When I moved into the house I bought 16 years ago, I inherited some odd things: a hospital-style tv attached to a wall in the bedroom, a hand-painted mural on bathroom ceiling capturing the POV of someone/thing looking up at the sky from the bottom of the ocean floor, a room cast in the color of painter's tape blue. All of it had to go. But something that I regret tossing out in the cleanup was a piece of paper found behind the refrigerator, titled "Things To Do", written and illustrated fancifully in colored pencils. The author prescribed a list of activities to soothe, de-stress and de-activate a triggered mind. Suggestions included "Take a bath" "meditate" and, my favorite, "Listen to Joni Mitchell." Cynical young Bobbie threw it after having a good laugh, but as the years have passed, I eventually came to adopt most of its practices.
Today I am pretty efficient in self care (I built a sauna in my backyard after the 2016 election, don't you know) but when it comes to fighting "The Blahs" I am less successful. You know The Blahs: not dirty-sweatpants depression, but the subtle apathy and demotivation that minimizes your output and your capacity for excitement. Symptoms of The Blahs include: popcorn for dinner, re-watching old tv series in enormous chunks, endless scrolling on social apps, frequent visits to the jar of peanut butter, excessive yawning during video conferencing, procrastination.
The Blahs are tricky to escape, too. Move the needle too far by, say, declaring that you're going to finish "Atomic Habits" this weekend, you might end up spending 2 hours improving your TikTok algorithm out of fear that you've forgotten how to read a book.
A recent case of The Blahs occurred when I impulse bought some tofu. Arguably a food that embodies The Blahs to a "T", I made things worse by using half of it for a ill-conceived stirfry. (yes, I am capable of disappointments, I just don't broadcast them). Faced with redee half of the block, something caught my eye when searching through recipesming the other on my NYT Cooking App, and realizing I had most of the ingredients to pull it off, I decided to do a Boat Sauce riff off of the vegetarian version of murgh makhani, Indian Butter Chicken.
While not "light" by any means, this is a warming, bright, and uplifting kind of unctuousness that we could all use more of right now. The Indian spice blend garam masala comes in really handy as a sort-of dry rub for the tofu here, and if neither that nor fenugreek are in your spice cabinet right now, I highly endorse adding them.
Making this dish lifted me from The Blahs, enough not only to inspire me to develop this recipe and write this post, but also to compile my personal hacks for circumventing The Blahs, outlined below. Perhaps I'll make this into a drawing and leave it behind the fridge:
-Do 10 planks-to-downward dogs and then hold your dog for 5 long breaths.
-Volunteer. I've been doing a weekly kitchen shift with Feed The Mass and it's hands down been the best 3 hours of my week for all of 2021.
-Go into your closet and try on all the clothes you like for the opposite season you're in.
-listen to this playlist I created on Spotify
-make some Tofu Makhani a la Bobbie !