Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A culinary day

Dakki was coming to dinner and to watch The Battleship Potemkin. This was a movie that I had read about often, and had seen so many snatches of in film classes and elsewhere, that I felt as though I had seen it. But I never had, and it seemed to be a lack in a classic movie enthusiast. It is such a monument in the development of film making, and of editing in particular, that it seemed imperative that I see it. But I was leery, as the subject matter of the film is pretty unpleasant. Dakki, who knows everything about everything, knew all the particulars of the historical background, and was eager to see it and to offer moral support. This amazing silent film, which was made over eighty years ago, is still fresh, relevant, and harrowing in its tale of revolt against injustice.

Our dinner was a soup which started as a completely different concept - adapted from the 101 Cookbooks blog. I kept changing my mind about how I should make it, and the final result, though nothing like my original idea, was a great success. The recipe follows.
I also made a cobbler from the Betty Crocker cookbook which Rebecca gave me for Christmas. My original Betty Crocker cookbook was a gift to my mother from a friend who felt that my mom, who had zero cookbooks, needed one. She didn’t really, as she turned out lovely meals time after time, without owning a single cookbook. She did have little metal boxes of recipes, however. When I got married, she gave it to me, because I really did need a cookbook. It was my only one for quite a while, and the one I mainly used for quite a while longer. As a new bride, I was an enthusiastic cook, but a real know-nothing. The Betty Crocker cookbook was my bible. But its instructions were sometimes open to misinterpretation by the true neophyte. For years, Dennis liked to tell about the time I put whole turnips into a stew – no peeling, no chopping. Another time, I was making donuts, and didn’t want to waste all that nice oil in which I had fried them. Betty told my I could save the oil by putting some potatoes in it, and then saving it in a jar. So I did. A few weeks later, when I opened the jar, I was nearly knocked over by the astonishingly awful stench. Our apartment was so filled with the incredibly obnoxious odor that we had to evacuate, as did our neighbors in the next flat, George and Marsha. We convened in the front yard and discussed what to do. Everyone (almost) agreed that since I was the one who had caused the problem in the first place, I should be the one to go in and get out the offending substance. In my initial shock and horror, I had just left it on the counter. I, of course, felt that Betty Crocker should go in and get it, but she was not available. So the four of us fashioned a makeshift gas mask, and I rushed in, got the noxious jar of oil, clutching the gas mask to my face, and holding my breath all the while. When I brought it out, we noted that it was filled with gray foam rather than nice oil. We buried it. Later, I looked at the directions again, and they still seemed to tell me to do the same thing. Years later, I noticed that my aunt Pauline had a somewhat later edition of Betty Crocker, so I looked up donuts. The cryptic instructions were still there. By this time, I realized that you were supposed to deep fry the potatoes and they would suck up the flavors from any previously fried food. Then you were to strain the oil, and not wait too long to use it again. But this is not what it said. I stand firm on that. The whole episode was Betty’s fault.
Later, Rebecca made good use of my Betty Crocker cookbook too. She found the same edition in a used bookstore and bought it for herself, but continued to use mine so that hers would not be ruined. As you can see, mine eventually became quite frayed. I complained loudly and constantly about this, and felt that she should use her own, but she was unmoved by my whines. So I was pleased at Christmas, when I opened a present to find a new old edition of Betty Crocker. Now I can save my relic of years past, but still make the best cookies and cobblers around.

Bread Globule Soup

2 medium/large white onions, chopped
a head of garlic, peeled and chopped
olive oil
One cup of cooked garbanzo beans
1 pound of fingerling (or other) potatoes
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots chopped
1 cup parsley and cilanto, mixed, chopped
½ a sweet red pepper
6 cups vegetarian chicken style stock
salt, if needed
pepper
4 slices of firm sourdough bread

Sauté the onions in the olive oil for a few minutes until they are translucent, then add the garlic and sauté a bit longer. Add the celery and carrots, and give it a few more stirs. Add the potatoes, garbnzo beans, and the stock. Simmer until the carrots and potatoes are soft. Moosh the soup with an immersion blender until a few lumps remain, but it is mostly smooth. Stir in the sweet pepper and the parsley/cilantro mix, and simmer for a few more minutes. Add a hearty pinch of black pepper.
Cut the crusts from the bread and cut the bread into dice. Add the bread to the soup and simmer till the bread begins to dissolve into the soup. Crush some of the bread between two wooden spoons, and leave some intact. They make nice little dumplings, hence the name of this soup.

3 comments:

James said...

Oh Joanna I can so relate to the reliance on Betty Crocker. I too had that as my sole source for simple easy to do recipes and I still use it to this day. My copy is falling apart and very stained, particularly the Apple Crisp page. I was stymied though by not being able to get Bisquik in Ireland.

Janet, now in Seattle

Knitman said...

You know , if I ever visited you. I'd eat your food regardless of my requirements. You do make some wholesome and tasty looking foods.

Laura said...

My very same Betty Crocker book finally did fall to pieces. I relied on it too but was also mystified by some directions. I think Betty did lead you astray :)Your Globule soup looks so hearty and yummy!