I’ve been needing a pick-me-up lately.
Working from home is great in terms of flexibility, but sometimes not having an office to go, or colleagues to joke around with feels particularly lonely. Not having girlfriends to hot-dial or grab a last-minute coffee on the whim isn’t always easy, particularly when you’re far away from home.
I’d been feeling the effects of working alone the past few weeks, and had been dwelling in, let’s just say, a state of insecurity and loneliness. I miss my friends and family back in Singapore and Buenos Aires, and I won’t deny it, there are times I wish I had a group of girlfriends just to go shopping with, or simply to chat about life.
Thankfully, there is technology.
After a couple of WhatsApp calls with my friends Jane and Mechi, both of whom I believe are angels disguised as mere humans, I feel myself changing the way I think, and redirecting my focus away from the negative to concentrate on the positive.
Mainly, both of them talked about energy and the vibes that we as human beings have – and how important it is to vibrate in a high level of energy and not let the negative vibes of other people affect us.
Jane, who knows how much I love quotes, sent me a picture of the quote “Your energy introduces you before you even speak”, which is a great reminder to stop dwelling in the negative.
Mechi, whose calm, familiar voice was soothing music to my ears, emphasized the fact that we attract what we focus on, a fact not new to me, but something I needed to hear again.
And this afternoon, I read Shanna’s words and couldn’t stop myself from nodding in agreement. She stated, simply and as a matter of fact, “There’s no denying things are hard, but there’s also no denying that our burdens lighten when we change our gaze.”
I need to change my gaze; my viewpoint; my mindset. I realize that I am only human and only God can provide the peace that I so much need in those moments when I walk through the valley.
So today, I’m making a promise to myself.
I will think thoughts of love, of kindness, and of generosity. I will lean on God for strength and positivity.
I will change the way I think, and shift my gaze away from the things that are lacking to the things that I have in abundance – such as love from friends who may live thousands of miles away but whose affection is tangible and real as can be.
I’m not sure about the climate where you are, but as we move into the second half of November, and we start making plans for Christmas and New Year’s, the weather’s getting colder.
And while I don’t usually like the earlier sunsets and cold freezing weather, I will take a hint from the Norwegians and how they look at winter. According to the article by Laura Vanderkam, there is a Norwegian saying that “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”.
So instead of complaining of the weather and how cold it is going to get in DC, I choose to celebrate the beautiful foods we can make and eat to keep us warm and full during the colder seasons. Food like thick, hearty soups; warm, filling casseroles; and one of my favorite dishes – risotto.
I’ve always been amazed at how little you need to actually prepare a good risotto – all you need is the rice, broth, a bit of wine, water and butter, and the ingredients of your choice.
In this case, since I had a can of pumpkin puree sitting on my counter the past week, and a packet of fresh thyme in my fridge, I decided to make a simple but delicious pumpkin thyme risotto.
Risotto requires patience and constant care to prevent the rice from getting burnt or the broth from drying out, but like with most things that require patience, you’ll reap results that are totally worth it.
I remember learning how to cook risotto in Pelusa Molina’s weekly cooking classes back in Buenos Aires, and as I stood at the stove, stirring the risotto in a pattern of eight, watching as the rice absorbed the water and transformed before my eyes.
In the same way, as I stood at my stove today and stirred the rice, adding in the pumpkin puree and stirring some more, I marvelled at the beauty of cooking, and how it transforms not just the food we eat, but also us, as we partake of the food cooked with love.
Today, I hope you’ll enjoy this warm, rich risotto, thick with the flavor of pumpkin and fresh thyme. It’s food for the soul, energy to re-fuel, and something worth celebrating.
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 cups of arborio rice (not rinsed)
- ½ cup of white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 3 cups of water
- ¼ cup of butter
- 1 can (15 oz.) of pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Pumpkin seeds for garnish
- Fresh thyme for garnish
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat up a little oil and sauté diced onions until translucent
- When onions are translucent, add in minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds
- Add in arborio rice and stir for 1 to 2 minutes to let it absorb the flavors
- Pour in white wine, stir and let the alcohol evaporate (about 1 minute)
- Bring heat down to low and add in chicken broth, stirring every once in a once to make sure rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan
- As rice absorbs the broth add water 1 cup at a time until rice is almost cooked
- Add butter and stir well to melt it
- When rice is almost cooked, add in pumpkin puree and stir well, allowing to cook for another 10 minutes
- Add salt and pepper taste
- Divide into 4 equal portions, garnish with pumpkin seeds and fresh thyme