Monday, December 16, 2013

Seriously nothing

Listen, guys. I'm not doing anything lately. Nothing. Not a thing. I have virtually nothing to tell you about.

Everyone I have talked to in the past two weeks is doing everything right now. Getting ready for the holidays - getting ready for a baby - moving to a new house - hustling about with busy children - getting ready for the holidaaaaaays. But not me. I'm doing nothing.

I don't even have a program to watch!


This level of inactivity happens to me in the winter always, but not in December. Usually it's long after the new year, when the windows are frozen shut and my groaning car wants to leave the premises less than I do. That's when we hunker down and make hot drinks and pull Risk out of the closet, or maybe queue up Super Mario War and eventually (if we're lucky) head in the direction of the equator.

But this December is basically February, with the windchill reaching -15 on a regular basis. The burst of cold caught me off guard with no ambition to turn to those snowed-in or frozen-in activites, nor pretend it's OK and get on with my life outside the apartment. So here we are, or here I am, doing mostly nothing.

***

I had last Monday off of work. I usually revel in a day to myself with no plans, but I had just gotten done doing nothing on Saturday and Sunday. 

So on my day off of work, I:
1. Backed up my computer files onto a jump drive. This was the first time I have ever done this in the six years I have owned my computer, so it took a while. A jump drive is probably not even what you're supposed to use, but this was pretty good for me.

2. Scheduled a windshield replacement for my car, as the small crack on the bottom right of the windshield grew on Monday (-10 degrees that day, I think) to a pretty dramatic swoosh to the top left of the glass.

3. Walked to Whole Foods, then made this minestrone soup. The swiss chard leaves that were hanging  out of my grocery bag froze on my walk home and shattered in dark green pieces onto the snow. I started making the soup at 3 p.m. while my photos were transferring to the jump drive, and it was ready to eat around 4:00 - not anywhere near a regular meal time, but I ladled myself a small bowl anyway to sample on while I watched Jeopardy!. With a velvety tomato broth and hint of rosemary behind the little white beans and pasta, it was just the accomplishment I was looking for to round out my day.

At least the soup was a success!


Winter Minestrone
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis

Note: The fresh rosemary and parmesan rind make this soup special, so don't skip on either of those. You could switch up nearly anything else in the soup to your preference.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into coins or half moons
1/3 to 1/2 pound bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
6 cups good quality beef broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 ounce piece of parmesan rind
2 14-ounce cans cannellini beans
3/4 cups small pasta, like cavatelli
a few handfuls fresh spinach or leaves of swiss chard, torn

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion, celery, carrots, bacon and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree on can of cannellini beans with 1 cup of beef broth. 

Add the been puree to the soup pot along with the can of tomatoes, remaining beef broth, rosemary sprigs and parmesan rind. Raise heat to medium high to bring to a boil; add pasta and cannellini beans. Cover and turn to medium low to simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir in spinach; cook a few minutes more until spinach is tender.

Soup is great with crusty bread on a quiet afternoon.

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