In the city, there are many passersby that may bear witness to your daily goings on—-no matter how slight. In my case, there are fellow yogis who join me in twisting sleep from muscles, while we sweat out the break of early morning in unison. On mornings when my milk supply has run dry, there’s the barista at Starbucks who greets with a smile so kind it plumps his bristly cheeks with seamless cheer while he relays my order to his partner in caffeinated crime. There’s the bouncy, just happy to be outside pups that race toward Sage and I in the dog park, smudging mud on my ankles and yoga pants. There are pedestrians whose pace matches the clink, clink, clink of my blinker when I’m finally en route to work. There may even be a cranky driver leaning on a horn just as red fades to green. There are associates at work, who stroll by my desk with a kind hello, hey there, what’s up? every morning before we settle into our focused, quiet working, for hours upon hours.
In Mattapoisett, moments seem much more…solitary. Our dusty gravel road is miles away from the town’s main drag. I often find myself alone while Mr.Mr. sands and paints the hours away, readying the boat for another season. Sometimes, homebodiedness takes hold and I nuzzle up with my knees, a slow read and a steamy cup.
Perch upon our creaky, well worn recliner that I’m wholly smitten with. (I especially like the thick, uneven stitch a previous owner thread through a deep gash. As it’s not even a close match in color to the black leather, I imagine it was sewn in haste.) Other times, I carry recipes from home for blog projects.
And, when a break from the written word is needed, I placate a hankering to explore. Lasso a leash around Sage, who prefers walking himself.
Tread upon a path well worn with stomped shells. Framed by wise trees. Sage dictates our pace. My lungs gobble up reserves of fresh air. Eyes scan. Mind relaxes. Curiosity leans in, whispering suggestions. Eventually we’re reunited with the seashore.
I discover quiet. I encounter no one. It’s just our pup and I, and whatever wild things are out and about bending branches and crackling leaves at will.
During my most recent weekend walk, I was feeling particularly alone. All of my girlfriends were otherwise occupied. Mr.Mr. was in the boat shed and hadn’t called upon my soft, city gal hands yet for the bottom work of sanding and painting. Even Sage ran ahead, the impatient darling that he is, darting straight for the water, his most favorite thing.
That’s when I thought about you, my kind readers. When I cook for the blog, I cook with you in mind. When I read culinary books or taste new teas and wines, I do so with sticky notes fastened in mind that mention what to share with you.
At that moment, I wondered, why not take you along on this mini-adventure as well? So, let’s walk, shall we?
Sage is way ahead already. He has waves to bark at. Pesky rocks to dig up from the ocean’s floor that clearly fancy a ride to drier sands.
Let’s marvel at the never-ending plethora of shells filling in the pauses of sea grass.
Luckily, the tide is low.
A pass through thin water rewards with a rest upon a bench Mr.Mr. built almost six years ago.
Heed the squawking cries of an osprey, minding the nest.
Sage, ever the loyal beast he is, turns to see how far we’ve lagged.
And, when fingers are flushed from the chill from this gray day, let’s click Sage back into his leash and walk the remainder of the beach towards home.
Once there, let’s warm water for tea and plunk a few servings of soup in a pot over a feisty burner. As all readies, let’s chat about the inspiration for this soup. My step dad, Te. He adores chunks of Swiss cheese topped with generous dollops of horseradish. He referred to this snack as his Special when we were kids. Every time he prepped this simple nosh, I’d steal an adorned square as soon as the tangy horseradish was spread upon the sharp cheese. Savor the eye watering and cheek reddening heat. He also has a weakness for pea soup.
One night, while tossing together a pea soup, I started with frozen peas warmed tender and flecked with crisp bacon. Just as I was spicing the blandness away, a jar of horseradish winked at me from the fridge. The soup seemed just right after that. An unintentional tribute to Te. A recipe that couldn’t have fallen into line any better if I had planned it from go.
When the soup is heated through, let’s cup bowls between our hands and sip slowly. Relish satisfaction from nature and nourishment.
Bacon and horseradish pea soup
There’s nothing enchanting about the appearance of pea soup. The flavor, therefore, must prove alluring. Horseradish and pepper flakes inspire the peas to awaken a fresh, vegetal taste. Smoky bacon and sharp cheese toss in salt and creaminess for good measure.
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
5-6 scallions, diced
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
2 pounds frozen peas
1 bay leaf
a pinch each of red chile pepper flakes, sweet paprika, cilantro, salt and pepper
1/2 pound Swiss cheese, grated with a vegetable peeler
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
Line a dinner plate with two paper towels. In a stock pot, cook bacon over medium heat until all is browned and curling in on itself. With a slotted spoon, mindfully scoop bacon bits from the glistening pool and scatter on the paper towel lined plate to linger free of excess oil and heat.
Reduce heat to low and allow the grease to settle down and cool slightly to reduce the chances of spatters. After a few moments, slowly add the scallions to the pot. Saute until flimsy. Add the horseradish and stir. Once again, be careful of spatters.
Pour in the broth and water. Increase heat until the soup is simmering. Add the peas and stir, loosening all of the bottom bits. Flavor with the bacon, bay leaf, red chile pepper flakes, sweet paprika, cilantro, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
Scatter the cheese curls into the soup and witness how they melt like snowflakes upon a warm surface. Remove from heat and cool for 20 minutes, until steam no longer swirls towards you.
Stir in the yogurt. Blend all to creamy with an immersion blender.