The mental temper tantrum

Do you ever have one of those days when all you want to do is scream? Loudly?? I had one the other day. It started out ok, but as the hours passed, the feeling started to build more and more. I know you’ve been there too. You can blame it on current situation (or lack thereof), the cocktail of hormones coursing through veins, or just a major case of the crankies, but whatever the cause it’s there and has to be addressed. For me the release was screaming. I mean real screaming. Not cursing someone out or wailing “why Why WHY”, but shrieking like a freaking banshee. You may wonder why I wasn’t arrested or at the very least wrapped in one of those elegant jackets with the long sleeves that tie in the back. Well, despite the foulness of my mood I knew that if I were to let loose with ear-splitting wails, something unpleasant was bound to happen. So I screamed in my head. Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine was stuck on a subway train on her way to be best man at her lesbian friend’s wedding? There she was all staid and tranquil, with this unearthly wailing going on in her head. That was me the other day. Pitching a cerebral fit while riding the subway, buying a coffee from the cute waffle cart guy, and walking leisurely through the park, smiling at duckies, babies and puppies. No clue was leaked to those I passed by that this serene, smiling woman was a screaming maniac between her ears. By the time I got home I started feeling a little better. Other than a hoarse mental voice and slight tightness in my jaw (tightening jaw is helpful in preventing the fury in from escaping), I had successfully thrown a mental temper tantrum straightjacket and fuss free. And I didn’t have to spend the next day emailing apologies.

There are a few key things to remember when throwing the mental temper tantrum. The first is it must be mental, since the point is to keep it in while getting it out. Screeching shouldn’t escape from that space just above your forehead. Now this isn’t easy, so for the novices out there it’s best to take baby steps before you work yourself up to full-on banshee. Start with a small mental burst and when you feel comfortable, expand it a little. If something escapes, pretend it was a sneeze. Jaw exercises are helpful here. Remember, stretching is essential. So is smiling, although keep it at a grin to lessen the chance for sound seepage. If you can’t manage that, then at least try to stare blankly. It’s all about control. Finally, once you’ve pitched your fit, change the subject in your head. Do something that takes up brain space, something active or creative that involves head and limbs. Paint your nails a different color for each digit. Create a new way to organize your socks. Write, paint, sing, dance, juggle, redecorate, whatever. Anything to prevent grabbing the vodka, credit card, or a soupspoon, oven mitt, and the handy single serving size of Cherry Garcia (and just who the hell are those 4 people it’s supposed to serve, Oompa Loompas?) Remember, the key is to feel better later on, not give you another reason to scream. All it takes is a little practice, but once you’ve mastered the skills you can smugly smile through familial chaos at the next holiday dinner table, safe in the knowledge that not only will you be invited back, you’ll likely be held up as an example of calm and maturity. Just remember to use your inside voice.

Seems a post about going mental just screams for a recipe with mushrooms. Here are two. The first is a mushroom soup my grandmother would make as a first course at Thanksgiving. It’s light, elegant, and with a salad, crusty bread and some cheese makes a nice dinner all by itself.

The second recipe is a heartier white bean and rosemary soup, where the mushrooms serve as an ingredient and a garnish. Both recipes are guaranteed to soothe the mind and body after one of THOSE days…

Oma’s mushroom soup

Serves 4

  • 375 grams white mushrooms (about 1 2/3 cups), cleaned and sliced in thick slices
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 50 grams butter (3.5 TBSP)
  • 1 ¼ liters water (5.25 cups), chicken stock, vegetable stock or a combination
  • 1/8 liter cold heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 TBSP chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes (you don’t want color on the onions). Add the mushrooms and sauté about 6-8 minutes until soft. Add water or stock and cook 10 minutes more. Whisk the flour into the cream and once it’s dissolved, stir into the soup. Add a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken a little. Turn heat off and season to taste with salt and pepper (Oma would use white pepper, but I don’t). Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve. Calories: About 150 per serving

White bean and Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

This soup is even better on the second day, so it’s a perfect make-ahead meal.

  • ½ TBSP butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • ½ tsp herbs de Provence
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup dry white vermouth
  • 1 15oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the mushroom garnish:

  • 1 ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 TBSP sherry

Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan; add the shallots and a pinch of salt. Sauté over medium heat until softened, about 3-5 minutes (you don’t want them to brown). Add the sliced garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms are soft and there is no liquid left in the pan. Add the vermouth and cook for a minute or two, scraping up any bits in the pan. Add the beans, stock and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and puree in the blender in batches to a silky smooth puree. Remember when using a blender and hot liquid to take the stopper out of the lid, only fill halfway, and place a towel over the top right when you turn it on or you’ll have hot soup on the ceiling. Return the puree to the pot and turn the heat to low. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

In a nonstick sauté pan, heat 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil. Add the reserved sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft and no liquid remains in the pan. Add 1 TBSP sherry and sauté until liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms are browned and a little crispy.

When you are ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle some of the sautéed mushrooms on top. Calories: 185 per serving.

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