There was a time not very long ago when children wanted nothing to do with me. Babies squirmed in my stiff cradle. Toddlers nervously clung to their parents' knees. Truth be told, I didn’t want much to do with them either. Their smallness made me nervous and their neediness was an embarrassing reminder of how un-adult I am.
Mostly, though, I didn’t think about them much. Living in New York, I very rarely even saw one up close. If we were confronted with one another, we would simply blink at each other disinterestedly. It was as though they knew I could neither provide them with the companionship of another child nor the material wellbeing of an adult.
I occasionally wondered back then if I would ever be in a place where I could see myself having one of them. The idea was as abstract as wondering if I would ever be five inches taller or a millionaire. A fuzzy, far-off fantasy with little basis in my actual life.
Then, almost overnight, something happened. I looked at kids not as irritants on airplanes -- though bless their hearts, they certainly are -- but as miniature people. As soon as this transformation was complete, they began to notice me as well.
Children all over the world started to make beelines toward me, toddling across restaurant floors, their little fists outstretched, clenching and unclenching wildly in my direction. “Want want want,” their primitive gestures said.
At first this was a surprise and I was flattered by their small, unbiased attention. Now it has entered my conscious and I am acutely aware that I want kids. I do. A kid at least, and it terrifies me that I might miss my window.
But I still feel like I need to grow up a bit more. Cooking things like soup makes me feel very grown up indeed. Even if you have no desire to procreate, or you have a brood of young ones (though watch out for the mustard seeds) or you're waiting like me, you can partake in creamy vegetable deliciousness.
Early Winter (of my Biological Clock) Curried Vegetable Soup with Toasted Mustard Seeds.
2 Leeks (light parts) sliced
1 or 2 parsnips, chopped
3 cloves garlic
chunk of butter
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
In butter or olive oil (butter is nicer), fry garlic. Add leeks, parsnip, carrot or other winter vegetables and fry on low-ish heat for a while. In deep, soup-sized pan, warm up vegetable stock, add fried vegetable medley and potatoes, salt, pepper and curry powder. Simmer for one episode of Once Upon a Time or two Colbert Reports. Add coconut milk and pulpify with hand blender, simmer.
Now for the toasted mustard seed topping: Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and throw in some mustard seeds. Fry until they pop, and trust me, you will know when they pop. Achtung baby: If you don't cover the pan you will have mustard seed-sized burns all over your upper body.
Pour seeds and a drizzle of oil into the soup pan or on top of served up bowls. Enjoy while contemplating your eventual death. Ha! Kidding. Kind of.