New Year Thoughts: Habits

A pre-baby trip to Alaska involved a lot of happy cooking for the freezer, so I got to enjoy the new kitchen in the old house. You notice things when you cook in other people’s kitchens, especially if you are trying to do a good job. My daughter-in-law’s wooden spoons don’t look like mine. Hers look new, but they aren’t. She uses a spoon rest.

I never thought about this habit before, but while I sometimes rest a spoon on a dish when I need to put a lid on the pot, and wouldn’t put a food-covered spoon right on the counter or stove top, I’m inclined to just leave the spoon tipped against the side of a pan full of sauce or oatmeal or sauté.

When the sweet friend of our younger son came at Christmas, and we were cooking on Christmas Eve, I asked her if she left the spoon in the food on the stove. “Oh no,” she said, “I put it on the…” and she indicated a shape in the air by the stove – “a spoon rest?” I said. “Yes.”

She had already noticed my deficit, and in my stocking I found spoon rests – ceramic and shaped like oversized spoon and fork – charming and useful.

Now I am struggling with changing a bad habit! And a soup to practice on is clean-out-the-fridge, use-the-odds-and-ends-beans soup: I soaked and cooked all the mismatched beans, different sizes of white, black-eyed peas (for the new year), a sprinkling of kidney beans – producing enough beans for the soup and some extras to freeze.

I’d cooked a squash the day before and saved the seeds, so made a quick stock (stock makes all the difference in soup, that’s all there is to it) by sautéing roughly cut shallots, a leek including the green, roughly chopped carrot, celery (and the peelings of a small celeriac), and then added the squash seeds and strings along with a bay leaf, parsley sprigs, salt and pepper, and six or so cups of water. (The next time I made stock I used the skin from a roasted acorn squash as well as the seeds – that tasted great!)

I let it simmer for a while, then strained it and added three cups of the cooked beans, winter greens from the CSA (chopped collards and stir fry mix) and a chopped rutabaga and the celeriac.

It still surprises me that I write about cooking, and I am grateful for all I have learned in the process. Soup made good by stock is a new habit from last year, so here’s to more learning in 2012!

4 thoughts on “New Year Thoughts: Habits

  1. You’re inspiring me to give up all of those aseptic boxes. I really like the idea of using up the squash leftovers. And I suppose the stock could be made ahead of time and frozen. Thanks Katy!

  2. Although I don’t cook, I’m grateful that you write about cooking. After your writeup about Mark Bittman’s green-covered “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” in your Beans and Beer post, (I’m not sure that will turn into a link — sometimes comments don’t allow HTML), I bought a copy for my chef’s iPad.

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