Category Archives: food

Baffled by soup

The soup was only okay in spite of good ingredients and the same steps that have produced outstanding results. That’s how it goes.

There’s basil, parsley, garlic, collard greens, cabbage, carrots, onion, chicken sausage and homemade chicken stock. Added hot sesame oil and a squeeze of lime at the end. Maybe the lime was a mistake? Unlike softer greens which can be thrown in at the end or even off heat, I wilted the collards and green cabbage in advance.

hipstamaticphoto-526146593.781019

when I chop garlic, I chop enough for days

Sad to say, I broke my favorite knife in the process (the ceramic chef’s knife that was a Christmas gift years ago). I dropped it in a moment of distraction created by the hot handles of my Dutch oven. That made me decide to replace the damned pot (not the one in the picture) — in addition to poorly designed handles, its heat conduction is awful, producing side scorching and smoking olive oil routinely. Enough!

Besides, you should see the beauties I can get with frequent flyer miles!

Prose and soup

“Read at the level at which you want to write.” Jennifer Egan (brainpickings.org)

I couldn’t read Roth until I was older and now he is one of my favorite writers. I hope he never dies! I may have read this Zuckerman novel before (or maybe it just seems familiar because it takes place in the Berkshires where I was born and lived a good many years?) No matter, it’s worth a re-read.

Here’s a sentence: “My guess was that it would take even the fiercest Hun the better part of a winter to cross the glacial waterfalls and wind-blasted woods of those mountain wilds before he was able to reach the open edge of Lonoff’s hayfields, rush the rear storm door of the house, crash through the study, and, with spiked bludgeon wheeling high in the air above the little Olivetti, cry out in a roaring voice to the writer tapping out his twenty-seventh draft, ‘You must change your life!'”

Swoon.


Beef with barley soup for lunch after another frigid walk with the dog. And since K won’t be here for dinner, I’m not even cooking: a bowl of fruit, yogurt and sunflower seeds topped with honey from Charleston.


*thank you Mo for link on FB to the article.


Soup and salad


This shrimp, bean, and chicken sausage soup was delicious! Not only does it come together in a hurry, but most of the ingredients are stock pantry and fridge items, meaning it could become a regular in my weeknight lineup. If you’re like me, you keep onions, black beans, and boxed chicken stock in the pantry, as well as frozen shrimp and corn in the freezer. I very often have a four pack of chicken sausage in the cold cut drawer as well because they keep forever and are a good alternative to beef and pork. Cilantro was the only thing I might not have on hand, but thankfully, I did.



There are both black beans and white beans in this soup, but the starring role goes to the white beans — baby white limas. I went in search of these beans while still in SC after an outstanding lunch at Bertha’s Kitchen* in North Charleston. I gushed about the meal on Facebook and a former Charleston resident commented, “Go to Doscher’s Market.” (That would be Donna Hardy of Sea Island Indigo. She ran the workshop I attended in 2014).


Doscher’s Market is an IGA in West Ashley that’s been run by a German family for generations. Part of the secret to their success has been to cater to their customers, who are largely African American. One article I read noted, “there are smoked pig parts representing everything but the squeal”.**

While I looked for the dried beans, K wandered along the seemingly endless meat counter in curious amazement.

Here’s the recipe.

Shrimp, Sausage and Bean Soup
Serves 4

Night before: pour boiling water over one cup of baby white lima beans and leave to soak. While assembling the soup the next day, drain the beans and bring to a slow boil in about three cups of water. I did not add salt.

1/2 onion, chopped
2 chicken sausage, cut in quarter moons
1/2 T red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
14 ounce can black beans, without liquid
one box organic chicken stock (if no homemade in the house)
1/4 c chopped cilantro for cooking, more for serving

Handful frozen shrimp
1 c frozen corn
And, if on hand, two cups cooked rice

S&P

Saute onions in olive oil, add salt, and once wilted, throw in sausage and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat. Add six or seven cloves of diced or smashed garlic, allow their aroma to rise (about 90 seconds), then pour in chicken stock, diced tomatoes (with juice) and black beans (without liquid). If white beans are done, add them as well. Because the delicious, soupy side dish that I had at Bertha’s Kitchen looked to contain bean cooking liquid, I included some here. I happened to have cooked white rice from the night before, so I added two big clumps. Smash to separate and then throw in cilantro, frozen corn, and frozen shrimp. Cook to heat through, roughly five minutes.

Serve. Add more fresh cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add a few jazzes of hot sauce. I poured my husband’s soup over toasted and buttered, homemade cornbread. With two kinds of beans plus rice and corn in the soup, that’s a little bit of carbo overkill, but not enough to render the dish unhealthy. Mine, I ate as is and it was very good and just as good the next day!

Now on to a spectacular lobster salad. If the soup belongs in the realm of week night cuisine, this one is for special occasions. A friend who parked her car in our driveway for two consecutive weekends brought us a container of cooked lobster as a thank you (she’s from Maine). That container was crammed full with SIX lobster tails. Oh man!

Lobster Salad 

1/3 c chopped red onion
1/2 T fennel
Put these two ingredients in a bowl and cover with boiled water. Soak while assembling the rest of salad.

1/2 green pepper, diced (would have used celery, but was out)
1 T capers, rinsed
2 generous T sweet relish
Couple big blobs of mayo
6 lobster tails, cut in chunks

The mayonnaise, which was probably about 1/2 cup, was slightly excessive. Also, we use full fat mayo in this house but I’m certain substituting a reduced fat version would have worked (but never no fat — gross!)

I didn’t think it would need salt because of the capers, but just a little dash helped. Since part of the glory of this gift was how easy it made dinner prep, I forewent spritzing the salad with lemon just before serving… it would have brightened the flavors nicely, I’m sure.

The fennel seeds were my sister’s idea. She’s a more adventurous cook than I and also had, coincidentally, just seen a cooking program on which the chef asserted that ‘no French cook would dream of serving seafood without fennel’. I was skeptical but went ahead anyway and I have to say that small cluster of seeds added a subtle and nice perfume. Definitely recommend.

Oh yum. YUM!  And there’s enough for Saturday lunch!

PS  When the news gets too unbearable to discuss, too awful in too many directions to wrap your mind around, count on food posts. They are reliably engaging to write and wonderful, constructive distractions.

* Bertha’s Kitchen has just been named an America’s Classic by the James Beard Foundation. The prestigious award is reserved for “beloved regional restaurants, distinguished by their timeless appeal”. Read more in this Post and Courier article.  

**Tim Allen of Rebellion Farm wrote that IGA article. Funnily enough, I’ve eaten pig that he’s roasted. “How can that be?” you ask. Well, he was the farmer who hosted Donna Hardy’s indigo workshop. Well-known Charleston Chef BJ Dennis catered the rest of the meal, by the way. (I didn’t know how illustrious he was until later, when I started to follow him on Instagram). Here’s my description of that meal from 2014. If you do a little research on southern food, you will find interesting and on-going discussion about cultural appropriation, foods of the African diaspora, and lasting contributions of the enslaved to Southern culture. 

Festive salad and Salem visit

Lost my mojo. In fact, the campaign and election were disturbing enough to convert me from a “woman who yells” to one who cries. I still feel off, but miss my blog peeps, so here I am with a modest offering of food. This delicious winter salad has four ingredients: romaine, slivered radicchio, thin-sliced red onion, and pomegranate seeds. Topped with a mustard/garlic vinaigrette on the tangy side. The red bits look festive, don’t you think?

Good thing it was tasty because for some reason the frittata bombed. Came out like a rubber mat with inclusions of goat cheese. Seriously.

C acted the good sport and came to Salem with me today. Removed a cruddy rug. Got the AC unit down to the basement. Moved the bed and the exercise machine. We shopped for food and wine. Pictures were hung, curtains put up, and a few decorations fetched from storage.

This was AFTER C. bagged up another five bags of leaves for the neighbor who hired him, making a total of 28. Whew! It was the last leaf pick up in our town. On our side of the fence, it went pretty painlessly. The guy I thought I hired never showed and I’m glad because being outside and raking was one of the sanest and most grounding activities of the last few weeks.

Potato rice soup

By the time we turn the clocks back and it’s dark at 3:45, I will be semi-hibernating. This soup is perfect preparation.

This recipe is courtesy of Lidia Bastianach (of PBS fame). Quick, simple and really tasty!
img_6929A lot happening here, but most lies beyond the pale of my blogging. Writing progresses. Care giving goes on (and on).


The campaign continues to occupy and discourage and disorient. Fear whispers over my shoulder. The vitriol. The hate. The incitement to violence. Where will it all go, come November 9?

After the release of the pussy-grabbing tape, I had one of my Male Intruder dreams — a distress that belongs squarely in that orange-haired lunatic’s lap (oh gross. never mind). I used to have some variation of this dream frequently — sometimes as much as two or three times a week.


(The dream:  He has a rifle. He’s in my house. He wants to kill me and he would have but I wake).

But to be clear, it is Trump’s allegiance to delusion and his pervasive, unstoppable lying that terrify me the most. It’s unbelievable how he makes shit up. It’s equally unbelievable how his followers just eat it all up. What has happened here? Is there any going back?

Thank goodness beauty can’t hear him. Thank goodness fall offers her gifts without regard to politics. One spectacular day follows another.



Heart rash and quiche

A red patch of itch over my heart. Don’t want to ponder its meaning. Just like I didn’t want to think too hard last week about the significance of leaving my power cord at the library.

There’s this: I went to Salem yesterday and it was disheartening for all the usual (mind bending heart rending) reasons. And this: a writer friend sent me an article about self-publishing that harshly critiqued the unreasonable expectations of first time authors and outlined why self-publishing was probably the more likely path to success and then ticked off the fifty things one needed to do to be successful at self-promotion (and I thought selling quilts was awful!). That kept me awake a good extra hour and a half last night.

And it’s still really really hot. We have AC but the body still sweats and suffers walking Finn taking out the garbage running errands. I plan to write swim write today. Maybe Walden Pond for a change? After getting back from China late Saturday night, K is taking the week off.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the quiche I made last night. Hadn’t made one in ages. Oh the steps! The mixing chilling rolling chilling baking one way then another. And that’s just the crust! It was 7:30 before we finally ate. With a filling of egg, carmelized onions with thyme from the garden plus a little bit of Swiss, it was worth both the wait and the gluten cheat.