I end up with at least two food magazines in my house a month. I mentally refer to them as food porn, because everything in them always looks so good, even things I don't like, and I always feel like maybe if I tried to make it this time it would actually turn out like it does in the picture. In between attempts, I watch "Top Chef" and I dream.
This week I decided to try making a corn, potato, and sausage bisque. It seemed kind of easy, since it called for a lot of basic ingredients, and I thought, "Hey, how bad could it be?"
The potatoes should have been the first indicator of disaster, the harbinger of terrible things to come. The recipe said that I should bake two potatoes and then dice them, but I am a lazy chef in addition to being a mediocre one, so I bought a bag of the precut and ready potatoes. When I tore it open, though, I discovered this:
That's not a potato. I realize I'm not always 100% familiar with vegetables, since they're not made of candy, but that is a carrot. The bag says potatoes, not potatoes and carrots, and doesn't even have one of those "Maybe also contain" warnings like my peanut butter that may also contain peanuts does. In some cultures, that carrot would be an omen, like an egg with a blood-red yolk or a two-headed calf. All soup preparation would cease while the shaman was called to sprinkle salt around my kitchen, but I don't live in any of those cultures.
I should start, though, because that carrot meant disaster. That didn't come until later, though.
In the meantime, I steamed the potatoes in the microwave, sliced up the sausage (I used turkey sausage, under the vague notion that it was somehow healthier), drained the corn, and thew it all in a holding bowl until it was time to add to the soup:
After that, I pasted an onion.
I've mentioned before that I have trouble with the texture of onions. It's all crunchy and slimy at the same time and disgusting, but the flavor is good. For a while I was just chopping them down into specks, but my chopper broke, so now I'm pasting them down to mush in the food processor. That's an onion the size of a baseball in there, and the added benefit of pasting them is that I don't cry.
Once the onion was pasted, I got all the ingredients ready to add in stages, according to the recipe:
That's four cups of milk, by the way, and since I was cooking I bought whole milk, just for this recipe. I usually drink skim, because whole milk seems so thick and sludgy, but I figured the soup needs to be thick and sludgy. I was kind of sad that it only needed a quarter cup of flour, because I have quite a bit left after the breadmaking disaster, but I'll use all that up someday. I might even try making bread again. I might also try learning to explode things with my brain, probably with equal success.
Anyway, I melted half a stick of butter, then added the onion:
It was golden and bubbly and smelled good, and then it was time to add the milk. That's when disaster came. I rarely heat cream or milk, because it has this weird kind of explosion point where it goes from steaming to boiling over in about three seconds. I told myself that this time would be different, though, that I would be super careful, that the carrot in the potatoes meant nothing, and I went for it.
You know where this is going, right?
There will be a lot of burner cleaning tomorrow.
The worst part is that I almost made it. I was stirring continuously, watching the consistency, carefully adjusting the heat, and then I looked away to check the recipe and see how much longer I had to stir. That's all it took.
The soup turned out pretty good, though.
The starch from the potatoes thickened it up, and the sausage gave it a bit of a smoky taste. The best part is that there's plenty left for the next couple days, and it can't possibly blow up in the microwave, right?