Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chicken Soup for Non-Resolutionists Soul

So I am talking to my mother on the phone and she asks me what I am doing and I tell her I am making chicken soup, from scratch. To which my mother replies “Are you all domesticated now?” This makes me laugh because I have been domesticated since I was, oh, four or five years old. I lived with my mother since birth, so you’d think she knows this. I guess she has this image of me tom-catting around the city, ordering food in every night (sometimes true) and moving every time my home gets too cluttered and dirty because I couldn’t possibly clean it?

I have and always will love being home. My favorite part of a trip is coming home. Sometimes I feel like that is the whole point of going away. I love being in pajamas and sitting on my couch or in my chair and reading my magazines and books and taking bubble baths and baking things and surfing the internet and being surrounded by my things and doing absolutely nothing which is everything.

I also like to cook but that does not mean I am a good cook. I accessorize like a good cook, though, a sign of a true amateur, with lots of cookbooks and cooking magazines and paraphernalia from Williams Sonoma that I think I Must have and turns out I don’t. I strive to be good, though, and I have good moments, but it is probably more accurate to describe me an a sometime earnest, mediocre meal preparer.

Today I am in the process of creating what is sure to be another unremarkable culinary creation: Chicken Soup with Tortellini. Nothing beats spending $30 on ingredients for what I am sure will be so-so soup. This happens to me a lot: I decide to make something and I spend a ridiculous amount of money on ingredients and the end result is only marginally good. Certainly not worth what I spent. If I spend $30 on soup, I want to be dazzled, dammit.

Once I doled out maybe fifty dollars on all fresh everything to make chicken and leek pot pies. Well, if you count the thirty dollars I spent on the Tea and Sympathy cookbook, which included the recipe, I actually spent almost eighty dollars. I cooked all day, even making the crust by scratch, following the recipe word-for-word. They were the most expensive, tasteless blobs of pot pies that I have ever had, Hungry-Man included. Even Nicole had no pithy praise for them, though she tried. I also once spent close to a hundred dollars making New England clam chowder. Fresh clams and homemade heavy cream from a dairy seller in Chelsea and fresh thyme and bay leafs and bacon from the butcher and organic potatoes and crusty bread…it adds up quickly. And it makes me wonder why I didn’t just order in instead.

For some reason I have a problem with scale. If the recipe is meant to serve 16 people, you think I would cut it down. But I rarely do. It is as if I never learned how to cut things in half or quarters. So I make a giant pan or pot or portion of something and we eat it dammit, till it is gone. I am fine with eating the same meal day in and day out, lunch and dinner, but Nicole can only tolerate it, up to a point. By Day Three of Cincinnati-style chili, for example, she is done.

So if I were the type of person who made resolutions, I might resolve to learn how scale recipes back to size, and cook for 2 or 3 or 4 and not a small army. I also might resolve to floss daily. I might also promise to keep up the book journal that I started with Nicole years ago. After we finished a book we would write it down and record our thoughts on it. It would be good to continue that, if I were the resolution type. To that end, I've added a list on the right side of this blog to list the books I've read, with links to more information about them. I love keeping track of books I have read. Also I might promise to try to work in stretching everyday. It’s funny, but until my running friend Molly mentioned it, it never occurred to me that I could stretch anytime during the day and not just after a morning run. Genius. I also might resolve to start moisturizing my skin and stop eating ice cream bars every night (six out of seven nights is fine though) only because I have already done it and I am the type of person that imbeds completed tasks on To Do lists so I can feel a sense of accomplishment from the start.

Pictured above is the soup. I bought the wrong sized tortellini; they are supposed to be the small ones. Live and learn. Below that, Maddie and her bagel. Now that she is teething like it is her job, we give her things to chew on. My SIL said to give them frozen mini bagels, and as loathe as I am to give them these sad plain white bready things, I do because I like it when they are happy. Look at Maddie, like a snake, trying to unhinge her jaw and swallow it whole. That’s true food excitement. And below that, Avery in Nicole’s that just because her little chubby finger look so cute.



My gf and I just ordered in bad chicken soup (touch of the flu)from a chinese place. This looks pretty damn good.

Recently I made a post roast, and it cost me about 45 dollars to buy the groceries. Absurd.

I guess, I cannot give our future baby an everything bagel? I guess that would be bad for teething.

nailgirl said...

Pretty damn good indeed. I want the recipe. Can you email it to me or post it? Thanx Denise.

Anonymous said...

Wow you ARE domestic! I am mighty impressed that you are making *anything* from scratch with two little ones around. I like to cook, too, but I don't do it as much these days.
Also, I tend to make too-big portions of things sometimes too. I can't eat leftovers past 3 meals, so P ends up eating them. He is determined to see it through, poor thing.

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