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18 April 2009

What to make for dinner.

A rare late Friday afternoon, it is raining and I am just home and have the house to myself (except for the pesky animals). What to make for dinner? What to do with all the water flowing into the cisterns?

I shrug off my wet clothes and decide dinner comes first. I have no ideas. But I had carried in armfuls of fresh vegetables and they were strewn untidily about the kitchen. No order in this house at all. Soup, that's it. Let's make a soup.

Shallots first, shallots are always first. I heat some olive oil in a good small pot, chop some shallots, and dump them in. Next, leeks and fennel. The way leeks are put together fascinates me, the green and white in the rings are so pretty. Fennel, what an aroma even chopping it! They all go into the pot. I put another saucepan on the stove to boil some water to peel some tomatoes. (This soup is for me, and the extra step to remove the peels seems critical to the taste of the soup.)

What for the stock? Maybe chicken, maybe fish. I clamber down to the basement freezer to see what lurks there. Fish stock, good, it will microwave up fast. Do I have a couple scallops? No, but some shrimp, that should work. Back upstairs to nearly carmelizing shallots-leeks-fennel, into the microwave with the stock. Into the boiling water with the tomatoes.

What else? I have a sweet potato, why not? And a yukon gold, and some carrots. The stock, tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots all go in the pot. Seems lacking, so I chop a little parlsey and add it. Now, off to deal with the gallons of water rushing into the cisterns. Wrench in hand, I go out into the rain to work on the downspouts and leave the soup gently simmering on the stove.

A little later, thoroughly wet, I have to change clothes again. But the soup, the soup smells incredible! I make a salad of young greens topped with a little feta, proscuitto, zucchini, and the pretty radishes I found at Whole Foods. The soup needs a little something, so I shake in cayenne pepper and grind in black pepper and add some salt. I gather a couple shrimps and mix them with fresh cilantro. They won't go in until the last few minutes. I toast a couple slices of como bread and melt some cheese on them.

I look around and decide all is under control. Ah, now I can relax. I put the shrimps in the soup, pour a glass of wine and grab the salad. The dogs and cat and I gather on the couch. Sigh. I pick up the remote, wow, I actually get to hold it and choose my own channels! The stove and blankets warm us up, the rain beats down, the TV mumbles quietly. My salad is wonderful.

But the soup, the soup is perfect. Just perfect. Somehow I came up with just the right combination. I take a big whiff of the bowl of soup in my hands, then enjoy each spoonful, interrupted only by sips of wine, bites of bread, and pets for the menagerie on the couch.

Home, home again.