Posts Tagged: soul food

Happy Glorious Peanut Butter

I haven’t bought peanut butter in a long time.  I was reminded of such recently when my sister Jane stayed over for a night, and couldn’t find any peanut butter (or anything else really) to put on her English muffin next morning.  My cupboards are spare.  When you live alone and aren’t feeding kids anymore, you buy what you need.  You don’t buy things in case someone might want them.  You buy the things that will be put together to create your meals and that’s that.

It’s not that I was avoiding peanut butter or anything.  For most of my adult life, it was the warm melty goodness on a Sunday morning’s piece of toast that went back to bed with me and a cup of coffee and CBC radio and whatever book or newspaper or letter was getting my attention that particular weekend.

The main reason I stopped buying peanut butter was because I got rid of my car.  Since I don’t drive anymore, there have been changes to the way I do lots of things, like stopping at the grocery store.  These days I don’t buy to fill the pantry – I buy what I can carry home.  And for the past six months or so, peanut butter hasn’t had a place in the grocery bags I am forever schlepping around.  I guess peanut butter hasn’t been as “schlep-worthy” as other stuff.  It might have been on the grocery list – in fact I’d say it WAS on the list a number of times, but it got superseded by the can of tomatoes or bottle of olive oil which I realised I needed at the last minute, and which I needed more than peanut butter.  When you’re walking home from the grocery store, distributing weight in the bags becomes a priority, and in my little walking home world, it was peanut butter that took the hit. 

So, as it happened yesterday, peanut butter finds its way into one of the grocery bags, and back to my cupboard for the first time in many months. And tonight after doing the dishes, I open the jar and peel back the sealed foil and stick a spoon in and have a little hunk of the stuff.  And I tell you, it is a little spoonful of happy, glorious salty peanuty heaven. There is no piece of Sunday toast that will ever taste as good as that first little spoonful after many months of not schlepping it home because there were other things I “needed” more.

(Even so… me and peanut butter have a date this Sunday morning with my bathrobe and a cup of coffee and CBC Radio and a good book and a piece of toast.)

 

Copyright © Jennifer Morrison 2009

soul food

I love soup.  I love to make soup almost as much as I love to eat it.  There is something so satisfying about putting a bunch of things in a pot for an hour or two and having it all turn into hot delicious goodness.  In the colder months I make soup pretty much every week.  When my kids were growing up and the budget was tight, homemade soup was economical and most of the food groups were there in one pot.  Soup is an easy take along lunch and a quick heat up dinner.  Soup is one of those things you don’t mind eating for a few days in a row because it’s always better a day or two later.

With a crusty bread and salad it’s a complete meal.  It’s a healthy snack to hold you over.  It's something thin and unobtrusive to put in an upset tummy.  It’s a substantive breakfast – my Aunt Martha used to love to have the broccoli soup at a favourite diner at the Windsor Market on Saturday mornings.

Soup makes your house smell good.  There are thousands of recipes for it from all over the world – if you were so inclined you could make a different soup every single day of the year.  Soup can be hearty, light, vegetarian, meaty, calorie-sensible and decadent.  One of the favourites in our family is a quick minestrone, of which my daughters make a meatless and every bit as satisfying version.

This Labour Day weekend was cool, blustery and drizzly; it was like the calendar flipped over and shouted “AUTUMN AUTUMN AUTUMN” in giant LED.  Today I thought I would embrace that by going down to the Harbourfront and having some One Love Corn Soup.

The One Love Corn guy is a Toronto institution.  He has a stall at the Harbourfront during the summer months where you can get grilled, seasoned corn on the cob and the famous One Love Soup.  It’s said the soup has healing properties for the psyche.  If you’re feeling blue, many people say, One Love Soup can make you feel better.

Don’t go to the One Love Corn guy if you’re in a hurry.  There’s reggae music playing in his domain, and while the soup is made and sits hot in a big pot – the corn is grilled right, not fast, even when the line for it trails long all the way to Queens Quay.  When he finally determines your cob is ready he’ll saunter with it over to a table where he rubs it with lemon, brushes it with butter and sprinkles seasoning on it.  Any part of that process is probably going to be interrupted when he feels the need to dance a little.  Just watching your corn get to you takes your blood pressure down a couple of notches.  Waiting for the ten people in front of you to get their corn before you get your soup is worth it.

The weather people say summer’s coming back tomorrow, but I’m thinking soup is back in my life now.  Next week… roasted veg?

One Love Corn Soup
Recipe courtesy of Ras Iville Wright and Ikeila Wright, Leaf of Life Catering

     • 24 cup spring water
     • 2 cup yellow split peas
     • 1/2 cup coconut milk
     • 3 vegetable bouillon, cubes
     • 6 Yukon Gold or red medium potato, washed, peeled, and, quartered
     • 2 cup Jamaican pumpkin or 2 cup butternut squash
     • 2 cup frozen vegetable mix
     • 3 cobs fresh corn
     • 3 carrot, peeled, and, diced
     • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, whole
     • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, preferably Jamaican Bird Pepper
     • 1 clove fresh garlic, finely, minced
     • seasoning salt, (Mrs. Dash), to taste
     • 1 sprig fresh Jamaican thyme

In a large pot bring the water to a rolling boil. Add split peas and cook until soft. Add coconut milk and vegetable bouillon cubes. Allow liquid to boil again. Peel and cut pumpkin into large cubes. Put potatoes, pumpkin and frozen mixed vegetables in the pot. Cut up 2 cobs of corn into wheels and shave the kernels off of the remaining cob. Add the corn and diced carrots to the pot. Simmer soup on medium heat for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Scotch bonnet pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, seasoning salt and thyme. Stir until seasoning is mixed through. Simmer for 5 more minutes to allow the flavour of the seasoning to be released into the soup.

My Mom’s Minute Minestrone
2 tbsp butter (I use olive oil)
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 package Italian sausage, chopped into small pieces (hot or sweet – I buy a package of each, using half of each and freeze the other halves for next time)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups shredded cabbage (I like to keep little bags of shredded cabbage frozen in the freezer just for soup.  Just buy a cabbage, shred it, throw it in bags and freeze them.)
1 large can kidney beans drained (I prefer navy beans)
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 carrot cut in small sticks
1 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp sugar (optional – I only add a tsp or so)
1/2 tsp dried basil (I prefer oregano)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups COOKED macaroni or other small pasta (I use orzo)
Approx 14 oz water to make desired broth
 
In a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté onion, garlic and sausage until sausage is lightly browned.  Add herbs and sauté for a minute.  Add all other ingredients, except pasta, and cook until vegetables are tender. 10-20 minutes.  Add pasta. Serve with grated parmesan sprinkled on top.