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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cooking Like A Cavewoman

Getting sick while on vacation is definitely not anyone's desire.  It certainly isn't mine.  I woke the first morning after we arrived at our quaint little seaside apartment with a throat that was trying to be sore.

I tried to deny it.  Drink lots of fluids.  Drink tea with honey.  Take tylenol.

By the next morning, there was no denying it.  I definitely had a cold.

Everyone knows the best remedy for a cold is chicken noodle soup and your mom taking care of you, right?  Since I could only reasonably accomplish one of these, my husband and I set out to get ingredients to make the very best chicken soup.

Side note: chicken soup is a staple food in Slovakia.  So the added bonus to this venture was getting to learn to make an important Slovak national dish.

Now for the cavewoman explanation.

We're in Croatia.  In a beach town.  Along the Makarska Rivera.  Sounds amazing, right?

It is.  It's beautiful.  And quiet.  And it's the off-season so there aren't many tourists.  And we've found that the fresh offerings at the small markets in town leave much to be desired.

Last night we set out to a bigger town.
The cave people began the trek to find ingredients for their meal.

We might have gotten a little excited and bought a few things we didn't need.  Like peanut butter.  Not really an ingredient for chicken soup.  But people, peanut butter barely exists in Europe, so it's a pretty big find.  Probably like a wooly mammoth for a cavewoman.  Even if you didn't meal plan for roasted wooly mammoth, you'd get the wooly mammoth.

This morning, I pulled out the pots.  Found one that could hold the chicken.  Turned my attention to the burners.
The cave woman woke up and began carving a piece of wood to hold her soup.  She then began gathering sticks and rubbed them together to start a fire.

There is a very simple stovetop at the apartment we are renting.  It's either space age or cave person.  My husband says it's a relic from communism.  (He's allowed to make comments and jokes about communism because he grew up in a communist country.  Kind of like I'm allowed to make comments and jokes about home-schoolers because I was homeschooled.)  There are no numbers on the knobs, so it requires some guesswork to determine how hot the burner will be.  The burner gives absolutely no indication that it is hot.  I am very thankful I do not have small children in this apartment with me.  Anyway, I pulled out my cave woman instincts and "read" the knobs sans language.

Knobs and Burner
The cave woman grunts and starts her fire.

Washed Root Veggies

Next, I washed my root vegetables.
The cave woman treks to the nearest stream and washes off the dirt from her vegetables.  Not because she knows of germs, but rather because no one likes the taste dirt.

Then, I search the drawers for a vegetable peeler.  There is none.  They exist in Croatia, just not in this particular apartment.  I find the next best thing: a dull paring knife.
The cave woman gets a rough-edged rock to scrape her vegetables.  Again, not because of sanitary reasons, she just enjoys getting fresh juices to the surface.

I proceed to stand for at least an hour painstakingly peeling the skins off these vegetables.  It is during this time that I begin to compare my experience to a cave woman.  Of course cave people grunted.  Daily life was hard.  Of course there was very little progress in art and music and literature.  Preparing food took every moment of your time.  Who needed a complex language to communicate when all you needed to talk about was catching and preparing your food?

Peeling with a dull paring knife
White Root vegetable

Now, needless to say, my expertise on cave people has been mostly gleaned from Ice Age and is most likely very inaccurate.

Simple living is a buzzword in society today.  Our lives have become hectic.  We have access to endless amounts of information and opinions.  We have made daily processes much faster and as a result, we have more time to fill.  We feel guilty if we don't fill the time, but insanely busy if we do.  We react, and strive to live simply. (Which actually takes a lot of effort, and, because of all the blog posts and books we read about other people living simply, we feel that we are somehow living a sort of sub-par simple life.)

Well, I'm here to tell you that I am very thankful I'm not an actual cavewoman.  I like being able to do things other than cook my food.  But I was thankful for a reminder that living life can be meditative.  When I learn to be present and experience what I'm currently experiencing.  Think about what I'm actually doing (though to be honest, I was probably thinking more about being a cavewoman than preparing the vegetables for soup) and let that be in my mind.

So next time you're feeling overworked, tired or busy, try to let your mind meditate and process that.  And then go from there.  Simple living has to start somewhere, right?
The cave woman ate her soup and went to bed.

The soup was quite delicious

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