Monday, January 28, 2013

Perfect Moment Monday: A Porch Swing, and Mulligatawny

On the last Monday of each month, my lovely friend Lavender Luz at Write Mind Open Heart sponsors Perfect Moment Monday, a blog hop/writing prompt that offers an opportunity to notice and reflect on the "perfect moments" in our lives, rather than create them.  These moments can be ordinary, momentous, or somewhere in between.  Everyone is welcome to join.  


Though the days have been colder lately, sometimes bitterly so, I still try to get outside in the afternoons with N.  We haven't been to the park much lately, though, and I suspect that she misses the swing, which she tells me, jubilantly, is "like flying."

On a particularly raw day, we'd just gotten back from the grocery store, and I was going to head inside for the few minutes before I's bus made its appearance down the street, when to my surprise, N. stopped on the porch, demanding, "swing, mama": which meant, "come, sit on the porch swing."

"Really?" I said.  "Now?  N., you haven't wanted to sit on that swing in months."  I had some mulligatawny cooking inside, and I wanted to go check on it, really, to inhale the fragrant smell of curry and apple and leeks and coconut and feel warm again.

"Yes, yes ... SWING."

It was too cold to swing, really.  The thought of more cold air on my face made my body temperature drop another five degrees.  But she was adamant.  So I perched her on one end and sat down next to her gingerly, waiting for the creak and snap of the cold teak, bracing myself for the chill that would begin to seep through my seat.

We started slowly, and as she giggled, the swinging got a little more raucous.  My nose felt frosty.  I giggled, and she laughed, and I pushed the swing a little higher.  She laughed, and I laughed more.  Eventually, we were laughing at the laughing.  Has this ever happened to you?  The laughter spirals out of control, and soon you don't even know what's funny and what's not.  Because it's all funny.

And you know what?  The mulligatawny waited until we were done.

Mulligatawny with Chicken (or Chickpeas) and Apples
adapted from Arctic Garden Studio and The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
Perfect for frosty February days.  You can veganize it if you like by simply substituting chick peas for the chicken.  I love the addition of the banana, which gives this version a different flavor dimension, unlike the version I've made before.

1 lb. boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized chunks (or 1-2 cans chick peas)
2 T. olive oil
2 carrots, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
2 leeks, sliced thin, white and light green parts only
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 T. curry powder
1  t. cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon
6 cloves
1 t. salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
8 c. chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 1/2 medium banana, very ripe and mashed well
1 c. long grain white or brown rice
1/4 c. unsweetened coconut
2 granny smith or other tart apple, diced medium
2 T. lemon juice
1 can coconut milk (I used light)

Toppings (optional)
chopped cilantro or parsley
1 cup yogurt
slivered almonds, toasted

Heat 1 T. oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan.  Add chicken and saute quickly until browned on the outside but not necessarily cooked on the inside. (If using chick peas, skip this step.)

Heat oil over medium heat in a large stock pot or dutch oven (at least 5 1/2 quart).  Add carrots, celery, onion, and leek. Saute, stirring often until onions are soft and translucent.  Add garlic and ginger and stir for a minute or two until fragrant.  Add spices and stir for one minute. Add stock, add banana, chicken (or chick peas) and rice.

Bring to a simmer, then turn down heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Add apples and coconut; simmer another 15 minutes. Turn heat down to low. Gradually stir in lemon juice and coconut milk; do not boil! Top with cilantro, yogurt, and almonds.
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  1. We also miss our times outdoors, we actually have a beautiful afternoon today so once Ian is up from his nap will try to get out and enjoy it since the rest of the week will find us back in the cold. Glad you guys were able to take a moment in the sunshine as well. Downton Abbey, soup looks amazing!

  2. I love how similar our moments are this month. Our kids leading us to our perfect moments, almost in spite of ourselves.

    "laughing at the laughing" -- I love when this happens! I hadn't thought of it this way, but these 4 words capture it.

  3. Great moment! I love when I have a laugh with my children, especially my 13 year old as the moments can be so rare, it seems. I have such a sweet picture in my mind of your moment. Oh and now I am hungry!

  4. This is great. "laughing at the laughing". Little kids are the best at that! My 3 year old cracks himself up, and then I laugh at him, and he laughs at me...then the 1 year old starts in...its the best.

  5. I too love how you and Lori both had similar moments this month with your children. As I said to her, it helps me to be reminded of the importance of taking time out from the busyness of life to just be with our families, especially our kids. Also, I LOVE porch swings and am jealous that you have one. I always wanted one growing up and the only time I had one was during college, my sorority house had one. Thank you for sharing your perfect moment this month and the recipe for Mulligatawny. I have never heard of it, but it looks and sounds yummy. Is it soup? And I also am a big Downton Abbey fan! :)

  6. I love this story! Yes, those times when children encourage you to embrace the moment are super special. And your soup sounds fabulous.


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