Corn Chowder

Dear Young Singleton,

Perhaps you came across this page, hoping to find some nekid pics of Liz Lemon.  Sorry to disappoint, but while you’re here, can we talk about a couple things?  Like, what not to say to girls¹.  I can’t exactly tell you what to say, but if you avoid the following, you may be able to avoid another night alone Googling ‘What’s under Liz’s shirt.’

1) Are you really going to wear that?

I was, until you looked at me like I was rolling around in cheese. Now I hate clothes. All the clothes.

2) Don’t you have enough shoes?

THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH SHOES! (wipes drool from side of mouth)

3) Are there going to be any guys there?

Yes. It’s actually brothel. And you’re so not invited.

4) You should definitely get a gym membership.

Now I’m just going to spite-eat these cookies while picturing your face melting off. In yoga pants of course.

5) Are you going to eat all of that?

Yes, and so should you. It’s delicious. Asshole.

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Mushroom Soup

“Someone fell on me on the train today.”

“So they knocked into you? Doesn’t that happen all the time?”

“No. Someone fell on. to. me.  I was on the ground face up, with them on top of me.”

“What?”

“He was too busy eating a delicious looking lemon poppy seed cake out of one hand and a drinking a coffee out of the other to hold the rail.”

“Well obviously it was because of his delicious looking cake. I mean, lemon poppy seed? Screw. that. rail.”

“Really?”

Roo looks up from his iPad, “Are you ok babe?”

“I cried.”

“Cried and didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought?”

“No, this isn’t an episode of HIMYM on what makes a Real New Yorker. This is real life. ”

“Meaning -”

“The anger cry.”

“I know that cry. It’s kind of…confusing.”

“Yes, a snotty nosed, yelling to getoffofme, anger cry occurred as soon as I realized he was on top of me…And that he was still holding his coffee and cake.”

“Not a drop spilled?”

“Not a single drop.”

“He must have gone to UMass.”

“So not the point Roo. So not the point.”

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Asparagus Soup

You can either find humor in stereotypes or not.

For me, it’s a combination of the two.

When I’m driving around Boston and a fellow Asian driver cuts me off or stops short, I become livid, usually exclaiming, “this is why we have this stereotype!” I may have road rage.

Yet when my mother insists that the television remote control be covered in saran wrap, I accept this as totally normal. Surely every household has remote controllers covered in saran wrap, that are wiped off every evening with a paper napkin.

“Your father, he has such greasy hands!”

Surely.

I never get annoyed with my mother when she says, “so cheap!” at the grocery store.  Instead, I nod my head, sometimes adding a few of those oranges she found on sale into my own shopping basket.

When I catch up with my friend J, hearing about the hundredth time his mother surprised him, showing up at his apartment unannounced with two suitcases full of Korean groceries, I can’t help but share when my mother does the same (last time with a pound of green tea and a kitchen sink strainer).

J and I also have this ingrained, core value of trying to never disappoint our mothers.  Growing up we were pushed hard to achieve the most academically.  And now that we’ve graduated college (it’s been a few years actually), our mothers are asking about the next phase of our lives.

“Why aren’t you in grad school?”

“When are you getting married?

“When are you having children?”

Even though J and I are opposite sexes, our inquiries are the same.

For a while, J and I were able to push them to the wayside, but the last time we spoke, he told me he was applying to medical school for 2013.  His mother and aunt recently visited and basically had an “intervention.”

For once I’m glad my mother is an only child.

I’m not ready to answer any of those questions.  I’d rather put my focus elsewhere, in the kitchen.

Hitting up the local produce stand is something I look forward to every weekend.  Johnny D’s is closed on Sundays, so Saturdays are usually the best time to go when looking for last minute deals.  And when I saw bunches of asparagus being sold for 99 cents each, I knew I had a winner.

So cheap!

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Vegetable and Pearl Barley Soup

I’ve been living with Roo for over a year now, and I feel like I have enough data to say that he’s probably a serial killer.  Or an alien…but better looking than Powder of course.

*The fact that I mentioned Powder and “data,” should be far enough evidence to prove something’s wrong with him for staying with me.

Anyways…

1) When I discovered a few grey hairs and told him about it, he said, “I bet you’d look hot with salt and pepper hair.”

Who says that?  No one wants a 30 year old female to go gray.

Except for serial killers.

2) He always tells me I’m beautiful when I wake up in the morning, despite my insisting that I more resemble a Kraken.

Let me state, I am not “beautiful” when I wake up.  My face is oily, my hair that I put in a bun to keep myself from choking on it in my sleep is all mussed up and sitting on the top of my head, and I have the. worst. breath.  Hence, Kraken.

3) When I come home from the yoga studio, always after a practice where I sweat with such ferocity that it goes into my eyeballs (probably the worst thing to experience since you go both blind and your eyes itch), he’ll hug me even tighter saying that I “just smell like Lys.”

What does that even mean?!

I’ll tell you, it means he’s trying to memorize my scent so when he’s hunting me in the woods he can track me better.

4) Whether we’re sitting on the couch in private or at a bar amongst friends, he always has to have some part of his body touching mine.  At first I thought it was sweet when we were first dating, but now I know it’s just to make sure that when his head is turned he knows I haven’t fled the scene as he can feel me beside him.

Oh, I’m onto you Roo.  But for now, I’ll make you a pot of vegetable and pearl barley soup on this windy December day, insisting that it was made with love, despite my hand rattling the ladle against the bowl.

Chunks of potatoes and carrots, amongst the tender chew of pearled barley, net in by sweet kale makes this soup fit for winter.  This dish has hints of earthiness from the addition of rosemary, only to be paired with two other favorite herbs of mine: thyme and bay.  Adding a big hunk of bread to your plate will practically leave little else to be desired for supper.

Except for my freedom from a serial killer.

Roo is not really a serial killer or alien but a really good boyfriend despite my being a giant pain in the ass.

Adapted from Orangette

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 large onion, diced

Half cup of pearl barley

4 stalks of celery, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

4 potatoes (about the size that can fit in the palm of your hand), peeled and cut into one inch cubes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 teaspoon of dried rosemary

Quarter teaspoon of chili powder

6 cups of low sodium stock (I used homemade)

2 – 3 bay leaves

1 bunch of kale (about a pound), leaves removed from stems and torn into easily edible pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment

A sharp knife

A vegetable peeler

A very large pot (or a dutch oven)

Add the olive oil to your large pot or dutch oven and place on a burner over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion and pearl barley.  Stir the ingredients together, coating them with oil.  When the onions start to soften, and the pearl barley starts to brown, add the celery, carrots and potatoes.  Stir the ingredients together so that they’re well combined.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until they are softened.  Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and chili powder, stirring them into the other ingredients till well combined.  Cook them for about about a minute, till well fragrant.  Add the stock slowly, just a little at first, to allow the brown bits to come off the bottom of the pot with a spatula.  Scrape them off the pot’s surface, then continue adding all the stock.  Add the bay leaves and bring the liquid to a boil.

Once at a boil, reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a simmer.  Cover the pot and cook for about fifteen minutes, then add the kale, stirring it into the liquid.  Continue to simmer the ingredients for five more minutes, then check to see if your barley and potatoes are cooked through.  The potatoes should be soft to the touch (be able to poke a fork through easily) and the barley should have a little bit of chew to it.  Season with salt and pepper if desired, then serve.

Quinoa, Greens and Root Veg Soup

I’ve totally been embracing this whole “eating New England style” as November comes to a close.  “New England style” is basically eating the produce that’s available in New England during fall and winter.  It largely consists of storage crops and winter greens.  Produce like potatoes, winter squashes, onions, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and even tatsoi.

Also, soup has been served practically everyday in our little apartment.  LLN basically reflects what Roo and I eat, so hopefully you haven’t grown tired of the seasonal veg and soups that have been featured.  I honestly can’t get enough of it!  I am absolutely in love with swinging by the farmers market at city hall to see what’s available that day.  Sometimes I peruse the tables out of need for a recipe, and other times it’s to just pick up an item or two, if only to support the farmers that trekked into the city, just to sit in the cold all day.  Just a note: the more you frequent a vendor, the more likely they’ll remember you and try to give you a better deal (ie I’ve received a free handful of this or that and sometimes a couple of apples).  It really does pay off to shop local.

Ok, enough about farmers markets.

I’m here to write about soup.  Soup that I was able to make in thirty minutes after a quick chop of some seasonal produce and a stir in of quinoa.  Soup that has a bit of heat from red pepper flake, an earthiness from rosemary, loads of textures and a “complete protein” that makes even the judgmental of a plant-based diet hush as they dunk chunks of warm, crusty bread into the broth.

It’s incredibly flavorful and fast.  It’s a soup that warms our bones on nights when the heat drops below freezing and our uninsulated windows remind us that summer is over and it’s time for tea, blankets and baking.  Lots of baking.

And like most soups, it tastes even better the next day, as the flavors are able to meld together; potatoes completely infused with the spicy earthy broth.

Which leads me to ask, have you made a soup with quinoa before?  What do you typically use quinoa for?  I’ve used it in cakes, salads and now soups.  I don’t think there’s anything this little seed can’t do.

Inspired by The Urban Vegan Cookbook Recipe for Quinoa Soup

Adapted from Spicy and Hearty Potato, White Bean and Kale Soup

Ingredients

1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pot)

2 medium onions, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced (love garlic, LOVE)

1 – 2 teaspoons of red pepper flake (if you’re heat sensitive, start with a half teaspoon)

1 bunch of collard greens, (about a pound) leaves removed from stems, torn with hands into easily edible pieces (you can use kale, collards were all I had.  I would not recommend spinach, unless if it was added right at the end, as it’s incredibly delicate compared to kale, etc.)

8 cups of low sodium broth (I used homemade vegetable)

Half to 1 cup of dry quinoa (1 cup results in a lot of quinoa with very little broth.  If you’d like to have a lot of liquid in your soup, use half a cup)

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of dried rosemary

2 carrots, chopped (the smaller you cut them, the faster it’ll cook)

3 to 4 medium potatoes, chopped (the smaller you cut them, the faster it’ll cook)

1 (15 oz) can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Equipment

One large pot

A sharp knife

A vegetable peeler

A spatula/tongs

Pour olive oil into your pot and place over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions, and cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the onions turn golden brown (it may take more than five minutes depending on your burner), add the garlic, red pepper flake and rosemary.  Cook until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the broth, quinoa, bay leaves, greens, carrots and potatoes.  Stir to combine the ingredients.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, reduce the heat to bring the soup at a simmer.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, about fifteen minutes.

Add the beans if using, and stir in.  Simmer for about five minutes longer, then serve.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Hey.

Did you realize yet that it’s halfway through November?  Are you in denial about cooking for Thanksgiving like I am?

Good.

Roo and I have been keeping warm in our poorly insulated apartment with soups.  Lots and lots of soups.

And maybe cats.

Pissed off cats.

Around this time last year, I made Roo a broccoli soup that was full of cheese, whole milk and half and half.  You’d think I was trying to collect a life insurance pay-off with what I plated for him.

“Oh no, half a block of cheddar is good for your cholesterol level of 250.”

Little did I know at the time, he doesn’t have life insurance.  Little does he know, I have no shame, and like my Aunt Kathy, I planned on putting his ashes into something affordable, like a vase from Pier 1 Imports, where my Uncle Dan now rests.

I’m just keeping it real.

This year, I wanted to make broccoli soup a little differently as Roo and I have recently adopted a plant-based lifestyle.  Yet, when I told Roo what I was making for dinner, he was a little concerned.

“How are you going to make broccoli soup without cheese or cream?”

Thankfully I had a bit of luck with my last supposed-to-be-cream-based-soup so I knew where to start.  Even though Roo hates my mentioning it (it’s all in the name really), nutritional yeast rounds out the flavors that would instead taste like broccoli broth without it.  Paired with almond milk and blended potatoes, it makes a creamy, cheesy soup that I loved submerging large chunks of warm, crusty bread into.

The soup has loads of body, as half of the vegetables are blended, then put back in.  And with just a little bit of chili powder to raise the flavor up a bit (that and the sherry give it “that little something”), you soon realize that it’s not just rosemary that’s added.  It’s good.  It’s, put down the cat you’re using as a shawl, good.

Adapted from Appetite for Reduction

This Serves About 6

Ingredients

1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pot)

1 large onion, diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon of dried rosemary

Quarter teaspoon of chili powder

4 cups of low sodium broth (I used homemade vegetable)

4 potatoes (about the size that individually fit in the palm of your hand), cut into about half inch pieces

2 carrots, diced

5 cups of broccoli, cut into less than half inch pieces (if you can use only the stems, do it. Save the florets for some roasting, stir fry, etc where you’ll be able to appreciate the textures.  This soup is just going to get blended at the end.)

1 cup of unsweetened, unflavored almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)

2 tablespoons of sherry

Quarter cup of nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon of butter, like Earth Balance (optional)

Salt to taste

Equipment

A sharp knife

A very large pot with cover

A spatula

An immersion blender or a blender

Ladle

Add one to two tablespoons of olive oil to your pot.  Place the pot over a burner on medium heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the diced onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent.  Add the minced garlic, rosemary, and chili powder and stir to incorporate the ingredients.  Cook until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the broth, potatoes and carrots.  Stir till the ingredients are incorporated.  Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat so that the ingredients are at a simmer.  Cover the pot and simmer for about ten minutes.

After ten minutes have passed, add the broccoli and simmer for twenty minutes, covered.

After twenty minutes have passed, add the almond milk, sherry and nutritional yeast.  Stir and heat the ingredients through.

With an immersion blender, blend about half of the soup, or to the consistency that you wish (I like to have some bits left whole in my soup).  If you don’t have an immersion blender, ladle some soup into your blender, but be careful to not fill more than half way.  Lid, cover with a towel (to protect your hand), and immediately blend (do not let steam build up in the blender or else you may risk of eruption and burning your hand!).  Add it back to the soup, and continue this until the soup is down to the consistency you desire.

Salt to taste.

*Does it need to be just a little bit creamier?  If desired, add a tablespoon of butter, like Earth Balance.  Otherwise, you’re done!  Serve immediately.

Potatoes, Beans and Cabbage, Oh My!

It’s getting colder here in Boston.

So cold, that I’m starting to chase after the cats in the apartment, scooping them up and insisting that they fall asleep on me on the couch, because it’s much cheaper than turning the heat on.

Found you!

What, you don’t want to move?  Please?

Yesssssss.

As the days grow shorter and with the cold starting to creep in through our poorly insulated windows, Roo has been requesting one of his favorites a lot lately: potatoes.

“Can we have potatoes tonight?”  “You know what I love?  Those oven roasted potatoes you make.”  “Did we get potatoes in our CSA this week?”

While I can’t in good conscience make Roo a plate of oven roasted potatoes for dinner, I did find a dish that seems equally as hearty as one, and packed with flavor.

It also resulted in my first time cooking with nutritional yeast, a staple in vegan cooking (and source of vitamin B12).  “Nooch” brings a cheesy flavor to whatever dish you add it to.

I didn’t go overboard with it this first time, as the main flavors of caramelized onion, aromatic garlic and warm red pepper flake still shine through, but I like that it brought everything together.  I also love that the potatoes still seem oven roasted, as they’re cooked in the pan with a bit of olive oil, and that some of the caramelized onion grab onto them, knowing that by being BFFs, it would mean something.  Lastly, the beans and cabbage, for those who are a little afraid (as Roo was), I can only say, they. are. essential. The cabbage, while softened a bit in the pan, keeps a lovely texture and remains a bit sweet, perfect when wound around a bean or too.

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 Big pinch of salt

1 onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of red pepper flake (if you’re sensitive to spicy food, start with a quarter teaspoon and go up from there)

1 (15 ounce) can of white beans, drained, rinsed very well and drained again (I used a combination of chick peas and black beans as that’s all I had. I bet this would be even better with cannellini beans)

3 cups cabbage, practically shredded (I used purple as that’s what I received from my CSA this week)

1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast (I used 1, but if you love the “Nooch,” go for whatever you want) *optional, as it’s not really a pantry staple for most*

Equipment

A very sharp knife

A large saute pan

A spatula

Pour the olive oil into your saute pan and place over a burner on medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the diced potatoes and a big pinch of salt.  Stirring occasionally, cook the potatoes about eight to ten minutes, until they start to brown.

Add the diced onions.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown, about seven minutes.

Add the red pepper flake and minced garlic.  Stir until fragrant, about thirty seconds.

Add the beans and stir into the ingredients until well combined.  Let the beans settle in a single layer in the pan, allowing them to brown a bit before moving again.  After they brown a bit, stir the ingredients again, allowing them to brown on the other side (you want crispy beans).

Add the cabbage after the beans have browned on both sides.  Stir the cabbage into the ingredients until well combined.

Add the nutritional yeast, if using.  Stir until well combined with the ingredients.

Allow all ingredients to cook for another minute, or until the cabbage becomes a bit soft.

Serve warm.

Yum Yum Soup

It feels like Roo and I have been traveling practically every weekend this past month.

We went to a wedding in Maine, Roo tagged along with me to Virginia for work, and now I’m due to go back to my parents’ house to deal with the car that I “dropped off.”

Parents are smart.

They know when you’re trying to dump stuff at their place for “storage.”

They especially don’t like it when their retirement nirvana is no longer, due to a rusted, three-wheeled, no longer smells of Teen Spirit Outback station wagon that has been parked outside their house for months.

When I dropped it off I told them it’d be taken away by <insert charity I’m donating it to> in a week.

Whoops.

Yes, I’m far from perfect.

Dare I say they raised me, so they should have known it was bad news when the tow truck dropped off the car while they were away on vacation?

What, I forgot to mention that?

Procrastination.  Yes, my parents may have dropped the ball about setting me right with that one.

Being obsessed with spices?  My mother can take the credit for instilling that in me.

Growing up, it was like being audience to an at-home cooking show (but faster, almost manic, fueled by “wine spritzers” and laughs…I should call her…).

My mother’s constant chatter while cooking (she called it “creating”) was informative as any Food Network Star’s dream pilot.  She’d tell me what she loved about that dish, why, how the ingredients all worked together, and demanded that I taste.

Everything.

And when I was flipping through one of my newly acquired cookbooks (for fun, I have a problem) today, I spotted a flavor combination that I knew I’d like, and probably love, with a couple adjustments.

Cumin, garam masala, curry powder.

In a soup?  With peanut butter?

Uh, and coconut milk?

No really, it works.

It has heat, it’s full of body from the coconut milk, and the peanut butter adds a little “something,” that makes the soup quite complex for one that’s whipped up within an hour.

As for what the heck to call it, yes, I really was waving my hands up in the air, not wanting to list every ingredient in the soup to make sense as to what it is.

I stand by the name.

Yum Yum Soup, Adapted from Peas and Thank You Cookbook

Serves Four Generously

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

One and a half teaspoons curry powder

Three quarter teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 fifteen ounce diced tomatoes (with juice)

Two and a half cups low sodium sodium broth (vegetable or chicken)

1 half can (fourteen ounce) of light coconut milk

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 cup potato, diced or sliced thinly (size depending on what you like in your soup, and how quickly you’d like it to cook)

Half cup of red lentils, drained and rinsed

1 fourteen ounce can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed

Salt to taste

Equipment

A sharp knife

A large pot with a lid

A colander

A spatula

Place the large pot with olive oil on an oven burner over medium high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the diced onion.  Stir occasionally with a spatula till the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic.  Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Push aside the onions and garlic, to make a bare spot for your spices to be added.  Add the spices (curry powder, garam masala, cumin and ginger).  Let sit until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Stir the spices into the onions and garlic.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot.  Stir to combine.

Bring the soup to a simmer.

Simmer on low heat for thirty minutes slightly covered, or until potatoes are tender (if they were cut small, they should cook quickly) and the lentils are soft.

Add salt to taste.