Sunday, July 02, 2006

A favorite that never fails...

So this weekend my husband came to Atlanta to visit me, and in our limited and shared kitchen space we didn't feel like making an elaborate mess to clean up. So today I made a lunch of something that always satisfies me--black beans. This time I took a Tex-Mex approach and made a spicy, delicious soup. A very economical meal, healthy and nutritious, and VEGAN! Bob and I classify ourselves as vegan-curious these days, and perhaps a permanent switch is coming soon.

2 cups dried black beans
1/2 minced red onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 stalks minced celery
1/2 minced green bell pepper
1/2 to 1 jalapeƱo, minced (I had to go easy, since spiciness is not something my 10-year-old cousin's palate will tolerate)
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 & 1/2 cups cooked corn
1 & 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 cup salsa (I used a cilantro-lime salsa)
Salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

After soaking the beans overnight and rinsing them, I put them in a pot to boil with water to cover plus about 2 inches over the top. I added the onion, garlic, celery, peppers, oregano, salt, and cayenne and let it boil gently with the lid on for about an hour, until the beans were tender. I then added the corn, tomatoes, and salsa, and I let it simmer for another half hour, again with the lid on, until all the flavors were married. This was not as spicy as I would have liked it personally, but it pleased the palates of the family so I was satisfied with it.

The salmon we made on Tuesday night came out so well--it was beautiful. I took pictures but tonight it is too late to upload them. I will do that soon. It was the best salmon I have probably ever had, rivaled perhaps only by seared rare salmon atop a mixed greens salad. This salmon was topped with so many different fruits and vegetables that I cannot even think of them all here, then sealed in foil and baked. It was tender and juicy and full of aroma and flavor... Bob said that he could go vegan right then and never miss fish, because his final fish experience would have been so memorable. We got our fish and produce at the Dekalb Farmer's Market, which is enormous and absolutely wonderful. A pint of organic strawberries for $2??? Incredible.

I found out on Friday that I get to run in the Peachtree Road Race on 4 July--the world's largest 10K race. Of course I won't be racing. I'll be amazed if I manage to run the whole thing, with the shape I'm in lately. But I'm excited just to be a part of it, just to get to challenge myself, just to experience something that 55,000 people a year get to experience. I'll be on the train at 5:30 am on Tuesday morning, to get to the race which starts at 7:30. Perhaps at that time of morning the heat won't be absolutely unbearable. I imagine myself taking a nice long nap before lunch.

Here's a new challenge for myself: I am striving to give up soft drinks. Completely. I am so addicted to Diet Coke, it's unbelievable. It's got to stop. I know it will be difficult, especially with the free sodas at the office that come in so handy during that time of day between lunch and 5:30 when it's so difficult to focus sometimes. But I've got to stop dumping that nasty stuff into my body. Maybe if I just remind myself that I'm poisoning my body and suppressing my respiratory system... Then perhaps it will seem worth it, at 3:00 in the afternoon, to just have another glass of water. Hmm, maybe I need to find a more natural solution for a mid-afternoon energy boost. Any ideas?

My last couple of posts were born of an intense creative streak that hit me a few nights ago. The poem was actually written a month or so ago, during my training week in North Carolina. I was napping out on the golf course before dinner, and every time I looked up I noticed the weeping willow to my left, its limbs trembling even in the near-still air. Suddenly hit with the urge to write, and having nothing on me except my purse, in desperation I canceled a check from my checkbook and penned that poem on the back. This past Wednesday, I finally pulled the check out and revised the verses. The other piece I posted was inspired by a game I recently played (Bob knew what game the moment he read the piece). I am enthralled by characters who are complex and emotional and not much different than myself, really. Those are the types of characters I strive to write. The story that Bob and I are writing is full of characters, some very profound and interesting, others largely one-sided and in desperate need of fleshing out. My favorite part of writing is creating the characters, learning their backgrounds. Yes, learning--for the characters are the ones who tell me about themselves, and I simply make a record of what they have to say. There is so much more to each character than what the reader finds on the page. But even though the life story is not delved into, the reader should be able to detect the dimensions that make up the character. The reader should know, just by reading, that this character is alive and full of history.

It's getting so late, and I'm getting carried away. I do actually have to go to work in the morning. Therefore, I will have to cut this off now. But there is much, much more to say...

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