"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: peking duck

soup! . . .

spinach soup 1

Yesterday, I made a simple vegetable soup (onions, celery, carrots, broccoli and diced tomatoes simmered in homemade chicken stock from the freezer) that we shared with G.’s mother and brother across the street at lunchtime. It was a warming treat during a grey, drizzly, cool day. Today, I was thinking about how meager our lunch choices were and thought about making the soup again. Instead, I looked around and discovered some fresh spinach that was looking a little sad but still good, so I looked online for a spinach soup recipe and found one that incorporated a sweet potato too!spinach soup 2

We love Japanese sweet potatoes but I’ve been avoiding them for awhile to adhere to the “no starchy vegetable” guidelines of the eating regimen that I’ve been following. However, I thought bending the rules to add one would be all right, especially since the recipe looked and sounded so scrumptious. I was also looking for a recipe that avoided adding cream or milk to a creamy spinach soup, wanting to use almond milk instead. This recipe fit the bill perfectly,

Since I’m meeting my daughter, C., for dinner tonight, (we’re celebrating by ordering Peking Duck in the same restaurant that we went to when she got her first job in high school! – imagine that!) There will be enough soup for G.’s dinner to enjoy here at home by himself tonight too.

Some things stay the same (like the Chinese restaurant still open after thirty years in the same location!) while recipes made with sweet potato and almond milk offer new approaches to cooking healthy!

The more things change, the more we can still find ways to savor our time together, right?



new normal . . .

the naked duck

This is Sunday before Thanksgiving, and usually, I will have done my food shopping for the week’s preparations: fresh turkey, not too big; a couple of pounds of chestnuts to roast, peel and add to a bread stuffing made with Pepperidge Farm herb breadcrumbs, Bell’s seasoning, fresh parsley, vidalia onions, chicken broth; potatoes to boil for mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts with bacon, peas and salad; pumpkin pie or some kind of harvest-like dessert.

So, today, I was in Whole Foods and noticed that beside the very expensive brined organic turkeys, were rows of Bell and Evans fresh duckling. Since it’s the two of us this year, I thought, well, why not have duckling instead? Peking Duck, to be exact. A simple meal with roasted duckling, carved with crispy pieces of golden brown skin, scallions, hoisin sauce smeared on homemade wrappers. When I brought up the idea with G., his face lit up and he nodded in agreement. And Read the rest of this entry »

an ordinary life . . .

twice pan-fried noodles with grilled teriyaki chicken

This morning, I read an article called, “Redefining Success and Celebrating the Ordinary” in the New York Times. What a relief to find that there are others who point out how skewed our culture is towards defining personal success. All we seem to hear about are prizes or “wins”: the Olympic qualifying heats that are broadcast multiple times on TV; the Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prizes, Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, the Oscars, Facebook IPO, Guggenheim Fellowships and the Poet Laureate of the Library of Congress. An example cited in the article was a student who was a “straight-A, piano-playing quarterback.”

Sure, it’s okay to recognize achievement. But the emphasis by the press and our culture on landmark accolades can make the rest of us think, “What am I, chopped liver?” The answer is, nope, even if you aren’t Nora Ephron nor written books, articles, movies and directed movies that everyone recognizes, you can still say something witty and your husband will smile at you while eating dinner, just the two of you .

The NYTimes article focuses on having conversations with your children about success, so that everything doesn’t merit the overused “good job!” when all a kid does is get their fork into their mouth without spilling food. I also think these ideas are valuable for people like us who are baby boomers and beyond in age. For example, when someone retires from thirty-odd years of service in some public domain and is awarded a medal or a service award, that’s nice. But does that also include whether those individuals were generous people with themselves outside of work? You see where this could keep going, don’t you?

I’m not altogether sure of where I stand in all this either. If I were to start making a list of the ordinary things that make up my life, it might include:

a. being adventurous about cooking, and “cooking from scratch,” although last weekend, I had my fill of making homemade Peking Duck wrappers when the coffee cup I wanted to cut the dough rounds out with still had coffee in it and spilled on to the dough. I don’t think anyone noticed if there was the taste of coffee in them after putting on the hoisin sauce, scallions and roast duck, though.

b. being determined and curious: that’s what my husband says are some of my best qualities.

c. being willing to admit to my own mistakes even when it makes me feel bad for awhile. I am always taken aback when people are unable or unwilling to admit to their own mistakes, such as breaking a couple of eggs while carrying the groceries. But, whatever.

d. in the spirit of the article, I could describe myself as a “straight, piano-playing cook.”

Anyhow, I think the Fourth of July weekend is a good time to think about personal independence, and to consider whether it’s possible to release ourselves from cultural ideals that we have to be extraordinary in order to feel worthwhile. Or, as the tagline in the NYTimes article poses, “Isn’t living a life of integrity as praiseworthy as fame and money?”

What do you think?