Curried Coconut, Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup

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Midterms have done an abundance for my culinary creativity.  Instead of pouring over the books I have been brainstorming new recipes, and when that doesn’t suffice to distract me from what I should be doing I decide to test drive them in my kitchen.  I have pleaded with Jay to keep me on track and dispel my procrastinating tendencies.  He has been no help. He even went so far as to tell me that I didn’t know what the word meant because I had started studying 3 weeks prior for my exams.  He did however sit down to quiz me, and then left me to my own devices to attempt a new soup.  Perhaps I should be weary of the directional pull of his encouragement seeing as he reaps the rewards of my culinary pursuits in spades, but doesn’t shoulder the burden if I go into my tests unprepared.  However, I am feeling good about the scholastic content and I am sure the nourishment from this thick, hearty soup will carry me the rest of the way.  This rich, savory soup is as flavorful as it is healthy. Enjoy 🙂

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New York: A Candid Reflection on Settling In

Preface:
This post was written during our first week in New York and just now I am confident enough to share it since the feelings have begun to subside and I have adopted new routines and settled comfortably into big city life.  So although the things I miss are still present on my heart, my excitement for this adventure and my immense love of what I am learning is now what prevails.  However, the road to get here took a little transitional time.  So here is a bit about that…

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This post has been inspired, and in a sense commissioned by my dear friend Linh, who like me has uprooted her entire life from our mutual island home and left all that is familiar (including our mothers, who are also our best friends) to pursue graduate school far away.  She encouraged me to continue writing through the hard stuff in order to reflect, even though instinctually I hesitate to be vulnerable, in part because I feel like I should be feeling nothing but spine tickling excitement by living in Manhattan and commencing my studies at an historic, respected ivy league institution.

However, it hasn’t been a seamless, simple transition as part of heart is still on the west coast with those I cherish most.   My loving mentor teacher and beautiful sister have both reminded me that this is okay, that I am like them and that it takes some people more time than others to settle into new routines.  Then one of my best friends, Jacob, asked me to give him the gamete of things that were weighing on my heart in my most trying moments.

That list was easy to comprise: being away from my mom, how I have a group of very special friends who I do a book club (turned trashy TV watching) with and how much their silent and spoken weekly support grounds me, the comfort of working and teaching in a school district I know and love, being in a different timezone than my colleagues and best friends who I went through my teacher training with, craving simple things like the ocean, being across the continent on my nieces birthday or family dinners with the Jordan’s, butternut squash soup at fifth street with my dad and brother, feeling lost without the plethora of immediate family we have that weaves a little protective net around us, being absent for the births of children born to well loved friends when I already deeply love their newest additions from afar, the desire to walk through cook street village, that if I think too hard these several months away from all that I mentioned seems like an eternity, the wobbly confidence I have in myself on how to tackle the new obstacles of graduate school and the cruel, illogical self doubt that comes with considering if I am able at all.  After hammering it all out in a text his question and my answers only served to compile all the emotions to a pinnacle and made the world seem even heavier to carry.

Then he asked a follow up question: what was it that I was loving about my New York experience?  So that is where I am going to go today.  I am going in with full acceptance of the fact that it is okay to be homesick, it is okay to feel so overwhelmed in a SoHo clothing store that you have an overpowering urge to sit in the middle of the aisle to collect yourself,  it is okay to have a conversation about home with your husband in the middle of a bustling Starbucks outside of New York fashion week and well up with tears and it is okay to sit through a breathtaking church service with your emotions so raw that your eyes brim with tears for the entirety of the two hours.  It is all okay, first because you live in Manhattan and anyone who sees you is sure to encounter someone else doing something way crazier on their walk back home, and second because it will pass and the following is what you have to look forward to…

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Personal Pita Pizzas

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Well I had been told that graduate school would be busy, but a my friend, Pat, reminded me I have always been a little on the over programed side so shouldn’t fret and that I would be up for the challenge.  And I am, but that still does not change the daunting fact that I have a to do list the size of the Empire state building, a job to find and new content to absorb, digest and synthesize at an alarming rate which leaves very little time for daily life activities -like sleeping  cooking.  On Wednesdays I have a fascinating course in Educational Assessment that is proceeded by a lab in the Dean Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services which takes me from 5 until 9.  Anyone who knows me intimately is aware that I could be the reigning Queen of any establishment offering the early bird special.  So this lands my course right in the middle of my allocated prime dinner time slot.  So I have had to be creative and eat prior to class and ensure I opt for something substantial because I can’t be snacking away as I administer tests.  So tonight I went for one of our tried and true quick meals that I had published in Canadian Living and can still be found online here -Personal Pita Pizzas.  I say personal because if your household looks anything like ours no one likes or will eat the same things.  This recipe allows everyone in your home to swap out or in ingredients to suit their palates and dietary preferences. Tonight I did them a little differently than the recipe you will find in Canadian Living  and the result was just a marvelous (better actually in my humble opinion) and had the added bonus of allowing me time to finish my last chapter of reading while they baked. That is a true culinary and academic success colliding in my books.

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Warm Greens, Yam and Avocado Salad

Jay and I just finished buying a weeks worth of organic groceries from our living room couch and will be getting them delivered to our apartment tomorrow morning for less than it would cost in subway fare.  So needless to say I am slowly and surely adapting to our novel manhattan lifestyle and the sheer connivence of urban living.   However, there have been a series of small changes that have not been as seamless, and although mostly minor they are adjustments just the same.   One such transition has been going from our seemingly expansive, modern kitchen to our cozy, retro digs here on the Upper West Side.  So inspite of the chaos of unpacking,  days of avoiding suffering in front a heated oven in a New York summer swelter and fighting all temptation to continually eat out due to the sheer cheapness and accessibility of multiple culinary options in our new neighbourhood (that’s right still got the U in there. Go Canada) I decided I need to make our new place feel like what it is, our home, by preparing a hearty, home cooked meal. This quick, inexpensive and filling paleo or vegan meal (your choice) fit the bill in that it didn’t monopolize much of my scant time, thus allowing me time to tackle the five journal articles I was assigned during my first class. Welcome to graduate school.

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