There was a thoughtful post today on The Yellow House that asked whether cooking has become so fetishized that it has begun to seem inaccessible to home cooks. It reminded me of the brouhaha over models’ bodies: if you see too many airbrushed glossy spreads, do you forget what normal looks like, and maybe start to doubt yourself for not looking so perfect? I don’t think it’s crazy to think that TV cooking shows and perfect Pinterest culinary glamshots might similarly intimidate novice or busy home cooks.
For my part, I try to remember that it can be easy to get nourishing food on the table quickly, and I try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Use what you have. Make it easy for yourself. While I have been trying to include a few photos of my recipes so you know what you’re getting yourself into, none of the food we love to eat is magazine-good-looking aside from the natural beauty of vegetables themselves. And if I zoomed out, most days you’d see photos that look a bit like Mama Nervosa’s This Is Not A Lifestyle Blog series.
Home cooking is messy and sometimes unglamorous. Home cooks don’t use mise en place unless everything has to go into the pan at the same instant. We’re clearing space for the cutting board on messy counters. And we sure don’t have dishwashers tidying up after us as we go. If you’re me, you might even burn three separate pots in one night trying to make one simple soup. (First: the butter. Second: the onions. Third: half the croutons.) Oh, well. Luckily I only set the fire alarm off once. To enjoy home cooking is to embrace these moments and circumstances.
And the soup was delicious.
Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup, adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day: Heat a knob of butter in a pan over medium-high heat (don’t burn it). Add a chopped onion and a couple of chopped shallots with a big pinch of salt and saute until the onion softens. Stir in a peeled, finely diced potato, cover, and cook for a few more minutes (check and stir your pot, don’t burn it). Uncover and add 2 minced cloves of garlic and 3 1/2 c. water or stock. (I was in a hurry so instead of defrosting stock I used boiling water and 1 cube of Rapunzel herb and sea salt bouillon.) Raise the heat, and once it boils, taste a potato. When potatoes are tender, stir in a small head of chopped-up cauliflower (or half of a big head) and cook about 5 more minutes until cauliflower is tender as well. Puree soup, then stir in 1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese and 1-2 Tbsp. dijon mustard. Taste and adjust flavors with additional salt, cheese, and/or mustard. Serve garnished with more cheese and butter-toasted croutons (don’t burn them!). I made my croutons from this Whole Wheat Spice Bread with Brown Sugar, Orange Zest, and Walnuts, of course, but if you weren’t able to save any of that I certainly understand. The croutons in the original recipe look great as well: 3 c. cubed bread bathed in 2 Tb. each melted butter and olive oil, whisked with 1 1/2 Tb. dijon and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bake 10-15 mins at 350, turning occasionally.