NewBook shed several thousand words when I pulled out the stuff that was on the wrong track, and the stuff that didn’t belong in this book at all. There may be more fossils to be removed but…several thousand new words have come along and are about to make connections that flow back through the other books. I did have to spend some hours researching the design of train cars/carriages/coaches/people movers by any name, around this planet, to find what I thought would fit Slotter Key. And then design a custom private one that would, maybe, work in a real train. A fun diversion, with not enough (alas) pictures of private ones currently in use. I’ve seen one from outside (it was on the rear of a train I was on as a passenger, and I saw it when I left the train and there it was…mine (in the book) is not exactly like it.
Other events of the past few weeks: making soup as the weather has turned cooler. The first soup left only one quart for the freezer, as the family fell upon it like starving wolves (not that wolves eat soup, that I know of.) The second and third sent two and then four to the freezer, but one was thawed out two days after going in. My soup making heritage goes back generations, and though I’ve added some tricks I wasn’t specifically taught, the basics were there when, as a child, I would help my mother cook by cutting up whatever produce was going into that particular soup. Making soup, stews, pies for the freezer was a winter thing because our summers were hot and (in the early years) un-airconditioned. We lived in an area that grew vegetables in winter (along with citrus), cotton in summer, forage in spring. One big difference in soups my mother made and I make is that she really liked English peas and I really don’t. And though I was fine with cabbage in soup as a child and until about age 40-45, one day the cabbage family made war on my innards. So I don’t use it, or its relatives.
Most soups in the last few years have included the diced tomato & green chili mix by Ro-tel, sometimes with additions of other tomato products. Our son really likes yellow corn, so they include yellow corn, and after seeing Lidia Bastianich’s cooking show years back, I started trying spinach in some soups. Also from her show, I tried using chopped olives (good!) and mushrooms (also good!) and I was already using my mother’s onion/celery/carrot/tomato/Bell pepper and the occasional zucchini. And garlic, which I use a lot more than she did. When we had our best garden in San Antonio, I grew several varieties of beans for dry beans and first tried mixing bean varieties in a pot of beans. Using dry beans in a vegetable soup (not just in a pot of beans) adds heft to the liquid. Even a couple of cans of that kind of beans (black beans, white beans, red beans) will enrich the broth, but mixing them and starting with a long soak first really does wonders for it. And the other vegetables lighten the beans, which can be difficult to keep from turning dull and uninteresting by the third day. A soup like this can be refreshed easily with parsley, lime juice, and a small amount of fresh carrot and celery.
The current big soup is in a 12 quart pot, and the base is 4 cups of mixed dry beans (7 varieties: 2 white, 2 red, 2 spotted, and black), a package of smoked pork hocks, a carrot, diced, a considerable part of a bunch of celery, diced, 2 onions, diced, 3 ten-ounce cans of Ro-tel, 2 cups of frozen corn kernels, 2 cups of frozen French-cut green beans. It’s resting overnight like that. Tomorrow, as it’s a winter soup, it will get a cup and a half of barley and dollop of yellow mustard to brighten it. Maybe the spinach. Mushrooms and green olives will show up after our next trip to the store.
The previous soup (the weekend soup, consumed by tonight) was a chicken-vegetable I made last March, and threw a few chopped-up pork hocks into yesterday to stretch it for another day or so. I hadn’t planned to make a new soup today, but overnight a front came in and it was cold, rainy, and windy all day. So…soup weather.