I started my blog almost one month ago, and have made 14 recipes from the cookbook so far. This week, I made three recipes from the book, had girlfriends over for dinner, resuscitated my sourdough starter, and started to make my first loaf of bread – on top of my regular commitments! Now, I am sick. So very sick.
I thought this would be the perfect time to collect my thoughts about this past month. When I think about why I started this blog, for me, it’s about the process. I don’t necessarily have a “goal”. If I had to pinpoint a goal, it would be very broad. Something like “to make meaningful memories by connecting with food and family, in a conscientious way, through writing and reflection”. That sounds nice!
I do want to improve my skills in the kitchen. I want to know what those weird ingredients are on a menu at a restaurant. I want to be adventurous, resourceful, and confident when cooking. But really, these results are secondary to the everyday enjoyment of cooking and photography. And, I also believe if you think less about specific desired outcomes, you will be more open to a surprise revelation, an a-ha moment, or a simple moment of clarity or content. Often the learning and meaning of moments happens long after the actual instance. So, I am open to seeing where this adventure takes me!
I made Hot & Spicy Bean Soup earlier this week. The recipe called for two meaty pork hocks. What is a "hock"? I called my mom. She suggested getting smoked hocks, if they were available. I went to the local butcher shop and picked up two smoked hocks - they added so much flavour! Ps. from what I can tell a pork hock (or ham hock) is the pig's "cankle", the park between calf and ankle.
I also used dry beans (not from a can) for the first time, which I am sort-of ashamed to admit! Using dry beans does requires forethought because you have to soak them overnight, but I never realized how easy they are to cook with. I like the idea of using less canned items. On that note, it is easy to throw a can of chopped tomatoes into this recipe, but it is also so, so easy to peel and chop fresh tomatoes. Double thumbs up! My friends loved the recipe, and were impressed by the flavours. This soup will warm you up on a winter evening! Enjoy :)
Hot & Spicy Bean Soup
4 cups navy beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large, meaty pork hocks
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp hot pepper flakes
4-6 generous dashes hot sauce
1 ½ tsp dry mustard
¾ tsp summer savory
¼ tsp pepper
4 cups chopped tomatoes
Soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse.
Heat oil in large stockpot over high heat; brown pork hocks. Sauté onion and garlic until soft but not browned, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in beans, water, spices; simmer 2 hours. Add tomatoes and simmer another hour. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Note: I made this the day before I served it. I added about twice as much water – I like a brothy soup but overnight the soup thickened quite a bit anyways. Depending on how meaty your pork hocks are, you may only need one. Before re-heating and serving, I took the meat off the pork hock and discarded the fat. I also used fresh tomatoes – I covered them in boiling water for 2 minutes, peeled and chopped them. This soup was absolutely delicious!
*Recipe from the Farm and City Cookbook