Jon and I just got back to our family cabin in Idyllwild, California this week after 3 months of travel. And it was 3 months of fast travel as opposed to slow travel which is what we tend to either aspire to or do. This means that we didn’t stay in any one place longer than a month and on more than one destination/occasion, we were in various places for only a week. In 3 months we lived in 5 places for various amounts of time.
Part of the reason for this constant moving had to do with conferences Jon and I had committed to attending along with one week long detour in Chiang Mai, Thailand for dental check ups and a filling.
If you know anything about me, you know this kills me. I love our lives and I love, am deeply humbled and grateful for the fact that we get to travel full time and see the world while we both work. But constant moving with short stays in new places, makes it hard for me to settle in and it simply depletes me mind, body and soul.
Add to that the fact that in most of those places, cooking our own food in the places we were staying at was either impossible or not comfortable given the limited resources we had at each place.
By the time Jon and I arrived at the cabin last week, we were both bone tired, irritable, Jon had a cold, and I quite frankly, was spending an abnormal amount of time fantasizing about retreating to some isolated cabin alone in the woods where not even he was with me.
Both of us had been short tempered for at least the previous couple of weeks and there was a listlessness to our over all demeanor that was undeniable.
We were tired, yo.
Even Nomads Need Home
For me, the idea of being at what is now the closest thing to home we have, with a fully stocked and very familiar kitchen made me cry. Literally. I needed it so badly, it was hard to keep the tears of joy and relief and exhaustion from flowing.
So when we arrived in the late evening, opened up the house, unpacked as much as we could and started to get ready for bed, I was already making a mental shopping list of all I would be buying at the grocery store the next day. Three months of eating out everyday was a huge contributing factor to our exhaustion.
We needed home cooked meals, nourishment, and a huge dose of emotional and physical recharge.
Slow Cooker As A Cauldron Of Love
Part of what made me so emotional about being home is that it’s cold up here in Idyllwild. Colder than I’ve been use to in a long while given the hotter climates we have been wandering through for the last couple of years.
What is it about having to get cozy, wear warming clothes and using the oven… a LOT, that makes you feel so held and loved in a home? I have no idea, but it was as if the house reached out and took us into her arms to keep us still and protected while we recharged.
This inspired me to make a list of menu items that would keep me both cooking constantly and keep the house smelling like a hearty, healing and delicious pot of soup.
One of those dishes was my Vegan Chili. I’ve got a 16 C slow cooker that loves being used and I went out and bought all the things needed for this dish. Black and red beans, carrots, garlic, celery, fire roasted tomatoes, chipotle chilis in adobo… the list is long, but everything on the list is healthy, fortifying, delicious and reminiscent of the kind of food you might eat when you’re sick and needing to build your body back up.
I took my time chopping each ingredient, measuring out all the spices and dried goods, pouring in the broth and then mixing it all together with an old wooden spoon. Just the act of putting it all together felt healing for me. I was slow, intentioned, grateful for every single ingredient I touched and got to interact with. I made sure to pause often and take in 3-5 deep inhales and exhales to keep present and aware. It had been so long since I made anything and already I was feeling fed, just by the mere act of preparing something for myself later.
I also prayed. I’ve been doing this more and more as I eat, and now I got to do it while cooking. Jon and I needed love. We needed to be held. We needed space to rest and replenish, space to stock up on energy in order to be more abundant with both ourselves and each other. Love is multidimensional and it needs to be fed in many ways before it can be expressed and given. We had run dry with ourselves and one another in the last few weeks just by virtue of how depleted our life style was making us.
This slow cooker would make the very stuff of healing. I gave thanks to be making something that would feed our very souls along with our bodies and I stirred the love that is at our very foundation into that pot.
Substance Takes Time
The beauty of a slow cooker is not just that you can place food inside in the morning and then come home in the evening after work and have a completely cooked meal. It’s also that you have to wait, stir gently from time to time and watch over it like a precious substance that needs time to come into it’s fullness.
For 16 hours, this pot of chili brewed in my kitchen. The smell around the house grew and changed in complexity as the ingredients got to mingle together more and more. And at night while we slept, on occasion I’d get up to go pee and there it was, the rich thick smell of a huge pot of chili brewing into the deep night.
It’s Always About More Than Just Food
I believe that as it was brewing it was feeding us. That just it’s presence in the same house with Jon and I created a presence that came together to provide for us what we needed most in the moment. I believe that in the making of this pot of food for us both, I returned my attention to us, to him, to me and to the very real need to tend and love and sustain.
I believe this pot of chili which will be used in a few dinners, lunches and breakfasts will continue to feed us the medicine of recuperation so that we might feel whole and fed again.
And the beauty of it for me was that even though I was drained and so done with all of it when I arrived at the cabin, even though we were both low on conversation and so big on the idea of collapsing into bed and not getting up for a week, even though for both of us keeping a thought straight might have been a challenge, the act of making something new and precious and so potent fed me, rather than exhausted me more.
And that’s the soul in food. And this is what my heart sings about and offers up gratitude for. I marvel each time I sit there across from my beloved eating our medicine and feeling the love and the nourishment that life comes together in a pot of chili to offer us.
I’m so grateful.
Added Note: The Foodie Loves The Details
This 12 cup pot of chili went into small bowls with tortilla chips for lunch, poured over big fluffy baked potatoes, inside scrambled egg morning tacos, breakfast bowls and several plastic bags in the freezer so that I could pull more out on a whim when I want a bit more down the line this month.
I’m convinced that pots of chili are the key to nourishment as well as efficient meal planning for people who are busy and have challenges making meals each night.