This is a soup with a story. It’s essentially a minestrone, so you might think that our tale is going to start in Italy, with a grandmother tending a simmering pot for hours—and you’d be partly right. Except that this story is about my good friend’s great-grandparents, and the pot was simmering on a stove in a bar in Sacramento, California.
Now, Sacramento has a long history as a drinking town. So from the first days of the California Gold Rush, to the speakeasies of prohibition, to—I can only imagine—the indulgences of today’s state government bigwigs, there has been a steady stream of drinking establishment clients in need of a little something to help them sober up.
Our story, this soup’s story, takes place in the respectable post-prohibition era. So it’s the 1930’s, maybe, and later the 1940’s. The bar is remembered in family lore only as “The Joint,” which may or may not have been its name. It resided within what was, at the time, the oldest standing building in Sacramento. A watering trough waited outside the door for customers arriving by horse and buggy. And my friend’s great-grandparents, the proprietors, always kept a pot of this minestrone soup behind the bar. The recipe, needless to say, has been passed down through the generations. Continue reading →
And then today, suddenly, it was unmistakeably fall.
The leaves turned overnight, reds and bright yellows and flame orange. The temperature dropped ten degrees. The morning started grey before the autumn sun came flooding through the clouds. And then there was the smell of the apples.
A day like today is a good day to turn on the oven. And many more such days are coming. I turned on the oven. I roasted a bunch of carrots. This is an impressive way to treat rainbow carrots, although of course you can use the plain orange variety too. Roasting concentrates the carrots’ sweetness, and if you time it right the tops and tails will crisp up nicely. Continue reading →
To what lengths do you go to give away your surplus produce at this time of year? Are you the proverbial neighbor who rings the doorbell and runs, leaving behind a 4-lb. squash that will take all afternoon to grate for zucchini fritters? Do you casually drop by a friend’s house and “forget” a basket of plums that you don’t have time to make into jam? Do you foist carrot salads upon unsuspecting dinner hosts?I admit nothing. Continue reading →
Tonight we went to a friend’s birthday party. A keg of good beer, a smoky grill, a swing in the pear tree, little girls running everywhere. After dark, there were birthday candles and fireworks. This is the salad to bring to a party like that.Continue reading →