"Things I'm Not Good At" by Jeff Moss + Broccoli Soup with Roasted Lemon + Contest Winners

I know I'm not the only one who doesn't like ironing. So let's have it. When it comes to domestic tasks, what do you really, really dislike? My shortlist consists of ironing, taking out the trash, and changing the sheets. Luckily I married a man who happens to have the very skills I lack. I'm really happy about this, by the way, because like any partnership, the things he generally dislikes, like laundry and dusting, I don't really mind. This poem by Jeff Moss captures the give and take, hinting at the mischievous note we've all played at one time or another, because if you don't like doing something, you must not have been blessed with the skills necessary to do it, right?

 Things I'm Not Good At

By Jeff Moss

What a shame I'm not good at making my bed
Or washing the dinner dishes.
What a pity I'm awful at broccoli-eating
And feeding my sister's fishes.
So sad I've no talent for cleaning my room,
All those jobs—it's so hard to get through them.
(If I tell you I'm no good at those kinds of things,
Maybe then you won't ask me to do them.)

from The Butterfly Jar (1989)

You have to smile when reading this poem because it's honest, and almost impossible not to see yourself somewhere between the lines. For Moss, he's gotten himself out of eating broccoli, cleaning his room, and feeding fish in the same way I've avoided the bed making, trash dumping, and ironing. This is the stuff of life. It's why poetry is such a wonderful vehicle to use as a means of reflection, because as the stuff of life goes, this kind of list is sometimes the first to be forgotten.

To address the broccoli dilemma, I don't disagree that steamed broccoli can be a little bland. Instead, I love to eat it roasted, and the lemons really make this simple soup a star. Instead of squeezing lemon juice over the top, roast slices in the oven. It adds a nice depth of flavor and undeniable freshness.


This is a one-pan dish, because you can roast everything together, then blend it before heating on the stove. If you have a strong enough blender (like a Vitamix), it will easily handle the rind, otherwise you may want to remove it before roasting.

3 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 lemon, sliced into about 6 rounds
1 bag of spinach
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 and place the broccoli, onion, garlic and lemon slices on a sheet pan. Pour on a good turn of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Spread evenly. Roast for about 35 minutes, or until everything is cooked through and beginning to caramelize.

Puree in a blender in batches, adding water to thin it out, plus handfuls of the spinach. Puree until very smooth, then pour it into a stock pot. Thin as necessary with additional water, and season with salt and pepper.

While the soup heats up, add the nuts to a small sauté pan along with a little vegetable oil. Season with salt and a sprinkling of paprika and cayenne pepper. Toast over low heat until golden brown. Scatter over the soup before serving.

You can also serve the soup with grilled cheese or feta.

Thanks to all of you who shared your favorite poems for the Poetry Magazine giveaway! There were some gems in the list, and some might even make an apparance on the blog soon. Congratulations to Sarah and Sophie! (Check your inboxes if you haven't already.)