There’s a moment when you look around and realize several things:
1. You’re getting married in eleven days.
2. Even though you say you’re fine, you’re talking really fast and sort of high pitched.
3. You haven’t slowed down in days.
4. Suddenly things like not being able to curl your hair correctly or forgetting to put dinner in the crock pot are REALLY BIG DEALS.
That’s right friends. That moment. And I’m in it. I’m getting married in eleven days, and shit is getting real.
My latest wedding dream? I’m so glad you asked. I dreamed that Amanda saw a wedding involving a bride who held a cast-iron pot, an officiant who lit a piece of paper on fire inside the pot, and the groom, who extinguished the flame with water from a clay jug. Amanda said we should do something like that, and I awakened after a vision of me holding my cast-iron skillet, smearing a black streak of cast-iron seasoning onto my otherwise gorgeous dress.
This is a fantastic, amazing, tremendously frantic time. We get married in eleven days, and ten days after that, we’re moving cross-country to California. Several people last week pointed out that some of the most stressful, “biggest” life changes are getting married and moving, especially long distances. We’re doing both in the span of a month.
When we got home from Boston on Sunday, after four days of overwhelming AWP time, bumping into introverts, questioning my self-worth, doubting my decisions in life, and then ultimately feeling inspired and pumped up (I’ll thank Jeanette Winterson for that), I was exhausted. I took Dramamine on the plane to avoid the new awesome thing my body does – motion sickness – so I was extra tired. And even though my energy level was fading and I wanted nothing more than to lie in bed and watch Hoarders, we knew we had to eat. Amanda (wonderful soul that she is) went to the store so I didn’t have to put a bra back on, and when she got home, I cooked us butternut squash soup.
As I chopped squash and apples, mixed cayenne and cumin and ginger and salt, as I stirred and simmered, I felt renewed and calmed. I was in my happy place, my safe place – my kitchen. I had control over the universe. My brain slowed down just a tiny bit.
And I realized something – I’m going to be away from my kitchen for A MONTH. I won’t be able to cook. I won’t be able to slip away into that middle space between the kitchen floor and my imagination where thought becomes clearer and movements become automatic.
I’m going to miss that.
Big, beautiful changes are happening. I’m getting married, something I sort of thought wouldn’t happen for me. I’m moving to California, something I definitely thought wouldn’t happen for me.
With that reality, I have identified a need in my life: I need comfort food. I’m sure some brides diet the week before their wedding, and believe me, I’m not going nuts (I want the dress to fit, after all), but I’m eating the things that make me feel homey and safe and warm and centered. Fresh tomato slices, drizzled with balsamic and olive oil, sprinkled with salt and a little pepper. Grilled cheese with bacon and tomato slices. Homemade granola with tangy Greek yogurt and plenty of honey drizzled on top. Tonight for dinner, Moroccan chicken thighs over a bed of fluffy couscous.
This is partly my way of squeezing out my last bits of comfort in my kitchen before I love that processing place, that space where I feel at home and graceful and confident. And it’s partly a way of rubbing my back and soothing myself in moments where the to-do list seems too big, the move too soon, the caffeine not enough.
This week, I need grilled cheese. And Girl Scout cookies. And fresh baked bread. And all the comforts of home.
Apple-Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart (Click link for original recipe)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 4 apples (I use Granny Smith and Golden Delicious – feel free to substitute your own favorites), peeled, cored, and chopped
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon, plus pinch, cayenne pepper
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together spices, salt, and pepper.
- Add apples, spice mixture, stock, and the water (just enough to cover). Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 30 minutes.
- Puree in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth, and return to saucepan. Heat over low, thinning with more water if necessary. To serve, ladle into shallow bowls; garnish as desired with chopped apples, jalapeno slices, or Greek yogurt (particularly helpful if you want to take a bit of the spice off). This soup is excellent alongside a slice of fresh homemade bread, toasted, buttered, and sprinkled with sea salt and herbs.