01 August 2007

Dragged down

Yesterday was just one of those days. By the time I got to the bus, there was a steady drizzle of rain blanketing everything in its wetness. I got on the bus, which was relatively empty (looks like others had the sense to seek cover already!) and made my way home. I got out of the bus to relatively quiet sunshine and a gentle breeze. Since it wasn't that bad out, I made the mistaken assumption that it would be smooth sailing all the way home.

No such luck.

About half way into my walk, the skies opened up, and soaked everything to its core. Fortunately, I'd managed to stash all my books and electronics into a small plastic bag that I always keep in my bag for such wet emergencies. I wasn't worried about anything valuable getting wet, so I grumpily stomped my way home and let myself get drenched, rather than worry about rushing for cover, and delaying my date with my stove.

With the best of intentions, I'd put on a pot of beans to cook in the crock pot that morning before I left for work. Whenever I see the fridge start to look a bit threadbare, I make sure to get something going before I leave, so that by the time I get home, dinner is only 20 minutes (at the most) away. By the time I walked into the door, I was not only drenched, but also fairly miserable. For all it mattered, the beans could go hang themselves. Dripping all the way to my room will tend to put me in a sour mood.

Before changing into dry clothes, however, I set a pot of water to boil on the stove, and dumped in the rest of whatever potatoes I had. (I wanted something hot and comforting, and nothing calms and comforts like a hot boiled potato with some chopped broccoli and lemon juice.) I also hacked off the stalks from a couple of heads of broccoli, and pitched them in with the potatoes. I pointedly ignored the beans.

After about 45 minutes or so, I was dry and comfortable, and the potatoes and broccoli stalks were done to a turn. I ate a couple immediately, and instantly, my stomach calmed down, and my mood lifted. Now those beans would get the attention they wanted!

I drained out the potatoes and gave the pot a quick rinse. I set it back on the stove, and popped my spices as I do for a daal. In went the cooked beans, along with their cooking water. After giving the crock pot a rinse (and adding the water that I used to rinse out the crock pot to the pot of beans), I set the crock pot to dry. The broccoli was easy enough to break up into florets, directly into the pot of beans. I had some spinach that had seen better days (but was still good), and threw that in as well. There was also a knob of ginger laying around in the fridge, so I grated that up as well, and threw it in. (For next time, I'll chop up the spinach. It gets stringy, and I'm not a huge fan of that texture.) I dropped down the heat to a low simmer, and put on the lid.

By now, I had enough motivation to also throw on a pot of rice in the rice cooker.

As the aromas of the cooking food filled the house, I relaxed in front of the window with a cup of jasmine tea, and a book. By now, the rain pattering on the roof took on a calming sound. It was like listening to a thousand people snapping their fingers. Every now and again, the wind would pick up, and the trees would add their counterpoint to the rain. It was nice.

About 20 minutes later, when the rice was done, the beans were done as well. I turned off the heat, and chopped up two of the cooked potatoes, and slid them into the pot. It was still another hour till Steve came home, so I had time to relax some more, and the potatoes would have time to absorb the flavour of the beans without releasing their starch and thickening up the soup any more than it already was. (Note for next time: even if it is thicker, it might be better to let the potatoes simmer along. They got flavourful, but not as much as I would have liked. Fortunately, there wasn't that much of it, and the texture was fantastic.)

When Steve did get home, he said, "There's nothing like coming home to that smell!" It was obvious that he'd had as rough a time as I did in that hideous rain storm. A couple of bowls of piping hot soup over fresh steamy rice was just what it took to get him in good spirits again.

If you ever come home, and really feel unmotivated to cook, just give yourself a little time. Often, it just takes a quick meal that comforts you to get you ready to cook. Since you're the one doing the cooking, you're allowed to comfort yourself first, and handle the needs of others afterwards. Once you do get around to cooking, however, all those people who share your meal with you will share in your good feelings, and your own good feelings will increase exponentially.


  1. I think you have a good point with the need to give ourselves a little time.

    Often, I settle for something mediocre immediately rather than just waiting a while to be in the spirit, which invariably just puts the spirits into another downward spiral.

    luke aka xoddera

  2. wonderful post!

    i eat something similar to the potatoes and broccoli you had,
    red potoatoes and green beans boiled. soo good and comforting.
    you are very inspiring, thanks!

  3. Heyo Luke! I'm totally with you. Once you are in that downward spiral, you can quickly feel that start to bear down on you even more and more. Over time, it takes a toll on our body and spirits.

    Chengwa: Thank you so much for the kind words. I love potatoes and green beans, especially when they've been quickly tossed with some crushed mustard seeds, a bit of oil, a teensy bit of cocoanut milk, and steamed in the oven until the potatoes are tender. Soooooo good.