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Vegetable Bean Soup

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I’m not sure how many years ago we started the tradition of taking a long weekend trip late in January, but it’s one of my favorites.  I think it all began when I figured out that the holiday presents other than clothing my husband received were rarely used, so I surprised him with a trip to Solvang one year.  The next year it was Monterey, and from that point on, we tried to find somewhere to go just to get away.  Sometimes the boy accompanied us, but most often, it was just the two of us.  One year we may have taken a plane, and the next we’d drive.  We’d talk occasionally about stretching ourselves to go somewhere we hadn’t been before — Monterey, CA is still our favorite — but the whole point of getting away is to relax, and when you’re the semi-unadventurous people we are familiarity facilitates that relaxation.

We don’t go as often as we used to since life isn’t as hectic, but this year my husband charged me with finding somewhere to go within a reasonable driving distance.  I’m thinking it’s because the patio is torn up and figuring what to do with it is a far less attractive option than heading off on a Friday afternoon for anything unrelated to a DIY project.  I don’t blame him.

I asked the boy what he thought, and without hesitation he mentioned Julian.  You may remember me waxing over this small town early last month, and since I’d toyed with the idea of gifting my husband with a get away there before moving on to something else, my research had already been done.

We’re back now, and as much as we might have enjoyed some sign of wintery weather, there wasn’t a trace.  Clear blue skies, dry air, and highs of 65 during the day welcomed us.  The cabin was nestled against a mountainside beneath huge cedars, young pines in the undergrowth, and massive coastal live oaks.  The persistent rush of water from a stream nearby was the only sound to be heard.  We hiked, cooked a little, played cards and Yahtzee, and enjoyed the quiet, our books, and one another’s company.   I took Tessa Kiros’ breathtaking book Falling Cloudberries:  A World of Family Recipes which I finally treated myself to after seeing it for the first time about a year ago, and  read through it over the two days.

When I open it to make one of the many wonderful recipes from now on, I’ll remember last weekend and smile.

Here’s a simple, delicious vegetable soup adapted from one of Kiros’ recipes.  It’s light and full of bright, fresh flavor that will warm you through and through.

Perfect.  Just like our weekend.

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