Thursday, 14 June 2012

T is for Tomates Make Gazpacho

T is for Tomatoes Make Gazpacho.

I get pretty excited when I decide it's gazpacho time. I'm not sure if many people feel the same way as me, probably because 'cold tomato soup' doesn't sound so appealing. As a result, it gets more than its fair share of bad press. Well, Im standing up for gazpacho. Mine in particular. I'm the last person to blow my own trumpet, but I think that my gazpacho will please many taste buds. And no, the name 'cold tomato soup' gives it no credit whatsoever. 
My recipe is by no means rigid. Actually, I rarely measure any of the quantities, which will make it a little bit more difficult to share, but 'add according to taste' may be some good advice to start off with. My recipe generally revolves around what I have left over in the fridge, so if you think some other vegetable may work, then I wouldn't be too afraid of trying it out.
My most recent recipe consisted of these ingredients:

About 4 medium sized tomatoes
About 1/2 cucumber
About 1/2 bell pepper (any colour)
1-2 sticks of celery
Some onion (I use red) maybe 1/4
A carrot
Some parsley
Some basil

These are more or less in order of largest quantity to smallest, just to give you a rough idea of measurement.

Other possibilities may include green onion, garlic (I prefer it without, but it is your preference) and I don't know what else..
Chop them all up, and blend them either in a blender (with maybe 4-5 cups of water) or with one of those amazing hand blender things.

Then comes the fun part. Some olive oil, some black pepper, and some salt. Taste as you add it, so you don't add too much! I like doing this! Oh, also bread crumbs. One of the best parts! Today I ripped up two slices of bread and dumped that into the blender too. It gives it more consistency.
Another ingredient I like to add is crushed red pepper. I just sprinkle some into the mixture. It just gives it a little kick, and I think it works well with the chilled gazpacho.
And so that's the next step, chill it for a couple of hours, and serve with warm baguette bread.
Not just 'cold tomato soup'. It's a whole lot more, and whats more, you get a great serving of your veggies for the day. Even if you are not keen on tomatoes, you may like this, because obviously it's not just tomatoes. One more thing to add... for some reason I always seem to make a big mess in the kitchen when I make this! I think it's because I have a blender, and not one of those hand blenders, so I end up with some spills. Oh well, that's just now part of my gazpacho making tradition then.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

S is for Something to Think About

S is for Something to Think About.

The school year has ended and summer has arrived. The end of one more era, and soon to be the beginning of a new one for all those who follow the academic year. For me it marked the end of my first position as a teachers aide in an elementary school, and yes, it was an eye opener into the educational system in America and also Texas. I would have never seen myself teaching (or even living for that matter) around here. I would never have imagined myself in my role. I see more for myself; achieving, developing, leading. But this is where I am, and it is my task to honor this and adapt myself to what is laid before me.
Sometimes this can be one of the hardest things for us to do. We look at ourselves, and we think "Why can't it be like this?" "How did everything end up like that?" "Why do they have that and I don't?" We do it every day. Me included. Being able to accept where we are and who we are is sometimes one of the hardest challenges we may face. We always want more, and we are hardly ever satisfied.  Once again, me included.
I have a job. Some don't even have that. I want more. I want a career, and one which fulfills me, makes me feel like each day I am making a positive contribution to the world. Is it wrong to want that? Is it wrong to want more, more, more? Why can't I just be satisfied with what I have? Why should I be so selfish when others are struggling just as much, even more than me? What gives me the right to be more successful than them? Maybe they even worked harder than me, and so deserve success more than me. These questions roll around in my head, making me dizzy.
Slowly I'm learning how to answer these questions. I'm learning that there really is no answer. Whether or not we are content with what we have or don't have, we need to honor where we are, and accept. We ourselves should be our one and only focus. Each and every one of us is different, we all arrive at our destinations through different pathways, and it is our journey which needs to be honored, not solely reaching the destinations. So what if someone else gets there first or gets there quicker, we need to recognise the path we took and take from this all the experience we can from our ventures.
You may have a little snigger, but a great deal of this I have learned through my yoga classes. No, we don't just sit. No, we don't just meditate. We stretch, balance, build muscle, and most importantly, we focus on ourselves. We focus on what is within us. We focus on where we are now, we accept, and we look towards where we are going. I am also learning about how to honor others and who they are, without casting judgements and criticisms. I am coming to realise that through honoring each other and our differences, working with these differences rather than against them, it is possible to successfully adapt and effectively work together with ease.
The sooner we can accept who we are and where we are, the easier it will be for us to carve out the path we wish to follow, without judging ourselves against others. I still need to remind myself of this on a daily basis, and true, sometimes it is not easy, but I would like to think I am honoring my efforts and moving in a positive direction.