After years of relying at least partially on frozen meals and side dishes to make dinner, I’ve recently gotten back into cooking again. Two elements came together at the same time as I was thinking I should make more effort to eat local: I found two awesome cookbooks for cheap at a book sale, and I signed up for a biweekly produce box delivery where the company would just send what was in season from a variety of local farms. Getting a “mystery box” of produce makes me feel like I’m on one of those cooking competition shows.
Also, while I’ve always exchanged recipes with friends and family, most of the time I never end up making the recipes I requested from them, and I never know if they actually try mine. Recently, however, I’ve had the joy of sharing a recipe on Facebook and having a friend comment “I’m going to make that tonight!”
And this week I mentioned my new favorite recipe, potato leek soup, to a friend as we shopped together at the farmers market. We ended up cooking it on the same night (though she was more adventurous and used purple potatoes in hers). The immediacy of these two exchanges made it feel like an actual connection through cooking and made me very happy to be “sharing” a meal with friends.
Cooking from scratch makes me feel more connected to my food, too. Most importantly, I know exactly what goes into my meals and I know it hasn’t been treated with pesticides. And there’s nothing quite like buying directly from someone who said “I picked those tomatoes myself this morning”. The act of chopping, sauteing, and stirring also reinforces the connection–it truly feels like “my” dinner.
Although my 5-year-old doesn’t eat much of what I cook (canned black beans and frozen peas are his staples, though I suppose I could buy those both dry and cook them), he does enjoy baking and loves to participate in mixing up a batch of zucchini muffins and rolling balls of snickerdoodle dough in cinnamon sugar. My sweet tooth was what got me into cooking at an early age too. 🙂
When I find recipes that are easy and delicious, I’ll try to share them here. And so, without further ado:
Leek and Potato Soup from the cookbook Soup:
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
3 leeks, sliced
8 oz. potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (this is about 1 big or 2 small potatoes)
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
chives for garnish if you are feeling fancy
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, and potatoes and saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft but not brown. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Transfer soup to blender in small batches and process until smooth. (I use a handheld stick blender, most awesome purchase ever!) Return to rinsed-out pan, season with salt and pepper (I recommend garlic pepper), and reheat. Serve in warmed bowls, garnished with chives.