Today was all about resting, relaxing, and taking care of my body. I’m not very good at relaxing for extended periods of time (30 minutes is good, right?). I thought more than once, “Man, this is boring” and “Ugh, I want to go exercise, it’s been 3 days!” But I knew it’s what I needed after a day from the dark depths of you know where on Saturday. We had our Austin book signing Friday night which was super fun because we did a group dinner before it. It was a delicious 4-course AIP off-menu meal at Vox Table, and they served the most amazing smoked sunchoke and rutabaga chowder. It put me the mood for root veggie chowder this week, but I couldn’t find rutabaga or sunchoke at my store. It ended up being much more affordable to go with parsnips and leeks anyways, so this chowder tastes nothing like the one I had at Vox, but it’s hearty, filling, and fairly delicate in flavor. It really could be the base of a lot of additions such as salmon or cod chowder, and it’s based on my Bacon & Salmon Chowder from The Healing Kitchen. Fun back story, I know.
So basically the Austin book tour stop came in the middle of 4 weeks of insomnia that had been getting worse as my pregnancy progresses. Part of it I know is caused by stress (new job, new book, new baby, new city, new life in general) and anxiety (“Oh my god, I’m going to be a mother and not just for like a few years, but for the rest of my life. How am I going to survive on no sleep!? Will she be a good breastfeeder!? I hope she’s nice and not a bully when she’s older. I’m going to teach her about bullying from a young age and how important it is to be nice to everyone. Will I put cute notes in her lunch box? When is she going to lose her virginity!? I’m going to lock her inside the house if it’s before 16.” Yeah, that last one is the definition of anxiety. Worrying about your unborn child’s future romantic relationships. Yeesh. Plus all the tossing and turning you do as your belly grows and your tail bone aches and your little sweet nugget it simultaneously kicking your bladder and your pubic bone at the same time somehow.
That night, I could NOT sleep, and I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep the night before, so I was delirious and exhausted. I had a series of tear-filled anxiety attacks that night, my husband stayed up with me the whole time like an angel, and when the sun rose, I had to make the decision on whether or not I would make the 5-hour roundtrip drive to Houston for the book signing. Honestly, book signings are exhausting I’ve learned. You’re on your feet for 3 to 4 hours, meeting tons of new & friendly people, and not taking enough water and pee breaks. I couldn’t imagine doing that to my body or my baby on a total of 3 hours of sleep in a 48-hour period, and I was also having a return of some pretty violent pregnancy sickness, which in itself is very exhausting. It ended up being a blessing that I did not go because I didn’t keep any food or liquid down for 24 hours that day and night and ended up extremely dehydrated. I’ll spare you the details, but I broke down crying on the floor at 11 pm Saturday night after I had gotten sick all over my bathroom floor for the 8th time that day, had to shower (again), and then on my way back to bed rolled my ankle and dropped my puke bucket on the floor. Remember, now I’m only at 5 hours of sleep in a 72-hour period at this point. I also have a terribly guilty conscience and felt really bad about letting people down about not going to Houston. I was feeling extremely defeated and anxious at this point.
I laid in bed and cried and thought about my grandma whom is very special to me that passed away several years ago. I told her I missed her and that I wish she was here to meet baby Grace. I just kept telling her out loud how much I missed her while I was shaking and crying. And then suddenly every muscle in my body relaxed for the first time in I can’t remember when, and I felt a strong sense of calm come over me. Within a second and no more. I’m a pretty spiritually-connected girl and believe our loved ones that have passed are not in our past. They are always with us, and I know my sweet grandma was reminding me how she will meet Grace and that I will be okay.
So that’s some pretty intimate stuff to share on a blog, but if you’ve been reading for awhile, you know I’m not shy. People hide behind social media and online communications so much these days, and no one just tells it like it is. This is what it is (other than poor grammar):
– Being a first time mommy is really scary and it’s normal to have a lot of self-doubt
– The people who really care about you will be there for you when you need them (i.e. my husband and my grandma) and will put their needs aside
– Never feel guilty about choosing your health and healing and your family’s health over an obligation
I’m sure these aren’t the last lessons I’ll learn this year, but I thought I’d share. Writing a cookbook wasn’t easy, and doing it in the midst of full-time work, finishing my master’s program and research project, dealing with the worst Hashimoto’s flare ever, moving 4 times throughout the process, finding out I’m pregnant and dealing with everything that goes along with that, and then realizing “Crap! I need to be closer to my family once this baby arrives… we need to move AGAIN”, definitely chalks 2015 and the beginning of 2016 up to a year of stress and change.
So what I ask of you all is to be patient, kind, compassionate, understanding, and empathetic of others.
We often don’t know what someone has been going through, especially if the only communication we have with them is a text message here and there or a check in on Facebook. As a society, we seem to have lost the art of grace and selflessness in turn for power, money, ego, and self-interests. When we’re tunnel visioned, we don’t have the opportunity to see the people around us who could use some kindness. It’s time to take it back old school, if we’re going to talk about an ancestral movement at all, and remember that without our clan, family, and kindred, we would never have survived the dark ages.
This savory dairy-free chowder is filling, comforting & easy too!
Parsnip & Pancetta Chowder with Crispy Leeks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced
- 2 cups chopped leek (white part only)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped into even 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt
- 28 ounces beef or chicken bone broth*, plus additional for thinning if desired
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Smoked sea salt and fresh parsley, for serving
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy bottom saucepan or Dutch oven. Sautee leeks for 2 minutes until beginning to brown. Add the pancetta and garlic and sautee for 4 more minutes until fragrant and the leeks have wilted. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to the saucepan and turn heat to medium. Stir in celery and onion for cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Now stir in the parsnips, bay leaf, thyme, and sea salt. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the parsnips have begun t soften.
- Add bone broth to the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cover saucepan with a lid. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the parsnips are tender enough to puree but not mushy. Immediately transfer 2 cups of the chopped veggies from the pan to a separate bowl using a slotted spoon. These will be the chunky vegetables in your soup.
- Transfer the remaining contents of the saucepan, including the bay leaf, to a high-speed blender. Blend until silky smooth.
- Transfer blended soup back into the saucepan and then stir in the reserved leeks/pancetta, reserved chopped and cooked parsnips/celery/onions, and the lemon juice. Determine if you would like your chowder any thinner. If so, add 1/4 cup of additional warm bone broth at a time until desired thickness is reached.
- Serve sprinkled with smoked sea salt and fresh herbs, if desired.