I can't remember when Chuck started adding Chinese celery and ginger to chicken stock. He liked chef Kylie Kwong, and it wouldn't surprise me if the idea came from one of her cookbooks. Last weekend, I added aromatic pandan and culantro. I was craving the earthy savour of Hainanese chicken and rice. Because there's just me, I make stock overnight in the crock pot.
The apartment smelled like a cry in the morning. I got that out of the way. Then I made a soup with miso, shimeji mushrooms, gai lan, and pasta O's and garnished it with garlic chives. It tasted like the plaid flannel shirt hug I needed. I'm going to tinker with it over the winter. A cook on Twitter suggested I try it without pandan. That's next. And I'm going to use white miso. I found a copy of China Moon's Double Chicken Stock in my accordion recipe file. Barbara Tropp...of course.
Chuck would make that annoying slurp and sigh — Dad Eats Soup — sound while eating. A global phenomenon. Soup turns a lot of men into loud eaters. Do you know about misophonia?
I have to make his Russian borscht with short ribs and cabbage. The recipe is in an email dated April 12, 2010. He thought it came from the Time-Life series, Foods of the World, but had checked, and it didn't.
"What follows is the currently made version sans quantities as they will depend on the quantity of soup being made and your own propensity for particular flavours." He liked parsnip and cabbage in the winter. I do too. I'd tolerate the racket to eat a bowl of it with him again.
Also, I've got questions.
I wrote the first draft of this longhand in my journal, sitting outside Moonbeam Coffee Roasters in Kensington Market, enjoying the last slice of patio season. They make a proper cortado.
There's been a minor renovation since I'd last been. Inside was a bit more congested (in a neighbourly way). But out front, the plastic teal patio furniture from the 90s was reassuring. My bag of stock ingredients plunked in the chair opposite — leafy tops of Chinese celery flopping out the top.
There's something about being out, undisturbed, and writing in cursive. I also use a voice memo and notes app on my phone to capture ideas and sentences. Over the last few months, I've been wandering one day on the weekend. It's a good new thing.
Will I find a way to continue in the cold and snow? It's coming soon. Have I mentioned that?
These songs came back-to-back in explore mode. I immerse myself in the music during the week while writing. Connecting the two is a pleasure. Songs are parked at the bottom of the 'today' playlist waiting for stories. Some I'll never tell.
Look at that Black Keys album cover. According to Wikipedia — the first source on Google — the minivan is a replica of one they used to tour early in their career.
The faux wood panelling stage of artistic development is poetry. When you are fucking hungry.