Our globe tracks a circular route around the sun, and life often mimics that pattern. As does culture. Skirt lengths go up and come down, narrow lapels and three buttons come in and out of style. And crafts too, come in and out of fashion. These days, it’s common to see young people perusing websites like Craftsy to update their skills in knitting, crocheting, quilting. But sometimes the interest skips a generation: my grandmother and great-grandmother were quilters. So am I. But my mom, a weaver and sewer, has never had the patience for quilting; she doesn’t quite scoff at my habit of cutting up fabric just to sew it back together again — but I have to admit — I can see her point.
Interest in cooking and food has returned too, with The Food Network playing a large role in that. From its outset, TV cooking has been about personalities, and later, competition. Chefs on TV entertain, but many don’t usually teach the hands-on “how” of actually cooking — unless the observer watches while cooking. Seeing a chef remove the bones from a guinea hen does not equal knowing how to do it oneself, so don’t allow yourself to believe it will magically improve your cooking without effort. The solution is simple: go into the kitchen with a good cook and learn with a knife in your hands. And as in fashion, the basics — good stock, great vegetables, clean meat — are the building blocks.
Television entertainment can wait. First we eat, this time a simple, stylish soup that goes together quickly — and relies on cooked ingredients from previous homemade meals!
Chicken soup with rice
- 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 or 3 small carrots, sliced
- 1 c. finely diced raw yam or sweet potato
- 1 c. cooked kidney, pinto or Great Northern beans
- 2 c. cooked wild rice or any other cooked rice
- 6 chicken thighs, cooked and shredded (Freeze the bones for stock!)
- 3 lemons, juice and zest
- 8 c. chicken stock
- Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Perfect to combat flu, broken hearts, headache or homesick- ness, this broth-style soup depends almost entirely on really good homemade stock.
Making stock is simple: roast beef bones or chicken car- casses (or leftover bones) in a hot oven, then dump them in a pot, cover with cold water and add aromatics: onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and what I call “the Scarborough Fair” herbs — parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, sparingly, with a few whole peppercorns. NO salt. Simmer, uncovered, 4 hours
for chicken, 12 or so for beef, replenishing water levels as it reduces. Strain, cool and freeze in useful volumes.
Heat the oil in a heavy- bottomed soup pot and add the onion, garlic and carrots. Sauté over medium-high heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until tender. Balance the flavours with additional salt and pepper to taste.