Ecce Femina

A Quiet Day

Today I dedicated myself to updating my event and social calendars.  I am not a social butterfly, but I have decided to get away from the computer and out into the real world more often, so I went onto Meet Up and looked for things going on around my area.  I found a few events that interest me and I will be talking about them as the week progresses (if I have time).  School starts next week and although my calendar won’t be as busy as last semester’s calendar I will be dedicating my free time to volunteering with Nourish International, and I still will pursue my voice and piano lessons so I will be an extremely busy and happy bee.

I mentioned yesterday having gone out to the garden to winterize it, now I have the pictures for you.  It was too dark and cold last night to go out and take pictures, but this afternoon the sun was bright (although it was still really nippy and bitter cold, at least for Florida) and I snapped a few pictures.  I must have sprained my wrist or something yesterday while working in the garden because it’s been sore all day and I have a limited range of motion.  That or my arthritis is back.

 

I was especially diligent about my crotons.  They are very sensitive to the frost, last year alone I nearly lost all of them.  Only two or three made it back in the spring and the summer was a harsh summer, really wet and humid, so they were struggling  back then too.  Leaving them uncovered would have been their death sentence.

 

 

 

 

 

   I am sort of glad now that I only have done one side of the house and I haven’t planted the east side yet.  My house faces full south so I have to be careful about placing sun-hardy plants on the front of the house.  They get the brunt of the Florida sun and some of them (like my Azaleas) are struggling. Those plants that I haven’t planted yet or that were in pots are now huddled on top of the teak table on the lanai. It looks a bit like a jungle right now in there.

 

 

Here is a close up of one of my most favorite flowers, the azalea:

The menu for the day featured a Traditional Bean and Cabbage soup from Step by Step Italian, the book I mentioned yesterday.   Well, I made  a few changes… the recipe called for black cabbage, but I had left over purple cabbage, so I used that up and I also had left over Napa cabbage and that went into the soup as well.

I find that beans are easier to cook if you leave them to soak overnight, which I admit takes a bit of preparation, but since I make up my menus weekly, I had a bit of time and knew what I was going to need for the next day.  Here is a picture of my beans soaking:

 

The recipe calls for the beans to boil for an hour to an hour and a half, but since I soaked the beans overnight it only took about 45 minutes for them to be tender.

If you watch the food network, or if you have watched any cooking show worth its salt, you know that mise en place is a very important part of being a successful cook or chef.  It is French and it means “putting in place”, so you should gather and have your ingredients in place to make something that is a bit involved, like making soup, easy.  You can see an example of my mise en place in the following photographs:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I use a big chopping board so I have space to chop and set aside what I need.  Usually I don’t need to dirty up any other dishes, but today I was making a big pot of soup, so I needed something to set my ingredients aside while I chopped my cabbage:

 

 

I love the colors in these pictures:

 

Here are my vegetables cooking in my enameled-cast-iron dutch oven (and no, it is not a Le Creuset, I wish!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I needed to drain the beans and save the water,  because I would use it later when I pureed the beans in the food processor.  It adds body to the soup without resorting to using flour or making a roux.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the vegetables softened, I added some unsalted vegetable stock as the recipe called for and it tasted fine, a little sweet. I find that I like the complexity of flavors that beef stock adds to a soup, so I added both.  Also you can see I had my canned-chopped tomatoes there and a few rolls of day-old ciabatta bread to add to the soup at the end.  If you ever buy the book and are going to try the recipe, don’t skip the bread.  It really adds a nice texture to the soup.  The ciabatta I used was multi-grain ciabatta which is a bit meatier than the regular white ciabatta.

 

You add the nice cabbage mixture to the beef stock and the vegetables and you get something looking like this:

 

After fifteen minutes or so of simmering, you add your pureed beans and the soup will look like this:

 

And this is how it looks after I added the torn bread and I served it:

 

 

I broke out some salad plates that I never use for salad (I prefer to use wooden bowls for those) and served my soup in them:

The husband said, “It is yoomee, yoomee”.  Yes, he is funny that way.

I won’t be trying any new recipes tomorrow as I  made so much soup that there is a full pot for tomorrow.  Perfect for this cold weather!

See you guys tomorrow!