March 19, 2013 § 20 Comments
I wasn’t kidding about the soups (I even made another one today for lunch. This one, in fact, but with kale instead of cabbage). And, as you can see, I definitely wasn’t kidding about the spinach and pine nut soup. Actually, I used the soup and my desire to make it as an excuse to have an impromptu St. Patrick’s/St. Urho‘s day dinner for a few friends. Clearly there is nothing very Irish (or Finnish for that matter) about spinach and pine nuts, but check out how green that soup is! I decided that with a side of soda bread and some good Irish butter and cheddar it would suit us just fine.
And it did. It’s actually quite a wonderful soup. No wonder I used to make it as a starter for dinner parties all the time! Come to think of it, I think I first served this soup (or a version of it) at the first serious dinner party I ever hosted. That was back in the day, back during my sophomore year of college, if I remember correctly.
Courtesy of my first year of college, I developed such an aversion to the food at the school’s dining hall, I convinced the school to let me not be on a meal plan at all, and I started cooking for myself in the tiny – and usually disgusting with other students’ crusty leftover midnight macaroni and cheese pots and half eaten bags of microwave popcorn – dorm kitchen down at the end of the hallway.
That was pretty much my start of cooking seriously for myself, though in this context “serious” meant a lot of chicken breasts with steamed broccoli interspersed with granola or Special K bars for dinner. (The Special K bar dinner was the saddest.) I also discovered how very lonely it can be to sit and eat dinner in silence by yourself every single night. I suppose that must have contributed to my passion for sharing meals, and I started devising ways to coax others to dine with me. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 14, 2013 § 24 Comments
I’ve been going through a spate of soup-mania lately. Vast quantities of soup have been making their way from the kitchen to my lips. It’s practically all I want to eat.
I mean, I always like soup, but right now something about the world, the liminality of so many things – not the least of which being the season – is making soup particularly appealing. When you’re in between winter and spring as well as all sorts of projects, just waiting (and waiting (and waiting)) for people to get back to you about pesky little things like edits and comments, what better to do than a little slurping? Soup is there to oblige all slurping needs. Also, I have a private theory that I’ve been dehydrated because of the dryness in the air, and my body is trying to make up for the fact that 10 or so cups of water a day just isn’t quite enough by steering me towards eating liquid food as well. Is that even possible? Not sure.
Anyhow, I’ve had avocado soup for lunch for about 5 days in a row. We’ve had sourdough tomato soup, and Norwegian fiskesuppe (with some extra parsnip and tiny arctic shrimp added), and creamy squash soup, and pho. To name just a few. I also just had the sudden flicker of a memory of a spinach and pine nut soup that I used to make for dinner parties in college (because I hosted dinner parties in college. With no kegs or even drinking games. Because I was that cool.). I’ll have to make that some time soon because doesn’t that sound good?
This soup, though, I consider the culmination of sorts (though not the sort of culmination that signals the end. No way. More soups to come, so if you’re a soup person you should come on over…). The soup to rule all soups, you might say. A soup so filled with wonderful things that it is a considerable stretch to call it a soup. It should be eaten with a fork. Indeed, it should be so thick a fork should stand right up in it. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 2, 2013 § 35 Comments
Happy, happy New Year to you all! Did you ring in the New Year in style?
I know we did. Much more stylishly than we really are, in fact. But if the holidays aren’t a time to up your style game, when is, right?
Perhaps it’s the crash after the high of holiday activity, perhaps it’s that the New Year always makes me nearly as nostalgic as October does, but I’m now left feeling quietly morose. “Another year,” a voice somewhere inside of me sighs, “another year, and I still don’t understand.”
So I’m sitting in our living room now, which feels dark as the Christmas twinkle lights have all been put back into boxes, wondering to myself, ‘understand what? What do I so yearn to understand?’
The answer, I’m sorry to say, is anything and everything, as far as I can tell. The answer is Life.
Day by day life happens, intermittently glorious and terrible, and I don’t understand any of it. At all. Not a bit.
I’m suddenly remembering a quote my mother told to me earlier this year (I’m not entirely sure of its origin), “this thing of which we speak cannot be found by seeking. But only seekers will find it.”
I don’t entirely understand the quote either, but it speaks to me about life and meaning on a level separate from understanding. I feel somehow like that’s it. Like maybe trying to understand won’t get you anywhere. Life just is, it isn’t an entity to be dissected and understood. You have to get out of your own way, but at the same time seek and make that daily effort to get out of your own way. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 21, 2012 § 15 Comments
I’m going to make this one quick because, let’s face it, I don’t have much spare time today, and you don’t either. Too much crimping of pie edges, dry brining of turkeys, simmering of cranberries, and such and so to be done.
Or, if we’re completely honest, spilling of half bowls of pie dough on the floor, forgetting to take out the turkey, and smoldering of forgotten pots of cranberries. I am thankful for (among the many more standard things that I am deeply grateful for) brooms, basting with butter (a highly worthy alternative to brining), and smoke detectors. Though perhaps not in that order.
I am also thankful for this soup because it is the solution to the ‘what shall we eat the night before Thanksgiving?’ dilemma. (Or if you are in another country, it’s the solution to almost any other dilemma you can come up with.)
I love this recipe in part because the way Merrill – one of the cofounders of Food52 – came up with it is the same way I come up with ever so many dinners. She saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon” written on a coffee shop signboard. She thought to herself, “da@* that sounds good” (it’s the holidays, so I’m being careful with my naughty words, see?), and proceeded to try to make her own version.
I have done the same many a time. Also, the exact same thought ran through my own head when I saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon,” so I knew I had to make it tout de suite. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 8, 2012 § 28 Comments
Is it quite terrible that one of the things I liked best about Boston was the length of the corduroy jacket season? It stretched on seemingly into perpetuity, that in-between temperature season where you can throw a corduroy jacket over your t-shirt or over your wooly sweater and be happy.
I really love wearing my corduroy jacket, you see.
This makes me sound so frivolous, doesn’t it?! It is frivolous. Forgive me, I’m a flake! At least where corduroy is involved. And boots too, but let’s stick with corduroy for the moment. The point is, here I wore my corduroy jacket for perhaps two days, and then the season was over.
It snowed a little bit both days this weekend. In some places, actually, it snowed a lot! I absolutely love snow, and I say bring it on. The temperature is hovering right around freezing, the smell of leaves and an edge of snow are trapped, suspended in the chill, dry air. It smells like I remember Halloween weather always smelling. The ground is coated with crackling leaves, maple, birch, and aspen, and in many ways, this is actually my very favorite kind of weather. I keep being overcome by a delirious happiness when I step outside and feel that air and smell that smell. Except, gosh I’d like to be able to wear my corduroy jacket for a little bit longer.
I’d also like to have cake and eat it too while acquiring grass in a similar shade of green as that on the other side, if it’s not too much trouble, thank you. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 8, 2012 § 25 Comments
So, I think I might have had more to share with you. Some further reflections, maybe a recipe, and many many thanks for your wonderful, kind response to my post about my feast. But it’s going to have to wait. It will have to wait because my consciousness has been completely and irrevocably subsumed by this soup.
It’s like a secret that’s just too good. It takes on a will of its own, growing and pushing and elbowing until it burbles out to be shared, whether or not you meant for it to be aired. I do want to share this soup with you, and it has decided that it simply can’t wait any longer.
When we ate it for supper a while back Joel exclaimed, “this is the first soup that I can say without qualification that I love.” Myself, I would count it among a very small handful of soups that I have truly loved. But it is the only one of said soups that does not also contain more than my week’s allotment of cream in a single bowl.
March 20, 2012 § 11 Comments
A while back, more years than I’d like to consider actually – oh. yes. that’s a little scary to think about – I took a journalism class. As with so many classes, I remember very little from it. A few things, however, are indelibly stuck in my memory: the inverted pyramid format of conveying information (most important info first, juicy details later), which I found I abhored; the maxim, “if it bleeds it leads” (meaning, violence always get the front page); and the professor’s counsel that the public always wants stories about war, scandal, children, and pets.
I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. Or maybe it’s just that those are never the things I want to write about. (Good thing I didn’t wind up going into journalism!) Except today. Today I want to write about pets, specifically, my pet. You’ve all already humored me so much, but now I’m going to make you listen to just one more story about the puppy.
Because, this weekend, we took her to the beach, and she saw the ocean for the first time.
It was pure joy to watch her awe as she crested a dune and started at the sight of the water. She stared for a long moment, just like I do whenever I arrive at the ocean, actually. Then, she initiated a game of chase with the waves. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 3, 2012 § 18 Comments
On Thursday it snowed! Finally. It wasn’t the best timing since Joel was flying back from a work trip that night, but it was snow, and I wanted it! The winter has been so sparse and brown, and when I looked out at the fragile white coating on the ground I literally felt what is meant by “a sight for sore eyes.” My strained retinas relaxed perceptibly, and something inside me that has been tight and knotted all winter relaxed and unwound just slightly. I’m a northerner. My heart aches for a real winter.
I think you can see it in the photos too, that de-saturated grey light that comes with flakes suspended in the air. Today it’s drizzling, so the snow won’t last long. But it was there, and I was happy.
But anyways, what was I here to tell you about? Focus. Focus. Reel it in, Emily. Ah yes, soup.
February 3, 2012 § 6 Comments
Ok guys, I’ve got to come clean. I’m a hater. Okay, well not really a hater, though I’m worried I’ll come across as such (Hmm, I don’t think “hater” and “as such” are frequently used together in a sentence like that. Also, I sound like a ding dong when I try to say something like hater. But I’ve gone and done it, so let’s put it past us, alright?). I just don’t really get American sports, and I’m afraid I really don’t get the Superbowl. (I can’t even remember if it’s one word or two.) Up until college, I kind of thought the Superbowl happened once every four years, like World Cup Soccer (that is, football to the rest of the world) or the Olympics.
The Olympics! Now there’s exciting sports to watch! Particularly the winter Olympics. See, by virtue of how I was raised, I find Nordic skiing, biathlon, long-distance speed skating, and the like, to be the most thrilling displays of athletic prowess. Oh my gosh. I lose my words. I think about the men’s Nordic skiing relay in ’94 and ’98, the EPIC battle between Norway and Italy, Norway losing (gasp) on their home turf in Lillehammer by 4/10ths of a second, then avenging their loss in Nagano, with a dramatic sprint finish by Thomas Alsgaard, beating the Italians by 2/10ths of a second.
Phew! Heavens. My heart races and I find myself squeezing the life out of the nearest chair arm just thinking about it. I have to catch my breath for a second.
Okay, now tell me that that’s not more exciting than the Superbowl.
January 2, 2012 § 20 Comments
What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failing?
It’s not an original question, I’ll admit. Quite the contrary, in fact. It’s pretty painfully cheesy, like those horrible motivational posters we used to have in our gym locker rooms for high school sports, or the quotes I carefully wrote into my journals, in metallic pens and with cutesy cut-outs as decorations.
Yet, it was the question I found myself asking in my mind last night as I got ready for bed and contemplated the journey back to Boston and working/studying/data analysis/teaching/writing/whatever-it-is-I-actually-do after a swift and very full holiday vacation. I have a tentative nature when it comes to work and school, and I put a lot of effort, particularly mental effort, into trying to make sure I do everything right and just as others want. The idea of failing is so scary I almost never allow myself to fully contemplate it.