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Archive for January, 2019

Soup!

20190108_203400346222080.jpgToday was a chilly, rainy-icy-snowy, gray day — in other words, the perfect day for hearty soup.

I made one of my favorites: Garden-in-a-Pot Soup from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.  This time around I stuck a little more closely to the recipe.  Usually I use it as a jumping off point to use up whatever might be in the refrigerator or on the counter which needs using up.

My soup broth/stock is made with Rouxbe’s fabulous vegetable boullion.  Seriously, for vegetarians (or even meat eaters, although I do love the stock I make from the Thanksgiving turkey), this bouillon is the way to go.  You put a bunch of vegetables in the food processor, add what seems like a scary amount of salt (but I promise it is still way less than store bought boullion, especially since you don’t need much to get intense flavor), and keep it in the freezer.  It dissolves immediately in water, and it is 100% real food.  No weird little hard cubes or paste.  I add it to soup, rice, and marinades — pretty much any recipe which calls for stock.

The other step which makes this soup so good is the first one.  Instead of sauteing the aromatics over higher heat, you cook them covered over low heat, trapping the moisture and flavors.  Seasonings are simple — tomato paste, sweet paprika (although I used smoked because that is what I had), basil, and a splash of wine if anything starts to stick — and the vegetables do the rest.  The only fat in the recipe is the olive oil used to coat the pan at the beginning.

I added a can of red beans for the first time.  They add some heartiness and meld smoothly with the other ingredients.

My soups tend to come about a bit thin.  I am not good at reducing for some reason.  But my solution is to just make rice in my Instant Pot, and serving the soup over it.  Keep the rice separate when you put away the leftovers so that it doesn’t soak of all of the broth and turn your soup into a very stiff stew … unless that is what you like.  Then by all means.

Noodles are another option.  Or bake up a potato, cut it in half, mashed it slightly, and pour the soup over it … or a hearty slab of garlic sourdough bread.  Dip in your favorite cracker.  If you want a little garnish, there are the classics of cheese and sour cream.  My new favorite is homemade popcorn lightly seasoned with garlic salt.  Whatever your pleasure, you really can’t go wrong.

The recipe does make a large pot of soup, so you can feed a bunch of people at once, or you can keep it all to yourself and eat all week.  It freezes well, too.

In a word: Yum!

 

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You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is certain — and when I say nothing, I mean nothing — I can com home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. — Julie Powell in Julie & Julia

I grew up watching The French Chef on television. I hear Julia’s voice telling me that whenever I flip something, I need to have the courage of my convictions. (I rarely do.) While I adore Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I actually get more use out of Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom.

A couple of years ago I wanted to make a nice, simple potato leek soup. I pulled out a giant Gourmet cookbook promising to have every recipe I might want to cook … except potato leek soup. In Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, it is one of the very first “master” recipes. It was perfect, and I use it often.

The simple recipes, made with quality ingredients, are often the best. They really taste like their ingredients, and yet the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Tonight’s meal wasn’t quite so simple — mushroom and cheese omelette, mashed potatoes, and steamed zucchini — but it reminded me how satisfying and pleasurable a thoughtfully cooked meal is and how much happier I am when I eat real food I have prepared myself from ingredients (i.e. not a frozen pizza). With that in mind, I am forming if not a plan then an intention to do more cooking from the shelves of cookbooks in my house, test out the Joule I received as a gift, and maybe finally get through some of my Rouxbe cooking classes.

I will keep you posted on how it goes.

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I am not big on New Year’s Resolutions.  The way I see it is that any day is a good day to make a change for the better, make new plans, start something new, finish something old, make a habit, break a habit, whatever strikes your fancy.

I did have a thought that “more life, less work” would be a good plan.  It went right out the window on January 2nd.  So much for that idea.  January 3rd fared even worse in that regard.  Third time was apparently the charm because I managed to stop working fairly close to five o’clock.

Will I now magically stop working on time every day from now on?  No.  Of course not.  But I will keep trying, and maybe eventually I will come out on the plus side.

In addition to increasing the ratio of life to work, there is the matter of quality of life.  What do I want to do with all of this time I will have once I stop working so much?  I will strive to live my creative life, pursuing activities which support my knitting and spinning hobbies, with potential to expand into photography and return to writing.

In addition to continuing to follow my passion for knitting, spinning, and things fibery in general, I want to read more, for certain.  I used to read voraciously when I was younger and didn’t have grown up responsibilities or the great time drain the Internet.  My reading appetite increased and decreased over time, and my tastes changed.  I moved into a house I had to share with another person, so I got rid of a lot of my books.  Then I started knitting with greater focus and frequency which led to greater skill and the discovery of fabulous yarns, so my disposable income went into yarn rather than books.

Last year, and it may have started in 2017, I started to rediscover books and their enchanting possibilities.  What I have not as yet rediscovered is my reading attention span.  I worry that reading takes away from my knitting (and now spinning, which I picked up last year), which it does because I can’t really knit and read at the same time, but I need to not worry about it.  I knit for pleasure and to learn and create and as meditation, but I read for those same reasons, too.

I used to read almost exclusively fiction, but now I find myself interested in the stories of people who were or are participants in and observers of history, as well as novels by and about people who are different than me — live in a different part of the world, speak a different language, or have experiences I will never have (for good or ill).  I want to learn more about my chosen hobbies of knitting and spinning, try new techniques and improve overall.  To that end, I have set myself the goal of knitting my way through Milarrochy Heids by Kate Davies.  She has also written a memoir, Handywoman, which is on my reading list, as is the memoir of Jane Hawking, who was married to Stephen Hawking for thirty years.  If the film The Theory of Everything is to be believed, without her there would have been no Brief History of Time.  I am embarrassed to say that it never occurred to me that he had been married and that his wife would have been his primary caretaker, facing all of the challenges that responsibility would entail.

There are plenty more titles I could add to the list, along with movies to see, podcasts to explore, and music to hear, but they could (and probably should) merit posts of their own.  Or I will post sidebar lists.  Or both.

How this writing thing is going to work is still a mystery, but I am to keep writing because writing is writing.

 

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