Sunday, December 26, 2010

After the Feasts, a Simple Meal

Oh, the holidays feasts!  I love them—two plus a brunch this year.  Should I count “my” calories?  No, no, that’d be too depressing. 

I still see my favorites, and I still see them piled high on my plate.  Mashed potatoes with cream, butter, and parmesan and asiago cheese.  Roasted Brussels sprouts, cranberry-apple chutney, roast beast, veggie meatballs, Jersey lima beans and corn, and pies—apple, cherry and pecan and brownies with vanilla ice cream—and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  Yes, yes, holiday food.  And bad Bob ate much too much.

Mouth-watering—pound-adding—eat what is set before you, the good book says.  I’ll ignore any reference to gluttony.

But today’s the day after—reality.  It’s 25.2° F. outside our front door according to our digital thermometer.  Wind from the north swirls light snow that nearly covers our driveway.  And now the question, What shall we have for our Sunday meal?

Soup and bread: antidote for holiday bingeing.  Repent, repent!  A simple meal by a simple cook—simple Bob.

I add a cup of split peas to a 3-quart pot, then about 2 quarts of water.  (This cook is no slave to measuring cups and spoons.)  I add a small onion, finely chopped and bring the mix to a boil.  While I wait for the soup to boil, I chop five or six baby carrots into fairly large chunks and then peel and chop a medium white potato into medium chunks—and add them to the mix, with a teaspoon or so of salt and a tablespoon or two of olive oil, both measured by my eye.

So simple.  I can read the list of ingredients without consulting an alchemist’s dictionary.  When the pot boils, I turn it down to a simmer.  I check it from time to time and give it a stir.  Somewhere in the stirring I check for salt and add a little more.

Fifty minutes later the soup is done, the peas beginning to disintegrate, the potato chunks losing their edges, the carrots just a bit firm to the bite.  If I had cooked it another 10 or 15 minutes, of course, the ingredients would have broken down just a bit more and the soup would have been just a bit smoother.

Add a dash of cream or sour cream?  No, thank you.  I’ve had enough of those yummy things the last two days.

But dish it up I do—and serve it with slices of our favorite soup-bread, the store-baked Seven-Grain Bread that comes in brown paper wrapper at the local Giant Food store.  It has a great texture, a great feel, a great taste.  It doesn’t squeeze and collapse like Wonder Bread.  If you try, it fights back.  Of course, the best bread at the store costs the most.  Cheap soup, expensive bread—about the right mix for a snowy day.

Welcome back to everyday life, Bob.  Holiday meals were fantastic.  But now, a simple meal is what we want.

“Great meal,” Ellen said.  "Thank you."

“Yes, sometimes a simple meal is a great meal.  You're welcome.”

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