Friends, there was very little cooking this week! No, cooking. (Or, nice pretty forest paths. I just gave you that photo up there to sooth what is to come). Instead, there was much grocery buying and all produce rotting. I had five births in five days; this led to some pretty creative eating options including meals inhaled while jogging down hospital hallways as fast as possible to get back to my client without knocking all the other medical folks to the ground. My semester goal was to avoid descent into cliff bars three times a day. Definite fail. But, I did win at eating hospital bacon two days in a row! And, I discovered that I am ambidextrous when starved. Who knew you could squeeze out the contents of a ketchup packet onto freeze-dried potatoes, inhale all the fake bacon, and press the elevator button frantically every 1.2 seconds all at once? I didn’t. Go me!
I am mostly proud to admit that this week I had the opportunity to test the cafeteria vending machine’s steam food system. Carrots, chicken curry, something rice-like. 2080 has arrived! This reminded me of being a smaller person and watching the The Fifth Element. I loved that movie. I loved Bruce Willis. Oh man. I watched it over and over; I just couldn’t believe someone could imagine-up a world with all those flashing lights, vending machines, and moving ad screens. I grew up without much technology, and can remember feeling such dis-belief that anything like steam food and wall-sized TV ads would ever exist. And, now they do. I am still taken aback by the existence of this future. For example, when I bought internet in September the entire back wall of the Telus store had been transformed into blue cichilids enticing me gently to upgrade my WiFi package. I couldn’t take my eyes off the fish. Then, they turned into Parakeets! I was so shocked by all of this that I couldn’t talk. I could barely pay. Who could? The telus man had to touch my arm to shake me out of my mesmerized state in order for me to press the buttons on the debit machine. He even asked (with more than a little concern) if I needed a coffee. All I could mumble was that the world has turned into a Bruce Willis film. The. whole. world. oh. no. The shopkeeper (maybe 16) definitely shuffled my stunned self out of his store as fast as possible. Too much shock and awe.
Along these lines, the steam food also reminded me of when my friend Ben signed up for facebook and I laughed at him for weeks at the idea that anyone with any sense would want their private business made all public like that. And, who could access a website everyday on dialup anyway? Who would have the patience to check their email that much? Who would ever want people to know what they actually did on the weekend? How could you fake being social when you were really cozy in bed reading Heiddeger? Then, I went away to Zambia and came back to WiFi everywhere. Everything I knew about about cultivating mystery didn’t exist anymore. That was more reverse culture shock than I was anticipating. And, don’t get me started on my failed predictions that cell-phones would never take off because people wouldn’t like being curtailed that much. No sirree. Look at the state of the world now. I am so lost. I would have fared much better in 1750 Switerland where things moved slow and all I had to do was make cheese, milk cows, and stay home.
Needless to say, the steam food experience defined my week. Like the pervasiveness of the digital world, who would have predicted all of this? Its all a little overwhelming. But, then there were these little moments over the past few days where people in my life realized the extent of the crazy and brought me real, non-steamed, food. A midwifery friend left a basket of chili, prosecco in a mason jar, coconut water, and seaweed sticks outside her door to cure the birth-hangover. Faron made a pot of perfect tomato balsamic sauce where I was gifted not only a plate of hot amazing pasta but was allowed to shirk all clean-up responsibility and collapse into a sleepy heap of long-johns, couch cushions, and over-sized sweaters. No need to talk at all. Yes. And, just as memorable was running into my mother’s house late for a thesis interview call, hangry as anything, and then; when she quietly snuck me hot toast and melty cheese (normally just right) I didn’t even say hello but barked; I can’t eat that. Make something else. With vegetables. And she did. Its true. So much love.
And, when it was all over and I felt I lived an entire month in seven days, (complete with crying on my preceptor and deciding to move to Mexico permanently to take up painting and party-hopping like Frida), Kate and I made this soup. We made it last year too so you can rest assured the method is solid. Its old fashioned. It won’t remind you of Bruce Willis. It was so good we groaned, drank wine, and rubbed our bellies until we collapsed into a giggling tipsy mess.
So, for all of you who held me up, (and because I need to collect easy recipes like this because I don’t ever want to eat steam food again), here is a small gift of some delicious soup. Thank you.
Wild Mushroom Soup
*2 white onions and a dab of butter to cook them in
*salt, red pepper flakes, fresh pepper
*good quality chicken stock (3 cups)
*wild mushrooms-1 cup at least (chanterreles)
*dried mixed wild mushrooms, chopped and re-hydrated in a little boiling water (we used a blend of bolets, chanterreles, lobsters, and hedghoges from last year’s more productive mushroom hunting season, but you can buy these easily from a store)
*whipping cream (1 cup)
1. In a non-reactive pot cook the onions in butter (on medium heat) until they begin to just carmelize. Add a dash of salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a pinch of pepper.
2. Meanwhile clean and chop the fresh mushrooms, and when ready add to the onions. Cook for about 10 minutes.
3. Add 3 cups of chicken stock, simmer for another 10 minutes.
4. Add 1 cup of whipping cream. Stir, warm gently but do not boil. Potentially add some lemon to balance the flavours, and try not to eat it all at once.
Serve with bread, salad, and vino.