It was great.
Why do I so often think I have to do everything by hand in order to make the meal perfect, truly homemade, really authentic? It’s not like my mom didn’t pour pre-made dressing on canned pears and iceberg and call it a salad – a salad that I really liked. And there are plenty of great people who use cream of mushroom soup for casseroles and box cake mixes for desserts on a regular basis. How about those parents who buy packaged cookies and disguise them as freshly baked for the school bake sale? You do what you gotta do.
Except I don’t. Instead, I’m the person who wants to make homemade versions of “store-bought” treats like Hostess Cupcakes and Ho-Hos. I have to make my pie crusts from scratch, as a matter of principle. I feel like a hero if I can turn out something from my kitchen that I’ve kneaded, stirred, rolled, whipped or roasted myself.
Usually I love this. Except when I don’t.
There are times when I look up and it’s way later than it should be for the start of some cooking project or other. Times when I run short of energy or incentive or inspiration. Times when I need to give myself a break.
For those times, I’m learning that in addition to loving the satisfaction of having made it myself, I can also love the shortcuts that make life just a little easier. That cornbread, for instance. It was delicious.
p.s.: This photo is not "homemade," either, I took it from a web site that's even more committed to doing everything yourself than I am. Check it out, these kids are shucking and grinding the corn with a hand crank before they make the bread! Farm to Table.
(Homemade) Minestrone Soup
2 teaspoons olive oil1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 tablespoon or more dried oregano (thanks, Simeone, I used some I dried from your mega-harvest!)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups yellow squash, chopped
3 cups zucchini, chopped
1 cup corn kernels (I use frozen, great to have on hand)
3 cans chopped tomato (or 4 cups fresh)
5 to 6 cups veg broth (yes, I make my own! Whenever you’re cutting up veggies, just throw the trimmings (like onion ends, chard and collard stems, celery leaves, carrot stubs) in a Ziploc and keep it in the freezer, adding to it until there is enough to cook up. Then put them in a pot with plenty of water, a cut up onion and maybe a stalk of celery or a carrot, simmer for a while (an hour?), then drain all the veg out, pour into carryout containers in one-cup increments, and freeze. I like to pop out the frozen cup-size chunks and store them in Ziplocs for whenever I need ‘em. If you’re really thinking, you’ll defrost them early in the day – if not, just zap in the microwave. Of course premade is also TOTALLY FINE)
½ to 1 cup dried pasta – I like penne
1-2 cups cooked white beans (yep, I do ‘em from dried. Sometimes. Or just use 1 15.5-oz. can of pre-cooked)
1 bunch fresh chard, chopped (you can use spinach if you prefer, I happened to have chard on hand)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan or Asiago cheese, shredded, for on top
Heat oil in a soup pot (love my Dutch oven) and add onion. Sauté until soft. Add oregano and garlic, sauté a minute more. Stir in the rest of the veggies, except for tomato, until tender.Place 3 cups tomato and 1 cup broth in the blender, process ‘til smooth. Add tomato mix to pot, stir in remaining tomato and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
Add pasta and beans, cook another 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Stir in chard, salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese. Serves 8.