I have out-of-town guests this weekend, so I’ve been cooking even more than usual. This morning we had oatmeal with raisins and apples. My friend loves oatmeal and always requests it, and taught me to put in pumpkin pie spice. It’s a tasty variation. I eat hot cereal almost every day, so I’m happy to oblige. She could crave something far more complex, and I’m just not equipped to function much first thing in the morning. I think she knows this. Most people learn this pretty early on in our friendship.
I made some pasta for lunch, wilting some spinach in amongst the whole wheat spirals. Yum! My mother was a good cook, and so am I, although my culinary legacy has veered from hers. I don’t spend my afternoons wrapping bacon around oysters and water chestnuts, and you won’t find me making a tender steak teriyaki. I’m a vegan, so those foods don’t appear on my menu. I do love to cook for people, and that’s where we have a lot in common.
I also enjoy cooking for myself. At the moment, I’m a single person. Sometimes I get busy and since there’s no one to complain I’ll occasionally eat cold cereal and toast all day. It’s okay as a variation, but I think it’s important to cook. Cooking is cheaper than eating out, and it’s far easier to control the results. Just as I love to show my friendship by preparing meals for the people I care about, I think it’s good to show myself that I’m worth the nurturing that a hot meal can provide. Today I even baked.
I don’t eat sugar anymore, so I made myself a loaf of Irish soda bread. It’s quick, easy, and the recipe I use is healthy. Soda bread doesn’t require yeast, and doesn’t need to sit or rise, and it’s delicious with a nice cup of tea. Eating fresh baked bread makes me feel like I’m surrounded by family and friends, even when I’m all alone in my apartment. Buddha said that giving to the self is also giving. We remember to take care of others, but it’s so hard to treat ourselves with the same kind of attention. It’s time to fire up the oven and fix that.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
243. How do you like to show your friends you care? What makes you feel loved and cherished? Do that thing for yourself this week. How does it make you feel? If you’d like to try your hand at soda bread, here’s my favorite recipe:
I like to add 2 tbsp. of caraway seed to the recipe, and I always add yellow raisins. If you want something more savory, you can leave those out. I’ve also tried making it by soaking the raisins in brandy and/or whiskey first (YUM) and one day when I was out of caraway I put in 1 tbsp. of anise (I may have increased the sugar slightly–I can’t remember). It was a nice breakfast bread that reminded me of the yellow anise biscotti I grew up with in New York.