It's made me think about the service industry, one of the fastest growing sectors and one of the poorest paid. Living on minimum wage or just above is not easy. Low pay, no benefits, and you're expected to put a smile on your face and sell, sell, sell. Someone said to me recently that working in retail is corrosive to the soul. Not a bad way to put it. For the sake of my soul...it's time to get out.
Why am I sharing this? I tend to throw up a lot of smoke and mirrors around myself to keep how I feel and what I'm going through close to the breast. But ultimately, how I feel affects what I cook, how I cook, and even whether or not I cook. For the past couple of months, I've done very little cooking and baking. A lot of what I cooked I put in the 'baby food' category. It was a need for comfort food. Think mush...grits, polenta, rice...and that's if I decided to turn on the burners. There were a lot of sandwiches in there too. And there were a lot of days when eating was just an afterthought because I needed an energy intake. I did bake for the holidays, though not nearly as extensively as I have in the past. But it's my way of showing love and appreciation to my friends and family...and those brief times made me feel better.
So today I pushed myself to start the break-out...out of my mood, my depression, my cloudy day, and my unfocused mind. I started small; I roasted a couple of eggplants the other day and made an eggplant and roasted red pepper dip, which led to making ricotta, then digging in the fridge and finding carrots and cauliflower, which became a roasted carrot soup. Pita bread became Parmesan-black pepper pita chips to go with the soup. Tonight I will make wine biscuits from the dough I made this morning. This is the most action my kitchen has seen since before Thanksgiving.
Now it's up to me to keep the black clouds and cold at bay, with the warmth and glow from the oven. Let's bring 2012 to a close, welcome 2013 with open arms, and seek the opportunities a new year brings.
Roasted Carrot Soup
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large casserole dish, toss carrots, onions, and cauliflower with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 35-40 minutes.
Transfer vegetables to a stock pot and add the chicken stock. Heat until stock is simmering. Turn off heat and with an immersion blender or regular blender, puree vegetables. Add heavy cream and blend to incorporate. Salt to taste.
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