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Make life more complicated

I have been listening to the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast for a few months now. The podcast is by Gretchen Rubin, a writer and an author of bestsellers such as The Happiness Project, Better Than Before, and Outer Order Inner Calm. Her co-host is her sister, Elizabeth Craft, a Hollywood writer and producer.

The podcast’s aim is to help its listeners to be happier, healthier and more productive. On each episode, they share a Try This at Home, a small, but concrete, idea they suggest their listeners try to adapt and do by themselves.

One Try This at Home that struck a chord with me is Make Life More Complicated. This was shared on Episode 189 if you wish to listen to what they discussed.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have now established a weekly routine which involves bringing Becca to school, Sarah to the Kita (daycare) on Wednesdays, and my share of the daily household chores, mainly cooking and keeping the kitchen clean, ironing and vacuuming.

I am a person who thrives on routine, but sometimes we all need to shake things up.

So, when another Filipina I recently met here in Biel asked me if I wanted to sell my Filipino breads at the Philippine Food Festival Bern, a charity fund raising event of Bayanihan Filipino Biel, I remembered that I can (and should!) Make Life More Complicated, so I said yes.

Creamy carrot soup; right, Sarah Matzat helping mommy*
Our booth; right, the desserts team (from left) Tweety, May Pepito from Cebu, Mildred Liniger from Palawan*

The Food Festival was on September 25, and the week leading up to it was full of baking and preparing. I made cheesy ensaymada, ube and plain pandesal, and chocolate crinkles. I reminded myself not to make my life TOO complicated and try to sell too many different kinds of goodies.

On the day itself, I manned our booth as cashier. I was selling goodies with 3 other Filipinas. In addition to my baked treats, we sold ube halaya, mango float, cassava suman, buko pie, siopao, emapandas, atchara and garlic chili oil. I was happy to have sold out early afternoon, but only because I didn’t bake too much.

I also prepared business cards and my list of goodies that I sell under Yellow Bowl Eats to give out. I met quite a lot of nice Filipinos, and I hope some of them will order from me.

It was fun. This was the most Filipinos I’ve seen gathered in one place in a while, and the organizers had prepared a full program, including dance presentations of the Tinikling and Pandango sa Ilaw.

During the day, I realized that autumn was really upon us. Summer is over.

And when the wind gets chillier, what I like to make is a nice bowl of comforting soup. Not only does it warm our stomachs, we get a big dose of vegetables in as well.

Creamy (Mainly) Carrot Soup

100 g bacon

1 tbsp butter

1 large or 2 small onions, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

500 g carrots, chopped

500 g mixed vegetables*

1 – 1.25 liters vegetable or chicken stock

120 ml/ ½ cup cream

180 ml/ ¾ cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

*I like to see what I have in my freezer and fridge that I need to cook. For this batch of soup, I added frozen cauliflower, carrots, leeks and peas and some leftover roasted squash.

1. In a large pot, place the bacon and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is golden brown and crispy. Remove the bacon, set on kitchen towels to drain then chop.

2. Add butter to the hot pot, and sauté the chopped onion and garlic. When lightly browned and fragrant, add the vegetables. Lower the heat, cover and let the vegetables steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure your heat is low enough that the vegetables do not get burned.

3. Once the vegetables are slightly tender, add in the stock, just enough to cover the vegetables.  Increase the heat to medium, cover and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the carrots (or the hardest vegetable you used) are very soft.

4. Once the vegetables are tender, puree with a stick blender, or do in batches in a blender, being very careful not to burn yourself!

5. Add the cream and milk and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. 6. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with swirls of cream and top with bacon. Serve with bread, or croutons.*

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