Gratitude Soup Topped with Pesto & Served with a Side of Mental Wellness Musings.

Gratitude Soup

Feeling gratitude, ironically, has been my saving grace during this era of Coronavirus––the best antidote I’ve found for remaining calm and positive. For so many there seems to be no bright side, no reason for gratitude and platitudes fall flat. I wish I had the right words for you, or at least could serve you a bowl of this nourishing soup. That said, these days for me, gratitude is my antidote for combatting depression and holding onto–fingernails dug deep–a positive mindset.

I’m grateful for the seemingly fearless and tireless caregivers who seem to smile, even if they’re crying inside. I’m grateful that we live in an era of science and technology–where combative vaccines can be produced and launched within a year. Most important, I’m grateful for my family and friends who’ve kept me from channelling my inner freak and utterly losing it. Even when distanced, I’ve never appreciated them so much.

An added mask benefit: In Michigan they keep faces warm in winter!

My family cancelled holiday get togethers last year. At the time, no one was eligible for vaccines. This year, us eligibles have been triple-vaxed, so we tested, staggered get togethers and masked our most vulnerable.

A few of us ventured to northern Michigan to bring in the New Year. After their departure, I made a hearty vegetable soup inspired by their presents and leftovers from our previous holiday meals.

When my daughter, Greta, was in college, she shared an apartment with a young woman from Belarus.

At the time, I was writing a food column for our local paper and took great pains to record every small detail of a recipe down to the pinch of an herb.

Greta told me about her roommate’s recipe for soup– toss bones and a quartered cabbage into a big pot of water and simmer for hours. That’s it. Alas–another reason for gratitude: most of us don’t have to stand in line for hours awaiting our ration of bones and cabbage!

I’m grateful there’s more than cabbage and bones in this soup!

The No-Recipe Recipe: My no-recipe, do-your-own-thing recipe for Gratitude Soup is more casual than my usual soup recipes (check the pulldown menu for hot soups in the right column), but a bit more involved than the aforementioned Belarus version, Lol. I did take effort to incorporate a multitude of ingredients (mostly leftovers), layering them in stages and the end result being far superior than the sum of its parts.

I began by sautéing onion, celery and carrot in olive oil. Then, I made a stock from the bones from leftover pork chops, water and bay leaf, canned tomatoes and a half-bottle of leftover Cabernet.

Leftover Hop’N John stirred in at the end added a burst of flavor and LUCK!

After simmering about five hours, when the broth was flavorful and reduced, I removed the bones and added cubed parsnips and turnips. After 30 minutes, when the vegetable were beginning to tenderize, in went the quartered mushrooms and shredded cabbage for an additional thirty minutes.

At the conclusion, I stirred in a bag of frozen corn, roasted garlic, the wild mushroom tincture (!) and leftover Hop ‘n John. The coup de grace was the final garnish of basil pesto I’d made from this summer’s harvest.

Pictured is Roseanne, who created a family recipe book.

Until We Dine Again: The ceaseless epidemic has strained relationships on every front imaginable. When it wiggles its way into trying to plan or not plan family get-togethers, fall-out can be traumatic.

If you and yours have been trying to find common ground between family members, and sharing meals around a table has become dicey if not dangerous, try creating a family cookbook to be pulled out when times are less fraught. There are a multitude of ways to self-publish your own book. Here’s a link to a previous blog describing how Roseanne made her’s.

Polar Bear Plunge

Moving Forward with Resolution: On New Year’s Day, after thoroughly fortifying themselves with a shot of whiskey and Hop ‘N John, my son and son-in-law took the Polar Bear Plunge into the icy waters of Lake Michigan. I could suffer cardiac arrest if I followed them into those frigid waters, but will take inspiration wherever I can find it. Perhaps there’s a better way to move forward.

My resolution for this New Year is to escape my comfort zone. I’ve been hanging out way too long behind closed doors in leggings and a T. Not sure what form that this will take given the latest invasion (hello Omicron), but I’m putting it out there.

Facebook Blue Sky Giveaway News!!! This Saturday, January 8, is our 2nd Annual Cabin Fever Event!!! Besides the Blue Sky authors, there will be dozens of guest authors with book giveaways, as well! The grand prize will be the winner’s choice of a tower of treats with an Amazon gift card–a $100 donation to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library with an Amazon gift card for you- or a wicker basket of beauty and fragrance supplies.

Come join the fun and invite your friends!!! But first: request to join our group and answer a couple of simple questions.

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