orange is in

in the world of vegetable-based soups, many smooth, creamy-style soups are the sneakiest bastards of the bunch: they look like the contain cream/dairy, they smell like they contain cream/dairy, and (most importantly), they TASTE like they contain cream/dairy, but TA-DA! they don't! amazing! how do you achieve this waistline-friendly flavorbomb? it's all in the puree, loves.

it's rather simple really, and the best part is that, once you get the hang of it, you can pretty much throw together any vegetables with complimentary flavors and find success sans recipe (i'm still fine-tuning my liquid/solid proportions a bit, which is where recipes help. if you have the energy to recipe-it, you can probably get a good idea of this ratio down pat... or you could fly by the seat of your pants and just live a little). basically, all you need to do is chop some veggies, throw 'em in some stock until they're tender, drop 'em in a food processor (or blender), and puree the shit out of 'em. once you've got a gunky mass that looks an awful lot like babyfood, stir it back into your broth, season, and voila! soup!

here's this concept in action:

last night, after a particularly produce-inspired trip to the market (i love calling the grocery store the market; it makes me feel like i'm a wee little lass who spends her days roaming the cobbled streets of her charming provincial village), inspiration struck: i had sweet potatoes, i had carrots, i had a pantry exploding with various spices: i knew i had a good soup in me.

after sauteing a leek and throwing in some veggie broth (5 cupsish), i threw in two peeled, sliced sweet potatoes and like maybe two handfuls of baby carrots, also chopped (i suppose regular carrots would do, but i never buy them because baby carrots are so versatile and mini-cute-delish). i let all of this come to a boil, then sit over medium heat until veggies were ready to hit the blender. ten minutes later, i had a very orange, very carrot-y soup, and it didn't need much seasoning - a bit of curry powder, ginger and cinnamon and a generous squirt of honey did the trick! i topped my soup with some romano, truffle oil and cracked pepper, and it was YUMM-O.

up next? a kale chip taste-test. rants about toddlers and tiaras. so.many.things!



the post holiday blues

every year, our entire society becomes obsessed with "the holidays." from the day after halloween until january 2, everything we see and hear is about a countdown to christmas, magical family togetherness, overindulgent food (and, obviously, her twin, "battling the holiday bulge"), and trinkets and sweaters and motherfucking earrings that say things like "joy," "peace," and "i heart santa." we are assaulted from all sides, and we like it. we walk through the world and everything seems different: the air seems more energetic, the streets are more bustling, and life is special, finally imbued with meaning in a dazzling array of twinkling lights and glittery presents and sparkling seasonality. we all buy right into the Holiday Magic because it makes us feel good, and we're happier and better people and give pennies to people in santa hats who ring bells obnoxiously outside of the grocery store. we live it and breathe it and absolutely love it for two full months - and then, just like that, it's over.

as this sad post-holiday time rolls around, i always find myself paying extra attention to the houses that still have their lights up. they look like twinkling little beacons of joy in the cold darkness of a january night, little orbs that whisper, "sssshhhh... forget about your new year's resolution. it's still the holidays - there's always next week!" i enjoy that, seeing my fellow holiday-romantics gently clinging to the magic of the season, unlike their grinch-like unlit houses next door.

i also find myself paying attention to the discarded christmas trees as they make their slow appearance to the curb. once beloved talismans of our Holiday Spirit, these pines are unceremoniously stripped of their charms and discarded, no longer serving their purpose as expressions of joy, and, instead, mere dry, needle-dropping nuisances that the dog or cat will invariably knock over. this ritual is that continues for months; from the assholes who toss their tree out on december 26th, to the slackers who line up their brittle brown shrub in march, i monitor the great tree disposal as i drive, noticing when the neighbor puts his tree out on a respectable january 6, marveling at the pile of properly-discarded trees at the fire station, grumbling at the jerk who carelessly tossed his out the car on the side of the freeway. asshole.

this comes every year, the cycle of holiday-mania, followed by a slight depression as the entire world comes off this high of fruitcakes and presents and excessive spending and wearing sequins and drunken missteps under mistletoe. suddenly, it's back to life, back to reality, and boring jobs and paying bills and going to the gym to combat the hell you just put your body and budget through.

clearly, we need a distraction to lift our drab spirits: it is officially valentine's day. god bless you, corporate-capitalist brainwashing.

leafy green thing reveal: the soup.

last night's kale, potato and chickpea soup turned out to be superdelish, and although i don't "do" recipes, here's everything that went into the pot:

1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
2 small yellow potatoes, cubed
two stalks of kale - the stalk is very bitter! just tear off small pieces of leaves and drop them right into the soup!
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced

now, when i cook, i generally just season things to taste, so i can't provide precise measurements of anything, but here are the spices i used:

in a small saucepan, i made a sort of paste out of the following spices, by mixing with a small amount of heated olive oil (if your pasty-mixture gets too thick, add a splash of water or broth from your soup): tumeric, cumin, smoked paprika, curry powder and small amounts of ginger and cinnamon. after mixing the paste into the broth, i realized that my soup still wasn't quite there, so i made another batch of paste to mix in. when working without strict recipes, it is best to err on the side of caution; you can always add more cumin to your dish, but you can't take away a too-generous dose of hot mustard powder (been there, done that and holy shit does it ruin a dish). also, you don't need no stinkin recipes, people! trust your palate and taste your food - it's the only way you'll improve your palate, and it takes all of the ugh-boring-precise-scienceness out of cooking, which should be all about fun with great tasting food and whatever-fits-your-budget wine!

the final important factor in balancing out this soup's flavor was a simple one that works wonders to add a needed layer of complexity to many dishes made with big bold spices like these - you need some acid, y'alll! of course, i'm not talking tune in, turn on and drop out style stuff here, i mean nothing more complicated than a plain ole lemon. lemon juice does amazing things - it cools heat, it lifts smoky, heavy flavors and it is an essential ingredient in my kitchen pretty much anytime anyone lets me near the tumeric.

more soup related tips and recipes will be popping up soon - what kind of soup do YOU want to know how to make?


leafy green thing

so, i've recently become acquainted with a leafy green thing you might know as kale. having once picked up a similar-looking leafy green thing and been consequently chided that what i was holding was not kale but, in fact, ________ (i don't know, swiss chard or something?), i've since learned to recognize this beast by its dark green leaves that even manage to look super healthy. it's pretty tasty too, and i think you should all give kale chips a try!

so now i have a bundle of kale in my fridge, and tonight, i will attempt to cook it. i'm thinking of throwing together some sort of soup with tomatoes and potatoes and perhaps some kind of chickpea situation, and i kinda wish i had some lentils because that sounds like it would be a nice, hearty touch on a reasonably chilly la night. i've also got some boxed wine (don't hate), so this is looking like it should be a pretty successful evening after a day of being awesome.


oh heeeey, yeah so it's been like a year since i've blogged anything.

that's ok. so i'm back.

and just for clarification, this isn't part of some new year's resolution thing. sometimes a girl's just gotta get.it.together a bit, you know what i mean?

soooo, that brings us back to the bloggity-blog-blog. this time around, though, we're going to have more fun. more succinct fun too, maybe!