Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments on my Armchair Travel post last week. They really made my day and I appreciate each and every one of them.
I’d also like to express my appreciation for anyone who is on the front lines of fighting the Coronavirus pandemic, be they healthcare workers, our politicians, supermarket or pharmacy employees, those who are trying to help those who are food compromised during this crisis and on and on. This is tough, and within hours of my saying in last week’s post that I wasn’t quite at the point of cancelling everything, I found that I actually was doing just that. I’ve only cried once in the past week during a brief moment of panic, but my stomach has been in knots a lot and I even woke up once in the middle of the night with the thought, “what if all the people buying the toilet paper were on to something?”. Hopefully, they will have excess to last for the next two years.
So, like all of you, this past week has been an abrupt introduction to our new normal for the time being. Yesterday, the weather was just glorious and having been cooped up for a few days I told my family I was leaving for a mental health walk alone in the magnificent woods we have behind our house. There is nothing quite like communing with nature to regain a bit of perspective. As I was walking along, listening to my favorite channel on Pandora, Mark Knopler, I was reminded (again) of some words my mother once used that feel apropos to the current situation.
We were on a family “hike” and by “hike”, I mean more like a slightly challenging walk because we really didn’t hike as a family. Nonetheless, we were walking in nature, I think in New Hampshire and Mom commanded from the back of the line that we “pace ourselves”. It was something she knew to say from her experience at summer camp, going on weekly climbs in the White Mountains. Well, for some reason we all thought that was hilarious given the terrain we were on and teased her about those words forever.
Pace yourselves. On a serious note, I think this is what we need to remember as we try to get through our days ahead, however many they may be that we are affected by the need to socially distance ourselves from one another.
This past week, I’ve been organizing and cleaning (both related to Coronavirus and otherwise) and this morning, I woke up and it was raining and I temporarily hit a wall. That is until I reached out to a few friends and a few reached out to me and my spirits were lifted. I guess what I’m trying to say is that while we are going to have extremely productive days working from home and getting lots of things done that we might not have normally had time for, there are also going to be days that feel extraordinarily long and tedious. Pace yourself, pace myself. I think the more I say it, the more I will lean into it.
So, how is everyone holding up generally? Most mornings you can find me wearing rubber gloves as I walk through the house with paper towels and bleach solution tending to as many surfaces as possible. I’m trying to stick to some form of daily exercise which has been pretty easy thanks to some tremendous online resources including my friend, Ramsay at On The Mat Yoga here in my town. I also took an Instagram Live ballet class with Tiler Peck, principal dancer of the New York City Ballet that was super fun. I stayed for an hour but clicked her off when she put on her toe shoes. But mostly, I’ve been cooking, reading, cleaning, and doing a few projects, one of which is benefiting the blog today.
It involved my recipe drawer which was a disaster. Most of my recipes are in files according to category. However, a sizable number were just in a pile that were awaiting proper separation. I decided to go through all the files and eliminate any recipes that no longer appealed which it turned out were quite a few. As a result of that effort, which still needs a little fine tuning, I happened upon a recipe for Tomato Bulgur Soup that I got from a library cookbook named Simply Armenian by Barbara Ghazarian.
Here’s why it’s such an awesome recipe for today’s situation. First, in the recipe’s headnotes, Barbara says her husband refers to it as “healing soup” as his father would request it whenever he was feeling a bit under the weather. Is it a home remedy? Perhaps. Second, this is a pantry recipe as good as any with the ingredients being simply chicken broth, tomato paste, olive oil, bulgur wheat (I will give you some substitutions), olive oil and lemon juice. Parsley is nice if you have it, but it’s certainly optional.
I made it a couple of times this week to make the recipe my own. I’ve changed Barbara’s cooking method just a little bit to keep it in one pot and bring out more flavor in the tomato paste. Barbara’s proportions of bulgur to broth made the soup almost like a porridge, thick and delicious. I cut the bulgur back just a bit to make the soup just a bit more brothy. I also didn’t skimp on the onion and added a pinch of red pepper. If you do not have any bulgur wheat in the pantry, never fear. You could add some red lentils, brown or white rice, israeli couscous or even some orzo or other small shaped pasta. This recipe is easy enough that if your adult children need a quick WFH lunch (thanks Lucy!), they can whip this together in no time and get back to the
office guest room (that’s where our daughter is set up to WFH). Simple, delicious and worth a try. I also added a handful of spinach to my last batch which I enjoyed.
I’ll leave you with these last few thoughts. It’s important for us to still look for the bright spots. On my walk yesterday, I happened upon these three rocks that someone had strategically placed along the path I was walking. I’m sure some of my local friends know the story behind them, but they were a welcome surprise and I was glad to have been present enough to find them. They made me smile…
A little photo for my bird loving husband, unedited. The color of the sky is another wonder…
And then we have to remember that it is restorative to laugh and there have been countless memes going around that have lightened the mood for sure. Hopefully you have seen a few in your travels.
And here are a few shots of the soup and the recipe will follow. Stay well, everyone until next time…
Check out these other recipes that are short on ingredients…