My sister died unexpectedly seven weeks ago. It was a tragic accident that I never thought would happen to anyone in my family. It’s strange how time slows down after experiencing the loss of someone close to you. I find myself pondering lots of existential questions and trying to make sense of everything. It’s so easy to just give in to the darkness and say, “fuck it” to the world. I did that for the first several weeks. I needed to cry and wail and feel the anger, sadness, and regret. It made me feel better temporarily. I still walk around feeling empty and very alone much of the time. I know these feelings will pass, and life will become bearable again, eventually.
Mr. K and I took a spontaneous trip to Connecticut over the weekend. We needed to get away and take time for ourselves. It felt restorative to walk along the water, breathe in the fresh air, and just observe people living their lives. I want to savor the sweet moments that I have with my loved ones. I keep wondering how much time is left for people that I love. It’s just where my brain often goes these days. I recently re-watched the finale of Six Feet Under, one of my favorite dramas. I had forgotten that Nate dies shortly before the show ends. The show does a beautiful job of portraying all of the messy and complicated feelings that people experience when they are grieving. When you lose a family member, you have your own grief to contend with, but you also want to be there for the remaining family members who are also grieving. Some days, it can be tricky to do both. At the very end of Six Feet Under, Claire is driving off to NYC to start a new chapter of her life, and while she is driving, we flash forward and see how and when each main character will die. Before Claire leaves, she tells her mom she doesn’t want to go to New York, but instead wants to stay there with her family. The response of Claire’s mom is extremely beautiful and gut-wrenching. She essentially tells her, “No, you are not allowed to stay here. Go and live your life.” That is the dilemma we face after a loved one dies. Part of us wants to die as well, but the best thing we can do to honor our loved ones who have died is to live a meaningful life. Most of us won’t ever know how much time we have left on earth, but we can be brave and live life with a curiosity, openness, and compassion that would make our loved ones proud.
I have only prepared a fresh tuna dish once or twice in my life. I need to do it more often, because it’s delicious as well as healthy. And so much better than the canned version. This salad is perfect for hot summer weather, as it only takes a few minutes to sear the tuna. Enjoy, and have a great week!
Tuna Salad w/ Wasabi Vinaigrette Adapted from Rachael Ray
Yield: 1 serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 ripe avocado, sliced
6-8 cherry tomatoes
Coat your steak with a combination of five-spice powder, salt, and pepper. Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan, and heat pan over high heat. Add tuna steak to the hot cooking surface and sear tuna 2 minutes on each side. Remove tuna from heat.
Combine greens, scallions, cucumber, avocado, and tomatoes in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk wasabi, vinegar and soy sauce. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp. oil to combine dressing. Drizzle dressing over your salad and toss to coat evenly. Slice tuna on an angle and arrange on the salad.
I have been leveled by PMS this past week, and wanted to write about it since I can’t seem to muster up the desire to write (or think) about anything worthwhile that isn’t maudlin. In lieu of a typical blog post, I thought I would share a poem with you that I wrote tonight on my commute home:
Hopelessness, negating everything
I was looking forward to yesterday.
It’s a cliché to say every woman
turns into a monster during her time
of the month. But I feel the change,
right down to my cells. Nothing
can alleviate this sensation of dread.
I have to ride it out, like a nasty storm
that causes you to lose your bearings.
And know that when this passes, I will
once again look forward to my favorite things.
And one of my new favorite things is this dish. I’ve never made an Ethiopian dish before, although I really like Ethiopian food. It’s a Marcus Samuelsson recipe, so I knew it would be delicious. A word of caution when making this: wear gloves when handling the chiles! I failed to do that and spent several hours with my hands writhing in pain. After several attempts at trying to wash the oils off, I finally succeeded by slathering my hands in vegetable oil, then washing it off with a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and a splash of dish detergent. Thanks, Google! That being said, I could eat this every day.
Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Ethiopian Spices Adapted from Food & Wine
2 cups dried black-eyed peas (12 ounces)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large red onion, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 habanero chile, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons berbere seasoning (see Note)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
In a large saucepan, cover the peas with water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until tender, about 40 minutes.
Add a generous pinch of salt and let stand for 5 minutes, then drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chile and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the berbere and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.
Add the peas to the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the peas are lightly coated, about 10 minutes. Fold in the cilantro and scallions and serve.
Berbere is an Ethiopian ground red chile spice mix. It’s available at specialty food shops and from kalustyans.com.