I apologize for not updating my blog in quite some time; I have been vacationing in the fantastical bay area for the past couple of weeks. It's not that I haven't been cooking here--I have been, but it's more difficult when you don't have your own kitchen and not only have to work around others but do not have typical resources at hand. Fortunately, I am visiting residents of the house in which I resided for a month before the big migration to NY, and a lot of my old spices and dry ingredients remain untouched.
The bay area was a wonderful decision on my part to escape New York's very cold winter. Now, in the past couple of weeks I have heard various bay area residents complaining about the weather. They say it is much colder than usual. I agree- It is much colder than usual bay area winter. However, I embrace the bay's "winter" in its semblance to its summer, fall, and spring. When I lived here I complained about not having typical seasons. There was no true differentiation between seasons--San Francisco's fall does not consist of leaves changing color; instead it gets strangely hot in October, and then continues to get more and more mild as the months pass. By December, it is chilly, but people still wear shorts outside. Before living in the bay, I often judged the weather from my bedroom window, based on what people in the streets were wearing. That is almost impossible in San Francisco winter; about a quarter of the people wear shorts or traditional summer attire, another quarter in heavy down winter coats (unnecessarily, I have discovered), and perhaps half in layered, traditional fall clothing. I have never lived somewhere with such bland, mild weather. But back to what I began with--I welcome the bland and mild with open arms when my parents tell me over the phone on new years eve that it is eighteen degrees in NY! I was wearing a t-shirt yesterday. All day! And I was warm! Incredible, I tell you.
I should mention, however, that although the weather is definitely warmer and friendlier than that of NY at this time of the year, it is still relatively chilly. Iphone tells me it is 35 degrees in NY right now. It's a kind 51 in Oakland, which, in my opinion, warrants the making of soup. And so I dedicate today's recipe to Rebecca, long lost friend. The Bay is not the same without you. Try this black bean soup, courteously inspired by Laurel's Kitchen:
1 1/2 c dried black beans, sorted and rinsed
2 c veggie stock
4 c water
1 bay leaf
1 T veggie oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 potato, grated
2 stalks celery, chopped (same size pieces as onion)
2 t dried oregano
1/2 t garlic powder
salt and black pepper to taste
Put beans, liquids, and bay leaf in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then simmer, covered. They will simmer for about 2 1/2 hours, or until they are soft enough to eat comfortably. For the first hour and a half of the beans boiling, you can go chill out somewhere other than the kitchen. Or work on another crafts project. Or do your laundry (that's what I did). When two hours have passed, in a large pot, heat your oil. Add chopped onion, and stir, cooking until translucent. Add celery and grated potato and carrot. Add oregano and garlic powder, and cook, stirring, for about five minutes. Now add your beans and their broth, including the bay leaf, to the large pot of cooking veggies. Bring to a boil. If it's too thick at this point, you may add some water, but make sure to bring contents of pot to boil. Simmer for another half hour, or until all of the veggies and beans are to your desired softness. Add salt and pepper as you see fit. Laurel suggests 2 t salt and 1/8 t pepper. But the exact measurements are up to you. Laurel also suggests juice of one lemon and lemon slices to be added to soup when done. Go for it if this sounds appealing to you! And if not, ladel into bowls and enjoy. I also think some (redundantly) fresh creme fraiche may go nicely spooned into bowls of soup before eating.
Ta ta for now! Back to the welcomingly chilly Cali air.