Friday, January 25, 2013

The Wrath of (Ice Storm) Khan

I spent the day today in my apartment, rather than at work, because East Tennessee spent the day getting slowly iced to a standstill by winter storm Khan. You can follow the progression of the ice accumulation through these photos of my car, which I could see but not reach for most of the day due to the ice on my porch steps.

In the morning, the car initially had a light layer of ice:


Except for the slightly frosted blurry windows, you might not even notice it. As the morning progressed, the ice got thicker, causing the tires to begin bulging from the weight and tiny icicles to begin forming along the edges of the car:


By lunchtime, the icicles had continued growing as the mist and rain continued adding to the ice layer:


By late afternoon, the grounds crew at my apartment complex had come to salt my steps, so I could actually get down to the car:

frozen star

side mirror icicles

I chipped my thumbnail under the edge of the gas cap, and popped off this circle of ice:

ice cap

My neighbor's boyfriend (they're back on again, again) was outside walking the dog, and offered to help me scrape, but I decided that I didn't need the car for anything and, since the porch steps were clear but the parking lot is still a sheet of ice there was really nowhere to go besides back into my apartment.

Once there, I decided to make soup: the very simple "White Bean Soup" recipe from "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" castmember Lisa Vanderpump's book, Simply Divine, which my parents got me for Christmas. This isn't the only book by a "Rea Housewives" castmember that I've read; a few years ago I fished Countess LuAnn of New York's book off of the discount rack and allowed her to attempt to educate me on fancy, elegant living, which turned out to be kind of a disaster since (dis)Countess LuAnn is a snobby pretentious scorpion-woman.

I had high hopes for Lisa, though, and was not disappointed. Countess LuAnn's book is all about transforming yourself into the kind of woman of breeding and class that LuAnn imagines herself to be. Lisa's book on elegant enteraining talks about how nice it is to have nice things, and then talks about how to dress up the things you have. For example, LuAnn's book talks about buying the best silverware at Tiffany's, while Lisa mentions how charming it is to go to a pub in London and get a mismatched set of whatever patterns they have on hand, and how you can do the same thing at home and not worry about losing a piece here or there and the potentially high cost of replacement. Lisa knows who her audience is, while LuAnn only wants the audience to know who she thinks she is. LuAnn was born in the suburbs of Connecticut and happened to marry well, while Lisa worked with her husband to open over twenty-five restaurants and clubs and knows what she's talking about when she tells you how to cook and set a table.

Also, even when Lisa is evil, like in the first season when she invited Taylor out to lunch and casually suggested her into going to attack another housewife as if winding a key in her back and then turning her loose, it doesn't seem nearly as horrible because it's delivered in Lisa's authentic British accent rather than LuAnn's obviously fake French one.

Anyway, I'd already bought the ingredients for the soup because I was going to make it tomorrow, but since I wasn't going anywhere I made it today. It was fairly simple, and again the difference between Lisa and LuAnn is apparent. In talking about the beans for the recipe, Lisa says, "If you have loads of time and wish to soak your beans overnight, by all means do so. But I don't," and she goes on to tell us how many cans of beans to buy instead. Lisa gets me.

The recipe is fairly simple, and only took about a half hour from start to finish.

First I had to chop an onion and two stalks of celery (my first and third most hated vegetables based on texture, with number two being okra), and slowly heat them and some minced garlic in a little oil until they were softened but not browned:


While stirring, I also used the spoon to break up the chunks of onions. After the onions were translucent and the celery seemed completely unchanged, I added the beans, chicken stock, thyme, and salt and pepper:

stock and beans

and after fifteen minutes of simmering I added a couple of spoons of cream and then pureed:


I used the immersion blender rather than pureeing in the regular blender because I didn't want to haul it out from under the counter and then have to put it all in the dishwasher, but the immersion blender sometimes gives a rougher puree than the regular blender will. Knowing that a sloppy puree meant that I might actually feel a piece of celery or onion in my mouth, I spent almost as long blending it as I did cooking it, with the result being a delicious velvety smoothness. The thyme and garlic flavors really come through, and this would be a really good starter course soup to serve before something really savory. As it is, I served it with croutons and it was still delicious and filling.

In your face, Countess LuAnn.

Point goes to Lisa.

1 comment:

Marcheline said...

I hear you on the okra thing, but seriously - you have to go to Cracker Barrel and get their fried okra. It's crispy delicious and not remotely slimy! A perfect side dish with their chicken and dumplings.

Why did I have to talk about that? There's no Cracker Barrel within ten hours of here. Sigh.