Saturday, November 08, 2008

Whatcha got cooking?

I got up this morning and cleaned up the kitchen and then proceeded to trash it again by making a big pan of lasagna and a big pot of soup with some turkey sausage and some ground turkey that both needed to be cooked ASAP.

I am not a lasagna lover...I used to be as a kid, but now it just Todd, however, ranks it among his favorite foods. He came home from work the other night and I told him dinner was in the oven. He inquired hopefully, "Lasagna?" You should have seen his face fall when he peeked inside and saw it was tuna-noodle casserole.

So I took pity on the guy and made lasagna. I found a recipe in one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for lasagna made with mild turkey sausage, and it's pretty good. I think part of my distaste for lasagna comes from ricotta cheese, which is one of the few foods that really grosses me out. So I used small-curd cottage cheese instead, and Asiago instead of Parmesan. And dried herbs instead of fresh (adjust amounts way down) because the garden herbs are dead and the grocery store herbs are craaaazzzy expensive, along with everything else in the grocery store. (The sticker shock is just killing me lately!)

The soup recipe comes from Simply in Season, which I may have mentioned here before. It's published by Herald Press, which is a Mennonite publishing house. It's very much in the same spirit as the More-With-Less Cookbook, only this one has a list of veggies and fruits that are available in each season, and then a list of good things to cook with them. For people who are trying to eat locally and in season, it can be a big help. Plus there are lots of fun facts on diminished farmland, pesticides, and impoverished people of other lands, just in case you can't enjoy your food without a heaping helping of Mennonite guilt.

(I truly do believe in the principles of good stewardship, helping others, and being mindful of what you consume. But sometimes the Menno-guilt gets to me, I'll confess. Makes me want to run out and buy a bunch of blood diamonds, fur coats and off-season kiwi fruits, which is a weird way to rebel no matter how you look at it.)

Anyway, the soup:

Turkey Barley Soup

4 cups water
4 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each poultry seasoning and pepper

Combine in large soup pot. Cover and simmer 1 hour.

1 pound ground turkey
2 T. ketchup
1 T. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. each ground nutmeg, dried sage, dried thyme

Brown together in a skillet. Add to soup and serve.

I did the slow cooker option, where you add the first group of ingredients to the cooker, brown the turkey and seasonings as directed, and then add them to the cooker and cook on Low for 6-7 hours, although mine was done in 4-5.

When I make it again, I'll brown the turkey by itself, give it a quick drain/rinse, and then add the seasonings. It had just a little too much grease left on it.

Since I can't just leave a recipe alone, toward the end of the cooking time I also added about 2 cups of chopped roasted vegetables (fingerling potatoes, carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash) from a previous supper, which needed to be used up. This made for a very orange soup, but it was good!

I take my soupmaking mantra from my dad: "What else would be good in this?" He used to go down to the basement on Saturdays and come up with an armload of home-canned and home-frozen vegetables from the garden, toss in whatever meats and veggies were lurking in the fridge, and come up with a terrific pot of soup for supper. I don't think it was ever quite the same twice. This is the way I like to make soup, too.

Wait till I show y'all what Todd is making in the garage today! To be continued...