Top Tips for the 2nd Week of December

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A Note From Natalie

Even Byron struggled to squeeze life into his schedule. Imagine if Byron had email: would he ever have written at all?

This is a question I think about as time seems to slip through my fingers daily without huge manuscripts or accomplishments to show for it.

What are we really doing with our time? It seems there’s a leak somewhere…

And more importantly – if we’re not enjoying ourselves, can we start plugging some of the leaks and getting our time back?

This week, I’ve only got one tip to help capture the season’s magic… but it’s a big one.

Step away from the Screen…

This is not an olde-worlde versus modern age complaint. Or a yearning for past times. This is simply about quality of life and being conscious of what we allow and what we would rather choose.

Writer David Foster Wallace articulated concerns years ago that the more sophisticated and available entertainment becomes, the more it leeches away our drive to live outside that comfortable zone around the screen.

Why live at all when it’s so easy to watch?

 

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Photo Ray Hennessy

Personally, I find that the days I spend away from screens are the days that seem the longest. The hours don’t trickle away in a spiral of clicking and flitting, thinking I’m multitasking but producing nothing of any value in the end.

On those screenless days I’m surprised by how much slower time seems to pass. I feel freer. I feel less tension and less anxiety. This has come with practice – and all I’m practicing is living life instead of checking for updates.

The problem extends beyond the beautifully packaged entertainment and into the larger world. The demands on our attention are empty: they don’t give us anything of substance in return. So when empty stuff is making up the larger content of our lives… what are our lives actually about?

This isn’t so much an issue of screens and technology anymore. it’s an issue of whether we give all our time to tasks and other people’s demands and to nothing that feeds or nourishes what Byron calls our ‘un-vegetable’ parts – or whether we opt for more and we fill ourselves up with real living.

Whatever sets off a spark in you… do more of that!

So, as the artists speak to each other across the oceans of time, agreeing that the stuff of the life of an organism can get unnecessarily complicated – let’s agree that in the middle of December we’ll just check in and make sure we’re experiencing life, for more than ‘the summer of a dormouse’.

 

Parsnip, sage & white bean soup
Jamie Oliver

Important: Debbie is selecting recipes with combinations of ingredients to inspire your cooking regimes, but while they are healthier choices in general, they will not address individual issues. You MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medications, allergies and goals.

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Organic Ingredients

SOUP

  • 1 onion
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1 x 420 g tin of cannellini beans
  • 1 sprig of fresh sage
  • olive oil
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 organic litre chicken stock

CRISPY PARSNIPS

  • 1 parsnip
  • 2 sprigs of fresh sage

Method

  1. For the soup, peel and roughly chop the onion and parsnips. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans, then pick and roughly chop the sage.
  2. Heat 50ml of oil in a pan over a medium heat, then cook the onion and parsnips for 10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
  3. Add the bay leaf, beans, sage and stock, season and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. For the crispy parsnips, preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas 6.
  5. Peel and very thinly slice the parsnip, and pick the sage leaves.
  6. Brush the parsnip slices and sage leaves with oil, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, checking often, or until crispy.
  7. Remove and discard the bay leaf from the soup, then blitz it with a stick blender until smooth, adding extra stock or water if it’s too thick.
  8. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then serve piping hot with a drizzle of olive oil and the parsnip crisps on top.

 

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