Sometimes, when I seem to have more things to do than time to do them, I remind myself that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. We all have a certain amount of conscious choice about what we do with those hours.
Last weekend, I took my car to the dealership where I bought it to be checked over. (It’s included in the sales contract, so it’s silly not to, right?) The appointment was made online for 8:45 Saturday morning. The dealership where the work would be done is across town. I was thinking about getting there before the thundering herd of others who, like me, work on the weekdays, so an early time seemed right. I got there just before several cars rolled up to the service doors bent on the same errand as I was.
I had elected to wait while my car was serviced. The dealership has a very comfortable waiting area with an array of snacks, a coffee machine that does everything but whistle Dixie, and chairs and tables of varying heights to suit just about everyone. There’s also a large flat-screen TV.
My plan (yes, I actually had a plan) was to get there early, let the mechanics start going over the car, get a Mocha “on the house” and do some writing. It went just like I’d planned, which is unusual in and of itself. I had a quiet hour and a half during which I actually wrote. I also planned the rest of the weekend, committed it to paper, and had an idea where I was going next by the time the nice young man who took charge of my car came to find me with a detailed estimate of all the things the mechanics wish they could do to it.
By a little after 10 on Saturday morning, I had my weekend sketched out in black and white. Writing my schedule where I can see it — or telling someone — makes me accountable to myself. It’s akin to exercising with a trainer or walking with a friend. If you make plans to be there, even if you’d rather roll over for 45 more minutes sleep, you somehow get up and get organized enough to get out the door.
It just makes sense to make the most of the free time I have to get things done. If I didn’t make lists I’d be flat out of luck. There’s something empowering about pushing yourself and putting a bright yellow line through all those “to-do’s” one by one.
On my list for this weekend is choosing recipes and cooking ahead. Even with the sticky hot weather we’ve been having, I’m in a soup mood. It has to be something that can be served cold or room temperature. This is one I found a couple of years ago on Epicurious. I changed it around just a little. It’s a keeper — beautiful, quick and delicious.
COLD PEA SOUP
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (more to taste)
2 (16 ounce) bags frozen sweet peas (6 cups)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup herbed olive oil (recipe follows)
Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 cups water, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender — about 2 minutes.
Remove pot from heat and stir in yogurt. Puree soup in a blender or in the pot using an immersion blender, thinning with water if soup is too thick, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a resealable container, cover, and chill at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Divide soup among bowls and top each with a swirl of herbed olive oil.
HERBED OLIVE OIL
3 cups packed fresh parsley leaves (about 1 bunch)
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves (about 2/3 bunch)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
1 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 /2 teaspoon sea salt
Pulse parsley, mint and lemon zest in a food processor or blender until coarsely chopped. Add oil and salt and pulse again until well combined.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at email@example.com.