I spent a good deal of my life working for cash and life fulfillment as 1. a librarian and 2. a church music director. (I taught piano, too, on the side.) Both jobs, and I sometimes held them at the same time to make ends meet, helped fuel my love of cooking because libraries have cookbooks and church choirs love to eat.
It’s a snow day. I don’t currently have a paying job–this isn’t to say I don’t work– but I’m still thrilled to think I needn’t go anywhere and perhaps could be excused from accomplishing anything. Too many years of kids in the house or teaching makes me stand up and cheer when the school closings begin. Usually I spend the day in the kitchen with a big pot of soup bubbling away –and I’m about to do that after I’m done with the blog– but today a little perking dream took life.
Food bloggers, too, are in recovery-from-election mode. Skip down to recipe if need be.
In our difficult, name-calling, post-election country, our American world appears divided–though not shattered–by fear, unhappiness, anger, and misunderstanding. (The entire world is divided not just by politics, but between those who have food and homes and those who don’t.) As we move toward our usually happy day of Thanksgiving, we feel left and right, liberal and conservative, blue and red, educated and unscholarly, open and closed, Fox and MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh and NPR… I don’t feel as if we are split as much by religion (though some might not agree) if only because I drank the “justice for all and freedom of religion” kool-aid and do not want to believe any government of mine would pit one religion against another. The issue of race is, it seems, more complicated. A mix of cultures and religions is who we’ve always been and always will be, though; it’s the beauty and at times the ugliness of the United States. Right now it’s ugly. The train left the station long ago about this being a Christian country. And, truthfully, while Dave and I remain firmly entrenched, working and worshiping within a progressive protestant Christian community, the majority of people we know don’t even worship. Anywhere. (Though worshipers are still largely and sadly divided by race.) The believing who go to mosque, synagogue, or church regularly are, more and more, the faithful fewer–perhaps under 25% of our population. How could religion be key here? Hmm. When I hear, “The evangelicals are back in power,” I can’t help but wonder. Continue reading
Her ’70s old school style was to take pot roast — yes, pot roast — cut it up and marinate it for a few days–yes, days– before grilling the pieces along with whatever vegetables hit her fancy. I seem to recall canned small potatoes. I’ll admit I liked this meal just fine. I couldn’t believe it was pot roast and neither could anyone else. It was just like steak. Well, nearly.
(June, 2017 addition: my MIL tells me the marinating was just overnight–not days and days!) Continue reading
As summer wanes –– it was 50 degrees F this morning when I got up — the vegetables come in huge, lovely fragrant warm piles and a fresh, toothsome pasta salad feels perfect for supper in the lingering heat. No muss, no fuss, with fresh pasta that cooks in just two minutes; dinner is on the table faster than you can make the basil vinaigrette (thanks to David Lebovitz–scroll down for more) that simply makes this meal. Continue reading
While the old deck disappears and the new one is added, our summer dinner spot is gone. This seems to be a theme in our lives lately. (Change is in the air.) Outdoor tables and chairs are stored in the garage; patio candles sit awkwardly in a living room corner. Cushions and pillows are propped up next to the piano or rest at odd angles under sofa tables in the family room. We have cabin fever this year in the summer because from May – September, we do not eat indoors unless there’s a horrific storm or we’re in a restaurant. Our life, from 5:00 on — when sun is on the western side of our house — is outdoors. But not, sadly, for two weeks. Continue reading
A scant cupful of sautéed or grilled vegetables from last night’s dinner–-or even the night before’s. Eggs. Fresh tomatoes and basil. Or not. Maybe a little grating of cheese or a little chopped cheese that’s about to mold. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner is then served in under 5 minutes if you make your very own little vegetable frittata, which is just an Italian word for open-faced omelet. Have a little meat, too? Throw it in. Freshly cooked vegetables are good 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Cooked chicken, by the way, is ok for 3-4 days, too–as is cooked bacon. Using up your leftovers will make you feel better about living a green life and will make your wallet happy, as well. Continue reading
I occasionally buy too many vegetables because I’m crazy about them. That’s pretty close to how it is. While I like fruit, I love vegetables. I really like meat; I adore fish. But vegetables just do something for me. It has often occurred to me that I’m so attracted to them because they exist in infinite variety, colors, shapes, tastes, textures, sizes, and even styles–think Thai or Japanese eggplant and see below…
Meat comes in brown.
above: soup without half and half
If you’re a soup cookbook writer, you probably love soup. I love soup. I’m seldom happier than when I’m heating up a kettle while chopping a big pile of vegetables. Perhaps I’m happier at the table with a hot bowl and a cold class of wine or driving home knowing there’s a big pot of soup in the fridge making me feel rich. I don’t know.
above: Vegetable soup was a puréed delight at a street cafe in Dubrovnik, Croatia last month
Coming up with a new soup happens in one of many different ways. Maybe there’s something on sale I drag home or someone somewhere has a special dietary need. I might be watching my weight. Perhaps someone leaves garden bounty on my front porch. Could be my sister’s in town and I’m cooking for her. More than once a freezer’s had to be cleaned out and some meat has to be cooked. Whatever happens, however it happens, a big pot of goodness somehow takes shape and comes to the bowl making us happy, healthy, and wondering where it came from. It’s a gift. That’s for sure.
above: my Guacamole Soup with Grilled Shrimp from the soup book–made for my sister’s visit
Come fall, I’m nuts about winter squash. I’m always looking for something to do with it. Something new. Or old again. I also have a heart for wild rice–which is not really rice, but a water-grown grass– having lived in Minnesota. Somehow, last week, needing a big pot of vegetarian soup for a church meeting (someone else was making a soup with meat), I kept thinking of butternut squash and I kept thinking of wild rice. I wasn’t sure how the two would come together, but I knew somehow it would work.
While this soup is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free for Meatless Mondays, it’s easily vegan (see notes to the sides of ingredients in recipe) or made with meat (cook’s notes.) Make it how you’d like. It’s good with or without half and half and, if you’d like a little smoother soup, purée a few cups and add them back into the broth at the end of the cooking time.
WILD RICE INFO:
Wild Rice is actually an acquatic grass and is the official state grain of Minnesota. Please buy Native-American grown, hand-harvested rice to support this important mid-west and Canadian industry. If it’s not available in your grocery, drive to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, or Canada and buy some! It’s worth the trip. Or ask your grocer to carry it. Why not? Otherwise, order on line.
What Native-American rice growers say…
“Manoomin, or wild rice is a gift given to the Anishinaabek from the Creator, and is a centerpiece of the nutrition and sustenance for our community. In the earliest of teachings of Anishinaabeg history, there is a reference to wild rice, known as the food which grows upon the water, the food, the ancestors were told to find, then we would know when to end our migration to the west. It is this profound and historic relationship which is remembered in the wild rice harvest on the White Earth and other reservations-a food which is uniquely ours, and a food, which is used in our daily lives, our ceremonies, and our thanksgiving feasts.” From www.saveourwildrice.com.
Wild rice is a nutritional bonanza:
Wild rice is also a great source of folate, manganese, zinc, and iron, which is great for gluten-free eaters and grain-free eaters who don’t get those nutrients in typical grains like oats, rye, wheat, and other types of grains like brown rice.
above: soup with half and half Continue reading