Thursday, November 27, 2008

the camp cactus kitchen hotline

Because one or another of my kids is always calling me for cooking advice, it occurred to me awhile ago that I should try and put together some family recipes for them.

I don't remember paying a lot of attention to cooking when I was young, although I did learn how to make meatballs and my mother's marinara sauce, as well as one or two recipes that were important to me growing up.

When my mom died, my dad took over the cooking. He was always coming up with interesting takes on soups and stews or casseroles he could leave in a warm oven or on the stove for supper. He worked the swing shift, and was already at work when my sister and I got home from school.

I left home a couple of years later and had to start cooking for myself pretty early on. My first Thanksgiving on my own I was staying in a house with no electricity, but somehow managed to cook a turkey and all the trimmings on the gas stove. My boyfriend had his mother's old copy of The Joy of Cooking, and I followed the instructions on how to roast a turkey to the letter. I still do my turkeys that way thirty years later.

Over the years I started keeping notebooks (I love notebooks!) of favorite recipes like this one:

This is one of my dad's recipes:

And this all important one from Dave's mom:

I'm tellin' you, you just can't go wrong with Cream of Anything soup, cheese, and crushed corn flakes...

I thought maybe I'd write some of these out in notebooks for Matt and Caitie, but in the meantime I figured I'd post some here, a la Pioneer Woman...but without the fancy kitchen with stainless steel island and huge skylights.

Let's start with what I've been assigned to cook for Thanksgiving dinner across the street:

Carrot Ginger Soup

3-4lbs peeled carrots
1/2 yellow onion (but it's also great with sweet onions like Vidalia or Walla Walla)
1 large orange
a thumb-sized hunk of fresh ginger, peeled
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
whole milk (about 3 cups)
3 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
Old Bay seasoning to taste
a few sprigs of lemon thyme (or regular thyme) for garnish

1. Slice the carrots and dice the onions.

2. Melt the butter and add the olive oil. Throw in the onions and let 'em sweat on medium heat until soft and translucent.

3. Grate the ginger, and add to the pot with the carrots and let it all cook for a few minutes.

4. Sprinkle liberally with Old Bay Seasoning to taste.

5. Pour in the stock (enough to cover the carrots), and squeeze in the juice of the orange.

6. Simmer on low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the carrots are soft and sweet.

7. Pour in the milk and simmer for a few more minutes, keeping it below a boil.

8. Blend it until smooth and silky, either with a hand blender or transfer in batches to a regular blender or food processor. Thin with more milk if necessary, and adjust seasonings. (You can also add some grated orange zest at this point) Warm it up to a simmer again.

9. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream and a sprig of thyme.

Happy Thanksgiving from Camp Cactus!


g said...

Yummy! It's cold in my kitchen this morning, and that made me feel warm.

cactus petunia said...

There's no heat in our kitchen other than our old 1955 has 7 pilot lights and not much insulation, so the kitchen's always warm. Not energy efficient, but warm!

cathy gaubert said...

this looks absolutely delicious! i will have to get some fresh ginger when i visit my mom + dad's, and then i am surely going to make it!

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?