Soup Season

 

Beany. Leeky.

So good I didn’t bother to clean up the bowl before I took a picture.

 

Dear Carolyne,

I can’t stop making soups from my BrokeAss Gourmet cookbook. I know all the recipes are pretty much on the site, but having something to actually flip through is more inspiring somehow.

The one pictured above is the Bacon, Leek, and White Bean soup, which was very good but didn’t seem to yield as much as I anticipated.

 

I also made Chicken, Sweet Potato, and White Bean stew. Flavorwise, it’s quite good, but if I were to make it again I would toss in some flour at the start so that it’s thicker.

 

Love and chicken stock,

Anne

All I Ever Do is Make Bacon in The Oven

Dear Carolyne,

Firstly, I am the worst and I am sorry it has taken me so long to write. There have been kitchen experiments, like this pumpkin beer bread, which I found to be…underwhelming. It was lacking in both spices and pumpkin. I wanted it to be more moist (sorry) and for the flavor of the beer to come out more. Mostly it turned out like basic bread with a few spices.

More successfully, I made some of my friend Kim’s potato leek soup after a trip to the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market last weekend.  You’ve probably read this recipe before, but here it is again for posterity’s sake (copy-pasted from Kim’s original message):

“2-ish T butter
3 leeks, white/light green parts chopped (fairly fine slice)
1 small white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2-3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (not really necessary, but I have fun shoving onions in this soup)
4 or so red potatoes, peeled (if you feel like it) and diced
4-ish cups veggie broth
roughly 1/3 to 1/2 c heavy cream
some herbs if you feel like it (I like dill or chives or both if I have any on hand)
BACON, cooked and chopped
CHEEBS

In dutch oven or large sewp-making pot or whatever, drop the butter in and let it melt. When the butter has gotten all nice and melty, drop in the leeks and let them cook for a minute or two until they soften. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery and shallot, stir it around and let
it hang out for about 5 or so minutes so that all those veggies start to soften and start smelling yummy. Then dump in the potatoes and the veggie broth (and any extra water you might need to make the broth level just cover the potatoes) and any dry herbs you might want to use. Bring it to a boil, drop the heat and let it hang out on the stove for about 45 minutes – an hour or so until everything is nice and soft and falling apart.
When it’s hit that stage, remove it from the heat, dump in any fresh herbs you might want to dump in (chives are awesome) and let it cool for a few minutes,
and then blend it either in batches through a blender or with an immersion blender or what have you (you could probably mush it to bits with a potato masher,
honestly). When it’s all blended, stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings. I usually serve with a handful of bacon and a handful of cheebs thrown on top, but you could probably mix that in too and it would be good.”

Not the best picture, but totally the best soup.

I almost never follow the amount of vegetables precisely, tossing in whatever I have lying around. This time I added in some hot Thai chilies (also from the farmer’s market) and seasoned it with smoked salt and smoked paprika.

It was definitely worth the injuries I sustained cutting the potatoes. :/

Anyway, it’s the best soup ever. Filling, delicious, smoky, and autumnal. Plus any opportunity I get to use my immersion blender is a good one.

The other thing I’ve been doing a lot of lately is making bacon in the oven, a trick I picked up (somewhat to my shame) from Pinterest. Basically, you line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay out the strips of bacon. Put everything in a cold oven and then turn it to 350°F. Give it 20-40 minutes, you can usually smell when it’s done.

I don’t know if this necessarily yields tastier bacon than doing it in the skillet does, but it is easier and less messy (let the bacon fat congeal on the parchment paper and discard, then you usually don’t even need to wash the cookie sheet).

I’ve also found that this works better with normal-thinner cut bacon. I tried it today with some thick cut bacon (also picked up from the farmer’s market-why are farmer’s markets the best things ever?) and the result wasn’t quite as satisfying. Also, did you know free range bacon is a thing? I was not aware. I know “free-range” is a kind of loose term and can basically mean the animal in question just has a large yard as opposed to a stall or pen, but I like the idea of pigs running around eating whatever before they become my delicious breakfast.

I am not a good person.

Anyway, fall is here too (obviously), and while Midwestern fall may not be quite as thoroughly pretty as New England fall, it’s still pretty great.

View from my balcony. I don't know if you can tell, but it's a little Tim Burton-y today.

The other thing I have to report is that it is time for my annual trip to Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store:
Pretty much autumnal Disneyland.

This place is basically a giant yellow barn full of candy. They also sell pies and baked goods (made on site), tons of weird soda, local hot sauces and jams, and, weirdly enough, puzzles.

I will take pictures and report back!

Miss you lots!

Anne

Autumn in New York

Dear Anne,

Autumn in New York — great song, terrible movie, and a wonderful experience.  Iowa has pretty good foliage, but it’s no lie that New York and New England have some of the best autumnal colors.  I love looking at the trees across Otsego Lake.  Right now there’s still a lot of green, but it’s mottled with fiery reds and oranges and buttery yellows.

Main Street
What I see when I leave my apartment.

With autumn comes apple season.  There are numerous small orchards in the area, and they all flock to the farmers markets on the weekends.  This Saturday was no exception.  There were at least 4 vendors selling their apples.  I usually purchase my apples from Middlefield Orchard because they have so many varieties, and their jams are delicious.  I’m particularly fond of their Sunrise Jam (strawberry, apricot, and pineapple).  Last weekend I bought enough apples to eat one with lunch everyday this past week.  The flavor is so present, so flavorful.  (I’m finding difficulties describing how wonderful these apples tasted.) Perhaps it’s because I haven’t eaten apples in a while (I focused on berries and stone fruits this summer.), or maybe it’s because the apples are smaller than the apples in the grocery store, concentrating the flavors.  I don’t know, but I can tell you there are no complaints from me.

Apple season provides the opportunity for so many apple-based recipes:  pies, cobblers, crisps, tarts, muffins, compotes, etc. Yesterday, I decided to make apple sauce.  My dad makes some pretty delicious applesauce, so I called him for his recipe.  He did not answer, but he did call me back and leave me this message.

It’s pretty darn difficult.  You cut up some apples. Throw them in a pan. Toss a little water in there, some sugar depending on how sweet you want it, some cinnamon, and you cook it. Or you can throw crock pot and do the same thing.

Sounded pretty complicated, so I decided to take this one step further and play with the flavors.  Cinnamon was a given because cinnamon is one of the best spices out there, but I wanted to find other savory flavor to pair.  At first, I considered smoked paprika, but I thought maybe the smokiness would overpower the cinnamon.  Then, I tried chili powder, which didn’t do much for me. After twenty minutes of standing in my pantry smelling spices with cinnamon next to it, I finally decided on rosemary.  Naturally, I hopped on the computer to check for any rosemary applesauce recipes. There were a few, and I ended up modifying this recipe from and other adventures… I didn’t have juice, so I used water.

Rosemary Applesauce

10 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
5 tsp brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1 lemon peel slice
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of water
3 sprigs of rosemary
1. Peel, core, and chop apples.
2. Add all ingredients in crock pot.
3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
4. Remove lemon peel slice, cinnamon sticks and rosemary sprigs at the end of cooking.
5. Use immersion blender to puree apples, or keep apples chunky.  It’s up to you.
And other adventures says you can store the applesauce in the fridge for a week.  If you’re looking to keep any longer, consider going through the formal canning process.  This made enough to fill four 8oz jelly jars.
Cinnamon Applesauce
Mmm…so many ways to eat this.
As I mentioned earlier, I used water instead of juice as the original recipe calls.  I also didn’t have any fresh rosemary, nor was my dried rosemary in sprig form.  I didn’t want to have to fish out all the individual rosemary needles after cooking, so I used some cheesecloth and created a makeshift tea bag to infuse the flavor into the sauce.  The infusion was unsuccessful since I did not immerse the pouch into the liquid, but let it sit on top of the apples, which And other adventures had shown in pictures. I think the idea was the steam created from cooking in a crock pot would draw out the flavors from the cinnamon sticks and the rosemary sprigs.  However, I think the problem was that my rosemary was completely dried. So, to sum up, I had regular applesauce.  It’s delicious applesauce.  I’m probably going to make more next weekend.  Next time, I will either have fresh rosemary or let the rosemary steep in the liquid. I also want to experiment with Herbes de Provence applesauce.  I think the lavender will pair very well, making that applesauce perfect for pork chops or pork roast.
Anyway, it’s time for me to go knit while my roommates watch one football team beat another football team.
Luff,
Carolyne