Monday, December 19, 2016

The Times They Are A-Changing

Yes, they are … to borrow the words of Bob Dylan.  And it is disconcerting. Even frightening.  What will it be like for my children and their children? It feels like the world, as we know it, is falling apart.  And it can not be stopped.
But should it be?
Change can mean many things.   The dictionary certainly has several to offer  :  replacing one thing with another; to make or become different; an alteration, a deviation, a variation… the list goes on depending on its usage. 
In this particular case, I like to remain hopeful and cast my vote for adjustment.  Because it is needed.   And it is time.
In our middle class suburban homes, driving our German or Japanese car, watching CNN, sipping Australian wine as we share tapas with friends, planning our next holiday somewhere in the world that is not in conflict, we forget that there are millions upon millions of people whose homes are in ruins; who have to walk for miles and wait in line for hours to get fresh water; for whom a holiday would be a day without the sound of gunfire.
It is time to wake up and open our eyes to the other truth.  The world, as we know it, is just a fraction of the world as others know it. Painful though it may be, change has to happen.
The question is how?
There lies the burden.  Because the task is given to mere mortals.  Men and women with feet of clay who have their own vision of what the world should be, shaped into their man-made image and likeness. A self-appointed few who have the power to steer our planet according to their own belief, their own ideology.   
But what about those who do not share the same principle or who have their own version of what it should be?  Is it time for despair?
Perhaps, I am in denial. But I like to think these changing times can be a time of hope.  Hope that the decision makers all over the world can see beyond their own motives, their own countries, their singular need for power. 
Because change can also lead to a time of enlightenment.  To see beyond one’s own borders, real or imagined.  To break down walls, not build them.   To pick up the pieces and create a Legoland of possibilities .
Yes, the times they are a-changing.
So let us brace our selves.   Getting there will not be easy.  Nor will it be predictable.    But hopefully, after we have weathered the storm, there will be a time of peace and renewal.  Much like the tiny buds and pale green leaves on barren trees that hold the promise of spring.  Then all will be right with our world again.

When I think of comfort food, I think of piping hot, creamy soup.  The kind that goes down ever so smoothly and travels all the way down to the tip of my toes!  This tomato-paprika soup is one those stormy, winter wonders.
Tomato-Paprika Cream Soup
1 kg. fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 big onion, sliced
1 garlic, chopped
1 big red paprika, can be roasted for more flavor
1 tin peeled  tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 liters chicken broth or 2 liters water plus 2 chicken bouillon
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. smoked paprika powder
1 tsp. sugar, salt & pepper to taste
¼ - ½  cup cream
1 tbsp. butter  (optional)
Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil.  Add the fresh tomatoes, then the canned tomatoes, the paprika and tomato paste.  Mix well. Put in the bay leaf, smoked paprika, sugar, salt and pepper.  Let this cook for about 30 minutes or till the tomatoes are tender.
Remove the bay leaf.    Turn off the heat.  Take a hand blender and puree the tomato mixture. 
Pour the broth or water and bouillon onto the mix.  Let this boil and simmer for a few minutes.  Adjust the seasoning by adding more salt, pepper or a bit more sugar. Slowly add the cream.  Mix thoroughly.  Lastly, add the butter for a creamier taste.
Garnish with one or more of the following : extra cream, crème fraiche, croutons, chives, basilicum, crumbled bacon bits.  
This recipe is good for at least 10 people.  It can also be frozen and kept for another cold day.  
Extra tip : Since I make a fresh chicken broth, I also use the chicken bits as a garnish.  And, in order not to waste the vegetables used in the chicken broth, I add the carrots in the broth to the tomatoes and blend it in with the rest of the ingredients. I think the carrots add a natural sweetness.  Also, if you want a tangier version, squeeze a bit of fresh lemon before serving!


Valerie said...

Alma, this is a good one! You put into words so well what we all feel but cannot express as you do.
At the end of the year and with the coming of Christmas we can only hope for miracles. Some things are beyond our control and we just have to leave it to the big guy to take care of us.
Yes, we are the lucky ones who don't have to deal with war and death every day!

Colin Davies said...

Look forward to this soup in your home . . .

Can Valerie come too?