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Bon Journal

Cooking up a storm

Old habits die hard. When I'm hungry, I cook what I've always cooked. I don't consult cookbooks or try anything new. It's too risky. And creativity doesn't accompany an empty stomach.

So the only time to try anything new is when I'm not hungry. Once I became aware of the usual ingredients that I buy and the usual dishes that I make, I started asking myself why this was so. When I'm hungry, I'm on automatic pilot. Chinese stir-fry dishes are instinctive, as are simple Italian pasta dishes.

During my "downtime" I decided to expand my repertoire. I ventured into new territories, like purchasing green cauliflower and other weird vegetables. I opened my cookbooks, still new from years of neglect.

Like everything else in life, once you've done it a few times and you've figured out the secret formula or pattern, it's easy to perform variations on a theme. I've always wanted to learn the right way to make thick German cream soups. And I finally found the secret the other day by following a recipe.

Tonight I made celery, stilton, and walnut soup. Everything was going well until I had to pour the natural yoghurt at the end. Although I was aware that the use-by-date on the yoghurt container said "17th August 2002", I recalled a friend saying that yoghurt last much longer than the expiration date. Well, that is true provided you don't throw it into a hot soup!

So my celery, stilton, and walnut soup was looking very creamy and delicious UNTIL I POURED THE YOGHURT INTO IT. The yoghurt split up like cottage cheese. And my smile turned into a frown. How I wished there was an "undo" button like the "control-Z" to undo this. I could have used milk instead of yoghurt. I could have tested the yoghurt. I could have hesitated. I could have bought a fresh container of yoghurt!

Well, all's not lost. Nobody else is going to have this soup. I had a bowl just now, and I didn't get sick. I will pour the soup into several containers, and microwave a portion when I get hungry. Meanwhile, I'm drinking lassi, made from the remainder of that yoghurt. And it tastes pretty good to me!

30 August 2002 Friday

Thick German cream soups:
In general, saute onion or other herbs in butter and then put cut vegetables (cauliflower, potato, etc) into the saute. You should be able to smell it. Add one or two tablespoons of flour and mix for less than one minute. Then pour milk and soup stock. An alternative to soup stock is to throw vegetable boullion cubes after enough milk and water have boiled. The vegetables become soft enough to blend.
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