Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Time to Cry Into My Soup? (VEGAN MOFO: DAY 30)

I left San Francisco on Sunday, pre-major storming from Sandy.  The airline would have actually switched my trip date for free until after the storm, and I was tempted to do it, just to stay a little longer, but I didn't, because I had to get back to work on Monday and I did not have any paid time off left.  So I returned to Pittsburgh.

Then I got under three hours of sleep with the change of time and general busyness of getting out of the airport and claiming a bag and waiting for my friend to circle back over to pick me up, then driving home in pouring rain, which causes Pittsburghers to travel, I think, far slower than people would in other cities.  I could be wrong about that, and it's probably a good thing (better safe than sorry), but it felt annoying in my state of time anxiety.

But I got to work on Monday, deciding to take the bus instead of bicycling through the crazy rain.  I always hate taking the bus because although there are a lot of buses in the morning to take me to work, there are far fewer when I leave, and I can often wait for an hour for a bus to take me about three miles.  Still, I got to work, ready to rock, feeling cheerful, and... then I got laid off.  Then I had to wait for a bus back in the pouring rain.  The bus did not come for an hour and 10 minutes.  I should have stayed in San Francisco.


Remember I wrote that something life changing always happens to me in October?

It's funny, I happen to be reading this book by Barbara Ehrenreich right now (she also wrote Nickel and Dimed, which pretty much everyone cool read) called Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America, and it goes into great detail about how insistence on positive thinking is enforced within corporate culture, in part to make people less upset about getting fired, because they've been practically brainwashed into believing that every failure is a personal failure that  was a result of their insufficient inner positivity, and they're supposed to view every setback as an advantage.  And, OK, Barbara Ehrenreich, I agree with you, girl, I'm on your side, especially when you talk about how there's a difference between having pessimism for the world and its future versus having a personal pessimism about yourself and your abilities.   But I still kind of think that this setback may be an advantage for me.

The truth is, I was not doing the right work for me.  There is just a lot more I could be doing at this point in my life.  I can generate a lot of writing in relative short periods of time, and it will not be just consistently coherent, but, I hope, consistently informative, interesting, and entertaining.  I've definitely had a goal during this  Vegan Mofo to prove to both myself and the world that I can write by assignment reliably.  I definitely want to start freelance writing at the very least.  But also, I want to work doing what I care about, even if it means making less money.  And what I care about is cooking, health, and food sustainability.  I need to take a more suitable route in my life, and I do believe I can find it.

In the meantime, whoa!  I applied for unemployment.  I've never lost a job before.  Part of me wants to march right into a temp agency, but another part would like a week off.  Did I mention I've also never not gotten a job I interviewed for?  I know that I can go back to low-level legal work anytime.  That probably sounds really cocky, but it's really not.  I should be doing a lot more than just that.

So pity me not, because this may have actually been the kick in the butt I needed!  Even though I still agree with Barbara Ehrenreich.


All I've made since I got back was my ultimate comfort food soup, the Curried Roasted Carrot Soup with Coconut from the book Supermarket Vegan, which I mentioned craving in a post a few days ago.  This is really my favorite soup ever, and it's so easy and probably only requires you to buy carrots, as long as you keep garlic and coconut milk on hand and also are OK with omitting the scallions, as I am.  I first made it when I was waiting for my first paycheck after moving to Pittsburgh and was eating cheaply.  Guess I'll be doing that again!  But it was just a coincidence.  I've made this many times since I wrote about it that first time.
Pictures of soup never look that amazing, especially if you don't get the suggested toppings like the scallions I left out of this.  This is the greatest soup, though.  There are a few keys to this soup's greatness.

One is that it calls for the reduced-fat kind of coconut milk.  I never buy that stuff, but I do make vegan ice cream using just the cream off the top of the can (not all of it, though).  I then put the rest into the freezer.  Usually, I'll pour the unfrozen milk into a half-can of frozen milk so that I can tell when I have a full can for a recipe.  The only thing is that I have to remember to put it in the fridge ahead of time to unfreeze.  But what a nice money-saving tip, huh?  Maybe only for people who sometimes use just the cream out of coconut milk, but WE'RE PEOPLE TOO.

The next key is that you just roast baby carrots with a couple whole cloves of garlic, shifting them a couple times, for 20 minutes, and then it goes into a food processor or blender along with the coconut milk.  Roasting these veggies and then blending them together instead of doing most of the heating on the stove top makes a significant taste difference.  It somehow makes it so homey and comforting and delicious.

Third key, the curry.  You must find a curry you like.  It calls for 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of curry, according to taste.  I use a combination of two things: Penzeys Sweet Curry Powder (there is a Penzeys store here in Pittsburgh) and this Thai green curry spice blend I got some time ago, and it is losing come of its power, but it's still good.  Once you find a curry powder you love, it will make this amazing.

And the final key is the water.  It calls for quite a bit of veggie broth to be added.  I'd add less, at least 1/2 a cup less.  Not that it'll be bad if you enter the full amount!  I just like it thicker.

One last thing about this soup.  Doesn't it look like a beautiful planet as it starts to simmer?
Please let me go to carrot soup planet!


  1. COME BACK!!!!

    I'm sorry about the job. But something awesome is going to come about, I just know it. Get that unemployment. I wish I had when I lost a job a few years ago.

    1. I wish I could just come back! Flying there was so expensive.

  2. Melissa, Ack! Wish you'd stayed in San Francisco.

    Well, if you want to write freelance, maybe you would consider writing an article for VegNews.

    I'd love to read it.

    1. I'm not totally sure how freelance writing works yet, but of course, VegNews would be awesome.

    2. Melissa, I know they accept submissions. Why don't you contact them and ask for guidance on how to get published with them. Best wishes!

  3. Sounds delicious! Could you post the recipe?

    1. I looked on the internet for a link to this recipe, but because I know people want them, but this one is not on the internet currently. But I can't just post recipes from books I don't own the copyright to! BUT, Becky, I saw this book at the bargain book store that's in the Strip District.

  4. Melissa - one thing we have in common, the whole "crazy life changing shit happening in October" thing. Won't get into detail about that here, but as far as the job thing goes, I'm with you. I think I've finally worked up the nerve to quit at Christmas - it's making me miserable and it's so important to pursue what you love. And not to be morbid, but you could die any day so why put yourself through that crap? Life's way too important. End rant! Good luck with everything, and I'm also a huge fan of carrot soup planet! :)

    1. I'm sooooo curious, though! What happened to you in October? Hahaha.


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