Archives for posts with tag: cooking

Next Monday is my 49th birthday. My husband asked me what I wanted. I told him, “I don’t want anything. I just want to have dinner with you or something.”

I didn’t really have the emotional energy to think about what I wanted. It’s been a stressful few weeks with lots of worries on top of my normal worries. Sometimes, I worry that I think too much. I think about cancer every day. I think about my husband and daughter every day. I think about the obligations I have to my family, my friends, my job, and to myself. When I am really stressed, as I am at this moment, I worry that I am burdening my friends and family by asking for support, even the support of knowing what I am going through so I don’t have to do it by myself. I am worrying about this right now by sharing this with you. But I also know that when I feel most alone and burdened is the time I need to call on my resources and this means friends.

My friend, Nancy, sent me an email with a parenting resource. Actually, the email was to a bunch of people. Nancy is a dear and she always prefaces any email with, “I hope you are well.” I replied just to her. “I am hanging in there. Things are not going well but I hope you and your family are well.”

I’d never done that before. I got a phone call from her within the hour. I felt a great deal better after we talked. I am very lucky to have such wonderful support in my life.

I’ve been wishing very much to go on a vacation. Then I realize that I’ve just had two vacations, which were wonderful. What I really want is to be away from the stress of the current complications of my life.

Yesterday, I thought to myself, “For my birthday, I want a simple life.”

Immediately, I reflected that this was a fantasy. There are people who have simpler lives than mine, but their lives are complicated. More importantly, I can’t be anyone else, anyway. My life is complicated.

I also started thinking about the fact that I am ending another decade of my life, my forties. I thought, “Wow, a lot has gone on during my 40’s.” But then I started thinking about all of the other decades in my life. Just thinking about all of the changes that occurred for me just as a natural part of growing up during the first two decades made my head spin. A lot happens between the time we are born and the time we hit 20 years old. Holy Cow!

But I still want a vacation and I want a simple life.

And then it dawned on me. Although I am working on Monday, my birthday, I will not go into the office for the rest of the week. I host Thanksgiving every year and to do so, I need cooking time. So I’ve made a habit of only seeing patients on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.

My job after Monday will be to cook and spend time with my family. My husband is taking off the entire week.

I think I will get my birthday wish for a few days and this makes me very happy.

I come from an Italian American family on my mother’s side. Her great grandparents were farmers in northern Italy who immigrated to the U.S. to raise children and work the coal mines near Seattle. In other words, they were not fancy people. They were poor. But they were smart, hard working, life loving, and resourceful. They not only loved food but had a lot of mouths to fill. They knew how to “make something out of nothing”.

My mom knew how to do this, too. It wasn’t as if we were poor but money was tight and there were a lot of people to feed in a family of eight. Mom is also masterful at re-purposing leftovers into new meals so that food is not wasted.

The week has continued to exhaust me. I rallied in the writing of my last post, only to have an extremely fragmented and stressful evening, during which my irritability peaked, and I became quite irrational. My daughter had gotten rather angry with me because she told me that she had another parade the next morning and I had reminded her that I had asked her to tell me about all of her events and she had just told me, “Don’t worry about it, Mom.” I was not able to sacrifice half of a work day to get her there. She got very angry. It was kind of a last straw for me and I mostly took it out on my husband because she had treated me extremely disrespectfully and he left the room instead of backing me up. Realistically, he was probably doing what he needed to do to keep from yelling, with which I was already doing a good job.

I spent a good deal of the early part of yesterday fighting the urge to go back to bed. I have not had a day like this in a very long time. My brain and my heart were utterly exhausted despite the fact that it was a gloriously beautiful summer day in which I had much to do. I forced myself to stay out of bed. By late afternoon, I was sitting on the couch with a head both full of everything and nothing, swirling in eddies of acute pain and numbness.

My husband came home early from work and asked what I wanted to do for dinner. I said, “I am not doing well at all. I know I will be okay. Right now, I can’t think. I can’t answer questions. I need 15 minutes to finish up work.”

Then I started on my unfinished progress notes, one by one, and with the completion of each one, I gathered a tiny but noticeable bit of energy. In about 45 minutes I was done. I had accomplished something. I told John, “Sorry, that took longer than 15 minutes. I’m going to cook dinner.”

I walked into my kitchen. I had a perfectly ripe mango, a perfectly ripe avocado, and some limes. They were not planned for a particular meal. In general, that is often the way I shop. I just buy what looks good. In my freezer, I had some large shrimp. I also had a bit of simple salad left over from another meal. It was made from jicama, radish, and lime. I thought that might be a nice textural and flavor contrast with sweet mango but I wasn’t sure but I started getting excited to try. And as I sliced, zested, crushed, sauteed, and mixed, my spirit continued to lighten and I felt myself filling up again. When I tasted, I could tell that I’d made a lovely summer salad full of good things. My husband and I had a nice meal together, which led to a nice evening.

I had been depleted and feeling in utter need, just an hour before. I needed to give myself an experience of creating from start to finish, to remember that I am capable of making wholes and not just carrying an armload of loose fragments, which keep falling to the ground, and then others fall as I stoop over to pick them up.

Remember what you have and make use of it.

That is my meditation for today.

Shrimp and mango with lime, avocado, radish, and jicama.

Shrimp and mango with lime, garlic, avocado, radish, and jicama.

Here is the recipe:

About 1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on.
1 lime, zested (put zest to the side), then cut into quarters.
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into large dice. (Squeeze one of the limb slices on it so it doesn’t discolor).
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into large dice. (If you have not cut up a mango, read some directions on doing it. It’s not hard but it’s different than other fruit.)
1/4 of a jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks.
3-4 mild-flavored radishes, peel on, sliced thinly. (I used a small portion of a large watermelon radish, which was about the size of my fist and cut it into match sticks.)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed.

1. Put all of the ingredients into a bowl except for the shrimp, garlic, half of the lime zest, and all of lime wedges into a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and the juice from 2-3 lime wedges. Mix gently with your hands so the avocado does not lose its shape.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil and about 2 teaspoons of butter in a large saute pan, on medium to medium high, taking care not to burn the butter. Add garlic and cook for about a minute, stirring frequently. Add the shrimp and cook for a minute or two on each side until curled up and opaque, but not rubbery!

3. Put the salad into a serving bowl and top with the shrimp. Sprinkle the remaining lime zest on the top so it looks pretty!

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