A candle to light for someone you love, or for yourself, even.
February 3, 2011
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Well, it wasn't so bad. Things are a bit rough lately, and Saturday was a humdinger. It was my neighbor, Jack. He's been sick, and since he's up there in years I'd been stopping by to drop off soup and check on him, and he's been coughing and not getting better, but what do you do. He's been to the doctor and took his meds as he should have, and sleeping a lot. So when I peeked in Saturday afternoon, the quiet seemed normal. And there he was, as still as a person can be, and no longer with us.
I called his daughter, whom I've gotten to know, thinking she might want some time with him before calling whom you call when someone dies. She arrived within an hour, and I let her know where to find me if she needed anything. An hour after that, there was an ambulance, and I lit a candle for Jack, and for his daughter, and for the people for whom grief is real.
There's Rog, whose house was foreclosed on last week, who is looking for a place, and Jenny, who won't give up her job search though she's awfully worn out. And Tom, whose been putting in too many hours at the shop just to pay his mortgage with no break and no break in sight, and Carol, who lost her cat this morning and doesn't much want to talk.
It's so cold outside, and there seems to be more snow than ever, and signs of spring are few and far between. It's easy to hole up and putter around; easier yet to do nothing, and nap away the day. Thing is, there's another side, always, with light and laughter and comfort. There's the coming home after a day of good work, the feeling of being in your own place, the sense of well-being, of what there is to look forward to. It's all there, just not right now, not for everyone. But it's there to think of, and there's what's next today, and a candle to light for someone you love, or for yourself, even.
Go buy yourself a candle. Buy seven. It's still winter, but there's warmth nearby, and light, and people laughing outside on the porch. Barefoot people. Imagine that.
My dearest friend brought this soup to me on a rather crappy January day, and everything got better, including my cold. Make a double batch and take some to your dearest friend. It's as good as stew gets.
Winter Vegetable Stew
with the magical flavor of parsnips
6 to 8 servings
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 medium boiling or Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp onion powder
1/4 cup Guinness or other stout beer
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
4 T butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and thinly chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
small pinch of nutmeg
1 bay leaf
pinch of fresh or dried sage
pinch of fresh or dried rosemary
pinch of fresh or dried thyme
1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 cup milk
Boil parsnip and potato in a blend of water, soy sauce, onion powder, beer and Worcestershire sauce until barely tender; set aside.
Melt butter in a large stockpot and add onion, carrot, celery and leek. Saute until vegetables are tender. Add flour, yeast, salt, black pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg, and herbs and cook over gentle heat for 5 minutes. Increase heat and gradually stir in boiled parsnip and potato mixture. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes. Add corn and milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve immediately.