So New York was lucky, and Hermine did not hit us – not even in Post Tropical Storm levels. Instead, according to the National Weather Service, she “meandered” (their word, not mine!) out at sea, and eventually broke up, just sending us a little rain. It was enough, though, to remind us all of Irene and Sandy, and the reasons I keep canned chicken and kitchen matches in the house…
The CSA vegetables are simply pouring in. I made and froze more mirepoix, sauteed and froze beautiful fresh onions, and there is a pile of greens waiting for me to cook and freeze them as green muffins. And for now, I made soup, since it is starting to cool off. I know I always seem to eat soup or salad for lunch, but in fact, my favorite lunch in delis and cafeterias for years was both soup and salad. I just don’t always pull myself together to make both at home in time for lunch…
But I had a crisper full of vegetables hitting the Need To Use stage, and a few quarts of bone broth from chickens and a ham, and the weather is cooling off. I took out the big soup pot and got to work. Onion, carrot and celery – that mirepoix, again – all went into the pot to be sauteed, as did a couple of jalapenos.
Once they were soft, I added yellow squash that had seen better days, and zucchini, and an ear of corn I found hiding in the back of the crisper drawer… Maybe other stuff? I don’t really remember… (Soup is an excellent way to prepare vegetables you didn’t get to when they were in their prime! Which can be a hazard of a CSA, or a garden – the harvest waits for no woman.) Then, in went all the broth, some salt, and fresh minced sage leaves, and it simmered.
But you want to know what I ate all day.
What I Ate
I mentioned a ham… Ham is so versatile, I love to have it on hand. It’s good on its own, of course, but also terrific in small amounts with beans or eggs, in soup and stir frys. It just adds so much flavor!
So I heated a little chopped ham in my fry pan, scrambled eggs in with it, and used that in my tacos. And good they were! Tacos are still one of the easiest breakfasts I can make and eat, so while I enjoy muffins and waffles and all, I eat the tortillas more frequently. I could make tortillas, but I can also buy them, which is useful.
Back to the soup! Once it had simmered a while, and all the vegetables were tender, I added some cooked chicken. In fact, I added a can of chicken from that emergency stash. You must remember to rotate emergency food, so that if something does happen and you need it, you don’t find yourself with a five year old can of something starting to go rancid… We recently bought another pack of cans at Costco, and this was the last of the old ones. I don’t really like the texture of canned chicken, and it’s actually more expensive than fresh, so we don’t use it much – but it works well in soup.
Now, I never used to like rice in soup, because it sat there and got all soggy. (You may have noticed that Texture Matters to me.) I have learned the work around, though, which is to put cooked rice in your bowl, ladle the boiling soup over it, and the soup heats the rice (so you don’t have to – it’s easy.) That, by the way, is also the traditional way to handle rice noodles – just soak them first to soften them.
I ate a couple of bowls of that for lunch, because I had just cooked the soup and didn’t want to fuss with anything else. I put a few quarts away, though, and have already had a bowl of soup with a salad, yesterday. At that rate, it lasts a few days (one quart is in the freezer, for later.)
For dinner, I made some polenta. While it simmered, I sliced frozen Italian sausage into coins, sauteed that, and then added more yellow squash, and, at the last minute, cherry tomatoes. Spooned all that over the polenta (which was grits, maybe, since I didn’t cook it as long as I usually cook polenta?) and topped it with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. The whole meal took less than half an hour, including the polenta, and I was only in the kitchen about half that time.
So – on the one hand, soup that took time and effort, but gives me the basics for lunch all week, and then a super easy dinner. It’s all about balance, working with the energy I have, and maximizing the results of my effort. Right now, I seem to have more energy in the morning (and may I tell you that’s a shock – late afternoon was my peak time the whole rest of my life!) So I have started to do bulk cooking then, when it is easier. That’s also, now and for the next six months, when I have the best light, so I will just have to get used to cooking then for the blog, as well. (Except for things that won’t reheat well. We eat this food, after all, and even for you, Dear Reader, I won’t serve Rich soggy overcooked dinners… But many of my recipes are designed to reheat well, so I do have options.)