Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ratatouille without the rat

Ratatouille is peasant stew from France but it could be Italian too... except for the name. It is one of my favorite dishes because it is so easy and oh so tasty. My mother use to make it when I was a teenager but I make it differently.

She would layer the ingredients in a glass casserole dish (she came from the generation of casseroles... get your can of Campbell's soup & can opener). She didn't use Campbell's for this one though... she would saute the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onion in olive oil and then layer everything in the dish and bake it. I remember really liking it. It was very different for her.

After looking at a couple of recipes on-line, I started making my own version of ratatouille last winter. I make it in a big stock pot. The onion and garlic get sauteed in olive oil first then the vegetable stock and tomatoes get added. By that point the salted eggplant has sweated and the veggies have been cubed: eggplant, zucchini, green, red & yellow peppers all into the pot! Salt, pepper, oregano, basil & bay. Simmer for an hour or two and then let it sit overnight before serving then the flavors can really meld & blend.

I made some peasant stew yesterday for a party tonight. It has been pretty cold in our little California beach town and I thought a pot of warm tasty stew would be a nice treat. It also seemed like the perfect dish for a housewarming party.

This housewarming party was really quite lovely. So many people came to warm this new home for my friend Vonder. Everyone brought food and the table was overflowing. There was a gigantic Christmas tree standing in the corner of the studio apartment all sparkling with lights and ornaments.

There were groups of people standing, sitting, talking, laughing. At one moment I was really happy to realize I was part of this group of warm happy people during this time of year. I was surrounded by friends and it was heartfelt.

When I went to gather my items to leave I found that the ratatouille was nearly gone. It is always a happy sight when you find that everyone has enjoyed the food you prepared. It is for me anyway.

So that is the state of the world for me tonight. I am still radiating gratitude as we fast approach the New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Collective Sigh of Relief

Christmas is done. The shopping is done. The massive cooking is done. Running to endless activities is done. The weekend is winding down and tomorrow is the last Monday of 2009. I hear a collective sigh of relief.

I am trying to stay in the beauty of the outward breath. Trying not to jump into "what's next?!". I am only doing Sunday night and I think that I will go take a long hot bath. Then curl up with a book and my cat and enjoy my warm comforter on this cold winters night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Things are alright

Here I sit in my wicker chair & ottoman pulled up to the wall heater with my cat Noodle close by. My little 18" plastic Christmas tree is sparkling at me from across the room. And as usual when I sit down to write I am trying to figure out what exactly I want to say to the world.

I don't know why but this time of year is hard for a lot of people. Winter time, Christmas time, the New Year... why do we make it so hard? Expectations of what we think everything should be? Oh the good ol' days when we were kids. Oh the bad ol'days when we were kids. I don't have enough of this or that... I should have done this or that...

It's a lot of looking at what we don't have and not enough of looking at what we have right here right now. Where are we at this moment. Who is in our life right now that makes our hearts sing.

My current work situation could throw me into a hurricane of worry & frustration but I have been diligent especially the last week about staying in faith. The really good news is that I have work set up in January & February but right now-right now I am in between jobs. Being self employed means that I am constantly chasing the next job.

The next job always comes and my bills always get paid and I don't go hungry. That's not to say that my bank account doesn't get overdrawn and that I don't drive on empty and sometimes I eat once a day. But I am always taken care of...

I have a lot to be grateful for right now. In October I was given a huge gift: a place of my own. It's a perfect little house and I love it. I have my health. I have a car... with gas. I can read & write. I live in a society where women such as myself can live independently. I can vote. I have freedom of speech. I have food. I have family & friends that love me. I live in a cozy little beach town where there really isn't a lot of traffic. Things in my life are on the up and up.

So as I chase the next job, I am looking at what I do have and not what I don't have. And I guess I want to say to the world that things are alright.