SUMMER, WHERE DID IT GO!
I say this every year and here I go again – it seems like our summer went by in the blink of an eye. It was a beautiful summer, a moderate summer for us in the Midwest, but it seems like it was just June and now here we are, September and a day away from official fall. Last week on her blog my friend wrote very eloquently about moving on seemlessly from summer to fall. But I’m one of those people who has a tendency to cling to summer for as long as possible.
Our weather right now is playing along beautifully with me, holding on with temperatures still in the 90’s but there’s no denying that darkness is falling just a bit earlier each evening. I can no longer walk in twilight at almost 9 p.m. Far from it. It’s now 7:37 p.m. and it is pitch dark outside.
But how fortunate we are! The contrasts of weather in the country now are incredible. While I’m lamenting summer’s end, I think about those who have had their lives upended by the violent hurricanes that devastated the south and the islands this season. Three very powerful storms ripped through Texas and Florida and now several more attacked Puerto Rico and the other islands off our East Coast. And then the earthquake in Mexico. When will it end for them?
I get to put out the mums at my front door, this year a pretty rust color. We started trimming back our bushes. Because of the relative dryness this past month, leaves on the trees are already red and gold mixed in with those that are still green. I have several stalwart hydrangea blooms hanging in there in this, the most beautiful summer for hydrangeas that I have experienced in the almost thirty years we’ve lived in this house. I contrast that with those who have had their bushes and trees torn out of the ground and all the other things that have been lost, with loved ones injured or worst. I count my blessings as my heart breaks for them.
GETTING BACK TO COOKING……
Toward the middle of September, I generally start my way back into the kitchen in a semi-serious way. Magazines and food shows are all about easy living in the summer so it coincides with all of us being less formal about how we prepare and eat our food.
But September means the days are going to start getting slightly cooler, slightly shorter and things move inside, meaning I go back to cooking in the kitchen instead of on the grill. Also it means I review my magazines containing those design and food articles that have been languishing since spring; I cut them out and file them. I have found that a number of our friends this summer have taken vacations in Europe which for many of my fellow foodies meant that they have taken cooking classes in places like Hungary, Provence and Italy, leaving me incredibly inspired! I’ve decided that I will try at least two new recipes each week to challenge my skills and also to combat the boredom that sets in with making the same things week after week.
I really do love to cook. What I don’t like is the prep. I watch as Ina and Giada gracefully throw a pinch of this and a cup of that into their latest concoction, all ingredients and tools at their fingertips (let’s forget that they have staff and I don’t). I’ve assembled a reasonably well appointed kitchen over the years with most of the accoutrements that the directions call for. I also went out a few years ago and bought myself various sizes of those cute little glass dishes that I can fill in advance of needing them during the cooking process so that I can be prepared and not still foraging madly for the ingredient when the recipe screams, “Do this NOW!”
My one rule of thumb is that when I’m doing a recipe for the first time I follow the instructions to the letter.
Also I want it to look reasonably close to the picture in the book.
So I go about my task in my disorganized little way and I must say that although I can become frazzled, the end result usually is not bad and enjoyed by everyone which is really all the encouragement any cook needs.
Yesterday’s offering was Chicken and Poblano Pepper Soup. Never mind that the temperature outside was 91. Possibly I could have waited to do this one until later in the fall. Anyway, this soup was given the seal of approval by both my husband and me. I will put a checkmark on the recipe meaning that we will have this again. It’s super easy to make and if you’re not a pepper fan, or don’t like spicy, don’t be afraid of this recipe. It’s really not overly spicy since Poblano peppers are milder than chiles and the Jalapeno’s are used only as a topping at the end, so you are in charge of how hot you want it. If you try it, I hope you will like it.
RECIPE – CHICKEN & POBLANO PEPPER SOUP
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 1/2 lb tomatoes, cored and halved
1 fresh poblano chile peppe, stemmed, quartered, and seeded
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TSP dried oregano, crushed
4 bone-in chicken thighs skinned
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
Toppings: crumbled feta cheese, cilantro, sliced jalapeno peppers, chopped red onion and/or lime wedges
In large pot heat oil over medium high heat. Using tongs, carefully place tomatoes, cut side down in the pot in a single layer. Cook without stirring 5 minutes or until well-browned. Add poblano quarters, onion, garlic, oregano, and 1/2 tsp. salt; reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
Add chicken and broth to pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, coverd, 20 minutes or until chicken is done (175 degrees F)
Strain broth; pressing tomatoes and chile with a spoon; discard solids. Pull meat apart; discard bones. Return chicken and broth to pot; heat through. Serve soup over tortilla chips (I didn’t do it this way because I thought it would make a soggy mess – I served them on the side) with toppings. Makes 4 servings
From BHG.com/Poblano Soup
If you try it, let me know what you thought!
Until next time……….