Cooking with embroidery

I happened to find a 41 year old copy of Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking in a thrift shop. Needless to say that the word happen for this booklover did not mean by chance but rather stumbled on – taking the outlay of the shop into consideration.

On last night’s menu was a recipe from the chapter, Les Potages – Soups. I scanned the recipes in search for one with ingredients I had on hand. I found one, but alas, no leeks only onions – that’d do…. something told me to stop and start reading from the beginning of the chapter. This is after all Elizabeth David speaking. What followed humbled me.

Some quotes:

“Although it is not necessary to know a great number of soups, it is highly desirable to have at least one well-tried recipe for every season of the year, and then one will not be led into the expense of buying out of season vegetables or into the error of unnecessary substitution.”

Dear husband shouted hooray when I read this to him. I am (was) the substitution queen.  

“On several occasions I have tried, when leeks were out of season, using onions instead… so I have given up trying to make the soup when no leeks were available…have each one as good as possible of its kind.”

I went straight to the vegetable shop.

“‘… of course I never follow a recipe, I just improvise as I go along. A little bit of this, a spoonful of that…it is much more fun really.’ Well, it may be more fun for the cooks, but is seldom so diverting for the people who have to eat his products…”

I remembered to put cream on the list as well. In fact, I had to stop at two shops to get the two ingredients.

“The fortunate ones gifted with that touch are those who will also have the restraint to leave well alone when they have hit on something good; the ones who can’t resist a different little piece of embroidery every time they cook a dish will end by inducing a mood of gloomy apprehension in their families and guests.” 

A vivid memory of dinner one evening (a cook that embroiders usually brags): I mentioned that the recipe called for mint but before I could expand on my substitution for mint, my son exclaimed – mom, I hope you did not use herbal mint fresh toothpaste!

I am sure that I will learn a few lessons from this treasure! Last night was a start – we enjoyed every spoonful of the beautiful soup.  

 Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beaufiful Soup!
Beau–ootiful Soo–oop!
Beau–ootiful Soo–oop!
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Beau–ootiful Soo–oop!
Beau–ootiful Soo–oop!
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening,
Beautiful, beauti–FUL–SOUP!

From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)
by Lewis Carroll (1932-1989)

Do you embroider while you cook?

 

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6 thoughts on “Cooking with embroidery

  1. Pingback: It’s not too sweet | the eleventh hour

  2. Today is the first day of autumn, and for some reason I just found your soup post today. I always start thinking “soup” when autumn arrives. One of my favorites is a velvety pumpkin soup that is made with a little pear nectar mmmmm!
    Thanks for the poem, too. I hadn’t thought of that one in such a long time and it was fun to re-read it. Your little book sounds like a gem. Who would ever think of embroidering soup??

  3. a walk in the park…. sounds great:-) I just came home from a walk on the treadmill (in a gym!): no view except a few sweaty backs!

  4. I enjoy being with people, but would rather have a good intimate conversation than a room full of chatter.

    A messy home chaffs on me, but I cannot run around cleaning and doing “important” household chores if I have a chance to sit down with my children and spend time with them! I even watch TV with them just to get in on the conversations and the discussions–otherwise I’d rarely turn the TV on.

    BTW, the park in my blog photo is inside the city limits (although on the edge) of the town where my mom lives. It is a gorgeous place. Come and visit and we can go for a walk!

    And…I do make some of my own recipes. However, I like to write them down and tweak them until they are just how the family likes them. So, yes, sometimes I embroider…but usually because I do not like the recipes I already have.

    🙂 Jean

  5. the question: what do you enjoy most – people or housekeeping? i find both demanding but also rewarding… is it the proverbs 31 scale we struggle to balance? 🙂

  6. I’ve not visited for a while–I really enjoyed reading it today :). I’ve been struggling so to get ANYTHING done around the house–too many activities that require mom! Last night I told my dh that I was investing in people rather than the housekeeping. Trying to find the balance can be tough :).
    Jean

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