ pepper
1 beef bouillon cube
2½ C boiling water
½ C cabernet sauvignon(Roux with 2 t corn starch and 2-3 T water)
Fresh parsley to garnish


Method:

  • Heat large saucepan with the oil. When hot add the meat and sear well on one side. Add the onion and greenpeppers. Toss until onions begin to show a little browning. Add the garlic and stir andsauté, turning beef untilbrowned on the other side for just a couple minutes. Then add the bouillon that is dissolved in the water, the redwine, and the oregano, and paprika. Stir to combine. Add the bay leaf. Cover with a lid. Turn to low and letsimmer on very low for 1 hour and 45 minutes.Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Stew is done when meatcan be shredded.Simmer on low for another 15 minutes if needed. Remove from heat, stir in roux to thicken.Serve over mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley.

Quick Pasta Whatever With Skillet Meat Marinara Sauce.

Duringthequarantine we got creative with cravingssince you can only eat survival food for so long and you need something fresh!Ron wanted spaghetti, but I couldn’t stand to open a jar of Prego sauce. So,I came up with this variation that turned out to beeasy, andthe perfect comfort food.

Serves 4


Ingredients:

½ lb ground beef (90%)
½ pint
cherry tomatoes quartered
1 large stalk celery cut into small dice
1/3 sweet onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic finely diced
1 can tomato sauce (plain, no flavorings)
2 T light olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T white sugar
¼ t each of paprika and turmeric powder
1 heaping T dried good oregano Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 ½ t salt and ¼ t pepper)
1 ½ C egg noodles (dry) cooked to al dente Shaved parmigiana reggiano cheese and parsley to garnish.


Method:

  • Heat large saucepan with the oil. Add the onion and celery and tomatoes and cook until onions are translucent.
    Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the ground beef and cook on medium until almost done. Add the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar, paprika, turmeric, oregano, and salt and pepper.Simmer on low for about 30 minutes. In the meantime bring 8 – 10 C salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook to al dente. Drain and add to meat sauce and combine. Serve.


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