I enjoyed the Packer game on Sunday, despite the nasty cold I had caught. It was peaceful to watch the snow come down on the TV screen as they played. Back in Wisconsin, I always enjoyed that first snow of the season, watching it from ‘the inside of the picture window,’ as my dad used to say. It was the subsequent storms that got on my nerves. But on Sunday, now living in Hawai‘i, I could just sit behind my stuffed up nose and watch.
Of course the best way to get rid of a cold is to enjoy it while it rides itself out through your system. I enjoy taking care of myself – even pampering myself snuggling with pillows and afghans in the living room, taking plenty of guiltless naps, and drinking lots of tasty liquids. This requires a first rate sniffle soup; you know, the kind of soup that gets your sinuses running. The more a soup makes you sniffle, the better it is. My Grandma’s chicken soup with potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and cabbage used to be my gold standard, but I will have to change my standard to a new soup I made for lunch.
That late Sunday morning, I could not find a way to nap that didn’t exacerbate my inability to breathe or that didn’t push on my achy muscles. I was toast when I went to bed and I was toast when I got up. Then I remembered a wonderful lemongrass soup I had at the Lotus Café last week, and I was inspired to recreate it. I searched on-line for a recipe that duplicated the list of ingredients as best I could remember it.
I finally found one that called for lemongrass and I was delighted to be able to harvest it from my own east garden. I always have organic chicken stock, canned diced tomatoes, diced garlic (the industrial size jar – we put garlic in everything), and fresh onions, celery, carrots, and cabbage on hand. The only things I had to improvise were fresh ginger (ground will do in a pinch), fish sauce (I used soy and Tamari sauce instead), and fresh jalapeños (ground red pepper).
Even the process of making the soup was healing: chop, chop, chop went the rhythmic sound of blade against veggies, creating a sound meditation that took me inward even as I cooked. The soup turned out perfect, and it had a sniffle factor that went through the roof. I could breathe again! Ahh. And I got very close to the taste of the soup I had at the Café, though they only use fresh ingredients. Of course my taste buds could be way off.
It’s an interesting little restaurant, once you get past the fact that it is located in an industrial park. Costco is across the street. Actually, much of the Big Island shopping and some dining is located in these large corrugated building concentrations euphemistically called industrial “parks.” It’s not unusual to see upholstery shops next to auto transmission shops next to bamboo and teak furniture places. It’s a bit off-putting until you get used to it. The advantage is that when the restaurant doesn’t have location, location, location, you sometimes get the food cheap, cheap, cheap – well, as cheap as anything gets in Hawai’i.
Last week I had gone to Kona for my usual hypnosis class with Marga. Since I got into town early, I decided to eat lunch. The Lotus Café serves delicious, healthy food, and I love their non-dairy gelato and smoothies. (Yes, even a Cheesehead can be won over to non-dairy products that taste great!) But the owners, a husband and wife team, have also started communicating their philosophy and processes in a richer way since I was last here. For example, I knew they served locally grown food, but I didn’t know that much of it was from their own organic farm.
I ordered a mango smoothie and the soup. While I waited, I perused the menu. Wow, they had dishes that were labeled Thailand, Bali, Burma, Sumatra, Java, Singapore, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The owner-wife is the chef, and has 35 years of cooking experience with northern Thai and other regional foods. They weren’t kidding when they described their food as Pan-Asian. I have to go back and start methodically going through the menu.
The second thing I noticed was how they laid out clear differences between themselves and their competition. They’ve hit every progressive person’s heart-felt hot topics: locally grown, vegan and vegetarian choices, GMO-free, energy efficient, solar powered, fresh ingredients. Even my sister could eat here – it’s all gluten-free. They have highlighted every step they’ve taken that could be considered a good thing.
For example, the sun streams in through coated windows to reduce the solar load, yet the interior is somewhat subdued – it has atmosphere. They use low wattage fixtures close to the tables to increase light where you want it – on the food. Their menu points this out as a positive step they have taken for the environment – reduced energy use. Makes sense to me.
While eating my homemade Café-like soup, I decided to write to the owners of the Lotus Café to suggest that they add health, even medicinal claims to their list of benefits. Surely someone out there has done a Doctoral Dissertation on the health benefits of a high sniffle factor for soup. Surely fresh spices that are hand ground and custom blended must be healthy for you, besides being very tasty.
When I got to their website, I found that they had already thought of it: “our cooking techniques maximize the flavor and nutritional / medicinal benefits of the fresh herbs and spices we use.”
Yes, I’m breathing deep and relaxing into this cold. I don’t think of it as having no energy to do anything. Instead I bless the quiet and use this time to meditate – little physical energy required and lots of spiritual energy gained. Ahh.
PS. June 2017. Dianne and I went to the Lotus Cafe last week, and sadly, we found it closed; completely empty. But I still have and make my recipe, so they are not forgotten.
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