Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Waiter! There are raisins in the soup, my son is a blond, and I live in a strange city!

The new house is handsome and brown and my old stuff looks really good here.

        The last time I wrote on this sadly neglected blog, I described the night our dog almost died from eating chocolate. The other day, Gracie ate a large pellet of rat poison in the park and I took it as a mystical sign that I should re-start my dormant cooking blog.

Kidding. I recently took a leave of absence from grad school, which has freed up a lot of mental energy. I also cooked a really strange, delicious soup that I wanted to recommend. So I am typing.

Not that I don’t have a good excuse for the hiatus. It’s been a hell of a year. Both of our kids are now in college and Mark and I now live in Brooklyn. Last spring, Mark’s employer asked him to move to NYC and given that we were about to be empty nesters we said, sure, why not? Why not leave behind family, friends, temperate climate, elderly cats, the house where we raised children and chickens and goats and had happy memories and fig trees and a hand-built pizza oven to embrace, in middle age, a new life in a vast metropolis where we know hardly anyone?
a sad day
Well, I can now tell you why not. Oh boy, can I tell you why not. But I can also tentatively tell you why to. While I can’t think about my old life without wanting to cry, the change of scenery has been exciting and interesting enough that I am able to avoid thinking about the old life for days at a time. My grandfather used to talk about people needing to “repot” themselves lest they stop growing. We repotted. We’ll see how much growing ensues. There have been moments when I have worried that shrinkage and regression will be the result of the move, but today I am feeling optimistic and am betting on growth. Watch this space.

Anyway, last week on a sunny, cold morning, Gracie and I went out for our usual hobble. She walks and tries to run, I hobble. The best thing about New York has been the walking and it was so unbelievably great that I walked and walked and walked — sometimes 8 or 10 miles at a go — until I injured myself (boring old person injury) and now the worst thing about New York is the walking because even a short trip to corner store gives me insight into what it must be like to be 90. 

scene of the crime
We were hobbling around in the park when I saw Gracie eating something that wasn’t the usual denuded chicken bone, but a rectangular green pellet the size of a lipstick. I yelled and she dropped the thing but snatched it up again before I could jerk her away. She swallowed it whole. We hobbled straight to the vet. After a delightful procedure that I was permitted to observe, the startled vet said, oh wow, yes, that’s rat poison. The good news: the rat poison was still almost completely intact and Gracie is fine. The bad news: there is rat poison lying around in Prospect Park.


We hobbled home from the vet to await the extreme weather of the polar vortex and I decided to make a strange, wintry cabbage soup I’d read about in The Dean & Deluca Cookbook. The soup contains kielbasa, cabbage, and golden raisins. Although I have since learned that it is fairly common to put raisins in cabbage soup, this was a first for me. Satisfying my curiosity about the raisins was the whole reason I wanted to make the soup; I think I may be more tempted by recipes that sound weird than recipes that sound good.



To be fair, the cookbook tried to make the recipe sound good. Here’s the headnote: 
“There's a wonderful paradox in this soup (Waiter! There's a paradox in my soup!): it's filled with hearty ingredients and hearty flavors -- and yet, the overall feel of the soup is light and delicate. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser in winter.” 

Guaranteed crowd-pleaser? Not exactly. The first night, I was tempted to throw away both Dean & Deluca and the soup. It was watery and cabbagey and the raisins were just bizarre. Two days later, Mark reheated the soup and brought me a bowl for lunch (my injury means I get served more often) and it was a completely different soup. A soup we both wanted to eat. They always say this about soup and stew, that the flavors need time to meld, but rarely has it been so true as it was with this soup. By day three, the raisins had given up all their fruity sugar to the broth, which was floral and sweet, and yet there was also spicy, meaty kielbasa in there, so it filled you up. For five days in a row I ate the cabbage soup for lunch and marveled at how good it was until finally today I realized the soup was on the downswing. Like the raisins, the kielbasa had finally given all its flavor to the broth and tasted like nothing. When the kielbasa tastes like nothing, the soup’s over. 

You should try this recipe, though let it sit overnight before you serve it. This is a tasty, unusual, once-a-winter soup. I hope I can remember to make it again next winter. 

The other recipe I made recently that went over big was Deb Perelman's beans on toast from Bon Appetit. It felt wrong to serve a dish like this, geared for picky children, to two unpicky adults, but I will probably do so again because it is so easy and tasty. This is exactly the kind of meal Owen would have loved when he was a kid. No more. When I dropped him off at college in August he was a dark-haired meat eater.

He returned to us in December a vegetarian blond. He could not be persuaded to touch meat, even when we went to the most tempting Chinese dumpling restaurant. I respect that. I’m not nuts about the hair, but he could not care less, which is as it should be. Our children have their own lives now and Mark and I are trying (!) to do the same. 


23 comments:

  1. YAY! You were SO MISSED. I'd love to hear more about the changes to your life, and how you feel now, a year-ish later. Welcome back!

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  2. Hi! Hi! Hi! I missed you, but was thinking (correctly) that you were just living your life. Glad to have an update and hope that if you have time, you continue posting.

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  3. Glad you posted! Love your work and I check your blog every day, hoping...

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  4. Welcome back! Your wit and recipe reviews/recommendations were missed.

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  5. Yay, welcome back! Your little now East Coast part of the web is one of my very favorites!

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  6. Ahh! I have been checking every few days for a new post for over a year! So glad you're back. What a year you've had. Can't wait to hear more about what's been happening in your life.

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  7. Welcome back! So glad to hear from an old friend!

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  8. wow. seldom do I come to a food blog anymore and think, that girl can write! have missed your words. also: my kids are 3 and 1 and I CANNOT IMAGINE what's coming. Already preparing myself.

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  9. What a wonderful surprise for my morning! Thank you so much for updating.

    I broke a bone in my foot in September (the fifth metatarsal for anyone keeping track at home) and since I usually run/walk anywhere from 5 to 12 miles a day this was horrible. I couldn't use my foot at all (hello, crutches! followed quickly by goodbye, horrible crutches, hello knee scooter) for five weeks, then had a walking boot for a month. All this to say, as the kids say: mood. I am so sorry about your injury and I hope you recover quickly.

    I'm excited for your new life in Brooklyn.

    My kids got through their hair-dyeing phases early and cycled through various shades of red, purple, teal, and green with black patches. I think we all have to go through times like that so that later in life we can look back and ask ourselves what the hell we were thinking with that hair/that eyeshadow/those shoulderpads (I just explain to my kids that the 80s were a dark time for fashion).

    It is truly wonderful to see you post again and I'm glad and relieved that you are well and adapting to NYC life.

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  10. SO glad to hear from you; I have missed you and checked back from time to time to see if I somehow did not catch a post. I hope you love living in Brooklyn. The NYTimes wrote up a Frida Kahlo exhibition opening at the Brooklyn Museum this month, which looks really good. I am hoping to take the train down to see it. You see, I did the opposite of you and moved from NYC to a place in upstate NY that is in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. I know you can find everything in Brooklyn, but if you have not discovered Kalustyan's on Lex in NYC for the most amazing food and J.B. Prince on East 31st Street for great equipment, check them out. J.B. Prince is not E.Dehillerin, but it is the best NYC can do since Bridge Kitchenware closed. Do you ever look at Gracie and ponder what an interesting life she ended up with? I sometimes look at my cat, who is a rescue found on a Brooklyn street, and think he's lucky since he has been a city cat AND a country cat and has it made! Have fun. Let us know how you are from time to time. We are all interested.

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  11. Welcome to my coast - how nice to see you back!

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  12. Hallejulah!!! She's BACK. I echo all sentiments above, but I claim to be the happiest that you are writing again. You ARE writing again...not just teasing us? I have wondered so often about this transition and what your new life is like. Oh, do keep it up! And will you tell us what you think of the Frida exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum? I'd love to see it. But you can tell me.

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  13. I am so glad that you are back! You are one of my favorite writers and I have missed your craft and wit on the blog. One of these summers, I hope I will run into you in Marion so that we could ask you to sign our well-loved, dog-eared copy of your cookbook.

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  14. So lovely to see you back! I have missed your writing.

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  15. Oh I have missed you - welcome back! I was worried that the anti-pit bull comments on your last post had poisoned your relationship with the internet forever. Your dog is precious and your writing is brilliant as always!

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  16. So I was not an idiot to keep checking back here for lo these many months. I've missed your writing and your cooking.

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  17. Likewise, welcome back! Please write when it suits you - it doesn't have to be a project...

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  18. Please, please, please stay with us now that the ice is broken.
    I want to see Brooklyn through your eyes, Ms. Tipsy B.

    No one else comes close to writing a blog as absorbing as yours.

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  19. Welcome back! I've missed your blog.

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  20. You're back!!! I can't believe how old Owen is. I really feel like it was yesterday that I was reading in my grad school office about him feeding chickens and being a kid!

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  21. So glad you are back! I am happy to read anything you write, whether it's about food or not. I moved to a different city in a different state a little over a year ago and wow, I had no idea how much I would miss my old life. It's so much harder than we think it will be. Can't wait to hear more of your Brooklyn adventures.

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  22. I am so happy you're okay! I've been worried to not hear from you in so long. I hope you enjoy NY, and, as a Bay Area-n, hope you kept the Marin house!
    I want you to know how much I love your cookbook. It's just fun to re-read- I particularly like your story about the Thomas Keller fried chicken and the trip to KFC. (I've been to Ad Hoc, and my recipe is better) We've made so many things from the book...the homemade pancetta happens at least twice a year, the Apricot Ginger Bread has been jazzed up with 1/4 cup of chopped candied ginger. I own "The Breakfast Book" by Marion Cunningham and make the yeasted waffles.
    Looking forward to more stories!

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  23. It's so good to have you back. Thank you!

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