Today I want to talk about returning to the basics, and when I say that I don’t only mean the way we eat or the way we live, but by the way we think as well. This post is going to get deep, and philosophical, but stick with me, because I would love to hear your thoughts at the end. I really really would.
Lately I find myself thinking about the simplest of things, and how I want to remember to be thankful for them. I look at my 42 year old legs in the mirror and while they may not be the legs that I dream of (as seen on far too many pinterest pins), I am thankful that they get me where I need to go, and so far, without any pain or discomfort. I know that not everyone can say the same, and one day, I may not be able to say that either. But for today- I can. And so I am grateful. I am grateful for those darling sweet but sometimes lippy sassy snarky little (and not so little) boys that I live with. I am trying to embrace those moments that I used to want to “just get through” because even though they try every last ounce of patience I have, I know that they won’t last forever. I know I am “that mom” that will sit in this same chair one day, remembering these days- the good ones and the challenging ones- and wish I hadn’t wished them away when I was in the thick of it. So today I want to look at them and savor all of the moments I have with them, and try to engrain it in my mind so that it will be clear when I need to recall it down the road.
There are so many things in life that we simply pass by, pass over, or rush to get through. There are things that others would give anything to have, and yet we take them for granted. There are times that seem so overwhelming or difficult and yet it is those very moments that are the gateway to something great, something we never saw coming and yet are so thankful that it did. But it seems that life gets crazy, and busy and it’s as if we can’t see clearly when we are so surrounded by it all. Sometimes it feels as if we are trapped on a roller coaster and don’t know how to get off. But for some, there is an event that stops them in their tracks and gives them such clarity on what really matters that it changes their lives. Sadly, most of those “moments” – the ones that really stop us in our tracks are tragic moments. Why is it that it so often takes a loss of something we love to shake us into seeing what has been right in front of us all along? So lately I have been trying to see it- see the things that really matter and showing them that they mean the world to me. Whether it is taking more time with my sweet family, spending more time doing things together or stopping everything to talk to them when they need it. It is cooking more comfort food, more special treats, more big farmhouse breakfasts. It’s walking around our property, enjoying the animals and gardens and dreaming of what we will plant this year to enjoy at mealtimes. It’s all of it- this amazing wonderful crazy life we have been blessed with- I want to be grateful for it all.
This isn’t about “look at those people in that third world country and see how little they have and isn’t it a little ridiculous that we have so much”. This is about “I am so blessed by the things- whatever those things are – that I have and that any moment it could all be taken away and what things really matter and I’m going to start really enjoying them now- every. single. day”. So for me, it comes down to this. The internet is nice, and inspiring and filled with ideas. Pinterest is nice and pretty and filled with ideas. But what matters to me is my family, and those we love and making people happy. The rest is gravy- and I am no longer going to worry about “keeping up” with the things that so many people think are important. There is something wonderful about loving our home, and having it feel welcoming and comfortable. But for me, there is no value in constantly changing it and comparing our home to those we see online and feeling like it will never be “good enough”. If the people I love live in it, it is better than good enough, it is fabulous.
So, with that in mind…
The book “An Everlasting Meal” by Tamar Adler sits on my bedside. If you have any interest in simplifying your meals, your kitchen, or the way you work with food, you should read this book. I love it. I tend to use it more as a reference as there are so many great ideas and inspiration in this book, I find myself going back to it over and over again. Tamar Adler talks about the importance of shopping seasonally, preferably locally, and so much she writes reminds me of the life my friends living in Europe experience every day.
My favorite concept in the book is how she ties things together in an effort to eliminate waste in the kitchen. Tamar writes of creating one meal, and then saving all of the byproducts for other things, as well as using the leftovers to create an entirely different meal the following day. That is one thing I have always loved about my friend Ange- her skill and inspiration in the kitchen, creating completely different lunches from the previous evenings dinner!
One traditional Tuscan soup is Ribollita. One of my wonderful readers wrote the following from a source she found, which I loved!
“Ribollita is a famous Tuscan soup, a hearty potage made with bread and vegetables. There are many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannellini beans and inexpensive vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, beans, silver been, cavolo nero and onion. It’s name literally means “reboiled. Like most Tuscan cuisine, the soup has peasant origins. It was originally made by reheating (i.e. reboiling) the leftover minestrone or vegetable soup from the previous day. Some sources date it back to the Middle Ages, when the servants gathered up food-soaked bread trenchers from feudal lords’ banquets and boiled them for their own dinners.”
This soup has inspired me to look at my pantry and make some changes with regards to the things I keep in it. I will be doing a post on that soon~
Ribollita is total comfort food. My family loved it and I am sure it will become a weekly staple in our home. I would love to know if you try it or if you have made it before~
adapted slightly from the brilliantly inspirational book “An Everlasting Meal”
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
3-4 carrots diced
2 stalks celery diced
1/2 tsp chili flakes- I used 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup parsley and rosemary chopped- I find both fresh and dried work but if using dry, use less
1 can stewed tomatoes or 3 whole tomatoes
1 bunch leafy greens like collard greens, swiss chard or kale
1/4 cup water
2 cups any white beans
2 cups homemade broth- I use chicken
1 parmesan rind
2 cups stale bread
Heat 1/4 inch olive oil in a large pot. Cook the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in the oil. Salt them as soon as you add them. Once they begin to soften add the herbs and chile flakes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon as they soften and cook over medium heat for a few minutes.
Add the chopped greens and the water. Cover the pot and cook over low heat until the greens wilt. Add the beans, broth and parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer, then add the bread and 1/4 cup olive oil. Cover the pot, turn the heat as low as you can and cook for half an hour, checking occasionally to make sure it isn’t burning and adding a little broth or water if it seems too dry. The bread must cook and absorb everything it can, and then melt into the soup.
Stir in another 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil, taste, remove the cheese rind and serve warm with fresh grated parmesan and black pepper.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!