You are so very good at so many things. I know this because we went to college together and were in the same sorority (yes, y’all, Kappa Deltas are ballin’). You write a touching, yet hilarious, blog about motherhood and witty articles in actual publications. And, oh yeah, you’re mom to an adorable little nugget.
Come on. Is there anything cuter?
Look at his delight at the pho. This boy loves soup!
Wee Connor loves vegetables and hates bananas. I love Wee Connor.
But apparently, dear Taylor, you are not the best at making soup.
I haven’t tasted your soup. I fear you may be hard on yourself. Cause surely if you can make a human, you can make a soup, right? To be fair, I don’t exactly know how you make humans. It’s in a stock pot, right?
Winter is coming and without soup, you may die in Chicago. So, I’ve got three recipes for easy soup handpicked for you. I could say they’re foolproof, but you ain’t no fool. Friendproof? Eh, I’m still working on that one.
PS. If anyone else is eavesdropping with their eyeballs, aka eyvesdropping, these recipes will probably not work for you. These will literally only work for Taylor.
This is my Gramma’s recipe for her vegetable beef soup. No Grammas were harmed in the making of this soup. The most time consuming thing is the vegetable choppery. This is soup from an Indiana woman, so you know it’s going to keep you guys warm in the wintertimes. Plus, bonus: it’s delicious.
Say what you will about Rachael Ray (I hate when she calls it EVOO. There I said it.) But some of her recipes are really great. This is one of my favorites. It’s a simple, quick, stick-to-your ribs kind of soup. Plus, it’s easy to double and freezes well for up to 2 weeks.
Don’t be daunted by stock makery. I made the stock, but I had time to make some stock. I think there are places where you can easily take shortcuts. Buy a rotisserie chicken and use that. Buy boxed/canned stock instead of making your own. Would it be better to make your own at home? Eh, maybe. But ain’t nobody got time for that.
For the soup:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.
Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.
Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.
If ever I’m in prison and getting the death penalty and I have to have my last meal, I already know what I’d choose.
(This assumes that Jon Hamm worship is now a crime punishable by death, btw.)
If I am punished for the heinous crime of Jon Hamm worship, then I know how I’d like to spend my last meal: eating my mother’s Puerto Rican roast pork, also known as lechon.
This pork, y’all. This pork is even sexier than Jon Hamm (somehow). It’s got everything you’re looking for in a roast. It’s got chicharrones (crispy pig skin). It’s got tender, flavorful meat. It’s covered in human tin foil.
What’s human tinfoil?
It’s that thing where a midget paints himself silver and does downward facing dog over the pork shoulder.
…Was that joke TOO ridiculous? I just made a Stefon-esque roast pork joke. Admittedly, it’s a long way to go for a ham sandwich.
Anyways, this pork is incredible. When my friend Alison planned a Christmas in July party and asked me to do the meat, I knew I had to bring my show-stopping dish.
Christmas in July is a fun occasion to eat holiday food in the middle of the summer. Christmas is so far away, but if you’re really being honest with yourself, you’re always thinking about stuffing. And mashed potatoes. And roasted meats. (At least, Alison/Anna/Jennie/Becca and I were.)
So, everyone showed up to Alison’s house, where she’d hung the stockings by the chimney with care.
We drank whisky/gingers, listened to the Vince Guaraldi Trio and made sure our meal was properly documented.
Anna Documenting The Meal
We also referenced the holidays/Christmas as often as we could. For example:
Becca: Today was a crazy day.
Me: Things can be tough around the holidays.
If you’re in the market for a dish to wow a crowd, this is one you need to make. This pork has such an insane amount of flavor that permeates the whole dish. It’s salty and herbaceous, with a hint of tang from the vinegar. The chicharrones are not to be discarded, but fought over. Crunchy and fatty. It’s better than the best bacon. And when you pair that with the juicy meat?
Well, you realize that it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
1 boneless pork shoulder (about 9 pounds), skin on
8 garlic cloves
1 large handful fresh oregano
4 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Place the pork, fat-side up, in a roasting pan, and using a sharp knife, stab small slits (seriously) the surface of the meat and the skin. Mash the garlic, oregano, salt, and peppercorns into a paste using the back of a knife or a mortar and pestle. Place the adobo (the paste) in a bowl and stir in the oil and vinegar. Rub the garlic paste all over the pork, being sure to get into the incisions so the salt can penetrate the meat and pull out the moisture. Cover the pork with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
Note: Save yourself some trouble and put the whole roasting pan in an unscented garbage trash bag and put it in the fridge. That’s how my mom has always done it.
It’s just easier.
Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Roast the pork for 1 hour, uncovered, until the skin is crispy-brown. Be sure to roast it skin side up.
Turn the oven down to 325 and roast for 2 more hours. Internal temperature should be between 150 and 160 degrees F.
Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes before slicing. Break the skin into chicarron pieces and serve with the meat.
Wait, what? It’s not Easter? Well, just like Jesus, this blog post done rose up three days late.*
*I am, in fact, four days late in writing this blog post.
This Easter was great. My Dad came up to visit. Mom stayed home with some other family who was in town. Dad and I had lots of fun with no one to boss us. (“No one to boss us” is what my Dad and I used to say when Mom was at the store or something and we were free to be silly.)
We watched Season 5 of The Wire. Fucking Kennard, right?
We watched Season 2 of Justified. Margo Martindale’s Emmy was Justified, amiright?
We dyed Easter eggs. Adorable!
We also replaced my tires after someone LITERALLY slashed two of them. I am not joking. This actually happened. Someone stabbed two of my tires in the parking lot of my apartment complex. It seemed random…unless I’ve been sleep walking-and-robbing again.
Anyways. On Easter Sunday, I made a big ole Southern Easter lunch to be served at 2 pm. As Southern holiday lunches are.
It was pretty traditional and it was really good. There are some holidays where you want to experiment with things (who really needs the same cranberry sauce recipe each Thanksgiving?) But for Easter, I say tradition wins the day. That’s why I’m 28 and still dyeing Easter eggs with my Dad.
HASHTAG NO ONE TO BOSS US
1 spiral cut ham
Drive to The Fresh Market. Buy a 10 pound ham for 2 people. Follow the directions on the packaging. Carve up the ham by following the ham directions. Eat all the ham. Make ham sandwiches. Freeze all the leftovers.
Mom’s Green Beans
Green beans, about 1 lb.
1 large onion
4 slices of bacon
Chicken broth, enough to cover/about 2 quarts
Salt and pepper
Garlic cloves, smashed (optional)
Wash and trim ends off the green beans. If you are in movie musical, you will snap the ends off the green beans on the front porch singing Gary, Indiana. If you are not in a movie musical, you can just trim them in your kitchen.
Cut onion into large slices.
Put trimmed green beans, onion, and bacon into a pot. Cover with the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Keep on a low boil for about an hour or hour and a half until beans are tender and onions are translucent.
Macaroni and Cheese Recipe, Pea and Bacon topping to follow
1 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups warm milk | whole milk is best, you want the fat content when making your cheese sauce. MMHMM.
5 ½ cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps form forming. Gradually whisk in the milk and, whisking vigorously, cook until the mixture is thick and smooth.
Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 ½ cups cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Pea and Bacon Topping
extra virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
leaves from ¼ bunch fresh thyme
2 cups frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water
While the macaroni and cheese is baking, heat a 2 count of olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the bacon, onion, garlic and thyme and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. Fold in the peas and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, scatter the pea and bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the smoking pea mixture on each spoonful.