I am riding my bike by the ocean. The date? November 21st.
My brain funnels quickly through the Last Time I Rode by The Ocean. California Coast? Maybe. Ireland? Surely not. I strum through the files of bike riding locations while trying to distract myself from the fact my fully finger gloves are beginning to get numb from the cold. I exhale a long thread of hot air from my lips into the brisk air. My nose is pink. I can’t see it, but I am sure of it.
I wiggle my toes inside my mountain bike shoes and water, wind and bullet proof booties. I do a lot of coasting. My overloaded brain cannot seem to take the idea that I want to work my body really hard outside. In the winter air and light snow covering the streets of Victoria as the local residents panic, completely PANIC at the sight of the white stuff. I aim to miss the potholes, laugh at the heavily layered local people and try to picture myself living here.
I had to beat my 2009 record of cycling up Little Cottonwood Canyon on November 15th in Salt Lake City. Alternating tucking my fingers inside my armpits while using the other hand to balance the bike. Sometimes the hand will sneak up to my lips for a large puff of heated air. I curse myself for not wearing sunglasses to protect my eyeballs from the wind. I should be excited for beating my last years outdoor cycling record, but I am not. I am cold, and ready for the tiny 600 square feet we are staying. A hot bath. A change of perspective.
I decide to turn around at the next self-appointed 'appropriate' point.
I pedal half heartedly and my old bike, my baby Alex, heaves. Her rear derailleur refuses to shift smoothly, despite my tightening and coaxing. She coughs and my chain changes location on its own. I see a sign.
CAUTION: ERRANT GOLF BALLS MAY CAUSE BODILY HARM.
I glance at the green rollers of the playing field, the grey sky and rolling clouds above. I can feel the cold ocean wind whipping the surfaces of my body. It's time to head the sign, turn around and head back along the water.
My family has mocked me for as long as I remember for my cooking skills. Perhaps some of my earlier efforts in baking and cooking turned up such disasters as The World’s Easiest Chocolate Cake without cocoa, viagra 40mg Cinnamon Buns that have a strange hazelnut flavor in the icing, there or inadequately cooked Rice and Bean casserole that is crunchy to the tooth. This teasing has mostly been taken in stride (by me) and the longer I practice (Years. Years of practice) the more I find success, order or at least palatability, in my creations.
I find baking produces a happy vibration in my brain similar to exercise, and the reward of churning out fresh baked cookies that are warm and slightly chewy, but still have the melt in your mouth feel, thrills me in the same way that crossing a finish line does. Having someone eat a piece of your banana bread to look you in the eyes and say, “Wow! This is really good!” evokes in me the same sort of a post-yoga blissful glow. The happiest feeling from baking perhaps comes in the delivery of it. Who isn’t thrilled when peanut butter chocolate chip cookies find their way onto your desk, front doorstep, or in a Ziplock baggie post swim practice? Exactly.
Cooking is a slightly different beast. Whereas baking has the structure of a recipe, the time to turn on the oven and to what degree, I find cooking a more adventurous and sometimes dangerous experience. Following recipes for cakes seems to be no problem, but following them for Twice-Baked Lemon Salmon, Chickpea Curry or Wild Rice Pilaf seems to be a completely different challenge for me. Often I end up with a slightly wilted, slightly over or under cooked piece that isn’t exactly the prize I am hoping it will be.
As my darling boyfriend carries on his journey into athletics, his discoveries of new, innovative, cutting edge things never ceases to surprise or amaze me. This pedal. That shoe. Those laces! This supplement or drink. When he pulled out two cookbooks revealing The Primal Diet I was intrigued and interested. Who doesn’t want the benefits from a healthy, clean, fabulous diet? I borrowed the books and read through a good chunk of the first one. Although some of it will take some time to adjust to, I liked some of the ideas. I leafed through the cookbook and decided to give a try to the Cream of Green Soup.
My motive was two fold. One. Show my boyfriend I was committed to the idea of trying some new food ideas with him, that I whole-heartedly support all his endeavours. Two.To wow him with my excellent cooking skills and therein show also how much I care/ what a stellar girlfriend I am. Doesn’t warm soup on a cool day bring the idea of happy children sledding, couples holding hands and snuggling by the fireplace? I was sure I would be well on my way to winning G.O.Y (Girlfriend of the Year) by producing this soup for him post- cycle last night.
Buying the ingredients and practically running home, I got right to work on the soup.Meticulously following the recipe, I cook the onion. The garlic. I add the broth, the greens.It smells really good. I stir. I am practically grinning from ear to ear.I am such a good girlfriend. And dammnit! I am a good chef too. I whirl around the kitchen in my brown apron with a cupcake on front, singing along to the radio and stirring my Primal Soup.
The part of the recipe comes to say “put the hot soup into the blender and cream until smooth and green.” I look at the photo in the book and take note. I carefully pour some of the soup into the blender (minding the hot splashes, like the book suggests) hold down the top and turn on the blender.
What happens next is a cross between a horror film and fireworks. The scalding hot liquid comes blasting out the top of the blender, shooting the lid to the ceiling and burning both my hands as I scream and try to hold down the lid. I force the lid back down, pull the plug on the blender and run to the sink to put my hands under the cold water. There is soup absolutely everywhere.I spend the next fifteen minutes wiping down surfaces, including the ceiling. I scowl at my luck. Stupid error. No matter. Back to the blending.
Second time around has better luck with the lid, but at the end of several moments of blending the soup looks like lake water. It is light brownish/ yellow in color with the Swiss Chard floating around on top like sea weed. I am repulsed at the sight of my own soup. I sigh. I continue to stir. Well.
I add the final ingredients and taste it. It’s OK. Not my best. I feel baffled by the lack of looking like the recipe photo but also in taste. Is Primal Dieting going to be like this? Ew. I make a list in my head of all the delicious food I love that I will be eating on my cheat meals. Bah.I choke down a half a bowl and rush to cycling.
I bring back Jon for a bowl of soup post cycling, nervous about him testing my creation. He takes a sip, doesn’t look too long at the recipe photo, and after adding salt turns to me, shrugs and says, “Yea, it’s good.”
Not exactly the jumping up and down response I was hopeful for, but based on the lead up to the soup I am really happy that it is quality enough to swallow. I take some myself and take one more glance at the book.
Add a quart of broth, says the recipe.
Wait a second. A quart?
I do the math in my head and realize I thought the recipe had asked for a GALLON. Four liters of broth I had put in; when a quart would be actually ONE liter. I had put four times the amount of broth in, well no wonder it looked like a polluted lake instead of a green, creamy wonder.
I slam the recipe book shut and think for a few minutes about telling him my mistake. He is sitting at the counter, smiling at me, and I decide not. Why fuel the fire so there can be more to make fun of me at over Christmas dinner? I quickly Tupperware up the soup, change the subject and carry on into the evening. I had a bowl this afternoon and I smiled.