Monday, July 19, 2010

My 12-Step Recovery Program, And Pumpkin Tortilla Soup With Scallion Cornbread.

Things to do when you have a rampant case of unemployment:

1.) Stay in bed with the covers over your head. Brood. Feel like crap and let everyone know it, especially your significant other. Let yourself get stinky, shed any and all sex appeal and see how long you can stand it. (Or how long your significant other can stand it.)

2.) Talk to your animals, they have big eyes and sweet faces and if you give them cookies, they will stick around to listen. Make them understand in great detail how crummy and jobless you feel. They may be supportive. Or, cookies now eaten, they may roll over and pretend to die of boredom, hoping you'll stop talking about yourself.

3.) Resist the urge to eat large amounts of inappropriate foodstuffs to the point of personal injury. It will not make you feel better.

4.) Get some fresh air. Even if it means going out onto the deck in your pajamas with a large cocktail and a good book. Even if it means pretending to read so you can drink and listen to your neighbours' conversations without feeling like a complete wiener.

5.) When you are feeling a little bit better, or a little bit drunk, whichever comes first, find a recipe and make something good for dinner. Like Tortilla Soup with Scallion Cornbread muffins. Get to work. Slice up some tortillas;

6.) Open up some tins of colourful things and be cheered - a little bit, not too much. You don't want to rush happiness.

7.) Chop up a bunch of onions, scallions and cilantro and accidentally benefit from some aromatherapy. It's like springtime in a bowl. Start cooking them down and adding the broth and getting the soup going.

8.) Time to start the scallion cornbread. Waste about 10 minutes photographing the scallions because the light is hitting them 'just so' and it makes you feel arty.

9.) Measure out your ingredients, like the cornmeal. Get a batter together and pop those muffins in the oven.

10.) While the muffins are baking, if you have the desire to make some guacamole, don't fight it. Add some tomatoes, lime juice and zest, red pepper flakes, cilantro, whatever you want in there. It will make those muffins sing.

11.) The soup should now be ready. Pour yourself a big, warm bowl and take one of the hot muffins and slather it with the guacamole. Find a seat, maybe at your large kitchen table. Turn on some music, put away the computer, books, the gazillion to-do lists you make for yourself and sit still. Taste your food. Shut up about the joblessness. Stop 'managing' your feelings. Just sit still and eat and be okay with where you are in life, even though it's nowhere near where you'd like to be.

12.) And finally, if all else fails, make sure you spend some time with someone who makes you laugh. It will fix what's broken, even if only for a moment.

Scallion Cornbread Muffins, from Everyday Food Magazine, with additions from me:

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (my add-in)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (my add-in)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk
2 tbsp oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup corn, canned or fresh or frozen (my add-in)


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. (I only heated mine to 350) Lightly grease 6 cups of a regular sized muffin pan with vegetable oil or butter. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, smoke paprika and red pepper flakes. Make a well in the center.

2. Stir in the buttermilk, oil, egg, scallions and corn till well combined. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full (I made mine completely full and had one less muffin. ) Bake till tester knife comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven.

Pumpkin Tortilla Soup, adapted from The Kitchn:

3 small corn tortillas, sliced and cut into smallish squares
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion
2 garlic cloves (I didn't use these)
2 large scallions, finely chopped (my add-in)
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (to your taste, really)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup corn, canned or frozen
1/2 - 1 cup medium-spicy salsa, like Herdez (my add-in)
5 cups unsalted vegetable stock (I only used 3 cups - it seemed to make a LARGE amount of soup)
1/2 tsp salt


1. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepan or soup pot. Add onions, garlic, scallions, cilantro, chopped tortillas and cook, stirring frequently until onion is cooked.

2. Add the cumin and cayenne and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the chipotle pepper in sauce, the pumpkin, diced tomatoes, corn, salsa and the veg stock. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Let stand for a few minutes and serve hot, with tortilla chips and cilantro for garnish.


  1. You are so funny and I just had to read this twice over (once out loud) with Hubs. I love it and I love yoo! xo mrsbs

  2. Noodle! If I can manage to be even a little bit funny while in my jobless haze, I know I'm going to be okay! Love you too.

    Bossy Chef, thanks for noticing!

  3. oh my, yummy-looking corn bread!! and i never thought to try pumpkin with a tortilla soup! do you think it'll work with butternut squash?

  4. Hang in there! I went through a bout of joblessness and it was I think even less fun for the people around me than it was for me. Something will come along when you least expect it. And remember you're doing something worthwhile and wonderful with your blog!

  5. Leslie, I like the way you think; I think butternut squash, maybe roasted if you can bear to turn on the oven in this heat, would be fantastic in this!

    Anonymous, thank you for the supportive words; it is indeed a struggle to feel delightful right now, but you're right, something will come along eventually! You're very kind.

  6. I wish I could pay you for this post, but it's priceless.

  7. Everything WIL be ok. Good things happen to good people! xo

  8. JRA, I wish you could pay me too, but compliments like yours are far better than cash.

    Melissa, all I can say is thank heavens for friends like you.

  9. hopefully you won't hold my bad spelling against me and the feeling is mutual!