In a wearily unsurprising turn of events, I undercooked the cornbread in the photo above. I then returned it to the oven and overcooked it. Then tonight I took the crumbly leftovers and mixed them together with eggs and milk and cheese and butter – and then undercooked that. Well of course.
Of all the things I could be queen of, it’s not what I’d choose, but if Game of Thrones has taught me anything (apart from don’t watch it while eating dinner) it’s that sometimes the crown finds you. And I seem to be the queen of false starts. It’s not simply just a case of when it rains it pours (by the way, Shakespeare invented that phrase, along with all other phrases and words and probably food blogging) it’s more like…getting in my own way, constantly being underprepared for basic things and the general game of good luck roulette that is life not offering any help. I’m not saying I’m cursed or beleaguered or miserable. I mean, good things happen. Life is pretty alright. I just have a lot of cause to say things like “well of course this happened, because I am me.”
Like, I sometimes really struggle to leave the house in a hurry. It sounds strange, but time will speed up while my movements slow down, everything feels weird, I can’t find anything, I’ll drop things, my heart will start racing and I’ll feel like I need a shower and a lie-down. Often. But surely pretty much everyone has had that feeling where you’re trying to achieve something small and the more you try the more you push it away and break it apart. Oh my gosh, this has turned into the most negative start to this blog post. I was just trying to muse. To ponder. What a damn false start!
Luckily the parsnip soup I made turned out so good, so velvety and creamy and wonderful that I wanted to not so much eat it as to fall asleep on a li-lo drifting around in a large bowl of it, one hand idly trailing into the soup as I float on by. By li-lo I mean inflatable mattress thing for a swimming pool, not the actress Lindsay Lohan. Actually in this day and age I can’t tell which reference is less up-to-date and likely to be squinted at in confusion by young people. Perhaps a better solution is an undignified but sensible inflatable ring around my waist, keeping me safely bouyant. Or just eating the soup.
I don’t even go for soup all that often, it doesn’t seem as exciting as other significantly less formless foods. It’s not crisp, it’s not chewy, it’s not crunchy, it’s not deep-fried, all those good things, you know? And yet, whenever I actually get over that and have soup, I’m always like “…oh yeah. Soup.” And that’s the eloquent response I had to this parsnip soup after making it. It certainly helped me get over the cornbread a little bit.
Dead roses: I really like them.
The texture is cloud-like, aerated and foam-light, yet rich and plushly creamy. Despite not having cream or in fact any dairy in it whatsoever. Which is really good if you’re at that days-before-payday stage where there’s no money still and there’s not the option of running down the road to pick up extra ingredients from the dairy. This is more or less parsnips and water. You do absolutely need a blender though, that’s what allows the luxuriant texture to happen, but I’m pretty sure a food processor or stick blender will still be absolutely fine. Without one of those…I’m sorry, maybe make a different soup. Or something deep-fried.
It might look like there’s a lot of oil in this – or it might not, I can’t even tell anymore – but it’s there for the rich buttery olive oil flavour, as well as the way it turns vegetables and water into something with a little more body and soul. So, if you don’t have olive oil on you, I’d use actual butter which will provide similar flavour. If not…different soup? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be pushing you away. But c’mon.
Velveteen Parsnip Soup (I don’t know how I feel about adjectives in front of recipe names. But I really like the word velveteen. And this soup really is all soft and fleecy and wondrous.)
A recipe by myself.
4 medium sized parsnips
3 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Tiny pinch of ground cinnamon
3 cups water
Roughly dice the parsnips, and peel and trim the garlic cloves. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the parsnips and garlic over a high heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat, very low, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, cover with the lid and allow to slowly cook for about ten minutes. At this stage the parsnip pieces should be all soft and golden. Stir in the mustard and cinnamon and pour over the water and simmer gently for another ten minutes, or until the parsnip is completely tender. Blend the hell out of it – it’s a pain to get the stuff into the blender, but it’s worth the nervousness – until not one single lump of parsnip remains.
Optional caramelised nuts, for sprinkling over, optional since I’m not 100% sure about them
1 handful nuts, eg hazelnuts, almonds, a mix of whatever, whatever. I do have this feeling that peanuts are a no here, though.
30-ish grams butter
1/4 teaspoon/a few drops soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon/small pinch mustard powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Very roughly chop the nuts, then melt the butter in a pan – I used the same one I’d cooked the soup in, no need to wash – until it’s bubbling and hot. Tip in the nuts, and stir around till they’re lightly toasted. Stir in the soy sauce, mustard powder and sugar until it becomes a little clumpy and caramelised. Tip the lot, butter and gritty caramelised bits of sugar and all, into a small bowl and spoon it over your soup as you please.
(Me: sorry Tim. It’s going to be that kind of blog post where I photograph your spookily headless body while you pause mid-spoonful.)
Parsnips have a natural mild sweetness and butteriness that you wouldn’t think was there if you just bit into a raw one (have done, not…unpleasant) and which benefits from the slow frying, from the warm rounding out of cinnamon and mustard, and from lots of salt. And what this soup lacks in deep-fried-ness, it makes up for in baffling silkiness, and caramelly parsnip deliciousness. As I hinted at in the recipe, I’m not quite sure about the caramelised nuts that I made to sprinkle over the top – the soy sauce almost made them a little too rich, if such a thing is possible. I think I would’ve been better off just toasting them in butter rather than trying to be too fancy. And of course, there is the cornbread, all undercooked and stupid. But the thing I thought most of all was not going to work – the soup that I made up on the spot – was pretty perfect.
Talk about false starts, I took the day after a public holiday off on Friday with the intention of getting a lot of writing and blog admin done. I spent the day on the floor, frustrated and sick (when I wasn’t throwing up, that is. I always instinctively end up on the floor at times like this.) Oh, and I made some cookies to blog about (I mean, I made them to eat, which is my primary reason for cooking anything, just I thought they’d be good to blog about.) And they really didn’t turn out right. Not terrible or inedible, just not what I’d intended and not particularly fantastic. I dubbed them shame-cookies, because drama is its own reward.
Saturday was glorious though, in that I watched The Hour for the, uh, fourth time in about six months. And made another convert to its swooning, heart-punching gorgeousness (Kate.) And made this cake. I know I talk about it a lot, but I can’t overstate my love for this show. Fly, don’t run or walk, to find it.
PS wanna see my tattoo? Here is a peek of the sneaky kind. I just wanted to hold onto it for a while before I posted a picture of it online, and then of course as I mentioned in my last post, it went a bit gross while healing, which is to be expected.
It’s now more or less healed, which means I can wear pants again. But I don’t even want to. (No pants are better than pants, as I always think.) But really: I just want to keep gazing at it. You can too, right here.
title via: Beastie Boys, Intergalactic. Sigh, poor Beastie Boys with only the two of them now.
Let’s Get Ready to Crumble, Russian Futurists. I haven’t listened to these guys in so long! Literally not since, oh, 2009. And I really like them still. It’s hard to explain what they sound like, a little vague and dreamy but also quite punchy. I don’t know, it sounds like all that music that you like.
Fear No Pain, Willy Mason. It feels like if he’d released this now, in these post-Mumford times, he’d be intergalactic huge. But then maybe I’d instantly dislike him (I really don’t like Mumford and Sons, however I try to just let my ears tell me what music I like rather than letting taste dictate. Otherwise, let’s face it, I might not have named this blog after a line from RENT.) Anyway, it’s a gorgeous, sunny, Americana-y tune that comfortably lived-in and yet is only about five years old.
The Wayward Wind, Patsy Cline. A beautiful voice, singing one of the most beautiful songs.
Next time: I don’t know, but I really hope whatever it is I make it on the weekend and there’s decent lighting for taking photos. And that I don’t under or over-cook the thing I make.