Friday, February 29, 2008

Surviving Winter with Tomato-Balsamic Soup

Inspired in part by Mark Bittman's post on roasting canned tomatoes (for those of us who are torn between our cravings for veggies and our unwillingness to buy out-of-season shlock), and in part by a recipe recommended by a reader, I made a roasted tomato-balsamic soup last night.

The two recipes essentially got combined -- 3 14.5 oz cans of tomatoes, halved, and roasted for 40 minutes with 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbs soy sauce. In the mean time, I sauteed a chopped onion and 5 (!!) garlic cloves, before adding the tomatoes and their liquid and the glass-ful of tomato juice I'd reserved from the cans. Cook a little longer, vroom-vroom it, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, and the result was served with a green salad, homemade French bread, cheese, and one of the 1990 Bert Simon Riesling Auslese bottles that we've been babying. On a side note, we've finally drunk our way through the bottles with rotten corks, and D is thinking of long-term cellaring 7 out of the 10 remaining bottles. The wine's still got enough acidity left that, if the upcoming move doesn't kill it, it could age quite nicely for another 5 years or so (I'm pulling this number out of my arse).

The soup mostly worked. The vibe was tres French bistro, urbanely vegetarian, and the tomato soup robust. I like the roasting canned tomato technique, it might just get me through the rest of winter. But the proportions dictated by the Kitchen Assistant recipe were a little intense for me... maybe overpowering is a better word. D liked it just fine. Maybe I'll try out Bittman's more delicate thyme seasoning next time.

Herring as an excercise in Domestic Tolerance

Last night, D and I cleaned the fridge. It was not quite so much a Herculean event as an exercise in guilt -- all these great (expensive) ingredients, all that time and loving effort, and here we were, months later, admitting defeat. I pulled out and set on the counter lamb stock that D had begun but never finished, a very successful bacon, leek and potato soup that got mushy upon refrigeration, a carrot and mashed potato recipe that failed miserably, expired fish stock... so we aren't so good with leftovers. We try: we bring packed lunches to work and we've gotten better at incorporating old ingredients into meals. But, well, apparently this is a learned skill. As is getting around to taking out the garbage. The smell and sight of it all was both revolting and somewhat depressing.

In addition to tripling my available Tupperware supply and making our fridge a much more welcoming entity, this exercise unearthed a tin of Herring that my Mom had picked up from ikea back when we moved into the apartment in September. Herring.

Now, D and I get along rather well on the food-front. We're pretty adventurous eaters, we hold our own cooking to pretty high standards, and we are generally able to hold sane, rational, logical opinions about food. Except when it comes to Herring. I love it, he refuses to be in the same room with it. That's not quite fair: I love it fresh and will enjoy it out of a jar; he tentatively ate it fresh once and conceded that the texture was appealing but will literally leave the room if a jar is opened. Unsurprisingly, I don't eat it except when his father gleefully brings out jars of herring when we go for a visit. Drives D nuts. I have a goal of someday dragging D to a Smörgåsbord and converting him, and maybe finding a source for fresh herring somewhere in this hemisphere. In the mean time, there was this thing of tinned Herring that had been hiding for months.

Freshly caught, gutted, and dipped in onions
Originally uploaded by Neenabeena

Well, D and the locavores win this one. It was just plain gross. I'll stick with fantasizing about Sweden instead of trying to replicate it in a tin. Ugh. Thank God we live in a century where we don't depend on tinned ingredients, nor do we live in an isolated, freezing, outpost inland. I've got a friend who does research in the Antarctic for months at a time, and has access to little but canned everything and expired peanut butter. Ugh. That would curtail anyone's interest in food real quick.

Yay for fresh food. Can't wait for spring.

Why blog?

I feel like this blog needs some sort of introduction.

World, meet blog.
blog, meet World.

I created blog because I have gotten fairly obsessed with cooking since graduating from college last June. Some would argue that my obsession dates back to when I shacked up with my wine-obsessed boyfriend a year-and-a-half ago, but in this new world of 9-5 (or 6-7, like as not), I find myself spending all these extra evening hours obsessing about food. I have been known to read cookbooks for pleasure, to plan my weekend around what dishes we're going to trying, and to preface most insights into ethics, religion, and relationships with some story about cooking. My guilty pleasure is reading food lit; not surprisingly, I just finished "Julia and Julia" yesterday (brilliant, I'm thinking of sending a fan letter to the author). D calls these books my 'food porn.' Of course, he says this while leafing through our massive binder of magazine recipe clippings looking for yet another chili recipe, so it's not like he's unsympathetic to my obsession.

ANYways. This is an experiment. I'm apprehensive about public journaling. I'd like to use this blog to better make sense of my own convoluted food mania, and hopefully to use it as a springboard to better understand myself. This blog is about more than discovering cooking in this post-collegiate world.