Ode to a Savory Autumn

Great dining events hover upon the horizon. Yet, let us dwell not upon the Christmas Feast, nor upon the Thanksgiving Groaning Board. For these culinary events are but a part of larger annual celebrations, predictable both in content and flavor profile. Rather, let us look forward to that extended period of darkness, weather chill, and nutritional need that we call Fall and Winter. For on those dark evenings and cold nights we look forward to dining on Soups and Stews, a galaxy of warm, hearty, and comfortable meals.

Okay, I'm not Shakespeare. Get over it.Linda and I love the season of soups and stews. We have a myriad of recipes, some legacy family favorites, others recently discovered. All fulfil the need for a hearty meal on an Autumn or Winter day. The following is just a short list, in no particular order, of some of our favorites, and 'no' I'm not giving you the recipes (* see note below).

  • Sausage Corn Chowder
  • Split Pea Soup
  • Beef Barley Soup
  • Chili
  • White Chicken Chili (and, yes, they are vastly different.)
  • Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Chicken Noodle/Vegetable/Rice etc., Soup
  • Minestrone
  • Lentil Soup
  • Beef Stew
That's only ten of them. The point is that we can make these dishes quickly and inexpensively, dining on them for two or more days. If you have access to my online cookbook, then these recipes are available. Of course, recipes similar to them are available on the Internet from any one of the 'experts'. If you gloss over them, you will notice that they all have one or more things in common. The basic recipe is the same, the proteins are interchangeable, and the flavor profile (herbs, spices, etc.) are up for grabs.

In short – All recipes are advisory in nature. This maxim holds for all cooking unless you are baking! Cooking is an art. Baking is a science. Write that on your palm. It's important.

I'm going to step outside the box for an example from today (Wednesday, 11/16/22). Linda volunteered all day at our granddaughter, Natalie's, school to help with their Thanksgiving Feast. I saw no reason to expect Linda to make dinner. I had been in the carpentry shop all day. I saw no reason to expect me to make dinner, either. While starvation was not likely, eventual hunger, in some form, was. We sifted through the coupons and found no 'fast food' that enticed us. We're succeeding in keeping leftovers down, and that refrigerator shelf went wanting as well. So, I offered her a Ramen Supreme. She accepted.

Okay, any American is familiar with the ramen package. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need a life and, probably, counseling. I get that. If you are from somewhere other than reality, the package consists of a double layer of dried noodles and a shiny foil package of flavor dust. (a) boil 2 cups of water. (b) dump noodles and contents of shiny foil package in water.(c) Stir for three minutes. (d) Consume. The only problem with this is the 1650 mg of Sodium – Call your cardiologist! Maybe a college student could that suck that in and survive, but I'm 74 years old and the lovely lady who shares my table doesn't need that much salt either.

Now I take ramen seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I researched and found a recipe to replace the 'shiny foil packet', with a zero-sodium flavor powder. I have two containers, one chicken and one beef, in the pantry. (Regrettably, I can do nothing about the sodium in the ramen noodles themselves, neither those in the package, nor those in the oriental store.)

So, tonight, I selected a package of beef ramen, set the shiny foil packet aside, and got to work. I cut up a half a carrot, a few slices of onion, a small Anaheim chili from our garden, and a pair of scallion stalks from our hydroponic garden. I sliced off a half cup of cabbage and dried out a quarter cup of chopped ham. I now had the makings of a low calorie, low carbohydrate, low-fat, and pretty close to low-sodium soup.

Three cups of water and four tablespoons of my homemade flavoring powder came to a boil. (Full disclosure: I added ½ t of my Pho spice mix, too.) Once at a boil, in went the carrot dice for a minute, followed by the rest of the veggies (less the scallions) and the ramen noodles.When the noodles were al dente, in went the ham to warm. Dish up. Sprinkle with the scallion greens. Voila! Dinner for two.

This is soup and stew season. Few recipes are as quick or as easy as my Ramen Supreme. All have more flavor, deeper flavor profiles, and better nutrition that my ramen supreme. And you can make each and every recipe your own. Remember that all recipes are advisory. They are a guide to comfort and flavor.
Welcome to Soup and Stew Season.

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Word for the Day - Heterogeneous
Pondering the Darkness


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Friday, 24 March 2023