Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New Knives, a New Cookbook, and A New Soup Concept

I am not a foody, nor have I ever lusted for fancy cookware. However after 33+ years, things wear out, and I am upgrading as I replace them. Buying high quality cookware seems worth it - even my crappy things lasted 30+ years. The longevity of cookware also means that whatever you buy, you will be stuck with for a long time, so why not do it right. (I do try to avoid wishful thinking types of purchases, like a bread machine. As in," if I buy it, I will bake bread". I don't think so.) But I definitely use pots, and the new ones I bought have glass tops, a feature not around in the 1970's. It's fun to see what's cooking, literally. I figure anything that keeps me enthusiastic about cooking is a good investment.

Awhile back, I was sucker-punched into a Cutco demo. These are very high-end knives which are marketed by college students who go through their parents' rolodexes and receive commissions on sales, which are accomplished through one-on-one sales sessions. My Cutco seller was a preppie version of a Stepford wife. Finally after an hour, I purchased an ice cream scoop for $35 (the cheapest item I could imagine using), just to make her go away. That is probably double what I've ever spent on a kitchen tool. What is really funny is that it turns out I love that ice cream scoop. Last summer a new Cutco rep, a family friend, got a pretty nice order from me for knives.

Inspired by Molly Katzen's new book, I've started experimenting with simple soups. I make soup often, but generally it's a hearty, big potful, with loads of ingredients needing prepping. Her idea is small batch soups made of just vegetables and broth. I improvised and created this soup which was great. Having that good knife was crucial. I no longer remember what the knife cost, but its magic carries on!

Sweet Potato, Parsnip and Carrot Soup - vegetarian.

1. In a 2 quart saucepan, saute one chopped onion in olive oil and butter. Throw in some grated ginger, if you have it.
2. While the onion is softening, peel one medium sweet potato and one parsnip. Chop them into 1" chunks. (This is why you need a good knife!). Take about 10 baby carrots and chop them into 2 or 3 pieces each. [I like recipes that give the units, not the measurement. I never have a clue how much "1/2 cup of chopped carrots" is.]
3. Throw this into the saucepan with 2 cups hot water, + 1 T. of powdered vegetable broth powder. I use Israeli Telma. It is high in sodium, so if you add salt, do so sparingly. Add 1 t. of curry.
4. Simmer covered for about 10 or 15 minutes. You can let it cool at this point. Eventually, throw it all in the blender and puree. The great part is that the whole batch fits into the blender.

Reheat. It's even better the next day. Serve it with slivered almonds, croƻtons, or minced parsley or cilantro.

Serves 3-4 people. That means the 2 of us got to eat this twice!

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