Pumpkin Tom Yum and releasing fear

Pumpkin Tom Yum
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Seated on a cushion on the floor, my jeans too rigid to allow me to cross my legs, I lit my candle and called myself into the room. With my gaze low I took in the petals placed with reverence for the space on the bare wooden floor. A free flowing pink mandala. And all the women circled around it.
My breathing was shallow. My heart a bass drum. My face ready to crack. Emotion swirled around us. Brushed each of our cheeks. Touched each of our shoulders. Squeezed each of our hands. You are safe here. You belong. These are your people. This connection is real.
We listened. We sniffed. Tears silently fell. It was extraordinary. It was powerful. It was palpable. The love. And respect. And care. The honour and space we held for each other. As we paid attention to the answers to the question posed. When you leave here, what do you want to leave behind?
Here was Crescent Head. A girl’s weekend to celebrate one of the finest humans I know see in her fortieth year in style. With surfing and cocktails and dressing up and roller skates and skinny dips. The days were jam packed from dawn until well beyond dusk.
It’s brave to give a voice to your thoughts. To speak aloud your most private beliefs. It takes courage. A willingness to free fall, vulnerable and open into the arms of others. Hoping that they will catch you.
In the circle, I couldn’t share. For some reason I felt exposed all weekend long. Raw. Unravelled. I created a menu for two dinners for 30 people. Dishes I’d never cooked before. But ones I thought would would bring joy, connection and fun to mealtimes. And a cake to celebrate the Canadian lady of the moment, complete with maple buttercream. With me, what you see is what you get. Yet you might not guess the amount of thought that goes into everything. The care. And probably two months of planning. It’s partly my undoing. But it’s also where I soar. Teetering on the brink. Ok if I fall, but knowing that I can probably make it. What did I want to leave behind? The voice in my head. The constant negative self talk. The saddest story I know. And I don’t know how to do that. To leave it behind. It’s why I do hard things. Why I set myself challenges. To keep moving forward, despite the whisper that tells me I’m not worth it.
I may not have left that voice behind, but through writing I am always more able to share my feelings. With the aim of touching others. Making the ugly beautiful. Making it common. And that circle of women is everything. They are the support. The glue. The voice of reason. They’re also the challenge. The inspiration. And the awe.
“How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you, a place for you to go to be with your mother, with your sisters, and the aunts, with your grandmothers, and the great and the great great grandmothers, a place of women to go, to be, to return to, as women? How might your life have been different?” Circles of stones Judith Duerk
This story was written for my monthly newsletter over at Chef by the Sea. But it didn’t feel right to share it there. So I wrote another newsletter. Something in me wanted to share this version though, so I read it aloud at a circle to celebrate the Winter solstice. Then I scrunched the sheet of paper up and threw it in the fire. Watched it burn. Set it free. And shared this delicious pumpkin tom yum with my friends. An embrace for your soul in a mug.

Pumpkin tom yum with sesame soy nuts

Pumpkin tom yum
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 leek, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Bunch coriander roots, chopped
Thumb ginger, chopped
Finger turmeric, chopped (optional)
1-2 red chillies, chopped
1 butternut pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 litre chicken stock (or water)
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 cans coconut cream
2-4 tablespoons fish sauce
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar
2-3 lime, juices

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot and add the sliced leek. Pop the lid on the
pot and sweat over a low heat until the leek is starting to caramelise and
brown on the bottom of the pot.
Add the garlic, coriander roots, ginger and chilli (and optional turmeric) and
stir well until the aromatics are fragrant.
Add the pumpkin, chicken stock (or water) and coconut cream, bring to the
boil, then simmer gently until the pumpkin is soft.
Remove the kaffir lime leaves and using a stick or counter top blender, whizz
the soup until it’s silky smooth.
Add the fish sauce, brown sugar and lime juice, whizz again and taste. The
soup should be spicy, but also sweet, salty and sour. Add additional
seasoning as required and enjoy.

Sesame soy nuts
20g cashews
20g pepitas
20g peanuts
20g sesame seeds
Soy sauce
Sesame oil

Mix the nuts in a bowl then add a tablespoon of soy sauce and half a
teaspoon of sesame oil. Coat the nuts in the liquid then spread over a baking
tray in a single layer. Bake at 150o for around 15-20 minutes until nuts are dry
and crisp.

If you liked this recipe you might also like Tuscan kale bean soup