Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Little Grown Up Food

I type that title as I sit here eating a "bus cookie" (it's a cookie in the shape of a school bus--what else?), but I've been starting to feel the need in my life for a little adult food. Something a kid wouldn't eat in a billion years, and frankly, I wouldn't expect them to. For the last month I've been reciting the mantra, "You will eat what we eat" (OK, not that heavy-handed, but that's the been the gist of it, I assure you) and serving my kids dinners that are sort of a middle ground between the more elaborate meals we used to eat at 9:30 at night, and the microwaved chicken nuggets and canned corn that the kids used to get at 6:30.

So we're eating Chicken Enchilada Casserole (yes, I know that's not what it's called, but that's what we call it), and simple sauteed chicken breasts and the like. And it's going pretty well. I think the kids have finally realized this is one of Mommy's crazy ideas that's not going away any time soon (like that pesky tooth brushing thing, and that annoying thing where she makes us put our trash in the trash can...if you can imagine).

But yesterday I sort of had a craving for something I knew they wouldn't like. You see, as much as I'm ashamed to admit it, and as much as I try not to do it, I do find myself getting huffy and offended when they won't eat the food I cook for them. My rational brain knows full well that they're not rejecting me, but food is such an extension of me, and I feel so personal about it, that I have to fight my irrational brain over this one. So if I made something that started out with things they didn't like in the first place, and then combined them in a way that I knew they wouldn't like much in the second place, I wouldn't get all snitty when they gave me that lip-curl when I told them what it was.

Result: Cream of Mushroom Soup. What kid likes mushrooms? I'm sure there's one somewhere, but none of them are mine, so mushrooms were an easy starting point. When it comes to soup they eat it's Campbell's Tomato made with 2/3 of a can of milk only. Period. Nope, not even chicken noodle. Isn't that strange? Maybe we'll try chicken noodle again this winter, but last winter it was roundly rejected.

Anyway, yesterday was a perfect soup day because it really was the first day of fall here in Seattle. We've been having this incredible Indian summer thing where the temperatures were in the 70s and the sun was shining and no rain. Well that all ended this morning. As I trudged to the bus stop, I found myself thinking, I'm cold. And my feet are cold. These are stupid shoes to be wearing. And this jacket isn't heavy enough. And I need a scarf. And maybe some gloves. And to top it all off, it's raining. Well, sprinkling, but drops are hitting me on the head and on my inadequate-weight jacket and dampening the toes of my stupid shoes, so I classify that as rain.

And did I mention that sunrise is now around 7:05? Somehow a 7 p.m. sunset doesn't bother me, but when the sun comes up at 7 a.m. and I should really have a flashlight out at the bus stop (so the bus sees me, and stops, you see), well, that's winter to me, baby.

So really I didn't intend for this to be a long-winded whine about summer being over and gone. I love fall, really I do. I like Halloween and all the fall festivals and apple picking and making things with apples and using winter squash in stuff and Brussles sprouts (oh, how I love Brussels sprouts!) and I don't mind the weather being colder, but I also don't like being caught unprepared. Tomorrow I know not to wear stupid shoes, to dig out my warm pea coat and scarf, and to bring the big bulky sweater I bought in Ireland ten years ago in to the office so I can be warm all day.

And tomorrow, like today, I can have Cream of Mushroom soup for breakfast again (yes).

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Sage

1lb mushrooms cleaned and sliced (I used Cremini)
2 slices thick bacon, cut in 1/2" dice
2T chopped fresh sage
3T butter
3T flour
2c chicken broth
2 cans 2% evaporated milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside, reserving drippings in the pan.

Over medium heat, saute mushrooms in reserved drippings until all water evaporates. Add chopped sage for the last minute of cooking time. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.

In the saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to form a roux. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add chicken broth and cook until thick. Add evaporated milk and return 1/2 of mushrooms to pan. Thicken slightly, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat and using an immersion blender (or blender or food processor), puree (be careful when blending hot liquids).

Return pan to heat and add remaining mushrooms to soup. Cook until thickened slightly 5-10 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir to combine. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve sprinkled with reserved bacon bits.

(Alternatively, all mushrooms can be returned to the pan at once prior to blending.)

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