Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Outtakes: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I threw my family's dinner away last night.

You think I'm kidding, but dear reader, I dumped the entire pot of pre-consumer Persian Yogurt Soup down the drain, and flipped on the garbage disposal, fully mindful of the starving children in (name your country of choice) and enjoying the satisfying roar as the yogurt and egg and and corn starch and split peas and dill and parsley and green onion and grated shallots and wild rice were churned into oblivion.


My family looked on in semi-shock, and then one of them may have inquired, meekly, "so ... what's for dinner?"

By then, it was 7pm.  I'd been cooking said yogurt soup since 5:15, when I began the delicate heating process.  If you know anything about cooking yogurt, you know that if you heat it too quickly, you're going to end up with a separated mess.  The converse (and heretofore unknown to me) rule, however, is that if you heat it too slowly, the split peas and rice will cook at the speed of glaciation.

The matter was made worse by the fact that I was making said soup despite the fact that S. doesn't much like yogurt (though he is OK with Indian dishes containing it, or tzatziki sauce that is full of salt and garlic).  And my son, seven year old that he is, pronounced it "disgusting" before it ever hit the stove.  Both kids were beginning to melt down, and it was already time for their baths.  Let's just say I didn't feel a lot of overwhelming support for continuing the project.

So I threw the canned chickpeas (originally destined for the soup) onto their plates, and nuked some leftover rice and frozen broccoli, and dared anyone to speak to me as I wiped the drops from the pot and started tomorrow night's dinner.

Let's just say it wasn't my finest hour.

Two weeks ago, I made the soup below, with black "forbidden" rice, which turned the soup purple.  Though it was somewhat unexpected, I thought the effect was pretty fantastic.  I wasn't there when the soup was brought to the table (I was running late from work that night), but I hear there was a minor revolt.  That time, at least the soup was edible and tasted fine; it was only the small matter of color that made it objectionable.

You can't hit a home run every time, I guess.  

The question is: when do you decide to muck around with your soup and try something different, when do you take out the little pieces that don't work, and at what point do you decide you've reached the point of no return, throw out the whole thing, and start over?

Keiko's post on D-Day today got me thinking about blogging.  Not that I haven't been thinking for a while.  But as I commented over there, I’ve been in a similar writing holding pattern since I started work again.  The things I used to write about are the backdrop for what I do now, which is a attempt to balance family with a very time intensive job I love. Sure, I think about other things, but I don't luxuriate in them, and I worry that no one will want to read about mundane life, that it’s not deep enough, that I’ll be writing for nothing, sounding like the bloggers I hate to read, whose blogs are shallow navel-gazing and reviews for fabulous products or Pinterest-like perfection . But maybe I need to rethink that hesitation, and just suck it up and write, without pictures if I need to, without deep things if I need to.  Fooling around the with the soup, rather than throwing it down the garbage disposal.  Because as Mel commented, blogging is about voice.  And we hope that it's the voice you come back to read, regardless of what we write about.

Have you ever thrown dinner (or something else you've worked on even harder) away completely?  What are your "outtakes"?

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

2 T. butter, divided
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1/2 c. finely chopped carrot
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 c. wild rice, rinsed and drained
12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 t. flour
2 c. half and half, light cream, or evaporated milk

Melt 1 T. butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot, and celery, and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent, and the carrots are tender.

Add the broth and rice, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook 30 minutes, uncovered, but watch to make sure that your water doesn't all boil away; if it does, add a bit, 1/2 c. at a time.  Don't forget that you'll also be adding liquid later, so just leave yourself enough to cook the rice.

Add the chicken and simmer uncovered 20-25 minutes more until rice is tender.

Melt the remaining 1 T. butter in a small microwaveable bowl, and add the flour, stirring to make a paste.  Add the paste to the soup and stir, cooking until thick and bubbly, and then for another minute or two more.

Add the half and half.  Cook and stir over medium heat until warm, and season to taste.

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  1. I think I've become an insomnia blogger.

    Mostly these days I'm writing not-so-pithy things on twitter.

    And sometimes I don't throw out soup, even when I should, and my daughter writes things like "mommy's really bland boring chili" on the label when I put it in the freezer. For real.

    I hope that work is treating you well. And, for what it's worth, I'll read whatever you post.

  2. I certainly have thrown out dinner, as you experienced personally, and I've started and abandoned several blogs now.

    Say the things that are in your heart, even if there are no pictures or they don't feel deep enough. Sometimes we don't want deep anyway. Sometimes we just want to hear a story.

  3. That soup sounds like something my hubby would love!

    I, too, have had my share of cooking disasters, like the time I tried to make chicken and rice soup in a crock pot and it turned out mush and not soup-like at all. Or the time I tried a new recipe that just didn't work for some unknown reason. You are so right - you can't hit a homerun every time!

    I hope that you will consider stopping by and linking up maybe this post or any other post that would fit the theme to my Think Green link-up. You can link-up anything "green", spring, Easter, natural living, etc. I think recipes that contain spring type foods (and for whatever reason I think chicken and rice are springy) fit the bill perfectly! I understand if you don't have time, but I'd love to have you! :)

    Have a great day!

  4. I am such a picky eater that I am usually the one who revolts first, even though I made the meal. For the last two nights, I made new things that turned out... okay. Not fabulous but edible. After I do that two nights in a row, I go back to a normal favourite that I know I will like so I don't have to do the dump (or, actually, I usually ask Josh to take one for the team and eat all of the dish for us.)

  5. No I generally tough it through, forcing myself to eat it until I simply can't…
    but its good to "hear" your voice again! Boring and naval-gazing, yup that's me...

  6. As I have told you before, you are one of my favorite blogging voices and those my reading and commenting is inconsistent, I will always return to read and validate you. Great thoughts and questions here... I am sure there have been times when I have started over on a meal or project, but can't recall any at the moment. As it relates to blogging, coming up on my 7th anniversary of writing mine next month, I have definitely ebbed and flowed with it over the years. I think that's okay. After all, first and foremost it is my blog. There was a time I got too caught up with who is reading and why. Not that I don't think that is important and something I should be aware of, just maybe not try to hard to cater. Sending you love, thoughts and prayers. xoxo


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