Coconut Curry Get Well Soup

I tend to make a lot of soup. It’s my go to dish when Roya isn’t feeling well, I create new recipes based on whatever veggies we get in our weekly CSA, and I seem to make it about 90% of the time when my best friend, Justin, comes over for dinner.

At our wedding a couple of weeks ago, Roya and I were blessed to have some truly excellent friends stand up and say wonderful things about us. When it was Justin’s turn, my soup even had a prominent role in his Best Man speech.

“Becky is like soup,” he said, eliciting more than a few chuckles from the room.

“Soup is humble. It does not boast, it does not brag. It is nothing more than its honest self. Becky’s soup is always homemade. It’s wholesome and made from scratch. Like the company she keeps, each ingredient is carefully selected for its unique qualities. Becky’s soup is delicious and brimming with flavor. It is rich and complex. Now Becky isn’t exactly like her soup. Her soup isn’t nearly so sweet, nor is it as salty as its maker can be, but it is thoroughly satisfying and never cloying.

Foremost, though, Becky’s soup is nourishing. It comforts and soothes the soul. Becky’s soup is a warming balm, a refuge when life turns cold. And sometimes it’s a little bit spicy.”

This is my newest soup invention – so new I haven’t even made it for Justin yet.

soup

Coconut Curry Get Well Soup

4 cups chicken broth*
1 can coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 sweet potato, cut into small cubes
3-4 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
3-4 large carrots, cut into small pieces
1 lb package raw chicken tenders or breasts, cut into small pieces
1 cup raw spinach, torn into small pieces
Juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
4 cups cooked rice

  1. In a large pot, bring chicken broth, coconut milk, garlic, cumin, and curry to a simmer.
  2. Add sweet potato, potatoes, and carrots and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add spinach, lime juice, salt, and pepper and simmer for an additional minute or two.
  5. Serve by adding a cup of hot rice to the bowl and adding a couple large spoonfuls of soup. Add more salt to taste.

This soup recipe is easily doubled. When I double the recipe, I cook the chicken in a separate pan with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper then shred and store it separately, adding a handful of chicken to the rice and soup in the bowl. Without chicken, the soup will keep in the fridge for up to a week. With the chicken added to the recipe, the soup will keep for 3-4 days.

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A Love Not-Poem

The word “said” is usually the best choice when writing dialogue.
People choose “capitulated” or “sighed longingly” or “harrumphed”
but often the most powerful and most perfect choice is simply “said.”
That’s what I think about I love you.
I tell you I adore you (and I do)
I tell you I am completely in love with you (and I am)
but often the most perfect way to express the life-altering bliss you bring to my life is simply those three words.
I love you.
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Love is

Love is driving through sickness to hold her when she’s sad.

Love is calling to sing her a song in the middle of the night.

Love is driving to spend the weekend with her family.

Love is making her dinner AND doing the dishes.

Love is doing things you’re nervous about because you know she wants you there with her.

Love is putting yourself first.

Love is going to bed too early.

Love is learning to trust that “I love you” can be something gentle and patient.

Love is holding your nephew as often as possible.

Love is answering the phone when you want to let it go to voice mail.

Love is asking for support.

Love is sitting quietly while you both take time to think and to write.

Love is learning to be patient when you want a turn to talk.

Love is listening to the soundtrack of a show you’ve never seen, just because she wants to share it with you.

Love is dressing up in fancy clothes to take her out for a date.

Love is picking him up at daycare when she needs a little time to herself.

Love is saving her the best seat in the show and sitting one seat over.

Love is telling her what specifically she says and does that makes your heart feel full.

Love is waiting for a turn.

Love is trying new things just because you know she loves them.

Love is waiving the debts from loved ones when you can afford to do so.

Love is pausing whatever is going on so you can hear her voice and say goodnight.

Love is listening to her stresses even when you’re battling your own.

Love is choosing to stay home alone when you need to.

Love is watching her eyes to see when she needs space and giving it to her without her needing to ask.

Love is finding a lucky penny and giving it to her.

Love is collecting stones and stories to remember your adventures together.

Love is setting aside your projects just to listen sometimes.

Love is saving her the last bite.

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Love is, I think, a collection of moments. Most of them small and seemingly insignificant. Tiny toothpicks stacked together, reaching up into the sky. Small moments of making coffee and tidying the living room and looking at photo albums and writing cover letters. Moments of reassuring roommates and picking raspberries and washing clothes and paying bills. Moments of setting up a projector to watch the LEGO movie in the living room. Waiting for your computer to restart and looking over the top to see her tousled hair and furrowed brow and wondering at how life presents you with such gifts – such exquisite moments of loving her and seeing your life shift to become our life. Taking one small step sideways to see the view has completely changed and now an entire vista has opened before you. You’re looking at the same world through the same eyes you’ve always had but somehow everything looks so different now. Colors are brighter and more vibrant. Things that might have driven you crazy before no longer have the same hold over you.

You can breathe easier and let things go.

Suddenly I See

I prefer to draft my writing – including my blog posts – by hand in my journal, then type it up at a later point. In the time that elapsed between my initially drafting the Waiting for What post and the other day when I typed it up for the blog, my world has spun on its axis and there is more to the story than there was at first. I decided to split the post in two, and to share the original post essentially as written, and use this post to share the “and then this happened” part.

About two weeks after the Bread and Puppet performance, Anna came to visit me for the weekend. Over dinner the first night, I was elated to tell her about how that night and the art helped me finally put words to something I’ve been stuck on for so long. I talked at length about how I was waiting for all the wrong things, and how I’m determined to dive in and live my life, believing I’ll find the right girl when I stop looking for her. I talked about the hikes and walks and was thrilled that she really seemed to understand what I was talking about.

Anna and I met 16 years ago when we both attended Smith College, but since graduation we’ve mostly been connected through the interwebs. When she moved to Vermont last summer, we were both delighted to discover that our friendship translated well from online back to real life. We’ve spent entire weekends in pajamas watching different versions of Hamlet, or the entire first season of Orphan Black, debating the finer points of Doctor Who, or examining the underpinnings of our faith. As our friendship has grown, we’ve become essential to one another with almost no effort at all. When my last partnership ended, Anna was the first person I called. That weekend, while I tried to keep a brave face through family events and baby showers, her frequent text messages elicited the few smiles and giggles I was able to manage. I would smile through tears and my mother would gently ask, “what did Anna say?”

After I recovered from my break up, I realized I was interested in finding out if the connection I felt to Anna could be something more than just friendship. In true Becket form, I simply asked her out on a date, taking her entirely by surprise. She said no and we agreed to set it aside and actively make sure it didn’t affect our friendship. I placed my feelings in a box, set the box on a shelf, and we carried on with our fun and ridiculous friendship.

What I didn’t know was that this set other things in motion.

Both Anna and I have dated other quite fabulous people in the intervening months, but I placed an idea in her mind that she set aside until she was ready to ponder and consider it. When we both were single at the same time late this spring, she pulled this idea out to give it her full attention and discovered, I think to her surprise, she saw the same relationship potential I brought up last fall.

I feel the need to interject at this point – in the spirit of the Princess Bride – that the rest of this post has a bit of mush to it. If you actively avoid the kissing or the gooey lovey bits of stories, you should stop reading now. Seriously.

During the course of that evening – sharing a delicious and companionable dinner, wandering through downtown Montpelier, driving to see a movie – something very small and equally massive shifted. Not for the first time, while sitting next to her I was aware of every shift of her body, aware of how closely she was sitting, electrically aware any time she reached over to touch me or whisper in my ear. Sitting closely turned to holding hands in the movie theater, walking hand in hand back to my car, and sharing a kiss on the sidewalk. That kiss nudged us from best friends to “holy cow, no wonder none of my relationships with other people actually worked.”

In a late night conversation on Google Plus a few weeks back, I was describing the way I approach things compared to a much more conservative friend. I said something like, “I think it ties to you waiting to do something until all your ducks are in a row. I just tell the ducks, ‘hop in! Time to swim!'”

This translates well to the way Anna and I approach life – I just toss an idea out there and ponder it as I go, learning and adapting along the way. Anna waits to make sure she examines the situation from every side before she steps into the fray. I’m very thankful we approach life in these opposite but compatible ways. Neither of us was really ready to try this out last fall, but if I hadn’t brought it up as a possibility she might not have taken the time to consider it.

Sometimes life just makes sense.

The best part? It feels like it’s always been this way.

Becket’s Words of Wisdom

When in doubt, I suggest falling in love with your best friend. She knows you better than basically anyone else on the planet, and she’s already seen you at your worst and your best. You know that thing about finding love when you’re not looking for it? Yeah…that.

Not needing to be anything other than exactly yourself?

Best. Thing. Ever.

Waiting for What?

Some weeks ago, one of my best friends invited me to go with her to attend a performance by Bread and Puppet Theater. I’d been hearing amazing things about Bread and Puppet for years, but this was the first time I found myself in a position to attend a performance. I assure you – this will not be my last. Breathtaking costumes, a mix of intense drama and lighthearted poking at the Establishment, their style and approach had me hooked from the first moment.

We want you to understand that theater is not yet an established form, not the place of commerce you think it is, where you pay to get something. Theater is different. It is more like bread, more like a necessity. Theater is a form of religion. It preaches sermons and builds a self-sufficient ritual. Puppet theater is the theater of all means. Puppets and masks should be played in the street. They are louder than the traffic. They don’t teach problems, but they scream and dance and display life in its clearest terms. Puppet theater is of action rather than dialogue. The action is reduced to the simplest dance-like and specialized gestures. A puppet may be a hand only, or it may be a complicated body of many heads, hands, rods and fabric.

We have two types of puppet shows: good ones and bad ones, but all of them are for good and against evil. -Peter Schumann

One feature I found delightfully accessible was the “cheap art” available for sale after the performance.

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During intermission, Anna and I perused the cheap art for sale in the lobby. I found a piece of art that spoke to me and garnered a bit of surprise from Anna. She saw what I wanted to buy, gave me a perplexed look and said, “but you never wait.”

waiting for what

She certainly isn’t wrong. When I meet a girl who seems somewhat close to my ideal, I dive in and try to make things fit. I don’t wait patiently for the “right” girl to come along, but adapt and contort myself until my prezeled state prevents me from remembering why I stepped into the relationship in the first place. After relationships inevitably end and I gain some perspective, I see the vast chasms between who I am and who I tried to become to meet the other person where they were.

By spending so much of my energy on adapting myself to meet a partner where they wish to be, I postpone the joy of finding my own path; setting aside my desires and my passions to prioritize finding a girl to share them with.

What am I waiting for? I’ve been waiting to actually live my life while I searched for a partner to share that life with me. I’ve had this all backwards! I need to take that “don’t wait” energy and apply it to my own life first. I need to go and do things, to take chances and climb mountains and experience life. Only then will I find a partner to share these adventures with me.

Even more complicated, maybe I did meet the right girl already but I missed it because I wasn’t focused enough on living my life to the fullest.

I think it’s time to let go of waiting to live my life. New mantra: No more waiting – time for living.

One Small Step at a Time

Step 1: Create a list of 42 mountains in Vermont that I want to climb.

Step 2: Research details about each of the mountains, including the length of the hike, driving distance from my house, and elevation change.

Step 3: Start hiking!

I spent a great deal of time with my hiking books including one of my favorites, Day Hiker’s Guide to Vermont: Trips Beyond the Long Trail while I created my list of potential mountains to climb. I wanted to start with something that was not too long, not too high, and did not have a dramatic amount of elevation change – primarily because I know myself and knew I was going to struggle.

Big Deer Mountain, Groton State Forest

Big Deer Mountain, Groton State Forest

I made the right choice to start with this hike.

I parked at one of the campgrounds in Groton State Forest and started my hike around 4 in the afternoon, the strength of the sun waning and the heat easing down to somewhere in the seventies. A little over a mile of relatively flat hiking and I was humming right along. Noticing the proliferation of red maples and groves of beach trees. Noticing the lush ferns brushing my knees and thinking I’m just a few weeks too late for fiddleheads. Noticing the gentle breezes keeping my hike reasonably bug-free. Feeling very proud of myself for cruising right along.

I soon hit a junction point where I could turn right and follow a fairly flat path I’ve hiked before with Jamie, or veer left to climb Big Deer Mountain.

About twelve steps up the incline and my lungs remembered they don’t appreciate climbing mountains, promptly attempting to smother me into submission. Rather than serving as a glistening demonstration of my exertion, sweat began pouring off my face and body, dripping down my back to pool in the waistband of my shorts. My feet suddenly imitated 50 pound free weights with every step seeming to take more effort than the last. I noticed the sharp increase in bugs swarming around my head. I noticed the occasional breeze dropping off and my face flaming tomato-red. I stopped noticing the trees and instead noticed any rock outcrop that could potentially serve as a temporary chair.

I had to stop every few steps to catch my breath before continuing to drag my panting self up the mountain. Every time I stopped, I felt the pull of the decline – the pull of giving up and heading back.

And every time, I kept trudging my way up the mountain.

After a half mile of climbing, I reached a point where the trail shifted to a gradual decline and flat section for the last tenth of a mile to the overlook. I noticed the blue sky peeking through trees on three sides and realized I was almost finished. I started noticing the breeze again. I stopped feeling so bothered by the bugs. I actually did a bit of a “hell yeah!” as I emerged from the trees to the view over what I think is Groton Pond.

view from big deer

I only spent about five minutes on the overlook to grab a few pictures, some water and a little journaling before the bugs kicked me back onto the trail. On my trek back across the ridge, I noticed several yellow butterflies lingering on the ferns, fluttering lazily across the trail, and at times seeming to hesitate in midair. I thought about snapping a few pictures with my phone but decided I didn’t need to capture them on film – I could catch them with my mind and with my words and it didn’t matter that I didn’t have photo proof to share with others.

The point of my hike, after all, isn’t to prove to other people what I’ve done and how I’ve done it – it’s to prove to myself that I can do it. Sharing the experience with my words is part of how I assimilate new experiences and how I figure out how I feel and what I’ve learned.

What have I learned about myself from this hike? I can fight through difficult moments and I can do anything, primarily by taking things one small step at a time. I actually can do this all by myself. It’s great to have people with me and I’m excited to take some friends on future hikes, but I don’t need to adjust my plans if they’re not available or interested.

Case in point – I invited one of my friends to go for a walk with me after work. I was willing to be flexible with my timing but if she wasn’t interested or available I was still going. This is a huge shift for me. Previously if I received a “no,” I likely wouldn’t have gone at all. Now? Whatever her response, I knew I was still going.

Watch out world –  I got this.

me big deer