Making a Meal

 

I have fallen off the orderly cooking wagon in a major way. My shopping list is nutso — either too long or too short and always with gaps; my menu planning is … what's that?; my staples have been run to the ground several times this summer (go back and look at problem number one). 

There are several mitigating factors. Rabbit, through no fault of his own, has bummer of a late nap cycle which means he gets up and we are running until we are eating. Summer. Ah, summer. So many lovely bloggers showing the bounty of their garden. I LOVE that. But, we have the bounty of the bodegas and the Saturday market, and still … we hit the park for our last yayas and then home and often, too often, we are eating 30-60 minutes later than we should be. Smalls explode all over the living room. Pyrotechnics, hystrionics. You name the chaos, we've got it.

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Tonight was one of those nights. So, I went to an old favorite, tucked away during the early spring and altered with what we had in the refrigerator. We all love lentil soup, especially this version from 101Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson's version calls for a leafy green; I'd used up the chard but had some bell pepper on hand. She also calls for yogurt infused with saffron. It's quite nice, but the yogurt was gone with breakfast so I poached eggs, instead.

Enter Tamar Adler's an everlasting meal, a very readable collection of essays you've probably read about elsewhere (here?). The caveat: Adler's a bit precious, a little smug. I have a love-hate with Adler's writing; we read the book for my cookbook club and I found it an amazing resource but struggled with her voice.

Regardless my criticism of style, Adler is extraordinarily helpful, interesting, and clearly engaged with her topic. Her chapters are specific and full of tricks and non-tricks that feel magical.

Today's useful tip: getting beautiful poached eggs out of a pot of boiling water. 

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Don't fall for the cyclone in the pot trick. You end up with a lot of swirly white bits. White vinegar helps, and I used it today, but what is the best trick: ladle in your egg, gently spoon the loose ends back to center, and cuddle it into place. It didn't change my cooking time or effort and all the eggs emerged globe-smooth and beautiful. (Tomorrow, I'll wax prosaic about beans.)

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My tip: if you get lazy about measuring your salad dressing ingredients, take the time to reacquaint yourself with portions. You'll be happier because your salad will be balanced. I tend to use Canal House's simple French vinaigrette the way French women do it — in the bowl, unfussy, and it's always great, but I started making too much as my splashes and dashes became comfortably sloppy. (Maybe it's living in Brooklyn.)

Lucky us, it was Sunday and Mister and Bama baked some biscuits* for breakfast. The remainders were a good addition to the soup and salad dinner. 

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*Touch of Grace biscuits from Shirley Corriher's CookWise. It's the only biscuit he makes. He always uses White Lily self-rising flour. It's typically southern — low protein and low glutein to yield a less dense biscuit. 

 For a good flour primer, look here.

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Making a Meal

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