I decided to make minestrone today because (please choose one of the following):
a) it's cold out
b) I love soup
c) it's a crock pot recipe so it's easy AND we'll get multiple meals out of it
d) all of the above
If you chose d) all of the above then YOU, my friend are a winner.
Plus, my mom made minestrone when we were at her house and now I wanted to see if I could make it. For those of you who are not in the know (i.e., have not been acquainted with me since I was a wee lassie), my ability to cook was long questioned. How long, do you ask? I made macaroni and cheese from scratch on my birthday just to prove to my mom that I could and she didn't quite believe in my culinary powers until she tasted it. So, yeah, for thirty-nine years no one thought I could cook.
Which, whatever. Because the truth -- the secret, naked truth -- is this:
Sometimes I can't.
Sometimes I make things that are not fit for consumption by human OR critter. Cockroaches look at this stuff and think, "Eh, I'll pass." It's kind of a hit or miss process, is all I'm saying, because I don't like to measure things and I don't like following recipes precisely (I like to consider them friendly suggestions) and I don't like to include ingredients if I disagree with them on principle. For example, any recipe that indicates it should include two onions is, I'm sorry, just SCREWING with me. WHAT (other than onion rings, because ... onion rings) COULD POSSIBLY REQUIRE TWO ONIONS? Who wants to eat something that outrageously oniony?
Not me. So, one onion it is.
My mom made minestrone and it was delicious, as is everything that my mom makes, and I thought, "I have that same cookbook. I can make nomtastic minestrone as well."
Thing I should probably point out before going any further with this: my mom has the same "HAHAHAHA NO" approach to ingredients that I do and takes it one step further.
Our minestrone recipe is for a crockpot. My mom had no time for such nonsense. "What, it's too good for the stove?"
The recipe called for six cups of broth. Mom had four. "Whatever. I'll add water. It's fine."
The recipe called for a handful of kale. Mom scoffed. "A HANDFUL of kale? What am I supposed to do with the rest of a bagful of kale? I hate kale." No kale went into the recipe.
The recipe called for a can of kidney beans or garbanzo beans. Mom put it one can of each. "They're GOOD for you," she said. "Beanie goodness."
The recipe called for barley. Mom agreed with the barley but then also put in some pasta because "everything tastes better with pasta. Duh."
When my mom does this, everything still comes out delicious.
When I do it -- results may vary.
I did put in the kale because it's good for you. I also put two cans of beans, though I opted for red and white kidney rather than garbanzos. I threw it in the crockpot because I think of my crockpot as my friendly kitchen helper, there to cook things while I go to a bookstore and buy Allie Brosh's new book (which you should go get because it's so funny that it made me wheeze).
Six hours later, I tasted the soup.
"How is it?" the Fella called out while I stood frowning at the soup.
"Um. I can fix it."
"Of course you can."
If we ever need documented proof that the Fella loves me, by the way, this is it: he actually believes that I can fix a recipe and make it something that doesn't taste like a compost heap smells, and he's totally fine with my favorite fall back position of: "if it's not delicious, make it so spicy that people's eyes bleed and they don't notice that they're eating something terrible."
I wasn't sure what, precisely, was wrong with the soup except that it tasted like a whole lot of nothing. It wasn't ANYTHING enough. Not tomato-y enough, not kale-y or garlic-y or onion-y or anything-y. It was ... boring. Considering it contained a shit ton of veggies (all of which I had peeled or chopped or rinsed or drained) it should have tasted like something.
I tasted it again. My taste buds yawned. "We're bored."
I got a can of tomato sauce out of the pantry dumped in in, stirred. Tasted again. "We want a nap," said my taste buds.
I dumped in some seasoned salt, Italian seasoning, and my favorite go to: Tabasco. But just a little. I wasn't ready to try to clear anyone's sinuses just yet. Stirred, tasted. "Oh, hey," my taste buds said. "What's going on here? Is it time for a party?"
I had been getting ready to add pasta when I went entirely off the grid and pulled out a container of fresh tortellini. "Hot tub time!" I said and dumped it in. Stirred. Tasted. "Well HELLO, sailor," my taste buds said.
"How's it going?" the Fella asked again.
"I think I got it," I said.
He smiled. "You always do," he said, and went back to his book.
I love that he thinks that, even when I don't.
And I'm glad I won't be tormenting him with Flaming Spicy Minestrone of Death.