The cold weather has finally left us, unlike the rest of the country, Houston is headed into spring.
I continue on my mission to work my way slowly through MFK Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf. It really is a delightful book and if you want humor and a touch of sass with your recipes, I recommend. But as my colleague before mentioned to you about less, Fisher touches on that topic over and over again. And it has sunk into my head so deep that I have begun to infuse into my daily life, my house, my writing, practicing.
And speaking of simple, I recently purchased the CD (yes I bought a real CD) Another Day, AnotherTime Celebrating the music of Llewyn Davis. It is a collection of folk songs from as far back as 100 years to just a few years back. Sung by various groups of folk artists, pop stars and the like it is a collection of simple songs. One of my favorites is Auld Triangle. The harmonies linger in the ear and make your head buzz. I share it with you hear, just for fun.
Okay, back to food.
How to boil water – the fourth chapter in Fisher’s book is all about soup. And it starts with telling you how to boil water. And she says the best water to cook a wolf is from a spring or well.
She believes you can actually over cook water, over doing it makes it flat, tasteless and my favorite description – exhausted. No one wants tired water it will ruin your cup of tea. And the best way to make your flat water taste good is to add a little bone, carrot, herbs.
As this is a book about conserving time and energy, she says we
do not have the resources to let a pot simmer all day long on the back of the stove. It is a waste of energy. Of course now-a-days, we can simmer all day and think nothing of a gas or electric bill being a little high.
And just a reminder - Soup-pots should be made fresh now and then, like people’s minds at the New Year. (p. 30) So remember that pot sitting on the back of the stove, must be cleaned and started fresh!
The thing about soup is it really is the simplest thing in the world to make, besides toast and butter. Water, vegetables, maybe meat, some salt, herbs, this, that and you’ve got a dinner, lunch or even breakfast if you break an egg in it. A soup can feed many or one - taste overwhelming to quite bland. I love to put my mind to work, digging out things in the fridge and pantry and throwing them in a pot, stirring it, watching it bubble, tasting, and finessing to match my tastes.
Fisher says to eat to your tastes. I agree. If you don’t like it, then why are you cooking it? Why in the world are you eating it? What good is food if you are not enjoying it? The body knows what it needs and it knows what it likes, put those things in it and I bet your body will be happy and healthy.
“Probably the most satisfying soup in the world for people who are hungry, as well as for those whoare tired or worried or cross or in debt or in a moderate amount of pain or in love or in robust health or in any kind of business huggermuggery, is minestrone.” (p. 38)
Here is my version of MFK Fisher’s:
Couple tablespoons of bacon fat (she uses bacon, salt pork or ham); Warmed in a pot - add finely
chopped onion, celery and carrot (she doesn’t add carrot). Cook till soft – add dried parsley, oregano, sweet basil. Add finely chopped tomatoes. (I used tinned ones with a touch of sauce added to them); Add chicken stock and water; (Fisher only uses water); She then says to add five of a choice of onion, potato, garlic, cabbage, carrots, celery, spinach, green beans, etc., etc. I went with carrots, potatoes, onions and celery. I missed a fifth! Bring the entire thing to a boil and cook until veggies
I hope, dear friend, you will spend some time soon in your kitchen with a pot of boiling water.
The Mad Listmaker