14 January 2013

Dinner--A Shared Experience

Somebody left a comment that my recent blog posts make her hungry. I guess I must be hungry for something, too, because lately they’re all about the food. Part of it is that it’s COLD outside, which makes me want to cook. Part of it is that I have so little free time that I can’t think about too many things at once, so if I paint what I am also making for dinner, I don’t have to look in two different directions! But part of it is also about making food for others. When you’re cooking for one, sometimes it seems not worth the trouble. But when you are thinking of feeding others, you start thinking outside of yourself and considering what would make everyone at the table happy.

So... In the background is the Four Seed Bread I baked for Kirsten (see previous post, below). In the foreground are the fixings for Potato Leek Soup, from The Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas, page 60, a cookbook so beloved that it exists in my kitchen in three separate pieces held together with a big rubber band. I had to have something worthy to go with the bread, and Anna’s soups are legendary.

Here is the recipe:

3-5 russet potatoes (3 really large or 5 smaller)
3 to 4 leeks
water to cover
1 1/2 cups milk or cream
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds (I use a tablespoon or more—I like the caraway!)
2 Tbs. dill weed (again, I use more dill, but it’s up to your personal taste)
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
2 to 3 Tbs. sour cream
garnish (optional): chopped chives, parsley, or more dill

Peel and dice the potatoes. Wash the leeks and chop them up, discarding the tough green ends. Cook these vegetables in lightly salted water to cover for about 30-45 minutes, or until they are tender. Add the milk, caraway seeds, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer another 20-30 minutes, until it begins to take on a thick consistency and the potatoes fall apart a little. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream and butter, let it all heat through, and serve. Garnish if you want to be fancy. This recipe serves four to six people.

I got tired of painting packaging (see previous two posts), so this time I poured the milk into a graceful glass pitcher that used to be Mom’s, and I also included her salt shaker because I love this shade of cobalt. This painting is a good example of what I was talking about in the previous post regarding source photographs, although it turned out to be more about what NOT to do—I painted this from a photo (since I had to get the soup on first!), and after I finished drawing it I realized that the food was sitting too close to the edge of the butcher block counter, creating an awkward line. It’s all about paying attention to how the elements work together before you slavishly copy your photo. I would have done better to leave the stove out and extend the counter all the way across. But that’s what these exercises are for!

Kirsten, her mom (Carol Sue) and I enjoyed the soup and the bread while watching the Golden Globes last night, and affirmed that a shared experience gives extra savor.

Make some soup, and stay warm!

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