Why, yes, I *am* writing a novel. Why do you ask?

I just need to tell you this: We’ve been on a wee bit of a soup bender here at Casa Non Grata. And yes, I am aware that that phrase, “soup bender,” may well be considered an oxymoron by some of you. And by “some of you,” I mean those of you with jobs that require them to leave the house and houses that are situated in warm places. And actual lives, perhaps with children who do not wake up before 6 AM. For example.

But for me, hunkered down on the Canadian Shield in January, things are getting pretty wild around the stockpot. So far this month, I’ve whipped up a kitchen-sink version of sweet potato/red pepper purée (sure, throw in that carrot! Got some celery? Why not?), pasta fagioli (so far my favourite), orzo soup with caramelized onions and cheese (Rowan and his friend kept wandering into the kitchen and saying, as I caramelized the onions, “Ew! What smells so bad?” Heathens.), a white kidney bean purée with prosciutto (yay, traif!), and, just last night, a leek and cauliflower soup with (local) elk sausage (and some potato). Tomorrow: yellow split pea.


There is not some overarching metaphor for this: it’s simply about warmth and nourishment, the desire to create something tangible, use up what’s left, transform the raw and the leftover into the sublime. I've got a little routine going: each week, I boil up the bones of our Friday-night chicken (because we roast a chicken pretty much every Friday night, because we do, because that is the tradition, and certain people – and by “certain people” I mean, well, me. And my children — like things that way) and make stock, and from stock I make soup in double batches. And we eat some and we freeze some in lovingly labeled containers that I take out and eat for lunch later on in the week. And every so often I encounter someone who looks a little down or tired or in need of some nourishment and I yank out just such a container from the freezer and hand it over. And think, "Eat, eat." Love in a Tupperware.

And then I go to bed at nine o’clock, full , and plumb tuckered out from all the excitement.