This Bowl So Dear

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from Australia’s Michael Leunig

I find the above illustration and poem by Australia’s Michael Leunig surprisingly uplifting.  Plus, the comfort and simplicity of the bowl of homemade soup and a wooden spoon fits right into the whole notion of our blog.

A little googling about bowls vs plates led me to a whole world of sociological and psychological and historical analyses of the subject.  Where was Andy, the Sociologist, when I needed him?  FYI – he was in his office googling football bowl games. 🙂  See today’s Andy’s Corner.

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Well done, Tigers!

Little did I know that Andy, the Sociologist, had already discovered the British food writer Bee Wilson and was immersed in the Kindle edition of her book The Way We Eat Now: How the Food Revolution Has Transformed Our Lives, Our Bodies, and Our World 

In a piece that Wilson wrote for The Wall Street Journal, she writes, “Our abandonment of plates for bowls suggests that we are reverting to the simpler times of one-pot cookery, liberating ourselves once and for all from fork anxiety. Today, the thing that we are most short of in the kitchen is not necessarily money but time. Sales of bowls have climbed in tandem with the rise of the Instant Pot and the pressure cooker, time-saving gadgets that produce tasty dishes too sloppy for a plate.

But perhaps there is more than just the issue of time at play here.  In an article in the online publication Quartz, Helen Zoe Veit, a Michigan State U professor who focuses on the history of food and nutrition, indicates that snobbery was also at play in our earlier avoidance of one-bowl meals. “How we were eating [in the twentieth century] was reflective of what we were eating, and that tended, in mainstream American culture, to be a slab of protein with a couple sides, salad and bread. “(This) sort of extreme separation of meal components…is seen as a mark of refinement and education and status….Americans for a long time were sort of saying…that mixtures are a little disgusting.”

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A plated place-setting

We’re SO happy that snobbery about bowls and eating mixtures of things is now passé Though Andy and I haven’t entirely given up on a nice plated meal with a side-dish salad – and while we’re still novices when it comes to Buddha bowls and burrito bowls and grain bowls (though we promise more focus on that in blogs to come), we’re in love with soups and stews.

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Too many bowls? Or a necessary abundance of comforting things to cradle?

I think Bee Wilson is really on to something when she says, “The rise of the bowl in our lives suggests that many eaters are in a permanently fragile state, treating every meal as comfort food.  In a world of alarming news, maybe we all need something to cradle.”  Amen.

We’re sure looking for comfort – so tonight I’m making Joyce’s Clam Chowder.  Tomorrow we’re having a bowl of Jook Chicken.  Later in the week it’s Colorado-ish Potato and Green Chile Stew.  Last week we tried out three new soup-y stew-y recipes and are delighted to share them with you today.

This evening we’ll light a fire in our wood stove, turn on our 56th episode of Schitt’s Creek – or maybe the 2nd episode of Cheer, select the perfect bowl from our (crazy large) collection, dish up that bowl of chowder…feel its warmth…take our spoon (wooden or not), and proceed “with steadiness and cheer.”

 

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Moqueca Baiana – Brazilian Fish Stew

Moqueca Baiana - Brazilian Fish Stew

The prep for this delicious and unusual soup-like stew comes together very quickly – and the stew cooks in a very short amount of time.  Perfect fast easy meal.  This is similar to the Seafood Stew we posted earlier, but the tablespoon of paprika and additional coconut milk changes the flavor significantly./recipe-notes]

  • Approximately 1 to 1 1/2 lbs fillet of firm white fish such as Black Sea Bass (trap caught), Pacific halibut, U.S. swordfish, or Alaskan or Pacific cod, rinsed in cold water, pin bones removed, cut into about 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 3/4 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper and 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes – or 2 c diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 T paprika (Hungarian sweet)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped with some set aside for garnish
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • Cooked white rice for accompaniment – or crusty French bread

Place fish pieces in a bowl, add the minced garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper, and blend so that the fish is well coated.

In a large covered pan (such as a Dutch oven), coat the bottom with  2 T of olive oil and heat on medium heat.

Add the chopped onion and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes longer, until the bell pepper begins to soften.  Stir in the tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in most of the chopped cilantro.

Arrange the fish pieces on top of the vegetables.  Pour the coconut milk over the fish and vegetables. Do NOT stir the coconut milk in….let it sit on top. Bring soup to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir; taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, red pepper, or lime juice, if desired.  If you want the stew a little thinner, add a little water and stir it in.

Serve topped with the remaining cilantro – with rice on the side or with the French bread.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.
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Albondigas – Mexican Meatballs – in Chipotle Sauce

Albondigas - Mexican Meatballs - in Chipotle Sauce

We adapted this from the Tacolicious Cookbook by our daughter Sara Deseran.  If you’re in San Francisco, try it at one of the Tacolicious restaurants.

Meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 diced tomato (or 1 canned tomato, diced)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 c long grain rice, uncooked and rinsed
  • 1/4 c loosely packed chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 c loosely packed chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • ½ c finely crumbled queso fresco, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tsp Diamond kosher salt

Tomato-chipotle sauce:

  • 4 c canned, diced tomatoes
  • 1-4 T sauce from canned chipotles in adobo sauce (start with 1 T and add to taste)
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 T minced garlic, about 4 cloves
  • 3 c chicken broth
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp  ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Diamond kosher salt or to taste
  • flour or corn tortillas to serve alongside

To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine and gently mix  all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Wet your hands to alleviate sticking and roll the meat around in your palms to form evenly sized meatballs, each the size of a golfball on steroids, a generous ¼ cup per meatball.

Place the meatballs on two oiled baking sheets with a lip, and place them in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes, or until they are about three-quarters of the way cooked through as they’ll continue to cook in the sauce. Remove from the oven

Place the tomatoes and the chipotles in a blender and puree until smooth. To make the sauce, heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large sauce pot. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato-chipotle mixture to the pot and cook for 5 minutes more to marry the flavors. Add the chicken stock, Worcestershire, brown sugar, cumin, oregano, pepper and salt to the pot and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt as necessary. Continue with the recipe or refrigerate the sauce for up to a day ahead, or until ready to use.

Add the partially cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, gently stirring periodically so they all have a chance to cook in the sauce. Make sure that the rice in the meatballs is fully cooked before serving. Garnish with a sprinkle of queso fresco.  Serve with flour or corn tortillas to scoop up the yummy sauce.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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Lentil Soup with Bacon

Lentil Soup with Bacon

Recipe was adapted from a 1996 Bon Appetit recipe. I tend to go a little crazy with the carrots and celery, often doubling the amount of both.

  • 4 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1″ strips (or substitute 3 oz pancetta – our favorite – or 3 oz chopped Canadian bacon)
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1/2 c chopped celery
  • 1 c chopped carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 – 8 c chicken broth (or add still a little more, depending upon the consistency you like)
  • 1 bag or about 2 1/4 c dried lentils – either green or brown (16 oz)
  • 2 large fresh thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T chopped green onions or chives

In a heavy Dutch oven, saute the bacon for a few minutes – until it begins to brown and crisp.  Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Stir over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Uncover; add 7 cups broth, lentils, thyme and bay leaf and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine parsley and green onions in small bowl. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle parsley mixture over and serve.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

4 Comments

  1. Robert Briggs Carleton says:

    Sorry, folks, but 25 ingredients for one din-din is beyond me. Mexican meatballs sound wonderful, but they won’t happen on my watch. Might be that I’d be healthier if I spent more time cookin’ and less time eatin’ but I ain’t likely to change.

    Like

    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here – although it seems like a lot of ingredients, most of them are spices not requiring prep time. I made these meatballs the other evening and was not worn out – and it was well worth the effort. I will be making them again. Hope you have a change of mind and give them a chance. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Anyway, we always appreciate your feedback.

      Like

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