Taking Stock

And in today’s episode of “How’s that Mindfulness Thing Working Out for You?” …

I’d just finished the David Sedaris Masterclass that my sister generously gifted me for Christmas. I kept putting off watching the end of it because: A) I didn’t want it to end, B) there was always something else I needed to watch on TV and C) I don’t really like watching things on my computer (or mobile).

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ok, boomer.

David told me I should be writing. He wants “to hear the things in your life that have gone wrong.” He also told me I should be reading Ann Patchett’s “The Getaway Car”, so I found that online (in a collection of non-fiction that I’d always thought was a novel) and painlessly put in on my Kindle (the joys of Amazon).

And then I took a nap (the joys of “Alexa, set timer for 20 minutes”).

I was going to have her set another 20 minutes (the joys of repetition) and thought, “no, you have a dinner tonight and if you nap the rest of the afternoon you won’t get anything accomplished and David says I need to be disciplined.

So I went to the bathroom and wiped down the counter.

Then I went to my desk and opened up my Moleskine (which is oddly not filling itself up, despite my “fill one each quarter” new year’s not-a-resolution-more-like-a-target) to write for a bit.

My brain was still a little fuzzy from the nap, or from just being my brain, so I decided I needed a cup of something … coffee or tea to sit down at my desk with.

Right next to the kettle is my Insta Pot, with a 4:18 on the LED.

Oh, that’s right, I was making vegetable stock before I headed out to lunch.

“Sorry I’m late,” I’d told my lunch companion. She’s the wife of one of my best friends from college, and until yesterday we’d never met despite him having been to Europe a few times in the past decade. Until now, we’ve just kept up with each other on, of course, the Book of Face. “I was making vegetable stock and had a little Insta Pot crisis.”

“You make your own vegetable stock?” she asked.

“Well, you know … easier than throwing all the scraps away,” I lied. Because nothing is really easier than throwing scraps away … I mean the garbage bin is right there. And there’s a garbage chute for the bags literally next to my apartment door. “I just keep a bag full of scraps in the freezer and take whatever is on its last legs from the fridge, toss it in the Insta Pot with some water and seasoning and … boom, stock.”

These are the conversations you have with new BFFs, no?

Until recently, I’d been buying stock in 1-litre cartons and instead of saving it for recipes, I’ve been pouring it into a mug and microwaving it up. I’m a whore with store-bought caldo … chicken, veggie, meat …  you name it (well, not fish), I’ll give it the old nuke-and-sip.  Me, my cat, a cup of steaming broth and a Netflix series. I moved to Barcelona and became an abuela.

It’s very satisfying, the stock. Like soup but less filling. So, of course, I have more. And then, the other day, I read the label. One serving has 33% of the recommended daily sodium intake. My cardiologist (the joys of being in your 50s) wants me to lower salt consumption as part of her so-called “Keep Bob alive” plan, which involves lowering my blood pressure. I don’t cook with salt. I rarely salt my food. But apparently, I’m now like a deer — slowly lapping away at various flavored saltlicks.

So, yes, I’ve begun to make my own stock. Without salt.

Oh, that’s right, I was making vegetable stock before I headed out to lunch.

 Well if it’s been on warm for more than 4 hours after 30 minutes of pressure cooking, it must be ready. I got out a colander and a mesh strainer, because I thought this batch could use a double strain, and all those solids were never going to fit into the strainer without spilling over.

Releasing the lid, the kitchen filled with smells of a day’s simmer … carrots, onions, garlic, celery, a hint of dill. Much better than anything store-bought.

I slowly poured the contents into the strainers, the steam rising up and misting my glasses.

Glug, glug, glug … right into the sink.

Not much use double-straining a fresh batch of broth if you don’t put a container under the bottom one.

I caught myself before I emptied out the whole pot … maybe only a quarter went down the drain. I took out a large plastic bowl (which ironically had been holding the colander and strainer while they were in the cupboard) and finished siphoning off the soup.

Which, as it turns out, tastes delicious (even salt free!) and I just might go back to the kitchen for a third cup when I finish this sentence.

Then maybe I’ll do a mindfulness meditation. Because they really seem to be having a positive effect.

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