Archive for April, 2007

a rainy day

April 18, 2007

Today I had every intention of stopping by Whole Foods after school, purchasing some fresh lump crabmeat, and creating a delicious dinner of crab cakes with wilted spinach and tomatoes, a la Rachael Ray in her lastest cookbook, 2, 4, 6, 8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds. I was deterred, however, by the constant stream of rain that persisted in falling all day…it just didn’t seem like an evening for crab cakes. Instead, I opted to make Charred Tomato Soup with Pesto and Prosciutto Stromboli, a recipe that I’d often passed by from my most often used Rachael Ray cookbook, 365: No Repeats. Granted, when most people crave soup on a rainy day, it’s because the damp cold has seeped into their bones and they feel that they need the comforting warmth of soup to soothe them. Here in Austin, however, there are no chills to be had. Instead, I was faced with a Amazonian jungle-like wave of humidity as I quickly made my way from my car to the grocery store. Not pleasant. I almost reconsidered my earlier craving for soup, which really came when I was forced to stare out the window at school, as a respite from the utter drudgery of administering a state standardized exam. The steam bath that I encountered upon going outside was not recognizable from that window! Needless to say, all it took was a glance at the lovely bank of plum Roma tomatoes waiting in the store to convince me that my craving was really for tomato soup, not the proverbial comfort of soup.

This particular recipe involved slicing the tomatoes in half lengthwise and throwing them on a baking sheet along with chunks of red onion, topping them with a drizzle of olive oil and generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper and salt, and roasting in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. There is something amazingly wonderful about roasting vegetables. It truly is as if they take on completely different, more pronounced flavor, one that is much more rich and defined. An experience only slightly less enjoyable than biting into a delicious roasted vegetable (all roasted vegetables, by the way, are delicious) is basking in the warm glow that seems to permeate a kitchen when vegetables are roasting. It reminds one of of mom, growing up, holidays, getting warm after being out in the cold, and coming home, all at once… Quite satisfying, too, when one aspires to have a welcoming home for a husband to come home to.

The roasted vegetables were pureed in the food processor to make a base for the soup, which turned out very well. The pesto and prosciutto strombolis were even better-I only used the tiniest slices of prosciutto and provolone to top the pesto filling, and the results were great! A salty, spicy treat that was so good dipped in the hot, creamy soup. Turned out to be exactly what I wanted!

Perhaps I will try crab cakes tomorrow…

My First Post

April 15, 2007

The lovely old quote from Little Women, a book that many besides myself cherish, perfectly describes the state of life in which I have happily found myself. Granted, I would hardly give myself the credit that Louisa May Alcott has given Meg-I certainly do not bring as much energy and cheerfulness to my household as I would like!-but I do aspire to make my home a veritable haven of domestic bliss for my adored husband. Unlike Meg, I spend the greater part of each day at my challenging, but rewarding, job as an elementary special education teacher. It’s probably a good thing that I have a limited amount of time on my hands when I get home-I’m fairly easy to distract. Even with that limited time, however, I have found myself wishing that I could document some of my domestic experiences. I’ve been poring over cookbooks almost since I began to read, but oddly enough, it wasn’t until I met my beloved that I was ever inspired to actually cook any of the recipes I relentlessly read about. He’s a man of many talents, including an innate ability to know exactly how much flour and butter to combine to make a white sauce and a sixth sense about the readiness of a heated pan for a pile of onions and garlic. While he sticks to the things that he knows best (bolognese, steaks, Danish comfort food, French toast) and rarely relies upon recipes, he nonetheless motivated me to delve into cooking for myself. Ever since then, I have been reaping the benefits and enjoying the satisfaction that comes from cooking for yourself and/or the ones you love. Truth be told, my belief in my own cooking abilities comes not just from my man, but also from the oft-loved, oft-loathed food personality phenomena known as Rachael Ray. I won’t go in to all of my feelings about Rachael in my first post, but to put it briefly, she has definitely changed my life. While I occasionally diverge from my Rachael Ray cookbooks and reach for Jamie Oliver or Donna Hay, I almost exclusively cook directly from Rachael Ray’s recipes.

Along with writing about my love (which is rather newfound) of cooking and Rachael Ray’s recipes, I wanted to also express my appreciation of literature. While I certainly don’t read as much now as I did when I lived in New York City and had an hour commute on the subway, each way, each day, I have continued to pore over wonderful books, both old and new. My husband is currently attending graduate school, and when he is overburdened by group projects and study sessions, I often find myself at home, sitting in the peacefulness of warm, golden afternoons at my dining room table, a novel or cookbook propped up in front of me, planning what I might make that evening or wishing that authors of now wrote with the passion and intelligence of authors past.

Needless to say, this blog will be a combination of both my loves, cooking and literature. I won’t ever be an obsessive poster-weeks might go by between posts!-but I am planning to chronicle the most notable of my domestic adventures and my literary revelations. Until next time!