Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Soup's on again

Made a big pot of soup last night, this time tomato based. Filled my giant soup pot with water, added two cans of tomato paste, a lot of oregano, a tsp of basil (all I had left), chili powder, chili flakes, black peppercorns (15), garlic salt, worcestershire sauce, salt, and 5 moles of chili piquino dried peppers. Then I let it boil while I made a cup of white rice and cut up half a green pepper, a small onion, two large carrots, a dozen black olives, and several cloves of garlic. Red lentils were soaking as I did all of this.

I turned down the heat to medium and dumped in the cut up veggies and let that cook a bit. Eventually I threw in the lentils (uncooked) and the rice (cooked), as well as a half a bag of frozen peas, and let all of that simmer for an hour. Of course, I had to keep tasting it and adjusting the spice level, and I burnt my mouth a couple of times.

I cook soup and leave the big pot on the stove, heating it up for the next few days when the desire arises. No, you don't need to freak out about refrigeration. That hurts the flavor.

I was looking through some of those recipe sites, not for the recipes, but for ideas on what to add, and I read some of the comments on the site. Wow, were people clueless. One woman asked what she could do to her pumpkin soup recipe that tasted too much like onion and not enough like pumpkin. (Um, hello? Use less onion?) Another commenter asked what a leek was and where he could get one. (Um, the grocery?) It was fascinating.

I thought back to my school days and home economics. We had to take that class in middle school and it was divided into four sections - wood shop, cooking, sewing, and to be honest, I have no recollection of the fourth quarter class. We didn't learn anything. We baked a lot of cookies but never were taught about spices or cooking times for certain foods or how to pair foods together. What a shame. We've raised two or three generations now who have no idea about food, how to cook it, nutritional values, etc. Ask an intern how to cook something in this city if you want evidence. I never knew cooking was an art; I thought food was a necessity. It wasn't until I ate fresh food consistently in Europe that I realized how wrong are processed foods.

I started thinking about this the other day when I read this article about teaching kids to be grateful that included a bit about including children in the cooking process. How great is it that they make special knives for children so they can participate in the process!

Why can't we have cooking classes in our schools that teach something meaningful about food? Why can't we incorporate actual cooking into classes about health and nutrition? We're so busy teaching kids to do well on standardized tests that no one is learning anything practical. It's no wonder we have an obesity epidemic in this country! I look at the things people are posting on sites like Pinterest - baked goods, junk food, nacho dishes, desert ideas, dishes loaded with cheese - and I find a great example of the lack of awareness we have about food. Why is that?

I think it has to do with spices. Americans don't know how to use spices. Once you learn the flavors of a wide variety of spices, you can cook healthy food (like my soup) and love it! Enough with the cupcakes! Bring on the broccoli!

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