chestnut soup.

December 20, 2011

I really want to share this recipe with you all, but I feel like no one is reading blogs this week!  Maybe you are though, and maybe there's still time to put this on your special menu.  I really think you should.

I have always felt a bit indifferent toward chestnuts.  I mean I love the idea of them (who doesn't love the idea of chestnuts roasting on an open fire?!), but they often taste like overcooked baked potatoes to me -- too starchy and not enough flavor going on.  B and his family, however, being the good Portugueses that they are, live for them this time of year.  (His uncle is even a chestnut farmer in Central California....when he sends packages, he uses chestnuts instead of the styrofoam peanuts howcoolisthat?)

OK, since I'm always trying to be the good wife (and since B and the kids are now official Portuguese citizens, I'm feeling the pressure), I have tried a few recipes trying to incorporate chestnuts into our seasonal celebrations.  This soup, by far, is the best.  It has the most intoxicating flavor and is rich without having much added fat.  It is really simple, clean, lovely all the way around!  Yay!  Maybe now I can be an honorary Portuguese!  Yay?

Chestnut Soup

4 T. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
24 oz. vacuum packed cooked chestnuts (Trader Joe's sells these right now in 6 oz. packages)
About 8 c. rich chicken stock

creme fraîche and chives for garnish

Melt butter in a large pot.  Saute onion, carrot and celery over medium heat until soft (8 minutes or so).  (You don't want color on the vegetables.)  Add chestnuts and then enough stock to just cover the vegetables and chestnuts.  Simmer for about a half hour to allow flavors to meld.  Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon a little creme fraîche on each bowl of soup and garnish with chives.  Saude!!

Feeling Grateful.

December 14, 2011

{photo credit unknown....anyone?}
The whole gratitude thing sometimes comes easily to me and other times not so much.  I never feel very sorry for myself, but it is easy to take things for granted from time to time.  Right now, a feeling of thankfulness and being blessed is overwhelming me....I'll take it!

(In no particular order.)

~ My three kids are at an age (and size) that can still fit on my lap.  And they all crawl on to it every single day.  It is one of the best mom feelings ever.

~ I am in a position to choose to stay at home with my kids.  When things seem crazy with them, I try to remind myself that I am choosing to be here.

~ Incredible babysitters.  We have two sitters right now who blow me away with their love, patience, creativity and care for our children.  After Sasha left, I was convinced no one could measure up.  And although we still miss "Fa-Fa" greatly (sniff sniff!), and no one could replace her, I know our kids could not be taken care of by better people.

~ Green juice.  B and I have been juicing again.  I feel so energized when I drink one of his concoctions in the morning.

~ The heated seats in my car.  I never had them before, but boy are they the best.  You can get warm and toasty without that hot, dry air blowing in your face.

~ My Heath dishes!!  B's anniversary gift to me a few months ago was a set of Heath dishes.  We didn't register for any when we got married, so that's how we justified it.  Plus, they are pure awesomeness and I will never need dishes again!  They were finally delivered a week or so ago and yesterday I washed and stacked them in my kitchen cabinets.  Aren't they pretty?

~ My tribe.  It sounds cliché, but I have an incredible group of girlfriends.  Its true that you need a village and I have one.

~ Sunrises.  Although I have been known to complain a bit (a-hem) about my children's early-rising tendencies, I get to see the most amazing sunrises over the mountains.  I have always loved sunrises more than sunsets for some reason, and at this point in my life, I get to experience them on an almost daily basis.

~ My kids love school.  We don't have to convince them to go, and they don't want to leave when we come to pick them up.  I know they are being taken care of by some of the most skilled and caring people on the planet.

~ My baby (OK, toddler) spontaneously says "please," "thank you," "you're welcome," "amen" (at the end of our blessing before dinner), "be excused?" (after dinner), and "I love you so much, mama" (when taking a rest from nursing).  I swear, I still have to remind my older two kids about manners, but this one, she's got it.

And you?  What are you feeling grateful for?

On Slowing Down.

December 7, 2011

{is it just me, or do you want to be holed up in this sweet farmhouse right about now?}

I really, really love this time of year, however, it all feels so hectic at times.  Part of me wants to cozy up with my family in the house, reading, baking, making crafts, hanging out in our PJs all day.  But alas, there is too much to miss out on if we did that!

Finding that personal (and very elusive!) balance seems more important than ever.  I came across a nice quote by the owner of Rancho Gordo Beans in his December e-newsletter (of all places!)....

Time for my annual vow, here and now, to take it easy. The focus should be friends and food. Family, if you can cope with them. There's no prize for spending too much money on presents. There's no shame in obsessing about food and making it your tribute to the season. And there's no shame in just "checking out" if you have to.

I don't know why, but I like that a lot.  :-)

Then, I recently started receiving a daily email from a parenting site ("you can do it!!") and this particular one really resonated with me.  

You enjoy parenting most when you feel expansive and
flowing -- the way you feel when you're not under any
kind of pressure.

One of the most common pressures of modern life is
*time pressure*: having to be somewhere or do
something by a certain time. Young children naturally
live in the moment, not by the clock, so subjecting
them to time pressure usually leads to discord.

To reduce time pressure in your daily groove...
Decide that geniality (feeling good) is more
important than punctuality (being 'right').

Friends, I think I just had an a-ha moment.  The worst parts of the day for me (by far) are when I am feeling rushed to get the kids ready and out the door to be somewhere.  The reminder that feeling good is more important than being on time is so important!  And that means that if you know me in real life, I am probably going to be late more often.  ;-)  I am going to make getting places with my kids a happier process. 

Here's to enjoying the wrapping up of 2011 in the ways that have meaning for you and your family!  And also to letting go of the things that add more stress or frustration than joy and harmony.  xoxo 

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