I was rooting around in my closet a few nights ago looking for a jacket to wear because, joy of joys, it’s finally cool in the evenings here. As I slid clothes along the wooden rod in my tiny closet, I spotted my dad’s favorite green sweatshirt.
He loved that sweatshirt and used to wear it all the time — really — I mean ALL the time. If you didn’t take it off of him and demand to wash it, he would have never removed it
After he passed away, I just had to keep it. I hugged him so many times in that sweatshirt, I can still feel the boney shoulders of the still strong, but much frailer man he became in his final years.
Of course I grabbed it and hugged it close to me, tightly closing my eyes and remembering how good it felt to be hugged by him. I was afraid I’d forget that feeling someday, so I thought keeping the sweatshirt would be a good reminder. I just couldn’t put it away. I wanted it out for a few days but I didn’t know why.
Then I eyed my mom’s pink bed jacket. I bought it for her just a few months before she passed away. It was satiny and pink and she loved it. So, of course after she left us, I had to keep it. I wear it so much my kids and friends mock me for it.
Then I realized that last night marked the end of All Souls Day. The day when we remember loved ones, no longer with us, and my Monday started to make sense.
I saw a beautiful blog about Dia de los Muertos, by one of my favorite bloggers; BaddestMotherEver. She wrote about her friend and how he celebrates the Day of the Dead, a tradition in Mexico. You create an altar and post photos of your loved ones at the top and then place things they enjoyed in life below and you invite them into your home. Then she wrote a sweet piece about her dad.
Well, I think I felt the presence yesterday of a couple of souls.
I went to a Starbucks to work on my book for a couple of hours in the afternoon, but kept nodding off because I’m still getting over a nasty cold. I felt guilty for not getting enough work done, but I could hear my mom saying what she always said when I was sick: “Honey, you gadda getta somma rest. Go lay down a.”So, I cut myself some slack for nodding off. Weirdly, when I got home from Starbucks,I wasn’t tired anymore and felt compelled to cook.
I knew my daughter was coming home in the rain, so I made her some mulled wine mixed with apple cider, a cinnamon stick, some cloves, and a splash of and Rock N Rye, which is killer good!
While that was simmering, I roasted some red peppers, butternut squash, and garlic, preparing to make soup. Then my daughter got home and said she was ravenous, so I offered to make her some pasta with pesto. Here’s the link to the pesto recipe from one of my old blog posts.
And then…you know when you cook something, and you’re really hungry, and it’s exactly what you’re craving, and tastes unbelivably good? Well, that happened. The pasta with pesto was ridiculously perfect. She devoured it, I inhaled mine, then she invited her boyfriend over and he polished his off in minutes. Then, they both had some of the butternut squash soup I made and loved it too. We all decided that indeed, food magic had definitely occurred. And I had that wonderful feeling that being a mom and cooking for my kids is the best thing ever.
Then I realized why — my parents were here! That’s why I was drawn to their clothes and felt compelled to cook! That’s why we didn’t just like it, we loved it last night. We were enjoying it for them. They both loved pasta with pesto, cooking and feeding people — especially their kids.
I have pictures of both, my dad and my mom at my desk, so I can see both of them as I sit and write. It’s not exactly an altar, but I think they know they have a standing invitation to visit me anytime, and last night, I really feel like they did.
I hope someone you love visited you yesterday too.
Awesome Butternut Squash Soup
1 small roasted butternut squash, (about 2 lbs. cut in half, seeded and roasted until tender)
1 1/2 heads of roasted garlic
1 cup of roasted red, or yellow bell pepper, peeled and sliced into one inch strips
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (or more if you like a thinner broth)
1 1/2 tsp. curry
1 1/4 tsp. cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons of salt (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream (optional)
Sriracha drizzle on top of soup as garnish – be careful, this stuff can be spicy hot! (optional)
Place the butter in a large, heavy soup pan and let it melt. Scoop the garlic out of each clove and place it in the pan with the butter. Stir it well, over low heat, then add the pepper slices. Scoop the butternut squash out of the shell and place it into the pan. Stir all the ingredients together. Then, pulverize the ingredients with a stick blender. Once fully pulverized, add the chicken or veggie broth, curry, cumin, salt, and whipping cream. Cook over medium heat until heated through and serve. (You can also run it through a mesh strainer if you want it smoother.) The Sriracha is optional, but the kids really liked it. It’s a little spicy, so be careful not to add too much.