Find Your Foundation

January 7, 2013


Last year, through moves and artistic projects and business plans, I became increasingly aware of the basic elements that make it possible for me to feel good and work well. My foundation. Sometimes this foundation was sorely lacking. It caused me a lot of anxiety, made me work poorly, and amplified the little stressors that otherwise would have merely been cause for a shoulder shrug. 

For me, it comes down to a handful of things that make all the difference: eating well (and meal planning ahead of time so that this is possible); moving my body; looking at my finances weekly; practicing the ‘on or off’ approach to work.

The first three on the list are self-explanatory: when my body is well fed, my brain is well exercised, and I have a good barometer of my financial health, I rest easy. 

The ‘on or off’ approach means that I don’t think about work or projects unless I’m actually working on them. Either I sit down and decide on an amount of time I can give to a project and avoid getting distracted by an unrelated activity, or I stop working and do something else. It’s hard, but why ruin your relax time with work, or dilute your work time with twitter?

Maybe your foundation elements are different. Maybe it comes down to 9 hours of sleep for you, or your Tuesday yoga class, or a Wednesday date night. What makes you breathe easier even when the work is hard? What keeps your body and mind in check?

Everyone I know is bounding into the new year with determination and lists and big ideas (myself included). I suspect that our ability to do what we set our minds to will have a lot to do with the basic foundation elements- the structure that we can count on in the stressful times.

Speaking of eating well: I plan on eating a lot of this soup. It was our contribution to Christmas dinner, and then we made it again this week because it was so damn good. 
We adapted it from The Silver Palate Cook Book by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, substituting coconut milk for apple juice, and upping the spices. It's more delicious than the janky iphone photos suggest.





Curried Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4)

2 T. coconut oil
1 C. finely chopped yellow onions
2- 2 1/2 t. curry powder
1 medium-size butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 C. chicken stock
1/2 C. coconut milk (I prefer the full fat kind)
a pinch of cayenne
cinnamon to taste
ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the oil, onions, and spices in a large heavy pot over low heat. Cook until the onions are tender (about 25 minutes).

2. Peel the squash and apple and chop.

3. When the onions are tender, pour in the stock and add the squash and apples. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the squash is tender (about 25 minutes).

4. Strain off the liquid and save, leaving the squash, onions, and apples. Food process these until smooth (or I used an immersion blender). 

5. Return this mixture to the pot. Gradually add the coconut milk and about 2 cups of the liquid you strained off, until it's at a consistency that you like. Season with salt + pepper to taste.

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