Man. Just when I thought I’d licked this cold, it bounced back up for another round.
Last time I tried to tame the ickiness with a kiss of citrus. This time, I’m bringing out the big guns: capsaicin, and lots of it. I wanted to save this recipe for Christmas, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
It’s hot and sour soup time.
Let’s face it: cooking is work. It means picking ingredients, figuring out how to put them together in ways that taste good, keeping everything as warm or cool as it needs to be, and then washing up the mess you’ve just made. If you’re a working stiff, and you’re coming home exhausted, that’s sometimes the last thing you want to do.
When I went to my parents’ house on a recent Monday to do laundry (shut up, I’m totally a grown-up), my mom was in just such a state. She’s a self-employed consultant, working insane hours, and on that particular day she was having technology issues that had her nearly yanking her hair straight from her scalp. She was even more exhausted than I was after a full workday. But, of course, in long-ingrained Mom mode, she dragged herself to the kitchen to look for dinner ingredients. So I stepped in.
“Mom, I’ll make dinner. Don’t worry about it.”
You guys, it’s the end of an era. The Minimalist is no more.
I’ve read Mark Bittman’s Minimalist columns in the New York Times for years now. His writing has been an inspiration, a lifeline, a swift kick in the pants. His recipes always look delicious. I want to make them all. Someday, I will.
So today’s post is a tribute of sorts. I’ll admit, though, that this is not a Minimalist recipe.
But I’m sure he’d approve.
Back when I was a wee ‘un, just old enough to be a help in the kitchen rather than an underfoot pest, the very first thing my mother taught me to do was make salad dressing. More specifically, she handed me a bottle of olive oil, a bottle of vinegar, and a spoonful of mustard, and said, “Mix these, please.” So I did, and the rest is…well, you know.
Making vinaigrette was my introduction to home cooking, and it’s still one of my favorite things to do. Homemade vinaigrettes are mind-bogglingly quick, impossible to screw up, and way more flavorful than anything that comes from a bottle. Salads are also a fantastic way to practice being creative in the kitchen. I could write volumes about this stuff. In fact, I’m about to, so bear with me.