When it comes to cooking, I am my mother’s daughter. Recently when she was asked, “Grandma, on a scale of One to Ten, how do you feel about cooking?” she unequivocally exclaimed, “Zero!” Don’t get me wrong. I can nourish my family. And I get high marks for “front-of-house” duties, as in making people feel welcome.
So, I was as surprised as the next person when, during the pandemic, I branched out. I was delighted to mix it up a bit. Landing supper on the table without relying on the old favorites or someone else’s recipe was downright fun. Often and especially early on, I thought we were enjoying feasts fit for royalty. I remember pausing with gratitude. Who did this? Given time and focus and desire, the muse of Creativity had delighted us yet again. Our prayers before meals were spontaneous and heart-felt.
Then came the long stretch of Rob’s digestion difficulties. No garlic and onions allowed, just when I had finally expanded from salt and pepper. Happy to say that we have lived to see the days of welcoming back any food in moderation. Dear and amusing Creativity has returned. So have CSA—Community Supported Agriculture—deliveries of fresh organic vegetables, some that are unrecognizable.
Enter celery with luscious leaves and very short thin stalks. During the recent Heat Wave of June 2021, I remembered the idea of cool celery soup. I decided to give it a go using a recipe I found online and converted to dairy-free. At least I knew the creamy texture was attainable because our daughter, Chef Carolina Jane, recently graduated from culinary school—an amazing feat during the lockdown—and had gifted me with a Vitamix.
All of this to say, the draft of that soup was terribly bitter. Rob choked it down. Why would he do otherwise, saying, “Evaluating your efforts in the kitchen with anything but appreciation is decidedly not in my best interest.” But I knew better. The temperature and texture were right, but that’s it.
I was sorely tempted to ditch that slush but texted Carol first, “Is there any hope?”
She proceeded to encourage me to taste and ask, “Is it sufficiently sweet, salty, acidic and savory?” In her words, my products would ideally be a balanced combination of these flavors. For instance, to make the soup more salty, add salt. More savory? Perhaps mushrooms or cream. More acidic? Use lemon or vinegar. Or sweeter? Add sugar or honey. Add and taste, add and taste.
Since her Dad was heading to the valley to help with her new tiny home, I sent a sample of the edited soup along. Her applause about the altered version felt like balm. She’s a fantastic cook and a good teacher too. There’s hope for me yet.