Mkay. Personal life. Like so many of my issues it relates back to food, but permit me to unburden.
I’ve been stressing out lately. Beneath my even-keeled calm veneer and amid even the absurdly simplistic zen garden of my life, I find myself very jittery of late, and not always dealing with these jitters in the most productive of ways.
Comes down to this. At the end of the day, I have… a Manufacturing Job. In Ohio.
Not that I have ever personally “manufactured” anything. I spend my work day sequestered in a cubicle, playing around with byzantine spreadsheets in between runs to the ice machine and verbal excoriations from my supervisor.
So, the fear of loosing my job permeates my every thought. And at work I get a strange read. Commodity prices are weird, Chinese beef consumption (seriously, people at my work obsess over this) is making raw materials tricky. Not to mention the more tangible facts that some people were let go recently and I hear “rumors.”
But you know, my favorite thing about the human psyche is a tendency not unlike many economic trends – no matter how strange things become, we have a way of “self correcting.” Like the way that nightmares morph into comedic ones (my theory is that this is evolutionary, less waking up from nightmares = a more well-rested hunter) – or, in my case, the way fresh ideas can comfort us.
So. My idea if I get “laid off.” Big cup of good soup, mini-loaf of Jeff Bread, Cookie. Delivered. Eight Dollars. I sell ten of these every weekday, eat the leftovers, and ride out the recession.
This idea comforted me for about eight seconds until the central problem emerged.
The problem with the idea is not skill. I’m underconfident about a great many things, but my cooking is not of them. And I’m hardly a culinary professional, but soup and bread dough and cookies all “scale” well, I can “cost” things reasonably well, and, frankly, it’s not like I’m setting out to make a fortune. I could get by.
Nor is the problem one of capital. I have enough savings to cover licensure and find a kitchen. I admit, however, that I did fantasize extensively about operating some sort of renegade food enterprise just outside the boundaries of the law. One based on passwords, hand signals and whispered referrals about “this soup guy.” But no.
This is my problem.
I conducted a comprehensive, targeted and highly scientific bit of market research this week, as to the soup-eating habits of the population at large. Actually I had two friends survey their co-workers. I know this sounds horrible and snobbish, but the the following list did more to dampen my potential soup empire than any thought of the food police or the money involved.
One friend even made a point to tell me that “there was not a single foodie in [her] office.” Duuuhh.
Anyway, soups enjoyed by Typical American Office Workers include: French Onion, chicken, chicken noodle, chicken and noodle, broccoli and cheese, asiago cheese [sic], loaded potato, chicken tortilla, and tomato.
Hmmm, okay. Broccoli and cheese and chicken tortilla. Whatever. Go to TGI Mcfunsterbees if you want to eat that shit.
I’m not even going to touch “Asiago Cheese.” That’s like when I see the “Tiramisu Torte” at Kroger and want to get in one of those electric carts and ram it full speed into the pastry display.
No rage. Promise.
This soup idea is currently on hold until I am more able to connect with the needs of normal, non food-obsessed Americans. I consoled myself with the following, kind of making it up as I went along.
The Cream of Artichoke Soup with Bacon that, Evidently, No One Would Buy
3 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts (unmarinated if possible) drained and chopped
1/3 C flour
3 strips of bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 T butter or olive oil
4 C chicken or veggie broth
3 cups of milk with a nice “glug’ of cream added.
Salt and Pepper
(tarragon would be nice here, but I personally can’t stand the stuff)
Place your soup vessel over medium heat and cook the bacon until the fat renders out. Remove the solids and set aside. Add butter/oil, and then toss in the shallots and garlic. Cook until translucent.
Set 1/2 cup of artichokes aside, add the rest to the pot, cook for another minute.
Sprinkle flour over the veggies, continue stirring until you do not see any flour on the bottom of the pan and the pot smells a little “nutty.”
Slowly add the broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the dairy, slowly. Continue cooking until the mixture nearly boils, but the liquid thickens.
At this point, turn the heat down and continue simmering for twenty minutes. You could skip this step if you were in a hurry, but the mixture will be more grainy after it cools.
Pour the mixture into your food processor (or use your immersion blender) and pulse until smooth.
Add the remaining bacon and artichoke pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Serves four as a side, two as a main course with crusty bread.