Friday, April 15, 2011

Back at It.....

Been a long time since I've written anything at all.....but my newest book, "50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker" has been put to bed and is due out this coming fall.  It was great to work on and I must say that I and everyone in my neighborhood had a hand in recipe testing and eating!  Working on putting together yet a new idea and planting my spring vegetable and herb garden.  Stay tuned for recipes from the garden.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

what a perfect time of year to be working on soups

This year, southern California where I live has  had one of the most perfect winters I've come across in a long time.  Why?  Because we've had just enough rain in just the right amounts:  not enough to cause significant damage, yet enough to fill up our very skimpy lakes, streams and reservoirs.  And for those of us who live in a place where rain is scarce, every rainstorm is a big event.  We love the sound of rain on the roof and the rare occasion to pull out a raincoat (at least those of us who have them).  Best of all, this has been a perfect season for working on soups, my latest subject.  Unless I'm going out to dinner, I find I just don't eat a lot, and a bowl of soup often makes the perfect evening meal.  The fact that it has been cold and rainy has made soup making even more appealing.

I've been looking for ideas that don't use a lot of ingredients, are easy to make, are healthy and in this economy, economical.  Soups fit the bill perfectly.  I've started with beans, working my way through the repertoire at my local health food store, tasting different varieties, searching out different colors and textures, then working my way into grains, potatoes and hearty winter squashes that hold up well to extended cooking times.  The more fragile ingredients can be put in near the end of the cooking time.

And once again, I've been greatly enjoying the All Clad special with the stove top insert.  Man, it makes cleanup such a breeze.  Just yesterday, a neighbor gave me a recipe for French onion soup that calls for roasting the onions in the oven for several hours before consigning them to the soup pot, but with the slow cooker, you can do the "roasting" right in the pot.....for hours on end....and come out with some beautifully caramelized onions.

Do you have a favorite family soup recipe that you'd like to share?  If so, send it along and I'll post a few of them.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

the new books are here! the new books are here!

Just got the shipment of my author copies of the Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  It's just beautiful.  The photos in it, thanks to photographer Leo Gong, are perhaps the most stunning of all my books.  Especially the photo of the polenta gnocchi.  I did a radio interview on Friday morning with Dolores Kostelni at The Happy Cook in VA, and much to my surprise, she said this was her favorite out of all my books.  Why?
Because the vegetable based dishes are so versatile and can be used as main meals or first courses.  Because many of the dishes take less than 8 hours which allows the cook alot more freedom in terms of time management.  And because the recipes are innovative and the photos beautiful.  I'm so delighted.  Thank you, Dolores.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

playing with my toys......

Cold day yesterday, some threats of rain and (oh, boy) even snow not far away.  The perfect day to play with my "toys", the slow cooker and all of its accessories.  Today, I'm recreating a mulligatawny from my favorite nearby take-out.  An invention of the British, I'm told, mulligatawny is traditionally made with chicken and "curry powder", another British invention....and depending upon who's making it, it can be delicious.  This one's a veggie version and I'm impressed with the way it is turning out.  Very, very good...such that the neighbors are lining up at the door with bowls in their hands in eager anticipation.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tenzo kyokun: instructions for the cook

Just watched "How to Cook Your Life", the documentary on Ed Brown, Zen priest and cook, who first gained notoriety for his role as cook at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in Big Sur.  Interesting.   According to Japanese Zen tradition, the head cook at a monastic community is known as the "tenzo", and his is considered to be one of six key positions in the community responsible for the spiritual awakening of the community members.  The following are some words of wisdom imparted to the cook:

"Strengthen your resolve and work whole-heartedly to surpass the monks of old and be even more thorough than those who have come before you. Do this by trying to make as fine a soup for a few cents as the ancients could make a coarse broth for the same amount."

Good advice, and timely in today's economy. Fine soup for a few cents, eh?   Let's see what I can cook up that fits the bill!