unambivalent.


Recently, my husband and I got some good news.

We’d been waiting for it for months, and the waiting, and its attendant anxiety, had been tremendously difficult for us. Although we’d done everything we could to stay positive, we were coming to a bit of a breaking point when we got the word.

Of course I expected to be awash in relief – maybe not immediately, but within hours at least; but a day went by, then two, then three, and nothing.

I continued to feel anxious and ambivalent, labouring through my days as if there were a black cloud over my head, and mine alone.

I started questioning the nature of the news: was it not as good as we’d first thought? Was there some lurking underlying reason to hang on to the worry that had been plaguing us all this time?

And then I became disappointed in myself: had I lost the ability to embrace the good things in life – or welcome them, at the very least? Had I become one of those people who prefer living under the black cloud?

After several days of this kind of torturous myopic musing, my food processor broke.

For some reason, the untimely (and, with any luck, temporary) demise of this beloved appliance pushed me over the edge.

I have always been slightly embarrassed by my affection for my food processor, and I am more so now since my disproportionate reaction to its failure to thrive: I raged, pouted, craved smoothies night and day, and was generally impossible to be around.

But I’m happy to report that, in the days since that cathartic experience, all of my ambivalence towards the initial piece of good news has vanished.

I’m ready to welcome a little hope, and relieved that we are on our way forward after being mired in limbo for far too long.

And although I am devastated about my food processor, I am holding out for a quick and inexpensive repair job – in the meantime, I’ll make do with the immersion blender of dubious origins that’s languishing in the cupboard.

Glorious Soup

With thanks to my friend Catherine, who inspired me to make this after a long conversation about the glory of beets.

6 medium beets, quartered
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
6c chicken stock
2 lime leaves or bay leaves (optional)
1c finely chopped fresh dill
1/2c coconut milk
1/2c sour cream
a few sprigs fresh dill, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss beets with 2 tbsp olive oil and place in a shallow, ovenproof dish. Cover with foil and roast about an hour, until very tender.

Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until translucent. Add celery and carrot and continue to cook, stirring, a further 5 minutes or so. Add cardamom, ginger, and stock. Add lime leaves (or bay leaves), if using. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add beets to soup and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Blend in dill, then gently stir in coconut milk and sour cream.

Reheat just until hot – do not boil!

Serve garnished with more sour cream, if desired, and fresh dill sprigs.

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girl food.


My daughter adores pink.

Not only is she enamoured of the colour; she is quite convinced that pink is for girls ONLY.

Whenever she tells us that, in her stern, unwavering 3-year-old’s voice, my husband and I duly remind her that there is nothing saying boys can’t also enjoy the beauty of pink, just as girls can sometimes be fond of blue, etc. etc.

While we try to be earnest and attentive when we have this conversation, and our aim overall is to discourage the division of likes and dislikes along gender lines, most of the time we’re content as long as we manage not to encourage it.

And in fact, to be honest with you, often our efforts even in that department are a little half-assed.

Last night, I made the roasted beets you see above. I may have mentioned that my daughter is not inclined to try new foods, and that vegetables are particularly problematic; so I thought I had hit the jackpot when I realized that beets are – yes! – a pink food.

Her eyes widened slightly when I pointed this out.

“Mama,” she said, “does that mean that beets are GIRL food? For girls ONLY?”

My answer came instantly and unflinchingly: “Yes, darling, they are.”

Beets for Girls ONLY

The above photo was taken without the goat cheese topping, because frankly the dish looks a little better that way, but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how much better it tastes after it’s been slathered in goat cheese, butter and fresh herbs!

2 bunches beets, peeled and quartered (reserve beet greens for another use)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4c soft goat cheese
2 tbsp soft unsalted butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss beets and olive oil and place in a shallow oven-proof dish. Roast for about 20 minutes, until just barely tender.

While beets are roasting, mash together goat cheese, butter and salt until combined. Stir in tarragon.

Dollop goat cheese mixture over beets and continue to roast a further 10 minutes or so, until beets are quite tender and cheese it golden in parts.

Serves 3-4 as a side dish.