A few weeks ago I went hunting for beauty and found it among rusted and neglected items.
I loved it so much that I went out again this week, passing time on a cloudy afternoon peering into junk piles and old cars and abandoned bits of machinery in search of vignettes like this.
“Even in the familiar there can be surprise and wonder.”
It’s becoming a highly anticipated ritual each week. Some days I wander around our farm, others through town, sometimes I just look around a familiar cafe or park and find the loveliest things I’ve never spotted before.
I’m discovering it’s a form of therapy too. A practice that takes my mind away from painful things that grow bigger than they are when I focus on them too much. Somehow taking time to look, really look and enjoy, calms my thoughts and puts things in a much healthier and manageable perspective.
“Our brightest blazes of gladness
are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”
As you know, I’ve been very sick for a long time. I’ve been going through heaps of tests, experimenting with different medications and therapies, trying to figure out something, anything that will help.
Finally, this week, we got some conclusive results and now we know exactly what to do to help me. HOORAY!
Finding out what is wrong is my “brightest blaze of gladness” this week. I still need to visit a surgeon to rule out some other things, but I’m so thankful for this huge dollop of hope.
Recovery is going to take several months or more, but they will be months of hope and understanding, not fear and uncertainty. I’m so grateful for that.
Before we got this great news, I decided to use the waiting time to plan a Mexican feast of beloved dishes.
Bear had never tasted Mexican food before, a tragedy that had to be rectified. So I filled my grocery cart with peppers and black beans and a gorgeous hunk of pork and couldn’t wait to get home to start cooking.
The first dish I made was pico de gallo – that luscious fresh salsa made glorious with lashings of lime juice and hearty sprinklings of sea salt.
Bear is of the opinion that cilantro (coriander to my Aussie folks) is of the devil, so I made his pico de gallo cilantro-free and happily loaded mine with the greeniliciousness.
Then I made queso fresco – a creamy yet crumbly fresh Mexican cheese that only takes 15 minutes to make.
I could not stop eating it and the first batch was nearly half gone by the time dinner arrived. I’m definitely going to stock up on milk this week to make heaps of this wonderful cheese.
Next up were frijoles negros – savory black beans (turtle beans in Oz) simmered for several hours with white onion, garlic, and a large jalapeno. Sea salt brings out the exquisite flavors and makes this one of my very favorite side dishes.
The first night we had all these good things piled in tortillas with carnitas – I’ll share that recipe with you next time – but the next day I turned it into picnic food.
I topped the frijoles negros with pico de gallo and sprinkled the lot with queso fresco and a few chunks of carnitas and had a wonderful picnic while I waited for my doctor visit. Fears about unknown test results are beautifully assuaged with Mexican food.
Do you have favorite comfort foods that ease difficult times in your life?
Pico de Gallo
6-8 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced fine
1 white onion, diced fine
1 jalapeno, diced fine
juice from 1-2 limes
sea salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients and stir well.
- Let flavors meld for 30-60 minutes before serving.
- Will keep well sealed in fridge for several days.
Queso de Fresco
8 cups whole milk
1 tsp salt
3-4 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
- Pour milk and salt into heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in lemon juice or vinegar. Milk should immediately start to separate.
- Stir for one more minute then lower heat, stirring constantly until milk has completely separated into curds.
- Pour into cheesecloth-lined colander and drain well. Twist cheesecloth to drain completely.
- Use as is or keep cheese in cloth and press under a weight until cheese is firm to the touch.
- Use immediately or store in fridge, sealed, for several days.
2 cups black beans
1 jalapeno, split and seeded
2 medium white onions, peeled
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp sea salt
- Place all ingredients except salt into heavy bottomed saucepan and fill with water until beans are covered by two inches.
- Bring to boil and cook over medium-high heat for one hour. Check liquid levels regularly and make sure beans are always covered.
- Add salt and continue to cook for 1-2 hours more, making sure beans are covered with liquid.
- When ready to serve, remove onions, garlic, and jalapeno, taste for seasoning, and serve.