Resolutions - Part I

Every year, I struggle with a New Year's resolution.  Perfect example?  I'm typing this on Saturday... January-freakin'-19th.  Yup.  Enough said.  This year, I've identified a few areas of my life I'd like to work on.  I'll talk about them in phases so I don't scare myself.  ;)

The first resolution is to cook more.  Specifically, I would like to try a new recipe every week.  Will they all be earth-shattering feats of culinary delight?!?  Nope.  Probably not.  Long story short, I started back to work about a year ago and it really took a toll on the home front (it also affected the blogging, but that's another story.)  I was constantly searching for new, cheap, quick dinners and I think know it affected me in several ways.  You see, I love to cook.  I love to cook good food.  I once described it to my husband as a meditative exercise after a long day.  So when I went back to the quick and cheap, it made me feel unfulfilled.  I was also guilty of fixing quick dinners for cranky, hungry kids and the "family dinner" was tossed aside several times per week.  Totally unacceptable.

This year, I want to recommit myself to creativity in the kitchen and maintain the sacred family dinner.  Specifically, I want to incorporate ingredients from the garden in this exercise.  I'll be growing a few new varieties this year (romanesco, anyone?) so I'm excited to work that into my cooking.

To do a little catch-up, I started with the year with this recipe:

Potage Parmentier 
(Potato & Leek Soup)
- Julia Child

1lb potatoes, pealed and diced 
3 cups leeks, thinly sliced (white and tender green parts only)
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
4-6 tablespoons whipping cream or 2-3 tablespoons softened butter
2-3 tablespoons minced parsley or 2-3 tablespoons chives

1.  Simmer vegetables, water and salt to ether, partially covered, 40-50 minutes until vegetables are tender.

2.  Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork or puree in blender.  Correct seasoning.

3.  Off heat and just before serving, stir in cream or butter by spoonfuls.  Pour into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with the herbs.

4.  Good hot, cold or room temperature.

Leeks and potatoes from my garden

A few notes for future preparations:

- I used 3 tablespoons whipping cream and 1.5 tablespoon butter (I figured half of each would be a nice balance... and it was!)  
- It was a bit salty for my taste, so I will cut it back to 1/2 tablespoon salt next time.  
- Mental note... DO NOT OVER-FILL BLENDER.  Unless you like to clean.  If so, go right ahead and knock your socks off.  Next time, I'll blend just a few small ladle-fulls at a time.
- I garnished it with minced parsley and a little bit of sour cream... perfection!  
- I used leftover leeks and potatoes from the garden. 

Overall, I was shocked that such a simple soup came together this beautifully.  I fully admit I had my doubts when adding two quarts of water, but Julia came through (why did I even doubt her?)  Smooth, simple, clean flavors... the perfect opportunity to showcase the garden's flavors.  Will I make it again?  Sure!  I also may use it as a base for some other concoction.  Hmmm... 

Oh my gosh!  I almost forgot!  When pulling the leeks out of the garden, I was able to separate off new baby leeks that had sprouted from the base of the plants (they start out as bulbs attached to the base of the leek).  I now have a dozen baby leeks planted out and ready to get this 2013 garden party started.  Yahoo!

xo, k

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