When I have loved myself enough….

This beautiful picture is from the artist Irina Vitalievna Karkabi ,  the state of bliss and contentment is so tangible; it has resonance with the Art Nouveau artist Klimt, there is such delicacy and beauty, she is breathtaking it uplifts me every time I see it.  

After the cold bleakness of Winter, Spring bursts forth in new growth and renewal. Everywhere bulbs push though frozen ground to bloom and brighten our days, daffodils dance in the March winds and April Showers. I have been through a similar process of renewal – having time to myself has given rise to one of the biggest areas of growth in my life so far. I want to share some of the great things I have learned in the last few weeks not just beautiful art but two wonderful books that heal the soul.

This little book, is simply a delight – written by Kim Millen and published by her daughter Alison. The wisdom between the pages offer an opportunity to really touch base with your soul. Each page begins with ‘when I loved myself enough… ‘ and follows truths that also soothe the soul. Such as: ‘When I have loved myself enough I learned to meet my own needs and not call it selfish’. Or ‘When I have loved myself enough .. I stopped fearing empty time, and quit making plans, now I do what feels right and I am in step with my own rhythms. It is also worth reading the introduction and the postscript by Alison. 
You can buy a copy on amazon or you can support your local bookshop – either way it is a wonderful gift to give yourself. 
The other book is also about self acceptance – Amanda Cass’s illustrations enhance Dodinsky’s wisdom that takes you on a journey to loving who you are and accepting yourself. It was while reading this that I had a real ‘ah ha’ moment; it felt as if the ice and chill of winter had finally begun to thaw and the sun was breaking through – ‘love yourself better’ – I like the way you can enhance different meaning in that one phase, it resonated with my soul, because until you can love and accept who you are – can you begin to understand that you are worthy of all good things. 
My life has been transformed in the short period between my last post – a personal journey but I wanted to share a small part of it here. 

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Saucery in the soup Kitchen

All packaged ready to go
My vegetable delivery comes on a Friday from Able and Cole and the fridge was still full of vegetables, two large butternut squashes, three large red peppers, tomatoes, carrots, 1kg of onions, 1kg of shallots, mushrooms and sweet red potatoes! We were only just finishing up the Christmas food so I decided the best solution was to make soup and some roasted pasta sauce.  
It is more than likely the easiest method for making soup – I chopped the butternut squash, onions,  a clove or two of garlic and sweet potatoes into a large roasting dish, covered them with some olive oil and slowly roasted them for about an hour in a low oven, (gas mark 4). 
I also chopped up the red peppers, tomatoes and some more onions in another pan, smeared basil and olive oil over putting them to slowly cook. Making use of the whole oven, I filled smaller oven bowls with mushrooms & garlic and simply shallots in oil. The only attention it needs is a mix now and then, just to even out the cooking. 
In an hour or so, the vegetables have gone beautifully soft and dense with flavour and the aroma fills the house with a lovely home cooking smell. You can leave them with the oven switched off to slowly cool – for me it intensifies the flavour as I imagine the oils being absorbed into the vegetables as they cool.  
To make soup;
Use your largest pan – sweat off some onions in olive oil, moving them slowly but not over mixing
until they are soft and translucent. 
Add your roasted vegetables ensuring you scrape every last bit of oil from your roasting dish with a spatula – every drop of oil is infused with flavour it is a shame to waste any of it. You can also pour  some of your hot stock  into the roasting tray, this will make sure every last bit of flavour goes into the soup. 
The amount of stock you might need is dependent on how many vegetables you have – you want to aim for one third vegetables two parts stock. I use Kallo organic stock cubes, they don’t contain monosodium glutamate, and they give a lovely flavour. 
Allow your soup to slowly simmer, you want to aim for the odd bubble to surface not a rolling boil, leave the lid off and let the soup condense. 
Depending on your preference, you can blend the soup or simply leave it chunky, it is just a case of waiting until you have the consistency you enjoy. Be aware that if you have used salt, the saltiness will increase as the water evaporates – I tend to leave salt out as the stock cubes often have salt in them. 
You can add some fresh chopped ginger, or turmeric, both of which have ant-bacterial qualities which are believed to help immunity.  To give it a really lovely flavour add two or three tablespoons of creme fraiche or yoghurt. 
For the pasta sauce add;
Add a tin of chopped tomatoes to the red peppers and tomato mix, a couple of tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar, a dash of worcestershire sauce, two teaspoons of brown sugar and then finally the whole mushrooms and shallots. You then slowly re-heat in a saucepan when you want it. Like all good sauces allow the flavours to develop over a day or so, but don’t leave it more than three and always ensure you warm it up properly.
You can freeze these in batches, but this must be done as soon as it has cooled.  I decided to take a couple of jars of soup to some friends, they are a great pick me up, full of organic goodness, just what we need during the winter months.