Archive for magic

Kitchen Witchery: The Magic of Home Cooking

Posted in Cooking, Experience, Life with tags , , on August 24, 2011 by theredlass

Since loosing my job at the end of July, I’ve had a lot more free time on my hands in between job hunting. This has lead to a re-kindling of my interests in cooking and basic kitchen magic. I have a special, but oft overlooked, spot in my heart for hearth goddesses. In our usual life, especially when school starts up, there ends up being a lot of eating out. When you get home at 8o’clock at night there isn’t a whole lot of passion to go into the kitchen, heat everything up and get everything into a big mess.

But when I feel that special urge to go in, take my time and really cook a meal from scratch, there is a special pleasure that comes with it. I find myself thinking of Hestia, Greek goddess of the house. I don’t have a state of her specifically, but I do have a little handmade goddess image on my table and I like to think she looks over me when my creative side comes through and I get busy.

Cooking is something that has been special to me since I was little. There is an element of science and alchemy inherent in mixing ingredients, watching the chemical reaction, and seeing how it turns out. You are constantly experimenting and suffering through trial and error with every meal, even ones you have cooked before.

Example: Today I was going to make my Cheesy Potato & Bacon soup, a thick, creamy meal that is SO good in mid winter. I went to all the trouble of making an extra trip to the store and went off forgetting the heavy cream! I was frustrated because the cheese simply won’t melt thoroughly in milk and you end up with a gritty texture and globby appearance that is unappealing. I was going to chuck it and make hamburger helper when something snapped in my ear.

“Make a roux.”

I argued with it for a minuet, thinking that the thing would get clumpy and if it didn’t work it was a waste of food we can’t afford but the voice INSISTED on me to make a roux and mix in the cheese with it.

I did so hesitantly and voila! The cheese (mixed in over time), melted beautifully with the bacon grease and flour, binding together something like a thick cornbread. I began slowly adding the stock and milk and it changed, slowly spreading out and thickening into a beautifully smooth creamy soup with a better smoky after taste than previous attempts! The scent was absolutely invigorating and homey, like good cooking should be! I must remember to make a suitable thank you to Hestia for this little tidbit of genius! I’m sure it’s no amazing culinary technique to a pro, but to me it was a novel idea that I had never tried in this context!

Cheesy Potato & Bacon Soup
4 large russet potatoes
1lbs bacon (maple or honey)
4 cups shredded or crumbly cheeseĀ  (bleu, extra sharp cheddar, mozzarella, pepper
jack)
1 cup (total not individual)
-diced peppers (green, red, orange, yellow)
-spinach
-onions (vidalia)
-green onion
milk
chicken stock
flour
garlic
pepper

*Take the potatoes and cube them up, dropping them in a large pot with boiling water. Allow to cook till almost soft (bends but resists slightly), drain and rinse with cool water. Set to the side for later. Rinse pot and place back on stove.
*Take 2 lbs of bacon and cook till crispy. Remove from grease (DO NOT DRAIN, you need the grease) and allow to cool on paper towels.
*Take the bacon grease and turn the pot down to low. Start taking handfulls of flour and mixing it in, being sure to keep stirring so that it whisks properly and keep adding till it thickens into a nice roux.
*Add the cheese. Do it about a handful at a time, mix in thoroughly until it melts. You will start to see the roux change into a yellowish color. This is good. You want all the cheese your mixing in to be nice and melted down.
*Start adding the chicken stock and milk. It kinda run to how thick you want it. I added plenty of both till it was smooth and creamy. At least three cups of each was good for me but again judge as to how you like it.
*Once you get it all nice and creamy, dice the bacon up and dump it into the pot along with the potatoes and veggies, garlic and pepper to taste. Let it all cook while stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. About 10 minuets should get everything well mixed. Serve with sliced french bread and a little bit of cheese on top. (YES MORE CHEESE DAMMIT)

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