Happy New Year Redux

Whew, what a strange trip of a January, unfolding into a non stop season of no snow, wildly shifting temperatures and lots of riled up interactions. It’s time for another new year- this weekend I’m happy to welcome the Year of the Fire Rooster.

In a month usually reserved for quiet, restorative practices I’ve been expending energy in every direction. Even a surfeit of well-intentioned activities, an abundance of good things, can add up to too much. I had to back off and re-calibrate when an old injury had a major flare up, sidelining me. The body holds a wisdom our minds may be too preoccupied to acknowledge.

Lighter nourishment fits the bill when pain slows us down. And an inspiring book or two will help to maintain a positive outlook. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Here are three of my favorites on our table this month. The glory of root vegetables from my favorite farm markets provided flavorful comfort when I needed it most.
French Lentil Soup
A puree of green lentils, carrots and simple seasonings yields a satisfying lunch or dinner. Leftovers simmered down make a tasty side dish at the next night’s meal. I love the chameleon aspect of the smaller green lentils, which turn brown when cooked. You can find the recipe on Epicurious.

Golden Borscht
Using a classic recipe like this one I’ve had for many years, I switched up the usual red beets for more delicate golden ones and used kale in place of cabbage and simmered it with shin bones for added flavor. You can leave out the meat if you prefer.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup
Boston’s NPR and Globe correspondent Kathy Gunst is a welcome voice in my kitchen. I tried her recipe this month using roasted winter vegetable soup and the flavors are sublime.

Put Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime on your reading list. Stories of childhood tinged with adult perspective are capturing my interest right now and Noah manages the ultimate sleight of hand. His humorous, enlightening, poignant and wise memoir reveals a repressive system of government and a social order imposed by a ruling minority, as seen through the eyes of a child. If you want to be reminded of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of art, not to mention the enduring bond between mother and son, look no further.

Happy New Year!

Photos, Claire Mauro


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