A Hot Bone Broth Tonic for Morning, Noon and Night

“Good broth will resurrect the dead.” –South American Proverb

“Stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.” –Escoffier

In an ever-changing culinary landscape, I have come to depend on my daughter-in-law to keep me abreast of the latest food trends, which seem to be driven largely by her millennial generation. Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, paleo, organic kale, “The Organic Kitchen” and “Wellness Mama” blogs, microbrews, sustainable wine, house-made sodas, artisanal coffees and bacon-flavored chocolates, cara oranges, coconut oil, almond milk, ghee and sriracha are just a few of the things I have learned more about when visiting her kitchen over the past couple years.

Most recently, she served up a hot bowl of egg drop soup made with what she referred to as “bone broth”, a new trend that has been simmering for the past few years and has bubbled over onto the stove tops across the culinary landscape. Marco Canora, the chef behind “Hearth” restaurant in New York City, is credited with getting the “bowl rolling”, opening a broth window in the city called “Brodo” where they serve three different “chef-crafted broths” in a cup to go.

Bone broth recipe

“We feature three core broths – Grass Fed Beef with Ginger, Organic Chicken, and Marco’s signature broth, Hearth,” it says on the website. “In addition we have specialty broths such as seaweed vegetable and a line-up of add-ins so you can customize flavor while adding nutrition.”

“Broth” in English, “brodo” in Italian and “bouillon” in French, “bone broth”,  like so many other old food items, has been resurrected from the ancient past when pots of broth were always kept simmering on the back burner for road weary travelers. With its earthy, tribal and paleo-sounding name that would make our great grandmothers chuckle, bone broth has been referred to as the “magic elixir du jour.”

Considered the first ever comfort food from the hunter-gatherer time of cave men, bone broth is made by boiling the bones of healthy animals along with vegetables, herbs and spices for long periods of time, usually 24-48 hours. It is the long simmering of the bones that creates a dense and nutrient-rich stock or broth that is high in protein and minerals, rich in collagen with beauty benefits for the skin, hair and nails and known to boost the immune system and improve digestion.

Below are two recipes to help get your bone broth bowl rolling:

Egg Drop Soup (made with bone broth and taken from The Organic Kitchen)

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups homemade chicken stock*
1 egg
1 tbsp. sliced green onions (greens not bulb) or baby kale, spinach, etc.
Avocado, sliced (optional, but delicious!)

Instructions:

  1. Place broth in a small pot on high heat, bring to a boil
  2. While broth is heating, slice onions. Add onions to broth.
  3. Slice avocado.
  4. Crack an egg into a small bowl, use a fork to break yolk and mix egg just a little.
  5. When broth boils, turn down to a simmer, gently pour egg into broth while stirring
  6. Wait 60 seconds turn off heat. Pour into a bowl, add avocado. Serve

*For our egg drop soup we whisked in a flour-butter paste (2 tablespoons each of butter, flour and sour cream smoothed into a paste) into the homemade stock, giving it an added flavor and then proceeded with the directions above. It was delicious!

Brodo Beef Broth (taken from Wall Street Journal’s: “Beef Brodo Recipe: Adapted from Marco Canora of Hearth, New York”)

Ingredients:
3 pounds bone-on beef stew meat
1 turkey drumstick
4 quarts cold water
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 small carrots, roughly chopped
¼ bunch parsley
½ tsp. black peppercorns
1 cup canned, crushed tomatoes
Salt

Brodo NYC

Instructions:

  1. Place beef, turkey and 4 quarts cold water in an 8-quart lidded stockpot and bring to a boil, covered, over high heat, about 20 minutes. Decrease heat to medium and move pot so it is partially on burner and broth bubbles just on one side. Continue to simmer broth, uncovered, until clear, about 30 minutes, skimming fat and impurities from surface every 5 minutes.
  2. Add celery, onions, carrots, parsley, peppercorns and tomatoes to pot and simmer, uncovered, until flavors develop, about 2 hours. Strain broth, discard vegetables and reserve meat for another purpose. Salt broth to taste and serve warm

In keeping with the “bone” theme, check out our piece in Rose’s Ridge on the song “Flesh & Bone” by Buddy Guy.

A Blue’s Melody for the January Blues

Please note: This piece was also published in OnBeing.

Following the sparkling glimmer of a light-infused season, the month of January can sometimes feel as if a heavy, wet blanket of snow is descending upon us. It’s a time when the body can feel overindulged and earthbound, a time when we dispiritedly plod through the weight of winter days.

January Blues

Sliding from the high notes of the holidays to the low notes of mid-January, nature’s force ushers us unwittingly from the warm cheer of family and friends to a still and penetrating solitude. Even our music changes tune, as the festive good tidings of December songs give way to introspective, tranquilizing melodies that help carry us away from the sluggish, gray days of January.

As American pianist George Winston – whose instrumental music has been likened to “flakes of falling snow” – once said, “Every song I’ve ever heard, that has gone in and stayed in me, has always reminded me of a season. A picture and a place, maybe, but always a season.”

It might seem unfitting, then, to turn to the music of legendary blues icon Buddy Guy in the midst of a season known for plunging tired souls into the depths of “January blues.” But his song “Flesh & Bone” has done just the opposite, propelling my spirit onward and upward into a brighter sky of possibilities.

famous blues artists

Featuring rock & roll soul artist Van Morrison (an ATG favorite), Buddy Guy dedicated the song to the “King of Blues”, B.B. King, upon his passing last May – an apt choice for the hopeful message it offers:

It ain’t over the day you die
We all live on in the spirit by and by

With a poignant refrain that invites us to contemplate a life “more than” our fleshly existence – more than our human desires and temptations, frustrations and fears, tribulations and doubts – it simultaneously encourages us to transcend those very things; to “live higher”:

This life is more than flesh and bone
Find out now before you’re gone
When you go your spirit lives on
This life is more than flesh and bone

The message is a reflection of Guy’s religious upbringing: “‘My mamma used to say, ‘If you get slapped, turn the other cheek, so they can slap the other side,’’”, Guy recalls in an interview with the Rolling Stone. She ought to have been proud, then, when Guy took the high road after waking up one morning to an egged home. He explains: “‘[My neighbors] said, ‘A black man gets eggs thrown on his house, and he’s still plowing snow off everybody’s sidewalk, corner to corner?…we were the best of friends after that.’”

More than a religious ballad, however, “Flesh & Bone” also provides a welcome reminder of the importance of perspective – the perspective that we’re more than earthbound creatures of the here and now with long lists of “things to do.” During these cold days of January, days in which we feel so acutely our fleshly existence and so easily succumb to the instant gratification our flesh desires, we can find a more enduring kind of solace in embracing the perspective of a “higher” world of mystery and spirit that this song evokes.

Buddy Guy Flesh and Bone

So, perhaps it is fitting to turn to Buddy Guy after all. Considered the last of the blues legends, he is representative of a genre of music, which although has become rather marginalized in our culture, is known for eliciting heartfelt and soulful emotion – music that reminds us that this life is, indeed, more than flesh and bone.

Recalling what he told his producer while working on his 2015 album, Born to Play Guitar, which features the “Flesh & Bone” track, Guy says in a Billboard article: “Let’s play some funky blues like these older guys, the ones that taught me, and hopefully we can hit a note that will get people to pay attention.”

Well, he sure hit a note. And he certainly got my attention.

Listen to “Flesh & Bone” here and read the full lyrics below.

Daddy read the good book through and through
Said the Lord’s word is the only truth
It ain’t over the day you die
We all live on in the spirit by and by

This life is more than flesh and bone
Find out now before you’re gone
When you go your spirit lives on
This life is more than flesh and bone

Now I know my daddy was right
I read that good book and I’ve seen the light
Mama and daddy have passed and gone
They’re still with me ‘cause love lives on

This life is more than flesh and bone
Find out now before you’re gone
When you go your spirit lives on
This life is more than flesh and bone

The God I feed on is real as rain
More than words can ever explain
We’ll meet again some sweet day
Far beyond this world of pain

This life is more than flesh and bone
Find out now before you’re gone
When you go your spirit goes on
This life is more than flesh and bone

In keeping with the “Flesh & Bone” theme, check out our piece in Around the Table on “Bone Broth.”

Illuminating “Mankind’s Moral Sense”

“What Is Moral, and How Do We Know It?”, asked political scientist James Q. Wilson (1931-2012) in an article he penned for Commentary Magazine in 1993. Excerpts from that article were recently highlighted in the Wall Street Journal‘s “Notable & Quotable” section and we thought them too powerful not to share.

Take a moment to ponder the below:

“Almost every important tendency in modern thought has questioned the possibility of making moral judgments. Analytical philosophy asserts that moral statements are expressions of emotion lacking any rational or scientific basis. Marxism derides morality and religion as ‘phantoms formed in the human brain,’ ‘ideological reflexes’ that are, at best, mere sublimates of material circumstances. Nietzsche writes dismissively that morality is but the herd instinct of the individual. Existentialists argue that man must choose his values without having any sure compass by which to guide those choices. Cultural anthropology as practiced by many of its most renowned scholars claims that amid the exotic diversity of human life there can be found no universal laws of right conduct…

moral sense James Q. Wilson

“I wish to argue for an older view of human nature, one that assumes that people are naturally endowed with certain moral sentiments. We have a peculiar, fragile, but persistent disposition to make moral judgments, and we generally regard people who lack this disposition to be less than human. Despite our wars, crimes, envies, snobberies, fanaticisms, and persecution, there is to be found a desire not only for praise but for praise-worthiness, for fair dealings as well as for good deals, for honor as well as for advantage. These desires become evident when we think disinterestedly about ourselves or others…

James Q. Wilson books

“Mankind’s moral sense is not a strong beacon light, radiating outward to illuminate in sharp outline all that it touches. It is, rather, a small candle flame, casting vague and multiple shadows, flickering and sputtering in the strong winds of power and passion, greed and ideology. But brought close to the heart and cupped in one’s hands, it dispels the darkness and warms the soul.”

James Q. Wilson books

 

Once Upon a Time…

ac perch tea room Long ago and far away, in the ancient city of Copenhagen – the land of fairy tales as imagined by Hans Christian Anderson – lived a man named Niels Brock Perch who opened a tiny little tea shop in the very old part of the city called “Christianshavn”, where ships from exotic places like China, Ceylon, India, Japan and Africa would arrive with goods to be traded and sold.

A man with great vision for opportunities that sailed into port, Mr. Perch couldn’t have known when he opened A.C. Perch’s in 1835 at Kronprinsensgade 5 that it would still be a purveyor of tea – from some of the finest plantations and gardens around the world – 180 years later.

Apart from a few fixes along the way, the addition of electric lights and a new family of owners who bought the business in 1894 (the Hincheldey Family, now 7 generations strong), the charming, old-fashioned shop has remained largely the same.

Considered the oldest teashop in Europe, stepping into A.C. Perch’s is like stepping into the long-ago past, with three generations of Hincheldey family members providing “service of the utmost quality and expert advice” on the noble art of tea brewing.

oldest tea shop in europe“It is our deepest wish that customers feel welcome here, and politeness and friendliness are some of our major deeds,” reads the website. Indeed, they greet you with a smile and offer a complimentary bonbon to go after carefully weighing, pouring and packaging your tea in a colorful tin of your choice.

That Queen Margrethe of Denmark’s Royal Family, daughter of King Frederik IX, is a loyal customer with her own blend speaks to the superior quality of both its taste and service.

Like a fairy tale with kings, queens and “White Dream Tea”, A.C. Perch’s is a warm and enchanting place that offers everyone who steps through its doors a little bit of happily-ever-after magic. After all, they even offer a “fairytale flavor” blend in honor of Hans Christian Anderson.*

Also, if you’re a lover of shortbread, the perfect compliment to afternoon tea, check out “The Shortbread House of Edinburgh”, a company that “prides itself on doing things properly”, for what is considered some of the world’s best shortbread. Located in Edinburgh, Scotland, it has received 59 “Great Tastes Awards” and is served and sold on ScotRail Trains and Arab Emirates flights.

*Perch’s offers 175 teas from black, green and white to oolong and herbal. The tea is weighed on the same brass scales and placed in a colorful tin of your choice (see below). The white teas seem to be particularly popular, with over 20 varieties and names such as Nepal White, White Dream Tea, White Symphony, White Persian, White Christmas, Pineapple Pai Mu Kin. 

ac perch afternoon tea
White Temple Tea, with a heavenly aroma, is one of A.C. Perch’s most popular tea

Also to note: The health benefits of white tea have been long known to the Chinese since the Ming Dynasty. Having been discovered in recent years in North America, it has become one of the hottest new food trends. Black, green, white and oolong are all plucked from the Camilla Sinensis tea bush, but their differences can be found in the way the leaves are harvested and processed. The leaves for White tea, unlike the other types, are plucked before the buds on the bush bloom and the unwithered leaves are then steamed. It is the least processed of all the other teas, which means that it is closest to its natural state and therefore contains more polyphenols that have powerful antioxidant properties. Of interest is the White Tea “Silver Needles” which is considered the “crème de la crème”  of white teas and is picked within a two day period in early spring. (Information taken from here).

Christianshavn
Kronprinsensgade; the street where A.C. Perch’s is located (in the distance on the left)

All Things White, Light and Healthy (almost)

Considering that cauliflower seems to be what all farm-to-table chefs up and down the East coast served in 2015, I think it’s safe to say that it has joined its green cousins (kale and Brussels sprouts) as a “hot and trendy” vegetable in the culinary landscape.

So, what better vegetable to serve up in the New Year than this white cruciferous vegetable that is packed (like a snowball) with antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits and lots of vitamin C, and can warm a January soul on these cold winter days.

From cheesy cauliflower soup to hearty cauliflower gratin to spicy roasted bites, enjoy all things white, light and healthy this month, beginning with the cauliflower recipes below.

Further below you’ll find another round, white “snowball” treat, perfect for afternoon tea!

Spicy Cauliflower Bites

Ingredients for the cauliflower:
4 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. hot sauce*
1/2 cup water

Ingredients for the spicy sauce:
4 tsp. hot sauce
2 tbsp. butter or coconut oil (coconut oil gives it an nice additional flavor)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt

Instructions:
For the spicy sauce combine the 4 tablespoons of hot sauce, the butter or coconut oil, garlic and salt in small saucepan and heat on medium low. Set aside.

Prepare baking tray with sheet of aluminum foil. Combine the flour and salt. Combine the 1/2 cup of water and 1 tablespoon hot sauce and pour into the flour/salt mixture and stir well. Coat the cauliflower pieces in the batter and place on the baking sheet. Bake in 450 degrees F oven for 20-30 minutes. Remove and drizzle the heated sauce on the roasted cauliflower pieces and serve with Ranch dressing or your own favorite sauce.

*ATG suggestions for hot sauce and something new to try: Captain Mowatt’s “Canceaux Turbeau” – “Burning the planet one tongue at a time” based out of Portland, Maine, or “Slap Ya Mama” , a Cajun Pepper Sauce out of Ville Platte, Louisiana. 

roasted cauliflower recipes

Cauliflower Gratin (ATG’s adaption from various recipes)

Ingredients:
1 large head of cauliflower
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 & 1/4 cups milk, heated
1 cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese
1/4 cup freshly made bread crumbs (I always use thick-cut bread crumbs and brown them in a little butter in large frying pan on the stove until slightly crunchy.)

Instructions:
Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and heat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash cauliflower and separate into a mix of small to medium sized florets. Place cauliflower pieces on foil and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 10-20 minutes until cauliflower browns in spots.

Meanwhile, to create the cream sauce, melt the butter in saucepan and then stir in flour whisking continuously making a paste and then slowly add the heated milk stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper and add the shredded cheese and stir until melted.

Place the cauliflower in square or rectangle baking dish and pour sauce over and then sprinkle bread crumbs. Bake in 375 degrees F oven until the edges begin to brown and the cheese begins to bubble. Turn oven off and turn broiler on and place under broiler for 2-3 minutes until nicely browned.

Cauliflower Risotto (taken from Nordstrom Cookbook)

Ingredients:
2 cups Arborio Rice
1 white onion (1/2 cup diced and the rest thinly sliced)
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 small head cauliflower
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Scatter sliced onion and garlic in baking dish and top with cauliflower pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for about an hour until the cauliflower is tender. Discard most of the onion and garlic. Smash cauliflower into medium pieces. While cauliflower is cooking, bring broth to simmer in saucepan. Then, in another saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add diced onion and sauté until translucent. Add rice and coat well with butter mixture for about 2 minutes. Then add wine and let come to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until most of the wine evaporates. Then add 1/2 cup of the heated broth to the rice and stir on a low simmer until the broth is absorbed. Repeat until all but 1/4 cup of the broth is incorporated. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes stirring continuously and then add remaining 1/4 cup of broth, 1/2-cup Parmesan cheese, and 1 tbsp. butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Orange Glazed Cauliflower (taken from The Kitchen Prep)

Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and cut into medium-sized florets
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1-2 tbsp. water
1 bunch scallions, sliced on sharp angle

Instructions:
Prepare baking sheet by placing a sheet of foil on top. Place cauliflower pieces on foil and drizzle with olive oil and salt making sure to coat the pieces evenly. Place in 450 degrees F oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until dark brown spots begin to appear on cauliflower.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, red pepper, ginger and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Stir in orange zest. Pour orange juice, sesame oil, soy sauce and cornstarch into saucepan, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer whisking often until the sauce is slightly thickened. Pour sauce into large glass bowl and add the roasted cauliflower and stir making sure to completely coat each piece. Transfer to a serving dish and top with sliced scallions.

See also our recipe for cream of fresh cauliflower soup.

Pecan Cookie Balls

The recipe for the Pecan cookies below is an old recipe taken from The Museum of Fine Arts Boston Cookbook (1981). I used to make these every Christmas and forgot how delicious they are until I rediscovered them just recently. Perfect for afternoon tea or with a morning cup of coffee, “You’ll make these again and again,” the book says…which I can attest is true!

Ingredients:
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla (we used Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
2 cups flour
2 cups pecans, finely chopped

Pecan cookie recipe

Instructions:
Cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and the finely chopped pecans until thoroughly combined. Shape into balls (the dough will be loose and crumbly-like as if it won’t hold together but once you pick some up it forms nicely into a ball). Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 300 degree F for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and roll in powered sugar.

Note: these cookies don’t spread when baking but will start to brown around the bottom edge, which will indicate that they are done. Be careful not to over bake.

January: A Blizzard of Lists

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order – not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.”

– Umberto Eco (Italian novelist)

The making of lists – whether it be a list of New Year’s resolutions, books to read, places to go, weekly errands and to-dos – is a comforting, reassuring way for us to gain a sense of order amidst the all too often chaotic, frenzied lives we lead.

Particularly in a New Year, as we reflect upon our accomplishments and failures of the year before and the ambitions and hopes of the year ahead, creating lists can help us us clearly define a plan for moving forward and making progress in our lives – whether on a personal, professional or spiritual level.

Self-examination books

While spontaneity and impulse serve a valuable role in our lives – igniting that whimsical childhood spirit and providing a refreshing reprieve from the doldrums of daily routine – meandering through life without a plan or goals can lend itself to a rather meaningless existence.

Consider the words below from some of the most respected minds:

  • “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter (1881-1973)
  • “The significance of a man is not in what he attains but in what he longs to attain.” – Khalil Gibran, Lebanese-American author (1883-1931)
  • “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” – Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American industrialist (1835-1919)
  • “In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.” – Henry David Thoreau, American philosopher (1817-1862)
  • “In everything the ends well defined are the secret of durable success.” – Victor Cousins, French philosopher (1792-1867)
  • “The important thing in life is to have a great aim, and the determination to attain it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and statesman (1749-1832)
  • “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father (1706-1790)
  • “All things are ready, if our minds be so.” – William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
  • “The great and glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live to purpose.” – Michel de Montaigne, French philosopher (1533-1592)
  • “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Seneca, ancient philosopher (4 BC-65 AD)

Of course, as the quotes above imply, it is not enough to have a plan. We must first discover and develop a sense of purpose – a sense of self – in order to create and execute on a plan that imbues our lives with significance.

famous quotes on planning

But, that’s not always easy. Which is why ATG puts forth a list of several books for the New Year that provide an opportunity for reflection and self-examination.

Happy list making and purpose-ing!

  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (2013)
  • Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (1991) 
  • Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch (2006)
  • The Road Less Traveled by Dr. M. Scott Peck (1981)
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011)
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (2012)
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (1997)
  • Thomas Mellon and His Times by Thomas Mellon (1885)
  • The Way of the Seal: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Succeed and Lead by ex-Navy Commander Mark Divine (2013)

Adele: More Than Words

Please note: this piece was also published in On Being.

Adele news articlesWhen it comes to Adele, it’s difficult to find something new to say. She has broken nearly every music record imaginable, received close to 100 music awards and has proven with her latest album, 25, that she is not just a one-hit wonder – that her talent runs exceedingly deep, touching something poignant in the hearts and souls of a fan base that increasingly defies categorization.

Yet, for all the interviews and articles on her music, approach, style and personality, capturing the essence of Adele and her music is surprisingly difficult. To string together a list of adjectives, to make comparisons and analogies, to use memes, gifs, videos or quotes somehow seems inadequate.

Her music is soulful, heartfelt, rare and real – and is undoubtedly “once in a generation” material – but it is also so much more, forcing us to reckon with an unattainable, mysterious quality that only adds to its allure.

In a world where mystery is quickly dispelled by access to a portal of answers at our fingertips (“Google it!”) – where life’s pace is nothing short of hurried – Adele invites us to do something rare: to stop and think, reflect and recall, question and feel.

Speaking to the fragility and resiliency of human existence, her music propels us into the realm of consciousness, compelling us to connect (and reckon) with our innermost selves. She proclaims in “Turning Tables” from 21:

“Next time I’ll be braver
I’ll be my own savior
When the thunder calls for me
Next time I’ll be braver
I’ll be my own savior
Standing on my own two feet”

And in a “Million Years Ago” on 25, she laments:

“I know I’m not the only one
who regrets the things I’ve done
sometimes I just feel it’s only me
who never became who they thought they’d be
I wish I could live a little more
look up to the sky not just the floor
I feel like my life is flashing by
and all I can do is just watch and cry”

Adele sings of love and heartbreak, regret and nostalgia, fear and desire, insecurity and hope – universal feelings and experiences that have long defined man’s tumultuous journey in life – but she does so with a conviction and legitimacy that only comes from having turned inward to grapple with those very things.

And that takes time – and effort.

In fact, Adele’s latest album evolved after discarding a series of songs she brought to record producer Rick Rubin who told her, “I don’t believe you.”

“It was clear she wasn’t the primary writer — many of the songs sounded like they might be on a different pop artist’s album,” said Rubin in a Rolling Stone article.*

Having tried to write songs about motherhood, “it wasn’t until Adele turned the lens back on herself that she was able to make progress,” writes Sam Lansky in a recent article for TIME magazine.*

“That’s when I decided to write about myself and how I make myself feel, rather than how other people make me feel,” Adele says in the interview.

Adele certainly isn’t the only artist to sing her feelings – or touch upon the universal aspects of human existence – but there is something to be said for her not rushing an album. After all, as Rubin has said, “it’s not just her voice singing any song that makes it special.”

Adele 25 reviewThat Adele chose to slow down, take her time and remain true to herself – and her voice – proves that she is as real as the songs she sings.

That she recognizes the ephemeral, vacuous nature of social media only confirms her commitment to authenticity:

“How am I supposed to write a real record if I’m waiting for half a million likes on a photo? That ain’t real,” she says.

Indeed, it is only after making a diligent effort to reflect on ourselves – to quiet our own souls – that the most profound truths and insights are revealed; or, in this case, a song with meaning and depth is born.

Anyone can sing about love and heartbreak, regret and nostalgia, fear and desire, insecurity and hope, but what makes Adele an artist of enduring greatness is the conviction with which she sings.

“I’m not saying my album [25] is incredible, but there’s conviction in it,” she says. “And I believe the f*** out of myself on this album.”

I believe her, too.

And yet, there still remains a mysterious quality about her – an inkling that she could be an “old soul” born anew, someone too affecting for words. But, this somehow seems fitting for an artist whose songs have touched the very depths of millions of people across the globe, of various backgrounds and ethnicities, of generations old and new.

*Read the full Rolling Stone article, “Adele: Inside Her Private Life and Triumphant Return“, and the TIME article, “Adele Is Music’s Past, Present and Future.”