I told my husband last night that I loved him but what I really need is a 1950′s wife. Someone who will hand me a cocktail and my slippers when I walk in the door so I can relax, pat the kids on the head and send them off to bed while sipping my scotch. Sadly, my reality is more along the lines of leave work, pick up the baby, drive drive drive drive drive, come in, immediately rush to find dinner for the Nuni and Bootsy, feed the kids, bedtime routines, fix grownup dinner (if we didn’t eat with the kids), eat grownup dinner, and then start in on the laundry before I even get to think about a cocktail.
Since weeknights are a little crazy (to put it mildly), I’m always on the lookout for meals that are a) healthy and b) quick to prepare. And that doesn’t mean 30 minutes or an hour quick. I mean on the table in 20 max, so I can get to my cocktail faster. This salmon on curried spinach, which is an old recipe of my mom’s, just fits the bill.
I never think of myself as a soup eater. When I was a kid, even though I grew up in a foodie family, soup more often than not came from a can, and had water added to it. It was neither particularly tasty nor particularly satisfying, and I carried that prejudice for a long time.
As an adult, however, who is tasked with feeding the multitudes (i.e. my children) with the contents of my refrigerator, I have come to appreciate soup. Soup is flexible — you can add the vegetables you have, switch out the base, change the seasonings — and you’ll probably still end up with a good dish. Soup is forgiving — give me your tired vegetables, your poor meats, and the alchemy of the soup pot transforms them into toothsome delights. Soup can be stretched to feed more mouths, and frozen and reheated without ill effects. It can be fed to babies, and sick people and children and made sophisticated for a dinner party. It can cook a little longer, or a little more quickly, or in the crockpot, or in the pressure cooker. It might just be the perfect food.
This mushroom leek soup is the perfect example of flexible food. It cooks up quickly, reheats well, requires very little fuss, and is infinitely adaptable. If you want it vegan, swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and skip the cheese. If you aim for gluten free, forget the croutons. If you have a handful of leftover vegetables, you can throw them in the pot. I added a couple of handfuls of baby spinach because I had it, but it can also be skipped if you don’t. You can even swap in onions for leeks, but they don’t have quite the same delicacy of flavor. Many people avoid fennel because they don’t like licorice — here, the licorice notes are all but unnoticeable – the fennel adds a depth of flavor and a hint of sweetness which balances the mushrooms. For me, accepting soup was tied to accepting my soup personality. I am not so much a broth-with-stuff-in-it soup person — I tend to prefer smooth textured soups, like this Gazpacho or thisCauliflower soup. Fortunately, the introduction of a hand blender handles the transition beautifully. If you prefer a chunky soup, by all means skip the blending step. Continue reading Mushroom Leek Soup with Garlic Croutons
I’ve been writing Savour Fare for nearly four (FOUR!) years, and while it reflects my love of food and family, I feel like there’s a whole side to me I’ve been neglecting in these pages. I love to read. It’s as essential to me as breathing. If I am trapped in a space like a doctor’s office with nothing to read I will start reading the small print on the ibuprofen bottle in my purse. But I usually prefer books. People are often shocked when I tell them that I read over fifty books last year (and none of them were Fifty Shades of Grey. I started it, but the writing was so atrocious I really couldn’t finish it. Also, it did not push any of my buttons.) I read every night before bed, and usually a little when I get up. I listen to audiobooks in the car (which isn’t exactly reading, but it still counts). I read after my kids are in bed and before they wake up in the morning.
All the readers I know are constantly looking for book recommendations. So if you’re a reader, or you’d like to become one, the following are a few books I’ve read and enjoyed recently. (You can also follow me on Goodreads, a great social reading site that’s also a good way to keep track of what you’ve read and want to read. You are not, however, allowed to laugh at me. We can’t always be reading War and Peace.)
(Note, links are affiliate links. That means I might get, like, a nickel if you click on them. I’ll buy a tootsie roll and think of you.)
The story of a teenage boy nerd, told by another teenage boy nerd. The narrator perfectly captures the teen boy voice without condescending, and tells the story of his friend Eric, who never, ever has to sleep. The novel twists and turns with sci-fi elements – it reads like a comic book without the graphics. It’s funny, fast-paced, suspenseful and poignant, and unlike anything else I’ve read recently.
This book goes back and forth between an aging British actress (think Maggie Smith – that’s what I did) dealing with her dying mother, and her mother as a young woman during World War II in London. Part historical fiction, part family drama, part mystery – this one kept me riveted. I listened to it on audiobook, and found myself driving around the block to finish chapters.
This is a modernization of Jane Eyre, which might just be my favorite Gothic novel (it beats Wuthering Heights by a long shot). Mr. Sinclair doesn’t quite match the smouldering intensity of Mr. Rochester, but the lush descriptions of Scotland and its scenery are pretty wonderful.
I’m not really a sports person, but this novel – about a virtuoso shortstop at a third rate college and the people in his life – made me a believer. Ken is always telling me that the power of baseball is the story, and in this book, the story is pretty powerful. This one has parallels to Moby Dick (though it isn’t as close a match as Gemma Hardy is to Jane Eyre) . It’s also a book about finding your place in the world and embracing your talents – whatever they may be.
I’m not always a fan of fantasy, thinking that it often falls into the cliches invented by Tolkien. This book, however, set in a smartly-imagined medieval world where dragons co-exist with humans in a diplomatic truce, proved the exception to the rule. The title character, a half dragon who is forced to hide her past because of the prejudices of the world around her, is nevertheless eminently human, and vulnerable. Worth reading.
The premise of this book – Kansas matron chaperones a teenage Louise Brooks (silent film star) through a summer in jazz age New York, has a personal epiphany, and is forcefully dragged into modernity – is charming, and if the book ended there, it would have been a charming and entertaining read. What brought this book to the next level is that we see what Cora (the aforementioned Kansas matron) does with her epiphany, and her maternity, and how it changes her life. If you always wonder “what then?” after a book finishes, this is the book for you.
I, along with every freshman enrolled in English 129 at Yale, which was roughly a third of us, was forced to read the Iliad by freshman year. It was long. There were a lot of spear fights, and pierced nipples. This is a much more entertaining perspective on the story. Miller doesn’t lose the poetic edge, but her story is that of Achilles, the famed warrior, as told through the eyes of his closest friend, Patroclos. It’s a familiar story, made fresh.
I adored My Life in France which many people are familiar with through the movie Julie and Julia. This comprehensive biography goes far beyond the period described in that movie. I particularly loved the story of Julia’s childhood in Pasadena (we attended the same elementary school!) but was also fascinated by her time in China and Sri Lanka during World War II, her career in television, and her growing influence in the food world. An interesting life, told by an able biographer.
Based in Los Angeles, Savour Fare is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!