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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Traveler's Soup

I got a request from my cousin, Kelly, who lives in Martinsville, Indiana. She asked for the recipe for some soup that I regularly make.

I actually had to think about it some, as I've never written it down.

Elsewhere in this blog I've mentioned that I learned the fine art of cooking mostly from my grandmother. I followed her around quite a bit when I was younger, trying to gain an understanding of her creative genius. She never wrote anything down either, and I've spent literally decades trying to reproduce some of her dishes.

All these years that I've worked to replicate her cooking style I learned that the secret was nothing more than love and an enthusiasm for her family and friends.

Today, I made one of my favorites that she used to make. I call it Traveler's Soup.

I call it this because it's made in haste and with love from ingredients that I have laying around in my kitchen and fridge. It cooks all day in a crock pot as it waits for those I love and care about to return to the love, safety, and warmth of the home.

I never make this the same way twice, as I rummage through my cupboards grabbing this and that. But it seems to turn out pretty good, at the very least edible. I haven't had any complaints thus far.

Lately, since we have been living a paleo lifestyle, I've made several changes to cut out a lot of the carbs. If you follow Weight Watchers® each serving of this soup is worth a little more than one point.

3 large tomatoes, stewed and crushed (you can use a 12 ounce can of crushed tomatoes instead)
1 chopped onion
1-2 lbs. of any meat you like (stew beef, chicken, ground turkey, whatever you like)
Cooking spray or olive oil

Sautee the onion in a dot of olive oil or cooking spray and then add the meat and brown slightly, then turn off and let rest.

Put the prepared tomatoes in the crock pot then add the meat mixture and stir.

Then get creative with your vegetables.  For my recipe, I generally add celery, cabbage, mushrooms, zucchini, pear squash (chayote) and bell peppers. You can definitely add other ingredients such as potato, carrots, corn or anything else.  Add equal portions of each of these until the pot is full (about 1/2 inch from the top).

Then cover with beef or chicken broth or bouillon dissolved in water (enough to cover when you're done adding the veggies). My crock pot takes about 6 cups.

Give the ingredients a good stir. Set on low. Forget about it until you get home.

If you are not watching carbs, you can serve this with a nice, crusty bread. I normally just eat the soup, maybe having a simple salad beforehand.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I'm awake around 3:30 am every morning just about for the last 10 months or so.

Sometimes I can go back to sleep, sometimes I just lay there.

The wheels turn faster and louder some mornings. Sometimes to stop them, I'll get up and write. Sometimes the stuff I come up with is shocking, it floors me and renders me a trembling, sobbing mess.

Sometimes it's cathartic. Sometimes I ask myself why, wondering what's the point of it all.

Then I really think about the why.

There once was a time when I thought I would never be able to report the atrocities that happened to me; that I had no voice. Back then, I wasn't allowed to have a voice, much less an opinion. I wasn't permitted to make decisions for myself. I was told what to say, how to act, what to think, what to eat, when to sleep, how to dress and where I was allowed to go.

Woe unto me should I have deviated one iota. Heaven help me if I complained.

Truth be told, I chose to forget, tune out or block those things which were just too painful. The brain switched off; my body was there, my mind was someplace else. I'd wake up and wonder how I got a new bruise. Why did my arms hurt? I didn't remember.

The mind is a wonderful thing. I was in a comfortable place with it or at least believed it to be so.

Breaking free was hard; the hardest thing I have ever done. I couldn't do it alone. And although people do it every day, no one should have to face their fears alone. Everyone needs someone.

I've learned that I do have a voice, and oftentimes, it's quite loud. And I know that it's because my husband, Jerry, has done his very best to make me know I'm safe, and has worked hard for 23 years to love me despite the pain I'm in. He knows more about it than anyone on earth, with the exception of the SOB that abused me for years.

And a dear lady whom I entrusted to review and edit a certain chapter dealing with the goings-on in an ER room. (Thank you, Kim, for preventing the death of a protagonist).

It used to be that I would have nightmares. I wouldn't remember them. My husband would try to wake me, I would just cry inconsolably but I wouldn't fully wake up. It got to the point where he would just hold me while I rode through it.

Then, I remembered things, sometimes fragmented. Sometimes complete memories. They'd play in my mind like a horror movie, over and over again.  I wrote them down for him.  Pages and pages of stuff.  He has them put away somewhere.

10 months ago approximately, I  decided enough was enough. I would tell my story, albeit in the third person-as a fictional character. Thank you, Jonas, for the mentoring. The words came easier.

Now, approximately 10 months later, the first half of my work is finished. There's a great deal of personal experience that has gone into this, along with research (because, although I remember some of what was happening, I did not know the correct terminology to describe everything).

Tonight.  Tonight, I left my comfort zone and pitched the novel.  And it scares the living daylights out of me.  And it thrills me beyond all reason.

I'm aware that no one may ever read my novel. It may not be well-received. Some might even say that the work is crap.

Part of me would be crushed. The other part couldn't care less.

It's helped me so much to write this. Maybe it will help someone else to read it.

Because of this I have to try, regardless of why.