Here in Chicago over the last week or so those omnipresent grace notes of August, cicadas, have stuttered into silence in the cooling, imperceptibly shorter days.
With changing weather comes the slapdash donning of stray cardigans and odd socks to ward off chilly mornings. Yesterday witnessed season-appropriate culinary observances around here with concoctions of hearty bean soup, Golden Nugget bread, and a zucchini and green onion quiche so light and creamy it was like biting into a gently collapsing cloud of savor (just ask Chris, it’s true).
The chopping, the kneading, Vivaldi on the radio, pots of tea, afternoon sun, my honey at the end of it all. A very good day.
Hearty Bean Soup
Some would say I cheat by using canned beans. I would retort vehemently, “Bah!” Canned beans are both readily available and ready-cooked to a pleasing texture. It seems to me one of those no-brainer modern conveniences like ketchup and the washing machine. Hey, if you‘ve got the stamina and will to plan ahead and soak that pot of pebbly nodules overnight or–a shortcut of some questionable efficacy– bring it to a boil and let stand to soak for an hour– if, that is, you’re confident that the end product of all this additional effort won’t ultimately emerge in the form of wrinkly little al dente abortions… Well, then I say, fine, have at it, you. I remain unconvinced and unwooed, both flummoxed and jaded on the subject of dry legumes– black-eyed and split green peas entirely aside.
- 1 yellow and 1 red onion
- 5 large cloves garlic
- 2 ham hocks
- 2 cans diced tomato
- 10 cups water
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can red kidney beans
- 1 can butter beans
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon flaked red pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh or 4 T dried parsley
- salt & pepper to taste
Zucchini and Green Onion Quiche
I was, incidentally, tempted just now to call this recipe “Green Quiche,” quite liking the sound of that– but realized that, really, Green Quiche would of course be made with pesto. Just so happen to have a cup and a half of the stuff in the fridge– may need to be a two quiche week.
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold butter cut in pieces
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- 1 cup zucchini, roughly shredded
- 1 cup green or young onion sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (saute in)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 eggs + 1 white leftover from the pastry
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup blue cheese
Golden Nugget Bread
(from The Fanny Farmer Baking Book)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 package dry yeast
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons softened butter
- 2 cups wheat flour
- 3-3 1/2 cups AP flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
At twilight we set off walking
down the neglected wilderness
that springs up between
tidy rows of foursquare houses
and silvery rushing trains.
There we come upon a garden tangled
with the white doilies of a dead queen
dropletted bloodred with stepmother doom.
Firework blooms of spray and spike
burst from banks of thick-bladed fieldgrass.
Vines festoon the fenceline with floral
syringes and spiteful fruit.
Waste weighs hazardous against rail-straight
geometries of manmade landscape.
Ephemeral plant skeletons brown to
prickly fists poised in counterpoint.
Hollyhock unfurls a dangerous pink,
startling against gravel grey and timber brown.
Thistle flower throws some lurid purple on the scene.