I entered the new year with a big pot of soup. I wished I would have had the gumption to fry some chicken or make a seafood platter eaten with bumps of caviar and champagne, but instead I came home after a lovely holiday in Louisiana to some busted pipes, an empty fridge, and the first of what will be many cedar fever attacks. I was sleeping on NYE by 8pm in a 2-Benadryl coma with Mean Girls softly playing in the background. I basically made this Love & Lemons soup, except without the cabbage (which I didn’t have) and instead with some turnips harvested before the big freeze that were safely stored in the fridge… which wasn’t completely empty, after all. I threw in some chopped and blanched carrots and chard from the freezer, chicken stock from the freezer, plus canned fire-roasted tomatoes from the pantry. A big handful of dill… also safely hidden away in the fridge... plus 7 or so cloves of garlic which got lazily smashed before throwing in. I opened and drained a can of cannellini beans, but after the hearty soup came together I realized it didn’t need the beans. Those got transferred to a Tupperware, covered in a glug of olive oil + red wine vinegar, for a quick snack when I need them.
Like any good soup, this one has gotten better in the subsequent days. The spicy broth and perfectly al dente and juicy turnip cubes are so full of flavor. Yesterday, I made a big pot of egg noodles which I mixed with half a stick of butter and a billion cracks of black pepper. The leftover soup… now on day 3 of its existence, got spooned over a generous bowl of silky noods.
Do you make soups like this? Please do, if you don’t. This is the exact soup I needed to greet the new year. Fuss-free, flavorful, and one that can easily feed my husband and me for at leat 3 days in a row. With a fridge full of VRDNT veggies, a soup like this is easy peasy.
Happy new year to you all. Wishing you many delicious days of nourishing vegetable-filled bowls.
2023 Cooking Resolutions:
More Chaos Cooking:
Maybe you’re like our friend Mackenzie and have been chaos-cooking all along.. throwing flaming hot cheetos on your leftover golden kale and collard stew (with dumplings). Or maybe you needed this newly coined term to give you permission to drum up some chaos in the kitchen. Rachel Baron describes it like this: “Framed in this way, chaotic cooking openly subverts mainstream rules for how to cook and what tastes or looks good, in a way that’s both playful and intelligent. To cook chaotically means to channel the challenges and the possibilities of daily life into your meals, with the same goal of any passionate cook: making delicious food.” Go for it. Let the chaos reign.
More Local Supply Chains.
Have you been to an Austin farmers market lately? Do yourself a favor and swing by Mueller on Sunday. There, you can find a huge variety of pantry staples as well as fresh goods, all produced locally. Seriously. We live in a big hub where growers from across our region gather to bring their goods, and it’s completely possible to eat mostly local foods, if that’s what you wanted. Simplifying your supply chain probably also means simplifying your recipes, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. (Read more: Becky’s take on the importance of Austin’s Local Supply Chain.)
More Laughing at Food Labels instead of Latching to Food Labels.
The biggest new term in 2023? Regenivore. Apparently, the term climatarian is out (so 2022), and the idea of being a regenivore is in. Don’t just “sustain” the land… (i.e. sustainability isn’t enough)..but instead, regenerate it. It’s not that I’m against the idea of supporting regenerative farming and agriculture… In fact, I’m wholeheartedly for it… it’s just the label and the marketing machine behind it that fatigues me. Eating locally from a farmer you know always surpasses any other labeling fad you’ll see on a supermarket shelf, in my opinion, but I still like to know what the cool kids are saying.
Are you a CSA Member? Lucky for you, you’re also a regenivore and climatarian, for that matter. Those VRDNT pea shoots you like to throw on your salads? That’s what the cool kids would call a “climate hero ingredient.” (Cool kid pea shoot, arugula, and pine nut salad recipe here.)
More Dinner Parties and Community.
My friend Haley throws an annual Texas-themed chili party. It’s epic and everyone has so much fun. After this year’s recent bash, we tried to analyze why this party, in particular, is so FUN. I think it has a lot to do with the framing: Come to this party that’s entirely thematically centered around one food… chili. The fritos are flowing, there are dice a’ throwing, and lots of enthused cocktail making which also helps. (This year’s drink of choice was far and away a Paper Plane. It is Texas citrus season, after all.)
Allison Roman is a huge proponent of Holiday Ham parties or Summer Sauage parties, and her Nothing Fancy cookbook is a perfect place to look for easy gathering ideas. My sister and her friends have an annual Pie Party tradition featuring sweet and savory delectables which I think is very awesome. But like… these themes are just if you need an excuse to make people gather. The theme could also just be: Local Veggie Night. Or. I just picked up my CSA and My Fridge is Full Night. Or. I’m lonely and miss you, come for a bowl of day-old soup night. Don’t complicate the group gathering, or do. Either way, people are still hungry for community.
More Frozen Shredded Potatoes.
This is a personal one for me, but here’s to the year of frozen shredded potatoes. An easy, deeply satisfying meal is always a moment away with some hashbrowns in the freezer. I finally figured out the secret to a huge crunchy hashbrown which is to use a plate to flip the whole thing. Not really a secret at all turns out. With a big ole crispy crunchy plate of potatoes + a huge pile of herby yogurt, a side of any other CSA veggies like simple roasted carrots can be transformed into a complete meal. More frozen dumplings for soups like this, more frozen tortellini for soups like this, more frozen pizza to accompany a huge shredded salad like this, and more frozen puff pastry for easy veggie pot pies like this. Maybe I’m alone here, but more frozen food that makes other food easy and exciting.
(Even) More Mutual Aid.
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you value locally-grown, nutrient-dense vegetables. Join VRDNT this year in supporting our community and Keep Austin Fed’s support of ATX Free Fridges. (What am I talking about? Read more & donate if you’d like here.) Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who donated a share over the holidays… in the past two weeks alone, there was over $750 worth of donations which VRDNT will deliver over the next couple of months. That’s a lot of fresh veg!
2023 Cooking Resolutions:
Less Daikon Avoidance.
Embrace the full CSA share this year, and perhaps tackle the “trickiest” vegetable first. Need some clues on what to do with your purple daikon? Ten recipe ideas here. Need some bok choy ideas? Here ya go. Flummoxed by fennel? We’ve got a list for that.
Less Meal Planning Agony.
Perhaps I’m really just speaking to myself who is in a particularly busy work season, but just cook food. A simple pot of beans and sauteed greens. Fried egg over everything for lazy pizazz. Leftovers, but with chili crisp. Craving something out of your usual repertoire? Order out.
Less Butter boards.
IDK. I’m just… ready for people to be spreading butter on bread in a normal way. From softened sticks to pieces of bread. I imagine a butter board, and I always think of how annoying it would be to clean that greasy cutting board. And how butter boards may just contribute to citywide fatbergs. Gross.
Less Food Waste
Find yourself inching your way to wasting your precious VRDNT veggies? Don’t. Barely-Recipes: Quick and Easy Ways to Use your CSA Veggies.
As always, thanks for reading, and cheers to another January.