Here's what actually happens: The dog collects his toys from their various hiding places around the house, deposits them at my feet, and wonders why the hell I'm ignoring him, while I sit crosslegged on my office floor, eyes closed, mind wandering.
I can't pay attention to my breath when meditating because I am far too busy thinking very profound thoughts and asking deep philosophical questions of the universe: "What should I eat for lunch? Chester, stop it! I need to buy more peanut butter. I wonder who invented Mr. Potato Head? My foot is falling asleep. I guess I could have an egg on toast. Is it still snowing out? Chester, go lie down! A lump of brown plastic with holes where children can stick eyes and ears, a nose and mouth? Maybe I'll go out to lunch. Goddamnit, Chester! I'm not going out to lunch if it's snowing. I guess most potatoes do resemble portly old men who would sport a mustache and look quite nice in a top hat..." And then the timer goes off and I emerge from my non-Zenlike state enlightened as to what I should eat for lunch: potato leek soup.
One of my best friends is the kind of person who always insists she cannot cook and then when you're at her house she whips up a delicious soup using exactly four rather homely ingredients: leeks, potatoes, water, and salt. She doesn't use a recipe, or stock, or cream, or herbs of any sort, but as if by magic her soup is so delicious it tastes as if it has been made by a professional chef or a French housewife. My friend is neither of these, nor is she the kind of person who when meditating would plan her lunch and contemplate the merits of tubers as toys. But I am exactly this kind of person, so when I make potato leek soup I use a recipe, and stock, and I call it Mr. Potato Head and Leek Soup.
Mr. Potato Head and Leek Soup
From Bon Appétit
This soup really doesn't require a recipe, though I found it helpful to work out the proportions. It would surely be just as delicious without stock—my friend's was, anyway. You could also add a little milk or cream (or even crème fraiche!) at the end, though I didn't find it lacking as is, and I'm sure some fresh or dried dill would be nice, but here at the monastery we keep it simple.
3 tablespoons butter
3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
2 large russet potatoes (about 18 ounces total), peeled and diced
4½ cups (or more) vegetable or chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1. Melt butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and stir to coat with butter. Cover saucepan, then cook until leeks are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
2. Add potatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes begin to soften but do not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add 4½ cups of stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return to the saucepan and thin with additional stock if soup is too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chives (the garnish is optional).