Miso Soup for One

I just gave the kids what they wanted and fixed myself my very own meal.

Neither of the boys (one mine, one borrowed) are picky eaters, but 1. I didn’t feel like the production of cleaning my kitchen so I could make them a meal and 2. I wanted to let them pick as a treat. They ended up choosing a local burger joint and, when we called in the order, I ordered just for them.

As soon as we arrived home, I sent them upstairs with a bag of burgers and fries; I opened the refrigerator and took inventory. Asparagus. Miso. Mushrooms. Avocado. Cheddar. Making a careful choice between the standard avocado, cheese, and cracker board and miso soup, I chose the soup.

See, it’s rainy and also that weird time between meals where you need something, but not too much something. In my rummaging I remembered a few lines from Phyllis Grant’s Food 52 piece recollecting the joy of making a solo lunch. While far from Phyllis, I felt like taking time to actually make something for myself would be a good choice.

It took 5 minutes, tops.

After picking out my prettiest bowl, I pulled two stalks of asparagus, two baby bella mushrooms, and the container of miso from the refrigerator. I kicked the kettle on to boil. I washed and diced the asparagus and mushrooms so they were teeny, teeny, tiny.

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I scooped about 1/2 of a big tablespoon of miso from the container and placed it in the bowl.

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By this time the water was boiling. I added just a tablespoon or two of water at first to make a slurry. Don’t skip this step – you’ll be stirring forever. Just smoosh up the veg and water and miso paste until it’s evenly distributed. Then, add water to your desired strength.

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Please forgive my weirdly lit and placed phone pictures. My house is a mess and I am eh, a little lazy.

Once your soup is prepared, place a cloth napkin or kitchen towel under your bowl and walk into whatever room you want to be in. I chose my living room. And in the time it takes you to turn on Hulu and select the latest episode of your favorite show, your soup will be cool enough to eat.

I often hear the standard “take care of yourself” line, which is always vague and often offensive. It’s the nicer little sister to “I don’t know how you do it.” I always want to tell the deliverer of this message to give me $100 and drive my kid to hockey practice.  This five minute miso is my way to say “I do. I do take care of myself.”

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Room of Requirement Potato Pancakes

 We ate these suckers hot out of the pan, burning our fingertips as we shoved them toward our faces.

A mere twenty minutes earlier we were on our way home from school and crankily listing all the shit we needed to pack for our next stop. Colby was going to attend my evening classes with me to get homework done, and I was trying to recollect my lesson plan for the night as I drove. Neither of us had eaten lunch.

We rushed toward the house as soon as I threw the Subaru into park. We had one mission: food.

And I swear, my refrigerator turned into the Room of Requirement. Like, Ron Weasley was in there holding up a bin of fresh eggs. Hermione was (rather condescendingly) pointing toward a pot with last night’s mashed potatoes in it. A bag of cheese actually FELL out of the door. It was eerie and exciting and all of my long, wiry white hairs stood up on my head.

“POTATO PANCAKES!” I yelled up to Colby. He grumbled or stomped or gave some other form of assent.

And then it was over. In mere minutes I preheated a cast iron fry pan, took the pot of cold potatoes out of the fridge, cracked a few (?) eggs into it, added a handful of cheese and some garlic powder, and stirred like crazy. The pan was sizzling and I plopped four, pancake sized blobs into it and watched the magic happen. The edges fizzled and crusted just like a flour pancake and the middles got all glossy and melty. I called Colby downstairs.We did not even dirty any dishes – just stood over the stove eating hot potato pancakes with our hands.

It was glorious and delicious and we were soon out the door, exactly on time, sated and happy and ready for our second shift to begin.

File this recipe away for the end of this month  when you have a dump truck sized pot of leftover mashed potatoes in the back of your refrigerator.


Room of Requirement Mashed Potato Pancakes

  • butter or olive oil to fry with
  • cold mashed potatoes (I’ve since tried this with hot ones – edible but def not the same)
  • eggs
  • garlic or garlic powder
  • cheese

Preheat fry pan – preferably cast iron – with butter and/or olive oil. While this is heating mix all ingredients together and stir well. Like really, really well. The mix will be runny, so if yours looks a little too thick add another egg. Plop in the pan and loosen the edges with a metal spatula as they cook. Once the edges are nice and crispy brown and the cakes seem to be set up, very carefully flip and squish. Loosen the edges and watch. Sprinkle with some good sea salt (we love crunchy Maldon) as they finish cooking. Pile up on a (paper) plate while you cook the rest and, while I guess you could wait and eat them like civilized people, eat them while they are punishingly warm. You’ll be glad you did.

 Do you have any accidental weirdly fast and

satisfying and low prep meals? Is your refrigerator, too, magical?

Let me know. I need all the help I can get.

xoxo,

Heather

The Equation of Happiness

It’s no secret that my life is BIG. Not ‘just got back from Paris’ big, but ‘I fill every cranny of my life with amazing things that I could not stand to NOT be a part of but the sum of which utterly DOES ME IN’ big.

During the summer this is fine. I’m a teacher, and while I do spend an incredible amount of time planning and taking classes and reading during the summer, the most important thing that happens is that I have time to think and process. This cannot happen during the school year for reasons that parents and teachers can understand, so it happens during the summer. When there is time and space and five QUIET minutes. I drive, wearing running shorts and dirty t-shirts, to and from Colby’s various events, and think. I visit my friends, watch hockey games, read a bajillion books, swim every possible afternoon, play in the garden, and it all seems to work.

I can manage during the summer. Wearing Old yoga pants! Running shorts! Anything with an elastic waistband! We eat dinner at 10 p.m. and often that dinner consists of any variation of toast and whatever came in from the garden. Can you sense what’s coming here?

We’re going back to school.

Freshmen orientation is tomorrow and my very own special-flower-man-child-superstar-genius is In. My. Class.

Send prayers and wine.

Some people transition. They plan and pack bento box lunches and iron their work clothes. They have checklists and a plan. I, as you know, do not.

I have been grocery shopping in the garden for WEEKS.

My work clothes will never be pressed.

All of my child’s school supplies are in a warped cardboard box on the porch.

Yet, we ARE ready.

I mean, I just put lasagna in the oven and it is sure to boil over and ruin the oven any minute, but shit, I put LASAGNA in the OVEN. Let’s focus on accomplishments, people.

My syllabi are done, orientations completed, and posters hung. I have shiny classroom floors, an activity for tomorrow, and a really good feeling about where this year will take us. These kids are my PEOPLE. They love the same books and shows as I do and they are interested in EVERYTHING. We never lack a topic for conversation. At the end of every August I leave my own world, but in a way, I am going HOME.

I’ve also picked a fight with my husband about tomatoes and utterly neglected a towering stack of laundry that is now living in my green chair. It is judging me and I am maybe a little vindictive and refuse to cave into its snarky demands. Sheets. If you want to get in the closet than maybe you should slink your cotton ass up the stairs and put yourself away.

I’m busy.

Like the rest of you, I am still that carnival act spinning a million plates. Off my feet, head, hands, that pouch of baby weight that I meant to lose fourteen years ago . . . We’re spinning meals and spouses and soccer practice and new books – pets and car repairs and laundry – meetings and community and the best friends in the world. And while everyone around us says: “I don’t know how you do it!” we KNOW that we could not have it any other way. Each plate balances the other, and the loss of one would throw us irrevocably off kilter.

I explain this to my husband, friend, colleagues, etc. by telling them that all of these areas of my life contribute to my happiness. I like a lot of people and a lot of activities and a whole lotta Netflix; my dogs, good books, and music; taking classes and teaching classes and playing in the garden and reading about livestock.

After 34 years, I think this is just the way it is going to be. Not ‘crazy busy’, but dear God, so lucky.

How blessed we are.

A Week in Pictures

I’m sitting in my car, parked outside the music studio where Colby takes drum lessons.

Mother Nature decided I was tired, so she’s watering my garden for me.

It seemed like a good day to spend a paycheck. At Target, on school supplies. The irony.

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I had allergy testing done earlier this week.

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Now I will know what is like to live in Maine and not eat any seafood.

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Matt and I got our marriage license. I kept thinking they were gonna say no, but it turns out as long as we’re not first cousins we’re all set!

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I have painted my kitchen twice in the past two weeks. *facepalm*

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The sea foam green was good in theory. I like the present khaki MUCH better.

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I got a college ID much different from those I’ve had in the past. I think I look better in this one too.

We’ve been canning and freezing in the middle of all of this wedding planning kid carting new (extra) job ruckus. I think I can I think I can . . .

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Lost and Found II

It took me 15 minutes to find my car in the Target parking lot last week.

Last night I couldn’t find my debit card. I figured it was in my car. I couldn’t find either of my credit cards, I figured I hid them and couldn’t remember the act of hiding them or where I may have placed them.

As I pulled into work this morning, my phone rang. After I found said phone in the depths of my school bag, I answered. It was my bank – telling me that I left my debit card in the ATM yesterday.

I lost an assignment and rubric after photocopying for a student who needed the weekend work early. It showed up on my desk after work.

I found hope in a swath of sunshine during my morning class; patience with a group of students who continually challenge me. On the way to my car, I looked down at a streak of orange on the ground. It was my missing grading pen.

A little bit of lost and found for your Thursday, friends.

p.s. If you find my credit cards, will you let me know?

Report: 1st Annual Cookie Swap

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Pictures courtesy of Eve Wiles, preschool photographer extraordinaire.

 

We were all cookie swap virgins, well, to the best of my knowledge anyway. In an attempt to be organized and festive, we picked a kitchen and set a date to come together, visit, and bake cookies. After multiple hours, lessons in such things as: how to hold the baby, how to cream sugar and butter together, and how to totally gross out an 11-year-old boy with a kitchen full of women and, ahem, women talk; we each had a pile of cookies, dirty clothes, and wine-stained teeth.

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The non-bakers

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I spy with my little eye . . . Eve’s finger!
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Eve and Russell
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A bit weary of cookie making?

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Now these people here – a motley collection of childhood friends. Yes, we know how lucky we are. We really, really do. Nobody could blackmail me like any of these women could.

Festive.
Festive.

 

If you count success by the number of cookies baked and sheer amount of shameful gossip swapped, the day was wildly successful. Merry Christmas, my girls.