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So, I took a break for a week while Geordie’s parents were visiting. I’m not much into doing the internet stuff when I’ve got guests. Also, it was Geordie’s vacation, so we had him at home too. We did lots of touristy stuff and took lots of pictures and ate out way too much, and we all had a good time!
Last week, I also had my first prenatal appointment and first ultrasound! The appointment with the midwives was pretty standard – a lot of talking, a lot of making sure all is healthy and good, a lot of blood-taking. The ultrasound appointment was shorter but perhaps more exciting. I can’t begin to express the relief we felt at seeing that little heartbeat. Baby is developing nicely at the moment, right on schedule. The official Estimated Due Date is December 8, which is about what I figured.
Other than that, I haven’t got much else to post at the moment. I have a couple posts from last week (namely the FFwD post for Friday) that I want to get written and posted. But that’s about it. I am starting to feel a little less yucky, but my appetite is still a bit wonked out, so I’ve been trying to stick to simple foods. And easy meals! This week’s meals don’t involve much in the way of recipes, and most of them are simple techniques I’ve done lots of times before and aren’t overly complicated. We’ll see how that works out.
Mostly, for now, I’m just trying to get back in the groove of writing. Taking a week off might be nice, but it’s not always easy getting back on track. I figure writing a little bit is better than continuing to write nothing at all! I actually have quite a few things I want to write about, it’s just getting my thoughts organized and written that’s the hard part. My stomach may be feeling better, but I still feel a little discombobulated in the head. Also, tired. Napping is pretty much a daily thing for me right now.
Anyway. That’s all for today!
Nine weeks down, thirty-one weeks to go!
Before I married Geordie, I’d never heard of caldo verde, which is a soup popular in Portuguese cuisines. It’s often eaten at celebrations, but for us, it’s a winter standard, and one I love to make.
One of the first people I met from Geordie’s extended family was his Aunt Lynne. By an interesting coincidence, she and her family lived in St. Augustine, where I had gone to college and lived for a good seven years. It’s where my BFF still lives. So, naturally, after we had arrived back in the States, we made plans to go to St. Augustine and visit.
Aunt Lynne works for a catering business, and she is quite the excellent (self-taught) cook. She makes delicious food, and she’s so terrifically awesome that she always made a point to make something fabulous to eat when we came to visit. The first time I met her, we went to the catering office, where she was toiling away over a big pot of soup. After a very emotional (and adorable) reunion between her and Geordie, she told us that she hoped we’d want something to eat, because she was making Portuguese kale soup.
Geordie’s eyes fairly lit up. “Oh, boy!” he said. Aunt Lynne sat us down at a picnic table outside the building and brought us two Styrofoam bowls of steaming hot soup. It was overflowing with veggies, beans, and sausage. I took one look at it and thought, um.
You see, I prefer creamy soups. I always have. I’ve always been shy of big bowls of soup with large pieces of vegetables looking at me. This is how you get when you don’t like onion and celery in your soup, since quite a lot of chunky soups are built upon their base. But Geordie was shoveling the soup into his mouth as quickly as he could, and nobody could hate onions more than the man I married. So, to be polite, I took a teensy bite.
Of course I liked it. It’s a very tasty soup. It’s a very hearty, very filling soup – perfect comfort food for a winter’s day. I liked it well enough that I told Geordie I’d make it sometime if he wanted me to, and that made him happy, which made me happy. It was the first recipe I asked Aunt Lynne for, but not the last one. But it is the one I’ve made the most.
I’ve been eating this soup for only a year now, and it’s easily one of my favorite soups. Second only to homemade lobster bisque. It’s quite popular where Geordie comes from, but as I’ve never had much exposure to Portuguese cuisine, I’d been terribly ignorant of its existence. Thank goodness that changed! It might not stay cold for long here in Texas, but this is the perfect soup for a chilly winter’s evening.
It’s a fairly simple recipe, one that’s good for tinkering with. For one thing, you can, if you choose, make this soup with onion and celery. But not in this house. You can play with the veggies a little. I usually dice up a carrot or two to add to the soup, but I had run out of carrots when I was making this batch. I used a can of corn instead, and it came out quite nicely. You could also use a different kind of pasta, though smaller types are best. It’s not a finicky soup – do with it as you please, and it won’t treat you badly.
Portuguese Kale Soup
yields 4 plentiful servings
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
½ cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
5-6 cups chicken stock
12-oz can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
6 oz chopped linguiça or chorizo
15-oz can of kidney beans, drained
½ cup uncooked elbow macaroni
2 bunches of kale, stemmed and chopped
seasonings to your taste (salt, pepper, thyme, basil, etc.)
Saute the garlic and carrots in the oil over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and heat through. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the linguiça (or chorizo) and the beans. Add in the seasonings – I toss in a couple teaspoons of thyme and basil, along with some salt and pepper, but you can use whatever you’re comfortable with. Bay works well too, though be sure to fish it out before eating. Simmer until the veggies are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Add the kale and the macaroni and cook until tender, 7-10 minutes. Serve with a nice, crusty bread.
There’s not a lot to say. It was Christmas. It was a good Christmas. It’s good to be with family on this most wonderful and most difficult of holidays.
Lauren has been on our minds a lot this week, and her names has been spoken aloud more than once. My parents bought her an ornament for the Christmas tree, which was nice, because Geordie and I had not been able to find one for her that we liked. She has been present here with us, and it has been less difficult than I expected. The first Christmas was so hard. This one has been comforting. I’m glad of that. It’s nice to have a quiet Christmas.
We’ve lost others this year, suddenly, unexpectedly. An aunt of Geordie’s. One of my great-uncles. These are griefs too, people who are missed, whose lives were cut off so abruptly. It’s hard to grasp, even now, that someone can be there and then suddenly be gone. How can anything be the same after that?
The truth is: it can’t. Nothing is the same, but we can’t stop living just because of that. We have to do our best to adjust, to remember those who have come into our lives and then passed through. The truth is that life is ever-changing, ever-flowing, and we must simply ride it out and live as best we can. Sometimes, we must mourn. Other times, we must celebrate.
And there are times when we must do both. We must balance ourselves, grieving for what we have lost and believing that there is good still yet to come. Our lost loved ones will not be forgotten, and they will always be missed, but we cannot change that they are gone. All we can do now is honor and love them – and remember them.
This Christmas, I remember the ones we have lost, the lives that have meant much to us, in some way or another. Though they are no longer here in physical form, the memory of them remains – the love we had for them, the memories of them that we hold close as mementos. I remember them, and I honor them, as I do with my daughter every single day.
The day has passed, and this day after Christmas is, for me, a chance for reflection, for contemplation. Only briefly, perhaps, because even today, I have things to do. But it’s important to take this moment, to remember.
Merry Christmas, to everyone who reads these words. To everyone who is thinking or has thought of loved ones lost, who are not here to celebrate this holiday of comfort and peace. May blessings find you, and may the rest of 2012 bring you gladness and well-being.
Bless you all.