Sweet and Spicy Squash Noodle Soup

Sweet and Spicy Squash Noodle Soup

EARLER TONIGHT, I FOLLOWED TIM OUT OUR KITCHEN DOOR and down the driveway to the garage, where we both got in the car. He turned the key in the ignition, looked at me and asked, “Where are we going?” and I shrugged with a “Anywhere you want!” So he backed out passed the chain link fence where our neighbor’s flowers grow and the giant bush sprouts a spider’s web longer than my height, pointing the car anywhere and nowhere, warm Tennessee air flowing through our open windows.

We followed I-24 West to Shelby, which is a confusing thing to say because Shelby is East Nashville, and we live in South Nashville, but to get there you take I-24 West. In East Nashville, we cruised down Gallatin and eventually down the street where I used to live, passed my old yellow bungalow that I already have a hard time remembering, just over two years after I left. And somewhere between the piece of pumpkin vegan cake we ended up sharing from Wild Cow on the Jeni’s patio and the soup bones we ended up buying at the grocery store in Green Hills, I turned to Tim and said the thing to which a lot of you will probably relate. “I have to tell you something,” I said to him in the now-darkness of this September Thursday night. “I’m just not sure what’s true about health anymore.”

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Simple foods are the good foods // Vegan Basil Walnut Pesto

Herbs in the window

One a hot September day when you drive around town in your car with the broken air-conditioning, your shirt sticking to you and the sun beating down beautiful and hard, it’s nice to come back to your kitchen, pull herbs from your windowsill, nuts from the cabinet, and assemble something fresh and simple to eat.

Basil and walnuts
A fistful of fresh tomatoes

That’s what I did today. I returned to the kitchen not just after a morning out working, but also after, for the most part, four days away from it altogether. After four days of no appetite and lots of fruit and lots of juice, I came back to one of the most normal things in my routine, one that always feels so strange to be away from—I came back to make something to eat.Vegan walnut pesto

I’ve noticed in my life, and I wonder if it’s true in yours, that when I’ve been away from food for a little while, whether because of fasting or because of traveling or because of illness or because of something else, the things I want most are simple things. There’s as much joy in an apple, sliced thinly on a plate, as there would be, on other days, in an elaborate four-course meal. I’m as thankful for some small-batch pesto, whipped up during lunch, as I was the week before for a three-layer cake. Going without something makes you see its value. Going without something simplifies what you think you need.

Tomatoes and vegan pesto

So today, I found great joy in two red tomatoes from our farmer, sliced onto two of our vintage wedding plates, topped by a quick pesto, a few breadcrumbs and balsamic. I got to assemble the meal, I got to want to eat it and then I got to take it, bite by bite, and bring it to my lips.

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