Grady watched me haul the old trailer, really not much more than a heavily dented silver box, into the corner of our yard, unhitch it from the truck and carefully drive away. I saw him shaking his head on the porch and decided to ignore him as long as I could.
“What is this?” he asked me later. We sat in the parlor, surrounded by our books and the property was quiet, the dogs asleep with the cat. I kept my head in my book. “Is this another thing? About Betty?”
I glanced out the window. Even though it was dark and I couldn’t see a a thing, it made me feel better knowing the silver box was out there. How could I explain that to Grady when I couldn’t even explain it to myself? “You barely knew her,” he insisted. “You didn’t even go to the funeral.”
He was right about half those things. When Mama called to tell me, I barely had time to finish the conversation, let alone board a flight to Kent. I press the corner of the book into my round belly as if it can squash the shame. “She had a fallout shelter. I tell you that?”
“No. She did?”
“Yeah.” I shifted in my seat and the dogs lifted their heads. “She’d let us play down there when we went over for dinner. I couldn’t get over all the stuff down there, all the cans and rations. She had enough for an army.” My grandmother was a nearly silent woman and lived alone. She had spindly arms and a hunched back, even as a younger woman. As a child, I marveled at the giant bags of potatoes at the foot of the ladder, in a neat pile; how had she hauled them down there? When she brought bowls of steaming soup to the table, her hands shook.
I asked Mama once why she had the shelter and Mama shrugged in that agitated way that tells you this was the short answer for a long conversation, “It makes her feel better, Annette.” And then she shook her head and tapped her cigarette out the window. “Because she’s a crazy person.”
“Are we really,” Grady said with a shake of his own head, “Going to be those people with an old trailer in our yard?”
“We are,” I said and my voice was firmer than either of us expected. I gripped the edge of the book and imagined how Grandma Betty felt when things shakier than usual and she climbed down the steel stairs, surrounded by everything she needed. I imagined filling the trailer myself, lining the shelves with cans, storing bags of potatoes in the corners. I took a deep breath.
Welcome to our first heritage recipe!
Nicole and I were discussing what we’d like to do with this space and agreed that the idea of modernizing classic recipes appealed to us both. We’re going to be searching for recipes that are passed down through generations or have relevance in a particular time/place, trying them out and tweaking them to our particular tastes. Some will be from our own families, some from chefs but mostly from home-cooks around the country. If you have a family recipe you’d like us to try, we hope you’ll share it with us!
We chose this Simple Potato Soup because it’s winter, everything is white and classic comfort food felt like a great place to start. Also as a result of researching this recipe, I now am the leading expert on evaporated milk so feel free to ask me anything. (Did you know it was first called Sterilized Cream? Good job guys- perfect name. Don’t change a thing.)
Simple Potato Soup with Honey & Sea Salt
Origins: Popular among grandmothers and great-grandmothers, recipe likely originates from the can of evaporated milk in the 20s and 30s. Evaporated milk debuted in America in 1899 as a safe, shelf-stable alternative to unregulated milk. Original recipes boast little more than potatoes, onion, flour, butter and evaporated milk- we found it a little bland and added a little sweetness, boosted the salt. You can do a lot of things to potato soup but there’s something even more comforting about stripping it down and keeping it simple. Substitutions for evaporated milk can be found below.
Makes: 4 Servings | Print Recipe
2 Pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks about 1 1/2”
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1/2 Stick of salted butter
Water to cover
1 (12 oz) Can of evaporated milk*
2 Tablespoons of honey
Grilled bread for serving
- Toss the potatoes with the onion, our, salt and pepper and set aside to rest about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the potato mixture to the pot and stir to coat. Add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, stir in the milk, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Taste, adjust salt and pepper, and continue simmering uncovered until soup reaches desired consistency and thickness. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until some chunks still remain. Stir in honey to taste and serve with grilled bread.
*Substitutions for evaporated milk: Boil 2 and 1/4 milk down to 1 cup (Grandma: Who has time to do that? Just buy the can!) You can also do the same to almond milk, 2 cups down to 1 cup (Grandma: Almond milk? What in tarnation is that? Hippie nonsense?) Or split between milk and half & half (Grandma just shakes her head.)
“Into the pot you go,” Shan said. He spoke aloud when he cooked, as if coaxing a confession from the ingredients. As an adult, a grown man with children and grandchildren of his own, it would bring a smile to Kayin’s face. As a boy, he sighed with impatience and resisted the urge to tap his hands against the round table. The room smelled sticky and rich, the sheen of the broth resting itself temporarily on Shan’s face.
Shan knew his grandson was hungry. Kayin was always very, very hungry. He hungered for everything under the sun, even the sun; the morning before last, Shan had opened the door to find Kayin standing in the tall grass, his round face tilted up to the sun with his mouth open wide. Now he sat at the table and watched Shan’s every move. “Into the pot, one, two, three.” Shan would not be rushed, not even for his grandson. He kept one eye on the pot and one eye on Kayin, in case Kayin gave in to his urge and began to chomp at the table.
He had not always been so hungry, Kayin. When his mother lived, he had enough. Now, there was never enough for Kayin. Shan stirred the pot and urged patience, for them both.
Happy New Year! We resisted the urge to continue filling the blog with cookies and bars and other sweet treats. Instead, you’re getting a taste of what’s in our kitchens these days. Rich, soul-satisfying soups, stews and broths.
Every year, it seems like there are more and more cleanses happening but it’s never been my style. It’s just so… severe. I need a little comfort with my austerity, if that makes any sense. I need heat and heft and something, you know, to chew. Chewing is good, I think. Chewing implies that you’re working some stuff out, in your head and in your heart- mulling it, chewing it, thinking it over.
You know (as I’ve said every year) how much I thoroughly adore the spirit of January. I just do. Spring may be nature’s renewal but January is our renewal time. And I do, I just love it. Bring on the self-help books and the encouraging articles about habits and getting organized and stress-relief tips and “letting it go” and mindfulness and heart health. Love love love. January is a month of chicken soup for the soul and this year, we need it more than ever.
So here’s my own tip, to be tossed into the ring with all the others- protect your eyes. Don’t shut out the world but don’t absorb so much that you become immune to its pains. Take care of your heart this month. Yes, you need to listen. Yes, you need to know. But you’re only going to be a force of good in the world if you hold on to the good with two hands and don’t let it drown in the bad. Take care of your heart, please. Do it for all of us.
Shrimp Khao Soi
4 Large New Mexico or guajillo chiles, stemmed, halved, seeded*
2 Medium shallots, halved
8 Garlic cloves
One 2″ Piece of ginger, peeled, sliced
1/4 Cup of chopped cilantro stems
1 Tablespoon of ground coriander
1 Tablespoon of ground turmeric
1 Teaspoon of curry powder
2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
Two 14 Oz. cans of unsweetened coconut milk
2 Cups of chicken broth, low sodium
1 and 1/2 Lb of shrimp
1 Lb of Chinese egg noodles
3 Tablespoons of fish sauce (to taste)
1 Tablespoon of packed palm or light brown sugar
Sliced red onion, bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, crispy fried onions or shallots, chili oil and lime wedges (for serving)
Make the paste:
1. Place chiles in a small heatproof bowl, add boiling water to cover, and let soak until softened, 25–30 minutes.
2. Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Purée chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, and 2 Tbsp. of soaking liquid in a food processor, adding more soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls, if needed, until smooth.
Make the soup:
3. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add khao soi paste; cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 4–6 minutes. Add coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, simmer for 20–25 minutes. Add shrimp and remove when cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.
5. Add shrimp, 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, and sugar back to soup. Season with salt or more fish sauce, if needed. Divide soup and noodles among bowls and serve with toppings.
*I’ve had a lot of luck finding chili like these at Whole Foods- J
“Okay, let’s see.” She hit the swooped arrow and they all held their breath as the page blinked and reloaded. When the group saw the name at the top of the page, they booed and railed.
“Ugh, come on Ted!”
“Of COURSE it’s from Ted!”
“Ted’s the worst!”
Lorraine frowned and walked over to where Stan, Jerry, Kelly and Lara were gathered around Stacy’s computer. “What are you guys doing?”
“It’s 2:30 on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving,” Stacy reminded Lorraine. She nodded to her computer screen. “We’re trying to see how long I can go without getting a new email. I haven’t had a new one in 5 minutes! I mean, before Ted.”
Lorraine stared at them all. “Maybe we should just go home, guys.”
Are you feeling what I’m feeling? Which is “what am I still doing at my desk?” It feels… like BETRAYAL that there are things that still need to get done this week. Doesn’t the universe know I have eating to do? Serious eating? World championship eating?
This is my first eating-centric holiday since I hit my goal weight (which SEEMS like a positive but I have been racked with anxiety over maintaining this weight ever since, determined not to screw it up). I had thought, foolishly perhaps, that once I hit The Number, all of my worries and fears and anxiety over food (what? how much? when? why?) would just dissipate into thin air but, if anything, it’s just intensified. I am eyeing this holiday with equal parts joy and trepidation. And so, my somewhat panicked answer, is to wrap the entire week in soup (that’s a funny sentence).
Soup for everyone! Hot, warming, comforting, deceptively light and ethereal soup will sustain us and redeem us. Maybe you’ll tackle this for a first course or maybe it’s the answer to “what the hell are we going to eat at 8pm when we’re oddly hungry again” on Thursday night. Or maybe it’s for Friday. Or Wednesday. Soup is always, always a reliable answer, popping and gurgling over there on the stovetop, minding its own bidness. And this Pumpkin Coconut Soup is so easy that it practically makes itself.
SKS Thanksgiving Recipes
Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows | Butternut Squash Soup | Sugar and Spice Cocktail Nuts | No Knead Dinner Rolls | Apple Crumb Pie | Mad Easy Chocolate Pecan Pies | Apple Crisp | Almond Crunch Pumpkin Cheesecake | Multicultural Stuffing | Pear Cornmeal Cake with Rosemary Syrup | Brussels Sprouts with Mint & Anchovy Sauce | Spinach with Fresh Indian Cheese | Mini Pumpkin Pies (new!) | Whiskey Glazed Carrots (new!)
Thanksgiving Recipes 2014: Easy Pumpkin Coconut Soup
2 Cups of pumpkin puree
2 Cups of water or broth
1/3 to 1/2 Cup of coconut milk
1 Teaspoon (up to 2 teaspoons) of red curry paste
3 or 4 Tablespoons of honey
1/4 Teaspoon or more of cumin
Pumpkin seeds and herbs (optional)
1. In a large saucepan, combine pumpkin, water/broth, and coconut milk on medium heat, and stir to combine.
2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of red curry paste, stir to combine. Add honey. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin to the soup and season the soup with salt to achieve the desired saltiness. Once you seasoned the soup with salt, you may add more red curry paste if desired, using 1/2 teaspoon. Some ready-made curry pastes are spicier than others.
3. Top with roasted, salted pumpkin seeds and a scattering of chopped, fresh herbs.
The young girl she once was would’ve been so disappointed. It was what Mad thought whenever she stepped onto a tour bus. She’d flashed her badge to the hefty bouncer and climbed the filthy steps up into the bus to find that it was precisely like all the others. Crowded with guitars and scarves, littered with debris, and the air vaguely damp. This one smelled like soup, she thought with a pang for that young girl. Vegetable soup, she thought and wrinkled her nose. She had become a reporter to write about music but the rock stars she followed around the country had, mostly, left their wild ways behind. Most of them were vegan and skinnier than her. The heaviest thing they drank was tea with honey and lemon.
The band was absent from the bus at the moment, thankfully. Mad appreciated the moment to collect herself. She was exhausted. Festival season was going to put her in the ground. The hot, dusty ground. She caught a glimpse of herself in one of the many, many mirrors on the bus and scowled. With her cropped black blazer, the sleeves rolled up past the elbows, the loose braid over her shoulder, the smeared black mascara, she looked like a poor imitation of Chrissie Hynde. And there was another pang.
She’d met Chrissie Hynde, almost eight months prior. Introduced herself. When she mentioned she was a reporter, a music critic, Chrissie Hynde had paused. “Who isn’t, these days?”
Mad wiped the liner from her eyes and took a swig of water from the bottle in her purse. There was a whiff of that soup again and she swore under her breath. This interview would be insufferable, she thought. Another week of her life that she would not be able to get back. It would be one thing to talk to The Kit Shickers and then leave but she had agreed to ride with them for their next slate of shows down the West Coast. A few years ago, she would’ve leapt for a shot like this. But the hot desert air made her brain throb and the bands had started to blur, merge together, into one androgynous blob. She cleared some debris from a seat and perched herself at the edge of it. She needed a break from herself, is what she needed.
Then there was a rush of sound outside, a kind of roaring, and suddenly The Kit Shickers were there, up the stairs, hollering their greetings to the hefty bouncer. Two of them were in conversation and glided right past her, two sylphs in black, heading for the back of the bus. That would be Tom and Harris- she mentally checked them off her band dossier. They were cousins. And then the lead singer, whose name escaped her, hilariously, since he zeroed in on her instantly and clasped his hand to hers. He was beautiful, they usually were, and magnetic in a harmless way. He wasted his magnetism, she thought uncharitably. “You must be from Vinyl. I’m Pot.” He gave a little shrug, one that said she probably already knew that, and Mad felt her free hand clench against her side, into a fist. “Welcome.” He glanced down at the state of the bus and smiled apologetically. Christ, how old was he, she thought. Twenty? “Sorry for, uh, you know, the state of things here. Baxter, come here and say hi. This is Baxter.” He grabbed his bandmate and pulled him to his side. “Apologize better, would you?
“Yeah, no probl-” The words got stuck in her throat, just for a second. Baxter was drums. He was tall. Older than the rest. Cleaner than the rest. Of all the rock and roll on the bus, he was the least. He met her eyes and offered her a smile, a real one. Shit, Mad thought. There she goes. Another one bites the dust.
*You all gave such lovely character name suggestions for our annual giveaway so I thought I’d give you proper credit. Our last story featured the names Margo and Natalie, suggested by Tabitha H. and Mitzie T, respectively. Today’s story names come courtesy of Natalie.
You may have noticed, over the last three years, that the typed recipe on the blog often looks different than the beautiful recipe card that’s attached to each post. That’s my fault. I cannot leave well enough alone. Nicole creates the beautiful recipe card and sticks to what was written by our source (in this case, the lovely Love and Lemons. I could crawl into that site and pull up the covers and take a nap there, I love it so much.) And I… futz. I tinker with the words. I can’t help it.
I never used to be this way but over the last three years, I’ve become obsessed with scribing (or re-scribing) recipes in a way that makes sense to me, that makes me feel calm and in control. Beyond my notice, I’ve developed recipe idiosyncrasies. They are, as follows:
Adding “of” to the ingredients list. As in “3 cups of flour.” For some reason, the lack of “of” was making me crazy.
Writing “and” between whole numbers and half numbers. I actually stand by this one- do you know how many times I’ve glanced down and thought 1 and 1/2 teaspoons actually stated 11/2 teaspoons and ended up doing crazy math in my head before coming to my senses?
Numbering each separate task in the instructions. (Hi, is this the party for Type A List Makers? It is? Great.)
Again, in the instructions, stating the item you need first. As in, “take a baking sheet and add cauliflower” and not the other way around. I… don’t know why I feel it’s necessary to do this, I just do.
Anyway. No matter how you choose to read the recipe, you should make the soup. I will, this weekend. It’s lovely. There’s something about creamy white soups that remind me of Julia Child and leeks always make me think of spring. I feel like I could use a dose right now.
Creamy Cauliflower and Leek Soup
Note: Overnight alert! You will need to soak the cashews overnight.
About 2 cups chopped cauliflower
2-3 Leeks, white and very light green parts, chopped (about 1 to 1.5 cups)
2 Cloves of garlic
Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 Cup of raw, unsalted, un-roasted cashews, soaked overnight*
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of miso paste (or just salt if you don’t have any)
Leaves from a few sprigs of marjoram or thyme
3 Cups of water
2 Tablespoons of more olive oil (to blend into the soup)
1/8 Teaspoon of smoked paprika (or more to taste)
A squeeze of lemon
A few more pinches of salt
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Splash of white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, at the end
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. On a baking sheet, spread cauliflower, leeks and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Remove when everything starts to turn golden; you don’t want to burn the leeks.
3. Toss the roasted veggies, drained cashews, marjoram leaves, miso paste, a squeeze of lemon and 1.5 cups of water into a blender. Blend until pureed. Add olive oil, paprika and the rest of the water. Blend again. Taste and adjust seasonings.
4. Pour puree into a medium saucepan and heat until it’s just warm (and thus, soup). Stir in a little more water to desired thickness. Serve with bread.
*Use plain, raw cashews or the soup will taste too much like cashew.
“Oh hey, by the way, we’re on Design Sponge…”
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but Nicole is a very measured person. She might just be the most nonchalant person in my life. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t get excited or angry (incidentally, angry Nicole is a sight to see, I should sell tickets) or pumped up but chill Nicole is the one I’m most familiar with; that’s the Nicole I picture when she sends me a note or a text. Or in an email that casually tells me the loft she shares with her husband and dog is featured on friggin’ Design Sponge. Like… oh, hey…. before I forget… It kills me. She and her husband are absurdly talented and it’s just… oh, that? Right… Yeah. I’ve never seen two people more perfectly suited for each other, both so talented and so nonplussed about their talents like it’s the most natural thing in the world to be so talented. There’s nothing fake about it either, nothing’s a show, there’s no pretense.
And then there’s me, throwing myself into rooms at the office after I got that email. “I’M ON DESIGN SPONGE.” Which was not remotely true but… pointing, “LOOK. SHE SAYS ‘A FRIEND.’ THAT’S ME. I’M THE FRIEND. FAMOUS. (For 30 seconds) DESIGN SPONGE. CHOKING. I’M CHOKING.” Next to Nicole, I am a human golden retriever. Her calm sometimes boggles my mind. Sometimes it feels like I’m held together with paper clips and old glue sticks, my edges all sticking up and out, and I’m amazed at the end of the day that I was able to put two sentences together, just amazed. The other day I hung up a string between two nails in my home office and clipped cards from a calendar up and I am not joking when I tell you that I felt like a creative genius after doing that. So accomplished and clever. So completely pathetic.
Anyway. If you haven’t seen Nicole’s apartment on Design Sponge, you should take a look. It’s their live/work space which means that’s where all the cooking and photo-taking is happening, friends. You might glimpse some of her styling props too. Worth a look and a few sighs of envy.
And while you’re doing that, you should hunker down in your own abode with some beer and some cheese and make some damn good Beer and Cheddar Soup. Listen, do not shy away from a vat of a cheesy, beery soup; it’s cold out there, you need insulation. It’s only natural. You’ve been trying to be good but finding your hunger is an insatiable beast lately? Listen to your body and give it what it wants already.
And I would heartily suggest serving with giant pretzel rolls for dipping, the best you can find.
Beer & Cheddar Soup
Make Ahead: The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm gently and thin with additional broth.
• 1/2 Pound of bacon, sliced 1/3″ thick and cut into 1/3″ dice
• 1 Celery rib, finely chopped
• 1 Small onion, finely chopped
• 1 Large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
• 2 Large garlic cloves, minced
• 1 Tablespoon of chopped thyme
• 1 (12-ounce) Bottle of lager or pilsner
• 2 and 1/4 Cups of low-sodium chicken broth
• 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
• 1/4 Cup of all-purpose flour
• 1 Cup of heavy cream
• 1/2 Pound of sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
• 4 Ounces of smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
For serving: garlic-rubbed toasts
1. In a large saucepan over moderate heat, cook bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon crisp (about 7 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a bowl, leaving the delicious drippings behind.
2. To saucepan, add celery, onion, jalapeno, garlic and thyme and cook until softened, stirring often (about 8 minutes).
3. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half (5 minutes).
4. Add 2 and 1/4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
5. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter. Add flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned (about 2 minutes).
6. Whisk the butter-flour (roux) into the soup until incorporated and bring back to a simmer. Cook until thickened (about 8 minutes).
7. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and remaining beer and simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the soup is thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).
8. Stir in the bacon and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Add tablespoons of broth if soup is too thick).
I AM ABOUT TO BUY A HOUSE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. A house with the beautiful name of Bramasole. It is tall, square, and apricot-colored with faded green shutters, ancient tile roof, and an iron balcony on the second level, where ladies might have sat with their fans to watch some spectacle below. But below, overgrown briars, tangles of roses, and knee-high weeds run rampant. The balcony faces southeast, looking into a deep valley, then into the Tuscan Apennines. When it rains or when the light changes, the facade of the house turns gold, sienna, ocher; a previous scarlet paint job seeps through in rosy spots like a box of crayons left to melt in the sun. In places where the stucco has fallen away, rugged stone shows what the exterior once was. The house rises above a strada bianca, a road white with pebbles, on a terraced slab of hillside covered with fruit and olive trees.
Bramasole: from bramare, to yearn for, and sole, sun: something that yearns for the sun, and yes, I do.”
Excerpt from Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Fish in Crazy Water
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes—coarsely chopped, juices reserved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced parsely
1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh red chile, or more to taste
4 cups water
Four 6-ounce red snapper fillets, skin on
4 slices of grilled sourdough bread
In a deep skillet that’s large enough for the fish fillets to lie flat without overlapping, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, parsley, chile, a large pinch of salt and the water. Cover the skillet and bring the water to a steady simmer over moderate heat; simmer for 45 minutes.
Uncover the skillet and boil the liquid until it has reduced by half. Add the fish, skin side up, and cook for 2 minutes. Using two spatulas, gently turn the fillets. Season the fish with salt and simmer until just cooked through.
Put the grilled bread in shallow bowls and arrange the snapper fillets on top. Spoon the broth all around and serve.
Anya walked until she could no longer walk and when the walking was done, she sat. She was not picky in her choice of seat and when the old woman with the great big bag stepped aside and revealed a thin gray step at the front of a bright purple door, Anya felt her body move toward it like metal to a magnet. She sat down and tucked her own bag behind her legs. She examined her black-and-white flats, the one with the solitary red dot on the right shoe. They made her smile but they were not made for walking. It was not her intention to walk so far or for so long.
She no longer felt the graying mist that wafted around her. She had been in Paris for six days and it had rained for six days. Sometimes, the rain came down in thick sheets. Others, pellets. Yesterday and today, it was a haze of wet that covered everything and everyone. Even the vendors at the market wore the droplets on their hats like misplaced gems, resigned expressions on their old, lined faces.
Anya had cried for almost six days. The first time, it had been over a peach in the market. The second, it was when she saw, out of the corner of her eye, a man give his lady an elbow as she stepped off the curb. Every time after that, Anya needed no reason to cry.
She was tired of her own tears, almost as much as she was tired of the rain. She had started walking and did not stop until the tears did, until the ache in her soles crept louder than that of her heart, and her bag felt heavy on her shoulder and she could think only of sitting, only of stopping.
While she sat, relieved and aching, on the thin step, the sun made a brief appearance. It slipped out through the cover of clouds and flooded the street with light. Anya did not even notice at first. She heard the old woman beside her sigh.
When she looked up, the activity on the street had stopped. The woman pushing the stroller across the way. The man selling lettuces and onions the size of grapefruits. The couple emerging from the Metro. For a moment, they froze and, together, watched the sun skitter over the street and drape the small corner in a yellow glow.
Just minutes, seconds really, and it was gone, slipped back into the clouds. The people took up their walks once more.
Anya grabbed the edge of her skirt in her hand and made a fist. She closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, perhaps for the first time.
Sometimes, life can take such a turn.
One day, you’re going about your business. You sit at a big desk and you type, type, type. There’s a view of the water, a sleeping pooch by your side. You worry, you wait, you wonder when things will start. You bake things. You do crunches. This is your landscape, this it will be.
And then you blink and the view of the water is different. And the pooch is the same but the people surrounding him have changed. And you’re not sitting by the water at all but on a plane. And there’s whispering flight attendants and the glow of your computer screen and a sleeping kid in the seat next to yours (not yours, don’t worry. Things haven’t changed that much. Although if I open my purple door tomorrow and find a basket with a baby in it, I wouldn’t be all that shocked, given how things have gone lately.) (Oh, god, please don’t leave a baby on my doorstep.) And soon you’ll leave the plane and head to a garage and a car that’s now yours, big and bulky and unfamiliar, and drive home, with still uncertain twists of the wheel, to your new house.
And if the universe is a merciful one, there might be soup waiting when you lug your big red bag through the door. A big vat of it with a tumble of crusted bread beside it and tiny slips of pale cheese. I’m not exactly sure how such a thing is possible but hey, anything can happen right?
Classic French Onion Soup
Source: Tyler Florence, Food Network | Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Servings: 4 – 6 | Print Recipe
1/2 Cup of unsalted butter
4 Onions, sliced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 Bay leaves
2 Fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Cup of red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 Heaping tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 Quarts of beef broth
1 Baguette, sliced
1/2 Pound of grated Gruyere
1. Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
3. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
4. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir.
5. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.
6. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
7. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
8. When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with grated cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to melt the cheese and then top with croutons.
* For the croutons: Cut day old french bread into cubes. Drizzle olive oil and dried herbs of your choice onto bread. Bake for 10-15 min in a 350 degree oven.
5 Reasons Why You Should Make This for Thanksgiving
1. It’s one of those recipes that’s a killer because it’s both supremely impressive- I mean, this is a restaurant quality soup- and legitimately very easy to make.
2. A pot of this will serve as a first course for 8 people.
3. It’s light and fresh-tasting but it’s also bursting with Fall goodness. It’ll sate the Thanksgiving appetite but it won’t destroy it completely (hello, Pigs in Blankets, aka I can eat 50 of you like potato chips, aka Now I have to eat turkey? Why God, why?)
4. The most labor-intensive part of it is deveining the shrimp which is super gross BUT it can be avoided by purchasing prepared shrimp or frozen shrimp or making your annoying cousin Ronald do all the prep work on it.
5. Look how pretty it is! It’ll match your motif! Also, the combination of spicy, warm ginger and throat-tickling anise will bring a sense of calm over the table. CALM. On Thanksgiving. Who even knew such things were possible?
Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger Shrimp
Thank you, Bon Appetit
Makes: 5 cups or 8 first course servings
1 lb of large shrimp, deveined and peeled with tail remaining
1 TBsp of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1/4 tsp of salt
1 TBsp of vegetable oil
2/3 Cup of shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
3 whole star anise
2 TBsp of unsalted butter
1 and 3/4 lb of butternut squash, peeled and seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (5 cups)
4 Cups of chicken stock
2 Cups of water
1. Toss shrimp with grated ginger and toss. Let marinate in fridge for 30 minutes but NO longer or shrimp will start to cook because they are weird like that.
While shrimp are marinating, we prepare the soup that will impress people. Yay.
2. In a 3-quart, heavy saucepan over moderate heat, cook shallot, garlic and anise.
3. Stir until shallot is softened. Cook about five minutes.
4. Add squash, stock and water and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes or so (until squash is very tender).
5. Remove star anise. Coo to them, precious little babies. Thank them for their service.
6. Puree soup in 2 batches in a blender OR use one of those hand immersion blenders which are AWESOME and which I clearly just used for the first time.
7. Transfer to cleaned pan and keep warm, covered.
8. Sprinkle our shimp with the salt.
9. Heat vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
10. Saute shrimp in batches until just cooked through, about a 1.5 minutes on each side.
Bring soup to a simmer, season with salt and pepper. Mound shrimp in each bowl.
Note: On Weight Watchers? This insanely delicious soup is 5 points per 1 cup serving and 5 shrimp is 2 points.