This morning I went to my first yoga class since September. (And that September class was a prenatal class, so not full of the usual vinyasas I so love which means I guess technically I haven’t gone to a class since last August. Woah.) It was conducted entirely in French and wasn’t that an experience, my French not being up to snuff too well just yet. I discovered I can still hold a decent plank and do an adequate crow and a shoulder stand, and despite not always knowing exactly what my instructor was saying I muddled along well enough (I think). Now I would like to go to another class maybe tomorrow, please, or at least as soon as possible. Before then I’d like to have a bowl of vegetable soup and a cornbread muffin to restore myself and my stretched-out muscles.
Alas I am marooned at work with only a Clif bar to sustain me until lunchtime but at least I have the memory of my latest soup concoction to keep me going a bit. It’s nothing fancy, just a jumble of roasted vegetables pureed with some vegetable broth, but it’s satisfying, completely vegan, and I’ve been making it in rapid succession for the past month plus with the pretty good spring produce I’m able to find here.
It’s the kind of soup that just feels restorative, if you know what I mean, even if it’s a simple one. It was my Monday pot of soup last week and I wish I had some for tonight (confession: not really sure what we will be having for dinner tonight … probably more quinoa, possibly split peas with veg, whatever I can make quickly when we get home). For some reason I ‘felt like’ cornbread that night so I used my favorite quick recipe – with a few updates, detailed below – to make up a batch of muffins that we ate with lots of butter and good Moroccan honey. It was nourishing, comforting, good Monday-night food, and was much appreciated.
As I lay on my mat in savasana earlier I had a flashback to all of the (many, varied) yoga classes I took in San Francisco, specifically at Yoga Tree Stanyan, which was just at the end of the Panhandle and near enough to my apartment that I could meander home after a Saturday or Sunday morning class (and last year, Monday or Friday). I’d get a cup of coffee, sometimes a vegan donut, occasionally do a bit of gocery shopping, and then walk the mile and a half back through Golden Gate Park and along Fell Street up to Alamo Square (my park, I always considered it, or at least it was a sort of backyard since I didn’t have one). I’d sit and sip if the weather was fair – and even sometimes when it wasn’t – and look out over the city. I loved that park, and I loved my neighborhood, and I so loved my morning vinyasa classes with some of the best teachers I’ve ever had. Today I could almost pretend that the kids yelling at the nearby school were the kids at the daycare across the street from my old apartment building — but only just.
Homesickness is boring but it’s a fact of life when you no longer live in your place. It sounds terribly romantic and interesting to move Away, in particular to move abroad, but the reality is that is can take a (long) while to find your rhythm if ever. The initial thrill of immersing yourself in new surroundings that’s such a rush during your first days and weeks eventually fades against daily living, which (almost) no matter where you live still consists of a lot of vegetable procuring, laundry-doing, tea-making, tidying up the house, and etc. Routine can be rote, sure, but there’s a comfort too in knowing that you can rely upon things being the same or least being a little less difficult day to day. (Just being able to take public transportation or rely mostly on my own feet to get around rather than driving would be amazing.)
When you have moved from a place that you truly loved it can be even harder. So for me refinding some of the little things that made up the many years of my life in San Francisco — like a long Sunday run, like yoga class, like a good, strong coffee (or, macchiato as the case may be for me lately here) — goes a long way towards easing the bite.
This soup helps, too.
Sometimes I add spinch to the simmering pot of vegetables, too, if I have some on hand.
1 pound small red and/or whitepotatoes, peeled if not organic, and quartered
1 pound green beans, washed with their ends snipped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
1-2 cups water
Heat oven to 375°F. In a large baking pan (or two) spread out the potatoes, green beans, onion, and garlic. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until potatoes are slightly soft but not cripsy.
Pour all the vegetables into a large soup pot and cover with the broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer, half-covered, until the vegetables are very soft. Remove from heat and in batches in a blender or using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Taste and add some salt and/or pepper as needed.
I can’t remember from where exactly I adapted this, but most likely it was epicurious.com or williams-sonoma.com. If you can manage the buttermilk, do — it really makes it. But regular milk will also work if that’s all you have.
Makes 1 dozen muffins.
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
Heat oven to 375°F. Grease 12 regular (1/3-cup) muffin cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl whisk buttermilk together the buttermilk and butter.
Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated (do not overmix). Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.
Bake muffins until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes (muffins will be pale). Let cool about 5 minutes in pan then turn out onto a rack to cool 5 minutes more. Serve warm.