Monthly Archives: September 2011

Smile Found

On the bus on my way to class today, I randomly met a friend (that hardly ever happens to me – I guess I just don’t have that many friends… in any case, I love it). He asked me how I was doing. And I said that I was tired and sleep-deprived from staying up until 2 AM last night to finish a presentation for today’s class (voluntarily too, but that’s a whole different topic). He remarked that it was unusual and kind of cool that I was smiling despite that.

That got me thinking, that, indeed, I smile and laugh a lot. Even when I’m alone, or walking somewhere, or reading a book on a bus. I think of or remember something nice or funny (no matter how little significance it might actually have). Or a passage (it even doesn’t have to be funny) in a book I’m reading makes me think that a person saying the words is smiling. And I smile to myself. Sometimes I also smile, apparently, for no reason at all. Or sometimes I smile when it’s hard. When I broke my arm this spring (the accident was so pathetic it was sort of funny) and I went to the hospital and people were angry and rushing around and I felt lost (because it was the first time I was in a hospital without my mum). When I finally got to the doctor he was rather suspicious as to why I was almost laughing. Looking back, I guess, he might have thought I could be on drugs or have a head trauma or something).

And I think that it must be a sad country I live in that a smiling person is so unusual that people may think something’s wrong with you if you smile. My favourite poet actually wrote a poem about a guy who is standing on a street and smiling, just standing and smiling; and another guy comes up to him and asks why he’s smiling; the smiler immediately gets all defensive and the smile vanishes.

I remember when I went to study in Denmark for a while – over there, any random passing-by people smile to each other. In this country, we tend to blame the rainy, cloudy climate for our bad mood, but Denmark’s even worse-off at that department. Admittedly, we’re not as well-off as Danish folk, but life’s not so bad here either. So, I keep wondering why people like to walk with their faces screwed-up. If anything, it makes things seem worse, and smiling helps make things better. That’s what psychologists say anyway. And I’ve tried it myself – it works. It’s like a weird back-wards effect. Normally, when you feel good, your brain is full of a particular neurotransmitter, which, among other things, makes you smile. But when you don’t feel good and you smile, you can trick your brain into thinking, ‘hey, I’m smiling, so I must be feeling all right.’ It then starts producing the feel-good neurotransmitters (or whatever), and you may notice that you start feeling better. Try it sometime and let me know if it works – one person is hardly a reliable sample. And even if it doesn’t work, at least the lines you’re getting will be the nice laughter ones and not the screwed-up-face ones, and who knows maybe it’ll prompt another person to smile back to you. Now, that’s always nice, isn’t it?

Wishing for more smiling people,

Noodle.

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Soup Season Kick-Off

It’s September and school year’s started, which means I have neither time nor energy to cook every day. When I get home, all I want is to put something warm into my mouth as quickly as possible. This means it’s time for soup season! And since some pumpkin fell into my hands on Saturday, I decided to kick it off with pumpkin soup. And it was so beautiful that I just had to take some pictures and share it. I use the recipe from the one cook book I own (with a few modifications).

Here’s what you need for 4 servings (well, the book says 4 servings, but I think it turns out more):

1 kg pumpkin, peeled and cut into small-ish pieces

300 g carrots, cut into thin slices

300 g leek, sliced (since I didn’t have that much leek, I also added one onion, cut up into small pieces)

3 celery stalks, sliced

2 cloves garlic (I used at least twice that, ’cause 2 cloves just seemed too little)

4 cups boiling beef stock (I used boiling water instead, since I didn’t have any home-made beef stock on hand and I stopped using stock cubes a while back; I spiced it up with whatever herbs I had on hand – thyme, rosemary, basil, and something else I can’t remember)

salt, pepper (I always skip the salt)

some Parmesan, grated (I didn’t have that on hand either, so I just used whatever cheese I had in my fridge)

sour cream

toast

Love all the gorgeous colours, even though the lighting and my camera suck.

And here’s what you do:

Though the recipe says to dump pumpkin, carrots, celery, leek, garlic into a pot, pour the stock and cook for 25 minutes, I do it a bit differently. First, pour a little olive oil into the pot, and put in leek, garlic and onion and sauté for several minutes on medium heat:

(be careful with the steam, it made my eyes water real proper, cleared up the sinuses too, though)

Then put in celery, carrots, pumpkin and stir, wait a minute, admiring the beautiful colours:

(Beautiful! Sadly, after I took that picture storm clouds finished ruining the lighting that already sucked, so no subsequent pictures turned out even half-decent)

Pour the water and put in the spices and cook, stirring occasionally, breathing in the cosy smell, until you think it’s done. Finally, blend it using whatever blender or food-processor type thing you have. Then the recipe tells you to heat it for a couple of minutes, stir in sour cream, put in salt and pepper, wait a minute, sprinkle with  Parmesan and toast cubes and serve. But, seeing as I’m keeping it in the fridge for a few days and I fear that sour cream might make the soup go bad quicker (no rational reason for it whatsoever), I just serve it right after blending and just sprinkle with cheese or stir in some sour cream when the soups already in a bowl. And leave the rest of it for tomorrow and the day after, and the next day…

Waiting for some more pumpkin to fall into my hands, so I can make pumpkin pancakes this weekend,

Noodle.

P.S. In case you can’t read metric, here is an imperial<->metric converter I use.