Thursday, August 12, 2010

may cause you to throw lighters across your kitchen. fair warning.

So after I finally joined the New Castle County library, I searched for the book I wanted: The Commitment by Dan Savage which I'm reading for the first A Practical Wedding meet-up*. It wasn't at the library closest to my house, but I was out running errands yesterday, so I stopped by another branch to get it.

And then. Oh, man, and then. It was so intense. That feeling of being in a library. And knowing I could have ANY BOOK I WANTED FOR FREE. I went up and down the rows, and when I got to the cookbook section I actually teared up. I don't know what came over me. I'm going to blame hormones**.

I've been wanting to get some of Alice Waters' cookbooks, but the branch I visited didn't have any of them. So I browsed and browsed and browsed. And it was WEIRD searching for books by topic rather than authors' last names. Thanks, chain book stores, for destroying my once-impressive knowledge of the Dewey Decimal Sytem***. Anyway. I got this book:

Because I liked the look of that soup on the cover. I had just picked up our CSA box for the week and was feeling overwhelmed by vegetables. This had several potato-and-tomato recipes (the two items that are coming out of our ears) and a peach dessert recipe (we got a bag of peaches and a bag of plums in our fruit share this week). When I got home, I flipped through the book and considered each recipe for dinner, but just ended up making the soup pictured on the cover.

And thank goodness I did! Today is soup day if I've ever seen it. I didn't take pictures while I cooked, but here's the recipe:

French Vegetable Soup with Garlic (the version in the book is with basil and garlic, but the basil was in the form of an accompanying pesto sauce, for which I had none of the ingredients...and this was a use-only-what-you-have kinda meal)
Source: "The Rustic Table: Simple Fare from the World's Kitchens" by Constance Snow
Serves 8 as a one-bowl meal, 12 as a starter

3 T Olive Oil
2 Onions, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
4 to 6 Small Red Potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1/5 lb Green Beans, trimmed and coarsely chopped
6 c Chicken or Beef Stock or Water
4 large Tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or one 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 t Fresh Oregano Leaves, or 1/2 t dried
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper
2 small Zucchini, diced
2 c Cooked White Beans 
2 c Cooked Elbow Macaroni
omitted: processor pesto

Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots, and cook until the onions are golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two longer, being careful not to let it brown. Then add the potatoes, green beans, stock, tomatoes, oregano, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are crisp-tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and white beans; cook until all of the vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked pasta, and cook just until it is heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

My edits:
-Didn't have carrots, stock, bay leaves, zucchini or any white beans. 
-For stock, I used mostly water, and one cube of chicken bouillon. 
-I had a lot more pasta than the recipe calls for, so I roughly doubled everything else.
-Totally forgot to add the oregano, and have been adding the salt and pepper individually by bowl served.
-Added sweet corn somewhere in the middle and grated some cheese at the end (pecorino romano, fyi). I just peeled the silk off an ear, cut the corn off the cob and threw it in the pot. I would've added more than one ear's worth, but the knife I was using sucked, and getting the corn off of one ear was emotionally exhausting enough already.
-Just so you know, this was the first time I ever went through the effort of peeling tomatoes. And I didn't seed them, because GAH what a pointlessly time-consuming task. Who ever complained about eating a tomato seed? I mean other than 3 year olds. Who are treacherous beasts. I just throw it all in the pot. 

I tried to make the doubled recipe in my dutch oven, but it didn't fit. So halfway through I had to transfer it to a huge stew pot. And thank goodness we HAVE huge stew pots. That could've been moderately disastrous otherwise. The pot is in the fridge, mostly full, covered with plastic wrap. Because we don't have tupperware that big. Guess what's going on our eventual registry...

Here's my second bowl of soup today:

It looks nothing like the picture on the cover, even without the cheese and the pepper. Better luck next time, I guess. In any case, it tastes pretty freakin' fab and I didn't have to buy a single thing to make it. And I can be all "Whaddya got WEATHER? 'Cause I got awesome soup!" And weather will twist up its face and go whimper in the corner. Done.

*Which you should join. Even if you're not engaged or in a relationship. Just come. I'm going to the one in DC because we're planning to move there very soon. Which is another post entirely. For now: come to the meet up. You can ride with me.
**No, I'm not pregnant, I'm just a very hormonal girl. Stop with the finger-pointing.
**That's the kind of sh*t you learn in Catholic school. After you've mastered sentence-diagramming and Algebra. They fill up the rest of your time with LIBRARY CLASSES which literally test you on the Dewey Decimal System method. See? My expertise isn't random, it's Catholic.


Anonymous said...

i haven't read that one but I have the kid at my dad's house if you want to borrow that one.


ceejus said...

yeah, i'd love to read it. i have to read the commitment before september 11th, and what with this unemployment i just have no idea how i'm going to find the time.