God and details

Oops: My friend Eleanor P. noticed that God and I left the milk out of the actual soup recipe below! Add 1 cup skim milk. Thank you Eleanor!

 

My friend Michon and I ate in the garden at the Village Tavern in Winston-Salem last Thursday night. Big green umbrellas, little white lights, black-clad servers and the best bruschetta I’ve ever put in my mouth (never had it with a dollop of garlic-laced pesto accompanying the diced tomato, capers and Parmesan).

Michon’s lost about 35 pounds in less than a year and is tired of people telling her she doesn’t need to lose any more. She gave up diet sodas and red meat almost entirely, waits a bit before eating a good breakfast every morning (she used to eat anything as soon as she got out of bed and stayed hungry for the rest of the day) and discards half the bread from every sandwich. That’s it. No grueling exercise routine although she does say she notices that she just moves more now, all day, every day.

She’s more than 15 years younger than I so her metabolism helps. A woman my age (66 in a month) has the metabolism of a hibernating turtle, if that. Also, even though I was exercising, I’d got into a sedentary way of life. (And I was horrified to see when I started using livestrong.com that my exercise was considered “light.”)

Illustrating the principles of inertia, that means: Once out of motion, stay that way. I sat a LOT, asked He Who Was Up to get me things, to go up and down the stairs for me (this is why he’s only gained 6 pounds since quitting tobacco in November). Once I was down, I was down for the count. Once I dropped something, I hoped for someone else to bend over and get it. (Now I’m saying to myself, “You’ve just got rid of 31 pounds. You can do that!”)

The usual aches and pains contribute to this mindset. Like the commercial for one of those drugs that may cause your eyeballs to fall out says, If you’re moving, you’re more likely to keep moving. But you’re less likely to move if you hurt. And, of course, if you move, you’re less likely to hurt and get moving again. It’s an endless wheel: Keep moving, no matter, or eventually, you’ll stop.

So this morning, I’m going to do 15 minutes of yoga stretches and then go ride my horse for 45 minutes or an hour, depending on the heat already at 8 a.m. That’s not a vigorous exercise (for me, it is for her) but I’m going to count it as one of my 5 weekly 30-minute moderate sessions. Tomorrow morning I’ll ride my bike before I go to work (vigorous) and tonight and tomorrow night I’ll take 1 ibuprofen to be able to sleep.

And I’m going to make us bowls of Jane Brody’s Mexican Zucchini Soup with oodles of zuchini, corn, onion, green chilies, skim milk, a bit of Jack cheese and garnishes of fresh parsley and nutmeg (hah, you thought you were safe from more zucchini, didn’t you?). God is in the details here, in the nutmeg and robust, flat-leaved parsley peeping out from under a volunteer sunflower in our herb garden.

Mexican zucchini soup

1 small onion, chopped (1/3 cup)

1-1/2 teaspoons (1/2 tablespoon) olive oil

2 cups poultry or vegetable broth, low-sodium if possible

2 cups unpeeled, diced zucchini

1-1/2 cups corn kernels

2 tablespoons finely chopped green chilies or jalapeno peppers (fresh or canned)

1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired

Generous grinding of black pepper

2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Minced fresh parsley and ground nutmeg to garnish

In large saucepan, saute onion in olive oil until it’s tender or carmelized, your choice. Stir in broth, zucchini, corn, chilies, salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, cover pan and cook until zucchini is tender, maybe 5 minutes.

Stir in milk and heat soup until it’s hot but not boiling. Remove soup from heat and stir in cheese. Garnish with parsley and nutmeg. 4 main or 6 first-course servings.

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