I am realizing that my coping mechanism for stress is cooking. It's the clock in my routine and also, a vehicle for comfort and craft. I initially thought all this cooking was somehow for my parents. That preparing these nutritious meals were the means to their health while securing some level of comfort to our home. Now, I am realizing the effort is often for me. It's comfort in the idea of purpose, encouraging me out of bed so breakfast can meet the table. A creative outlet that cures boredom and is nutritious at the same time. Cooking is becoming a meditation. It grounds me.
Alzheimer's and dementia plays with the mind. As my parents' memory loss increases so does anxiety, both theirs and my own. The anxiety doesn't discriminate based on a diagnosis. Everyone is fair game, demented or not, and I can sometimes feel panic waving at me from a distance. As panic creeps in, I cook. Sometimes I even dance and sing. The combination of entertainment and comfort food is enough distraction to curb a moment's unraveling, dismissing the chaos about to ensue. Apparently, the horrifying sound of my singing voice can bring the room to a screeching halt. Even the dog stops in shell-shock. But whatever, I feed him too...
Oddly enough, something about the food and entertainment formula works. As a caregiver, you cope and provide comfort as best you can, utilizing whatever weapons are in your arsenal. Mine happen to be food and a knack for the theatrics (or maybe not?). Weapons aside, my advice for anyone in a similar position is "do what you love, for those you love" and let joy be the creep for a while.
Now, without further ado, I give you Creamy Curry Asparagus Soup!
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1/2 head of cauliflower chopped
- 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 tbsp green curry paste
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 lime
- 1 hard boiled egg, grated
- 1/8 cup cilantro
- 1/8 cup cashews
- 1 scallion sliced on the diagonal
- 1 tbsp plain yogurt
- 1/4 tsp flax seeds
- a zip of sriracha (Optional, and yes, a "zip" is an official measure in my book.)
- In a large pot heat the oil
- Add the onions and saute for a few minutes until they soften and become translucent.
- Add the cauliflower, asparagus, and curry paste, stirring to combine and coat things evenly.
- As everything starts to cook, keep an eye on things and stir frequently to keep the ingredients from sticking.
- After several minutes, add the water and a big squeeze of lime and deglaze any bits that are stuck to the bottom. The lime will help with flavor but also assist in maintaining that fresh green color!
- Make sure the water covers the vegetables. If not add more water so they are just submerged and then simmer until everything is tender.
- With an immersion blender, puree the soup till it's smooth. (This can also be done in a standard blender in batches after cooling.)
- After the soup is pureed, bring the temperature back up to just under a simmer and stir in the coconut milk. (Tip: It's good practice not to boil coconut milk.)
- Taste the soup and make adjustments as necessary. You will probably want to add salt and possibly more lime juice. This is based on preference and dietary considerations if you are watching sodium intake.
- After adjustments, serve the soup in bowls topped with a scattering of egg, cilantro, cashews and scallions.
- Add a dollop of yogurt, topped with a sprinkle of flax seeds and a zip of sriracha if you want the heat.
- Serve it with extra lime wedges on the side in case anyone wants more.