Sunday, January 21, 2007

Now We're Cooking!

Another thing not being involved in a campaign has allowed me to do more: cook! I love to cook, and right now, I'm getting into making soups.

It took me being dirt poor to appreciate soups. Big thanks to Steve Wainstead on that count. When we roomed together, both being flat broke, we did some long-range planning. We bought a 50-lb. sack of rice, 10 pounds of pasta, and several cans of Hunts pasta sauce. We would go to the West Side Market in Cleveland late in the afternoon on Saturdays, because you could barter best with the produce merchants near closing. We'd ask for a dozen apples or two dozen green peppers for a dollar. They'd yell that we were taking money out of the mouths of their children. We'd counter that they could take the stuff back with them to rot. We usually got what we wanted.

But, what do you do when you have two pounds of parsnips? Or, five pounds of celery and ten pounds of carrots? It could as easily have rotted in our fridge. Make soup! That was Steve's solution. He made some interesting and delicious soups. Until then, I had never tried to make soup, even though I would cook quite a bit.

So, I carry on- not because I'm broke. I'm cheap, to be sure, but I like soup as healthy comfort food. It's hot and filling!

So, today I am making a sweet potato chowder. I've already made yellow split pea soup twice this winter, and once I cheated by making Hurst's 15-bean soup. I say cheated because that one isn't 100% from scratch. The second pea soup was served to guests who seemed to enjoy it very well.

It's a challenge for me to find soups that the whole family will like. I have to balance Ame and Alex. Ame's a vegetarian, and Alex is rather the carnivore. I'm an omnivore, so I'm easy. I'll probably make a few soups this winter that have two pots going- one vegetarian, and one meat. I have it mind to make a few soups that fit that bill. Tortilla soup is at the top of the list. I guess you can't call it "ox tail soup" without the ox tails, but I want to try to find some kind of substitute.

Ox tail soup was another poor person soup my Mom used to make. It was loaded with barley, and the meat and marrow was from the ox tails. Like ham hocks or chicken wings, ox tails were once throw-away items that you could get for cheap from the butcher or grocery store. They have become popular enough over time to fetch gourmet prices, which is a shame... me being cheap and all.


Anonymous said...

Nice to know you have multiple talents.

Anonymous said...

Yellow split pea, mmmm! Probably the best vegan soup you can make: onions, carrots, celery and split yellow peas. You can add as much Tobasco as you want; it takes quite a lot.

Chili is another amazingly versatile thing. Make Alex a white chicken chili. Yum.


Mike Kole said...

The sweet potato soup was a real hit! It was a chowder, so it was an interesting mix of flavors. No heat in this one, though.

I distinctly recall your use of Tabasco, Steve. I haven't gone for it in a soup yet, mainly because of the vinegar in it. I tend to go straight for Cayanne or red pepper if I want some heat. I'll have to go that route some time soon. Funny you should mention chili. I haven't made any yet, and again, I recall your vegetarian & vegan chilis. They were pretty fiery, so I'd take a lot of sour cream with them! :-)