Back in the kitchen

February 20, 2011

I had grand plans. Test recipes during nap time. Photograph during nap time. Write during nap time. I’m not ashamed to admit my expectations of life at home with a newborn were completely (completely!) fantastical. Proving that I could “manage the house” with a newborn while poo-pooing the “sleep when he sleeps” mantra was sort of what I had in mind before we brought the wee one home. And then we brought the wee one home. I’ve since accepted that cooking for pleasure must take a back seat to sleeping, showering, sleeping, eating and sleeping if I have any intention of remaining sane, married and capable of caring for my two boys. The sacrifice has been more than worth it, but after nearly a month I was itching to get back in the kitchen for more than just bowls of cereal and toasted cheese.
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Summer worthy soup

August 4, 2010

Smokey Roasted Tomato Soup with Chipotle

A perk (in my opinion, others might call it a sacrifice) of living in the Midwest is having four true seasons. From the bitter, snowy winters to the green, rainy springs to the balmy, humid summers to the golden, crisp falls and back again, we see it all. I’m grateful for this because, frankly, I quickly become impatient and am easily bored. With the weather, anyways. Take right this minute for example. Summer. It’s been here, officially, for 45 days. So we have, officially, 49 more days to go. (This involved some “research” and apparently there is some dispute about the length of Summer. Some say 91 days, others 94, 104 or 500. We’re going with 94 today.) The majority would celebrate this and the fact that for at least 49 more days, cookouts, zucchini and frozen pies are still “in season”. As I write this I’m feeling more and more guilty about wanting to haul my box of sweaters out of storage, and about the stack of roasted, stewed and braised recipes I’ve been printing and hoarding since early July. Instead of yearning for the next season, I should be living in the moment, reminding myself that in less than four months I will likely be donning galoshes and mittens and five tons of clothes and cursing this post. So until then, I’ll compromise. I’ll eat fall/winter fare in the dead of Summer, because I’m sweating anyways. But I’ll meet Summer halfway because that’s only fair. Taking advantage of the most fantastic crop of the season, the tomato, seems like a pretty sweet deal.
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Spring soup for you

April 28, 2010

Spring Vegetable and Wild Rice Soup

I bought leeks, green beans and asparagus for a recipe I’ve had brewing in the back of my head for the last couple of weeks. I had good intentions Monday. No after work plans. I’d attempt this culinary brainchild. But Monday brought with it a case of the Mondays. Driving home from work, my good intentions began to fade. I could feel the early symptoms of cushion syndrome creeping in. It begins with reasoning that it’s too windy for a run, followed by determining that you most certainly have enough clean underwear to get you through the week, thus doing laundry is not necessary, and convincing yourself the fresh vegetables you just bought will likely last until Thursday, your next open weeknight. Then full blown cushion syndrome presents itself as follows: You walk in the house, set down your keys, drop your shoulder bag, slide off your shoes and make a beeline for the couch cushions. All bets are off at this point. No run. No housework. No cooking, for sure.

And so it happened this past Monday. My tush found its way to the cush. Then the voices started. (I know, right! Cushion syndrome and voices? What a Monday, indeed!) The guilt voices. The ones that pointed out dust on the coffee table and the dishwasher full of clean dishes. The voices that convinced me I really should do a load of whites to save me from having to wear hole-y underwear. And the voices that asked why I didn’t just jump on the treadmill if it was so windy outside. That did it. I made my way to the kitchen. Productive procrastination. I’d cook. Then I’d be doing something without doing what I should really be doing. Hey, everyone needs to eat! It all makes sense in my mind. But the thought of experimenting with a new recipe did not appeal in the slightest. Instead, I turned all of those fresh vegetables into this soup. It was next to mindless but promised something comforting, a sure treatment for the Mondays. Soup never disappoints.
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Sunshine in a bowl

March 5, 2010

Red Lentil Soup

I’m considering renaming this blog ‘for the love of lentils’ or ‘the sentimental lentil’. Have you caught on to my mild obsession with this legume?

The past few sunny days we’ve been enjoying suggest that Spring weather might actually make an appearance before May (details on the exact date and time are forthcoming; Mother Nature is all about the element of surprise this year). But, alas, Winter still reigns which means soup is still on the menu. You won’t hear me complaining, especially when it comes to this red lentil soup. Kyle and I used to enjoy something very similar at a tiny Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago. It was always served before the main course in a small white bowl with a generous wedge of lemon. While all of the food was authentic and fantastic, the soup won me over every time. Before finishing school and moving back to Cleveland, we asked The Nile’s ever gracious owner about the secret to his soup. He claimed there was really no exact recipe (which I took to mean he wasn’t disclosing the family secret), just a sauté of aromatics blended with stock, red lentils, turmeric and lemon (if my memory serves me correct). While this version isn’t The Nile’s, it’s pretty close and takes me back to my favorite college days.
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On leeks and groundhogs

February 1, 2010

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

We spent the day Saturday skiing with my family in New York. It was a very good time. And it was very cold. I don’t believe the thermostat registered above 9 degrees, sans windchill. After about two hours I swore on every lift up that it would be my last run, as I’d be just as happy watching from the lodge with a mug of hot cocoa (which really meant a hot toddy which really meant a glass of cabernet). Yet I kept falling into the chairlift line at the end of every brisk trip down, somehow ready for more. In addition to wiggling my toes and fingers for the duration of the trip back up, I’d distract myself with my grocery list, chores for the rest of the weekend and the work week ahead. I also distracted myself with thoughts of hot steaming soup and decided that Sunday most definitely called for a pot.
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