Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tis the Season

Tis the season for braising, crock pot creations, and soups from scratch.

Since I live in Southern California I don’t pay much attention to seasonal cooking. I’m happy to braise a beef stew in July as in January.

Still, with a nip in the air and some nog in a glass, tis the season.

I recently rifled my recipes searching for several favorites, and set aside the following:

—Zinfandel Braised Beef Short Ribs

—Hearty Beef Stew, an Emeril concoction with a few modifications

—Potted Roast, my own blend of several recipes, and a part of my book

—Potato and Leek Soup, a personal favorite

—Butternut Squash Soup

—Corn Chowder, though corn is not in season—no matter in SoCal

—Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

—Rosemary White Bean Soup.

In the previous post, one of Michael Pollen’s consumption caveats is to avoid products that make health claims. To that point, allow me to list the ingredients of Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Chicken. Excuse me while I find my magnifying glass. Okay, here we go: chicken stock, modified food starch, cooked chicken meat, water, maltodextrin, cream (milk), wheat flour, vegetable oil, contains less than 1 % of: soy protein concentrate, lower sodium natural seasalt, cornstarch, beta carotene for color, potassium chloride, flavoring, salt, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, chicken fat, autolyzed yeast extract, soy protein isolate, sodium phosphates, spice, chicken flavor (contains chicken stock, chicken powder, chicken fat), spice extract.

How’s that for getting those taste buds salivating?—especially autolyzed yeast extract, chicken powder, and maltodextrin.

In contrast, here are the ingredients of a soup I made two days ago: ½ stick of butter, 2 medium leeks, 3 stalks celery, 2 large carrots, 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, 1 jalapeno, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, coarse sea salt, 1 medium butternut squash, 4 cups homemade chicken stock, or water, ½ cup heavy cream, white pepper, and toasted chopped pecans. It was amazing.

Thus endeth the lesson.

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