Soups are like smoothies on steroids — more interesting, cooling or warming, super nutritious or totally indulgent.
Every day since the pandemic began, each night is a culinary adventure. (More of Khashayar’s recipes here and here and here and here and here and here.)
Recently he made a massive pot of this — yum!!!!
Butternut Squash and Cod Soup by Khashayar Parsi
1 small butternut squash
1 medium onion
4 Tbs coconut oil
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground saffron
1 Tbs of white sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground chili pepper
1 quart almond milk
1 quart water
1 cup Chardonnay wine
¾ cup of white rice
16 oz cod filet (or similar)
Split the Squash lengthwise and bake the halves in a 400∞F oven for about 45 minutes or until they are softened but not browned. Let them cool just enough that you can handle them. Spoon out the seeds and peel them. Cut the butternut squash into smaller chunks and set aside.
Chop the onion and sauté in coconut oil for about 7 to 8 minutes on medium heat until lightly golden. You can use a large pot so that you can finish the soup in the same pot. Add butternut squash, butter, and all the spices. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add rice, almond milk, and water. Bring to boil on high heat, and then let simmer on low for half an hour. Stir the pot a few times to avoid any burns. Add cod and wine and cook for another 10 minutes.
Puree the soup, adjust the seasoning, and serve in a bowl.
Oven roast 4 cloves of garlic with skin. Peal and mix with 1 Tbs of minced ginger. Add them to ½ cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/8 cup of soy sauce, and 1 Tbs of brown sugar, and cook in a saucepan on medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of molasses.
Drizzle over the soup and add some green peas. Don’t stir in the garnish; that way, there’s an extra burst of delightful flavor and texture in each bite!
What’s your most satisfying food for this season?
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For some of us who prefer people to keep a generous distance, which may or may not include fellow novelists, I imagine this whole sheltering-in-place aspect of COVID-19 — the 6’ apart as well as the masks, the zoom meetings — maybe it’s easier for you? Of course, some of us are genuinely fortunate; my dear ones are well, including dear little K-D-doggie who takes quite seriously her officially unofficial job as furry emotional support.
Social or not though, who among us isn’t at least somewhat phased that our world is turned upside down? As I said, I’m doing well.
Those zoom meeting backgrounds, however, are starting to creep me out for how they squiggle the outlines of otherwise human-appearing folks. Speaking of human likenesses, in the way that some fear red-nosed clowns, these days I can barely handle the increasingly detailed emoji avatars (though apparently they’re invaluable to virtual teaching and after the video at this site, and also at this site, I’m rethinking them, plus did you know that they’re total cash cows?). Add in the photo filters that give people preternaturally big eyes, bunny noses and ears… What do you think of them?
Here’s another question: moments — do you, like me, find that life is basically great (barring doomsday thoughts about politics) — and then bang! Uneasiness slithers into everything, and I don’t mean the cute Halloween “boo!” type.
Meet Caz, a London blogger with kindness so immense that she converts her experience into wisdom to heal us. She’s learned a lot, now and when she worked in mental health. Here she shares about anxiety and how we can calm it…
As someone who’s experienced severe panic attacks, I understand just how frightening and debilitating they are. I never want to experience another one and if this is you too, let’s look at how to prevent them. First tho’, in order to overcome panic attacks, you’ll need to understand what they are.
What is a panic attack or panic disorder?
We’ve all had feelings of anxiety – it’s our body’s natural response to stress, and it’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. For example, you may feel anxious about a job interview. During times like this, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal but some people find it harder to control their anxieties. The most severe form of anxiety can trigger panic attacks.
We have panic attacks and panic disorder; one episode is a panic attack, which might occur following the death of someone close or another stressful situation. Panic disorder is when you experience regular and subsequent attacks. It’s a common yet very misunderstood illness and lots of people with this disorder won’t ever seek help due to fear and stigma.
The attacks can occur often and at any time, seemingly for no apparent reason. It feels like a sudden, unexpected rush of intense fear and anxiety along with a flood of frightening thoughts and physical sensations – so, panic attacks are not merely psychological.
What you should know about panic disorder
Many of the symptoms of panic attack are similar to some physical illnesses i.e. heart attack or over-active thyroid.
It’s a chronic condition and can lead to changes in behaviour like avoiding situations or events.
People dread the onset of another attack, and the fear of having one is just as debilitating as the attacks themselves.
Panic disorder knows no boundaries as it affects people of all socio-economic groups and races. It’s more common in women than men. It can also affect children and the elderly.
Although the exact causes are unclear, panic disorders can run in families.
While many attacks are be triggered by stressful life events, they can also occur ‘out of the blue’.
Be aware – anti-malaria medication, cold and flu medications, appetite suppressants and even too much caffeine can trigger panic attacks in some people.
If you experience panic attacks, you might then begin to avoid events or situations because you’re afraid of another attack. However, avoidance can create a cycle of living in “fear of the fear”, which adds to your sense of panic. This can cause you to have more panic attacks, leading to diagnosis of panic disorder
What are the symptoms of Panic?
If we encounter a situation that threatens our safety, we’ll experience a series of reactions known as the ‘fight or flight’ response – triggered by the release of chemicals that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to flee to safety.
During a panic attack, we’ll experience similar symptoms, even when there’s no real threat involved. A panic attack might happen in response to situations that others find harmless. Symptoms include physical and physiological symptoms:
Racing heartbeat, palpitations
Dizziness, light-headedness, or nausea
Difficulty breathing, like you can’t get enough air
Dry mouth and unable to swallow – if you do need fluids, just take smalls sips to avoid choking
Sweating and hot flushes or sudden chills
Sudden need to go to the toilet, the body needs to lighten to fight or flee
Numbness or tingling sensations, initially in your fingers and toes
Your face, feet and hands might go white (as with the tingling, this is the blood leaving your extremities to rush to where it’s needed most i.e. heart and muscles)
Chest pains – you might think you’re having a heart attack – one way to tell is – if your fingers and toes are tingling, you’re more likely to be having a panic attack. However, if you’re afraid always dial 999 to check
You might experience negative thoughts
I’m so embarrassed, everyone can see me panicking
“I feel like I’m dying” or “I’m dying”, or “I’m having a heart attack.”
I can’t cope with this!
and feelings of:
You’re going mad or crazy.
Being out of physical or emotional control.
Unreality/detachment from yourself or your surroundings.
Heightened sound and visual awareness, and hypervigilance (for flight or flee you need to hear and see clearly and be vigilant).
A panic attack generally lasts between 4 – 20 minutes, although it often feels a lot longer. However, they have been known to last an hour. I had them one after another, and all night for around three months and it felt like torture.
What to do if you’re having a panic attack
Breathe as slowly and deeply as possible, exhaling firstly through your mouth – slowly for a count of 8-10 seconds, then in through your nose slowly and so on.
Recognise that this is a panic attack and tell yourself that it will pass, because it will.
Try to get to a quiet space and sit down if necessary and continue with the breathing.
If you’re at work or outside, ask for help, I know this might feel a little embarrassing, but do ask if you need to.
Count backwards slowly from 100 or
Look around for 5 things that you can see and name them out loud i.e. “I can see a truck,” etc. You can go onto things you can hear, smell, taste, or touch in the same way – until the panic subsides. This technique will help you stay in the present and grounded by using your five senses.
Use muscle relaxation techniques – try slumping your shoulders, letting them drop down from your ears, give your jaw a little wiggle then let it relax, uncross your legs, unclench your fists and lay the palms of your hands lightly on your thighs (remind yourself that your body cannot be relaxed and tense at the same time).
Put a few drops of lavender (known to ease anxiety) on a tissue, exhale then breathe it in slowly.
Dial 999 if the symptoms continue or get worse.
What to do if someone else is having a panic attack
Ask the person if they’ve had a panic attack before, and what they think might help them or has helped them in the past.
Encourage them (or tell them quite firmly if they’re confused and unable to follow directions) to breathe (as above). Do this with them if necessary, as often they think they can’t breathe and won’t be able to do this alone.
Follow the above steps and call 999 if necessary.
Self-help to combat panic attacks
Listen (regularly) to free mental wellbeing audio guides online.
Search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps.
Learn other skills like visualisation to help you relax and practice them often.
Notice when your body is tense i.e. when your shoulders are up round your ears or your fists are clenched and let them relax. When your body is constantly tensed up, it’s effectively telling your brain you’re on alert, tensed and ready to fight or flee.
Ask your close friends or family members to support you by gently pointing out when you’re all hunched up and tense. Even better, perhaps they’ll give you a light head massage, or lightly rub your arms and hands in a soothing way.
Practice the breathing exercises often so that you’ll be able to use them easily when needed.
Try mixing lavender oil with other aromatherapy oils like geranium to produce your own stress reliever.
I can’t stress enough the need to practice the coping techniques. You know you wouldn’t be able to drive say on a motorway after having just one lesson. It takes practice!
Treatment for Panic attacks
Treatment aims to reduce the number of panic attacks you have and ease your symptoms.
Psychological (talking) therapies and medicine are the main treatments for panic disorder
Depending on your symptoms, you may need either of these treatments, or a combination of both
When to get help
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help. Or talk to someone close.
See a GP if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder. Regardless of how long you’ve had the symptoms, if panic attacks are interfering with your life, work, or relationships you should seek professional help.
Although panic disorder is a medical condition in its own right, there can sometimes be a physical reason for your symptoms – and treating it can bring the anxious feelings to an end. See your GP to rule out any other causes and don’t self-diagnose.
Over to you
The above lists are not exhaustive, and you may other tips for readers which you can leave in the comment section. Please feel free to make any other comments and ask any questions.
Dear readers, I hope you’re well and happy — share your tips in the comments — whining whiners (and wine?) welcome too!
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What’s a novelist, writer, creative, any kind of person, to do amid COVID-19? Preface: I know I’m super lucky that to date, and fingers crossed that it stays that way, my circle has been relatively unscathed by any coronavirus. That said, I invite you to join me in whining…
There’s only so much writing and reading I can do during this pandemic sheltering-in-place without feeling stir-crazy… lonely… and just plain hot. We’re into the dog days, the part of summer when there’s no evading stickiness and the persistent “fragrance” of each other……
These days, masking up, talking to people from afar through the muffling, and daring the germs feels like endeavoring a safari, albeit not a blood-letting one. (Dear reader, my condolences if you’re plagued by maskne.)
Nevertheless, we decided to make a foray — to the shore — dog beach, to be exact. Mid-week and mid-morning, we calculated, would be sparse. Once we got there, no lifeguards shooed us away, so the three of us were tight.
Masks on… it was time for our dear little K-D doggie to learn to swim!
After all, my lovely girl has water-loving labrador-ish-ness twined into her DNA. Unfortunately, her older lab-ish sibs taught her to be suspicious of water. The sorely missed Lola and Pierre would tremble through warm showers. Their hearts, nonetheless, were huge, their love of their hu-Man great. That water-fearing duo steeled themselves to wade into a shallow lake when they thought their hu-Man was drowning, never suspecting that he was play-acting.
K-D is defined by two loves: playing and eating, in that order.
Joy! She found something to play with; a stick.
With gentle persistence, my dear Khashayar enticed her deeper.
It took time for play-mode to kick in — that plus her aversion to getting left behind by her fave hu-Man.
At some point, she set down her toy to pursue other activities — but when another critter showed interest in it, she told ’em off. Three sessions of that, and she’d had enough. Dang it, she was going to play with it with her hu-Man… maybe…
Khashayar had confidence enough for both of them!…
… and Khashayar has patience…
O-m-g!!! We should’ve brought a surfboard for her to hang ten!
Patience and love work well in all situations, no?
Turn up your speakers and sit back for a cooling video of one of her many subsequent swims that day. Bliss out to wet ears flapping against a happy dog’s face, one who’s fresh from a doggie paddle frolic and free of the day’s worries…
Hurray! Sam Sachs’ 105 birthday, which I first posted about here, was a massive success in every way. His birthday last Sunday, was a bit different due to COVID19 (here and here and here and here and here and here are some posts that might cheer you through this crisis). As of that morning, according to the Long Beach Post News, the retired high school teacher and celebrated WWII vet received over 6,200 birthday cards from all over the United States and probably other countries too.
Seventy-six years ago, in nothing but a glider, a.k.a. a “flying coffin,” pulled by an airplane, he landed with other soldiers behind German lines to help liberate a Nazi internment camp! For his bravery, Sachs was recently inducted into the French Legion of Honor.
The mayor of where Sachs was born, Grand Forks, North Dakota, proclaimed Sunday in his honor. U.S. President Donald Trump sent a dozen Army National Guard members with a laudatory letter, a photo, and a framed flag.
News coverage came from all over the place, in addition to my own posts and shares. There were so many greetings from Southern California-area politicians, among them Lakewood’s Mayor Todd Rogers. Here’s a full account by Lakewood’s news…
Over the days preceding Sachs’ special day, fancy decorated vehicles, old and new, private and public, paraded past and over his house. That included low riders, collectors, a Los Angeles County fire truck, sheriff’s cars, and a sheriff’s helicopter.
Sachs promises he’ll do his best to be around for us to help him celebrate his 106!
On the day of his birthday, Sachs thanked one and all amid a front-yard filled with hundreds of donated American mini-flags.
When’s the last time you mailed kind thoughts to someone? Do it right now to do a good deed, plus support the United States Postal Service. Out of stamps? Set out an envelope marked “U.S. Postmaster” for your carrier (neither postage on it nor a handling fee required) with your check inside with instructions regarding your order — or order online. President Trump wants to do away with the USPS, yet without it we’ll be at the mercy of private companies setting rates and deciding whether small towns and hard to reach places are profitable enough to service…
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