I was grumpy.
Having successfully fought off an impending migraine all morning, I had left work early, so that I would have time to rest my eyes for a bit, cook the soup (for French Fridays with Dorie), make gougères for my book club meeting, get a shower, and get to book club in plenty of time.
Then I sat down “for a minute” and woke up hours later, late for book club, and late even for dinner, which I almost always serve at 7pm.
As you can see, I managed to make the soup. And I also managed to calm myself down from my frantic “Oh, no!” freakout when I awoke and realized all my evening’s plans were ruined.
I blame cancer. Or, rather, I should say I thank cancer.
When the doctor diagnosed me with thyroid cancer in 2007, it was a weird shift. My life wasn’t in any danger, and I won’t die from thyroid cancer, but for the next few years, I could no longer take for granted that I would have any physical energy at any specific time. Between the surgeries, the wild hormonal shifts, and the odd radioactive-iodine protocol, I never knew from day to day whether I’d be peppy or completely exhausted.
At first, this made me cry and rail at a body that was letting me down. And then I got philosophical, as I usually do, and decided that there were two reactions I could have to this, since having energy exactly when I wanted it wasn’t an option: I could continue to overschedule my life, feel exhausted all the time, and probably hurt my recovery; or I could cut WAY back on all my commitments, let the people in my life know I have new limitations, and spend a lot more time resting and “doing nothing” than my previous life and its ambitions would allow me.
So I got up, told James that dinner would be ready when it was ready (he managed to console himself with a baguette and some brie left over from yesterday’s dinner), made a lovely chicken stock in the pressure cooker from a chicken carcass, some veggies, and a pound of chicken feet — hush! it’s gross, but good — and set to work doing the prep for the soup.
By the time I had chopped the onion, garlic, and ginger; gathered the spices; started the soup; washed and prepped the herbs; and juiced a few limes, I was feeling all mellow and fine.
Cooking heals me in a way that is almost spiritual. It gives me a sense of beauty and usefulness. It feeds all my senses. And it literally nourishes me and the family that I love.
That’s a lot of benefit out of that little bowl of soup, don’t you think?
[Changes I made to Dorie’s recipe: James bought a huge boneless chicken breast that weighed twice what the recipe called for, so I just used it all. Chopped, not shredded, because it was so big it didn’t get done in the 20 minutes. Also, I juiced all the limes I had and only got about 2.5 tablespoons of juice, so I tossed the lime halves into the hot soup for about 5 minutes and it really added some lime flavor to the thing.]
You can see a TON of other entries in this week’s Leave Your Link post. You can also follow FFwDorie on Twitter (@FFwDorie). Also, if you’re local, please consider joining me and some other folks when Dorie comes to Omnivore Books on food in San Francisco this Saturday; I’ll be taking some gougères, and we’d love to see you!