Category Archives: food and cooking

Springtime garden soup.

One night this week I had friends to dinner, and it was a lot of fun to plan the menu, which in this case included a soup course. I always intend to make cream of asparagus soup at least once in springtime, but don’t usually get to it, even though I harvest several pounds of that vegetable from my front yard plot for a few weeks running. Having someone to share it with gave me the added push.

So I used my own asparagus, and an equal amount of leeks from the store — just over a pound each, chopped. I sautéed them together in butter with fresh tarragon leaves, also from my garden. Just before everything started to brown, I removed the flower tips of the asparagus to a little bowl, and stirred in a couple of tablespoons of flour. I added a quart of chicken stock and cooked all of that together for 10-15 minutes, then used an immersion blender to make it smooth. Added salt and pepper to taste. After I’d ladled it into bowls I dropped a few of the reserved asparagus tips on top of each serving. We were all deep in conversation at that point so the thought of taking a picture of the lovely green soup never came into my head. (I also forgot that I’d planned to drizzle on a little cream.) But earlier I had noticed the beauty of the panful of chopped vegetables and leaves…

You will have to imagine the look of the creamy green soup.
We stopped talking and slurped it up joyfully.

Drinking the meadow with Heidi.

Our women’s book group read Heidi recently, and then met on the patio at church one evening to talk about the book. There were ten or twelve of us, and we ate pizza and drank wine together, too. But before any of that, we were served fresh goat cheese made nearby, to connect us via our taste buds to our beloved protagonist; it put us in the right mood. And then — goat milk fresh from that morning! Some of our party didn’t want even a taste, so I drank a couple extra shot glasses myself. It tasted like a Swiss mountain meadow.

This reading of the book was for me by means of an audio recording, and I can’t remember the picture on the cover of the book we gave our daughter long ago, which she keeps. When I searched for a picture, I noticed the lack of depictions of Heidi as she is described in the story, with black hair. I guess illustrators (and movie directors, too) tend to think Swiss = blond.

I read that “thirteen English translations were done between 1882 and 1959” from the German of the original, and “about about 25 film or television productions of the original story have been made.” We talked a little in our gathering about the movies we have seen and how they aren’t faithful to the book, and typically leave out any reference to prayer.

In Switzerland tourists can visit Heidiland, where one of the associated villages was renamed “Heididorf.” I wonder if visitors there can drink fresh goat’s milk, from the morning’s milking? I bet at least one of my readers has that experience at your own kitchen table. Cheers!

The tarragon is winning.

This morning I read that we had got two inches of rain in the last 24 hours. It’s the Atmospheric River again! When I took out the trash, I discovered that the lid to the can had blown open, and the bin was half full of water. I was very glad that there was no trash in there swimming around.

The first asparagus came up this week, and the first freesia this morning. We have one day, today, with no rain, but it’s coming back, they say; the River might run for four more days.

I finally peeled, chopped and cooked the last of my little pumpkins that I’d grown last summer. I had saved seeds in 2021 from what looked like a mere ornamental pumpkin bought at Trader Joe’s for a front porch decoration, but after eating all the larger ornaments, I didn’t want to waste that little guy, so I cooked him, too. He was the sweetest of all! It was really satisfying to get descendants from him.

When I was at church during a short spell of sunshine this week, I saw this quince bush (above) with an unusual color of blooms.  So far none of my seeds have sprouted; they must be waiting for more warmth. But the tarragon has come out of dormancy and is overtaking the hairy bittercress that’s invaded its pot. Go, tarragon!

Celebrating March with bread and blossoms.

Over the years since I planted two Elephant Heart plum trees in my back yard garden, I have begun to notice a pattern: In February or March the trees begin to put out their blooms, and in the same months we get hailstorms. Then I say something on my blog, like, “I worry about my plum blossoms!”

This is the eighth springtime that these trees have found themselves in my garden when they woke from dormancy. Every summer I get more fruit, so I guess things are pretty good. This particular first day of March is still very cold and windy, but the sun is shining in a blue sky, and it looks like we’ll have three days of sunshine before we welcome the rain again.

I’m almost out of firewood, and it doesn’t look like I’ll get any more for this season; but I have a good furnace, which I wouldn’t mind using even more than I do if it weren’t so noisy. When I get tired of its roar I turn down the thermostat and put on a coat. Today I have time to build a fire before going to a Lenten service in the evening, and it will be nice to come home to a cozy and quiet house.

What’s another cozy and homey thing? Baking bread! Even if it’s done in the big church kitchen. Three of us made that kitchen nice and comfortable yesterday when we made these loaves of Communion bread together.

My computer guy came yesterday afternoon to do a check-up on my desktop; he hadn’t been here for so long, we had a lot to catch up on. His happiest news was all the sourdough bread baking he has been doing for his family, of which he showed me photos of the sort they put on the covers of artisan bread cookbooks. He is going to leave a jar of his starter on my doorstep tomorrow! I have been thinking for a few months that I want to come out of my bread-baking retirement. It’s just too severe a cutting away of my former self, not baking bread, and I’m going to try to graft that branch back in.

One reason I gave it up was that so many people are eating gluten-free, and it seemed a challenge to find people to give my (mostly excess) bread to; I feel differently about that part now, for some reason. Yesterday we ended up with two little bits of dough left over, and made them into two “buns” that we baked along with the regular loaves. You can see the smaller one at the top left of the photo above. I took that one home and ate it for lunch, and it was the most delicious thing. Bread is a wonder.