Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Moon Cheese Soup

I dreamed that we were somewhere by the ocean in a hotel room. We were there for someone’s wedding. There was a sliding glass door in the room that looked out on the ocean; if you walked out of the door you would be standing on the beach and the ocean was just a few hundred feet away. It was night and the moon was out over the ocean and it was HUGE. So huge that you could distinctly see the craters and if you took a picture of it, it didn’t just look like a white dot – it actually looked like the moon. I took a picture of it with my phone and the picture of the moon turned into a picture of a slice of cheese.

Portuguese Cilantro Soup
I am obsessed with this soup. I think about it all the time and I could literally eat it every single day.  It’s essentially just pesto in broth, but completely ridiculously delicious. We first had it at our friend’s house, and she once lived in Portugal so I know it’s totally legit. I’ve heard that people either love cilantro or abhor it, but never fear, cilantro haters: I have made this soup with a cilantro and walnut pesto and once with spinach and sunflower seed pesto. Both were muy delicioso, but I will say that the cilantro version had more “zazz”. You could make a pesto with any combination of greens and nuts that you like.

  • Poached egg(s), 1 per person. Make them first and keep them in a bowl of ice water. They’ll get warmed up when you add them to the soup.
  • Day-old or stale bread, one chunk/slice per person. If your bread is fresh, toast it up a little otherwise it will disintegrate in the soup.
  • Chicken or vegetable broth (homemade is best, but any will do). Use as much broth as you’ll need to serve the number of people you’re feeding.
  • Cilantro, 2 or more bunches, leaves only (stems removed)
  • Nuts: walnuts or any other nuts or seeds you have on hand
  • Garlic - whole cloves and some chopped up for the pesto
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Put the broth and a few whole cloves of garlic in a pot and gently warm it on low heat. While the broth and garlic are heating, make the pesto. You can use a food processor, or chop it by hand or a mortar & pestle. Chop up the cilantro, a handful of nuts and some more garlic until everything is finely chopped. Mix in some olive oil until it has a nice spreadable consistency. Add salt & pepper to taste. Then add about ¼ to 1/3 cup of the broth to give it a little bit of a wet consistency. This helps it to mix into the broth easier.

When the broth is heated, add the pesto. The amount of pesto you add depends on the amount of broth you have, but don’t  skimp on the pesto.

To serve, put a piece of bread in each bowl and place a poached egg on top of each piece of bread. Ladle the soup over the top. Eat. Your life will change.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jacques Pépin's Yoga Minivan

I dreamed that Jacques Pépin was my yoga instructor and would typically pick up his students himself and bring them to their classes. I was sitting on my front step waiting for the Jacques Pépin minivan; it was fall and the whole thing felt like waiting to be picked up for ballet class when I was a kid. A shiny black minivan pulled up but Jacques wasn't driving. Instead, it was a woman who was sort of like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or like when Little Red Riding Hood talks to her grandmother who is really the wolf. She didn't look abnormal or anything, she just had that air about her. I got into the van.
There were other fellow yoga students in the van and it quickly became apparent that all of us had been duped. This woman was kidnapping us and taking us somewhere. We all surmised that we were going to be held captive and forced to do weird and/or bad stuff. But once we got there, we found out that we were going to be held captive and forced to be on a reality show. We were taken to a big warehouse and one of the rooms had lots of different costumes that were mostly just swimsuits and big t-shirts with dumb sayings on them.
Some time later or before, I also dreamed I was trying to use my credit card by running it through a swiper but I kept doing it wrong and trying to run the part with the raised numbers and it kept getting stuck in the machine.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:
English Muffins

Yes: you can make your own English muffins, and you should because it’s really not that hard and doesn't take very long. Use this recipe; it makes about 16 muffins which would be like if you bought more than 2 packages.  Then you can freeze the rest and always have them on hand to make your own breakfast sandwich, identical to those at a certain restaurant that shall not be named. I like the one that has the sausage patty and cheese. A few weeks ago I had to work really early in the morning so the night before I pre-made a breakfast sandwich of sausage patty & cheese on a homemade English muffin. I heated it up and left the house; I looked up at the sky and the moon and stars were still out and very bright. I ate my special breakfast sandwich on the way there while listening to NPR. Later, as the sun was rising, some of my coworkers made a trip to a certain restaurant to get their own breakfast sandwiches and I smiled to myself at my own cleverness. So basically this is why you should make your own English muffins – so that you can feel smug, and deservedly so.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hippies and Hobos and Rain

I dreamed that my dad had committed some horrible crime and the scene of the crime was our friend Steve’s house. I don’t know what the crime was but my dad was now on the lam and we were protecting him. Steve’s house was now an empty crime scene and it was all jacked-up and dangerous up in there. Tom and I realized that our dog, Willy, was trapped at Steve’s house in the backyard without food and water and was probably really scared. We knew we had to go get him but if we just walked in there, the police would somehow implicate us in the crime and that would be bad. So we decided we would sneak into the back yard in the night and rescue him, which we did.

Then we were on the lam, but had to go to a friend’s wedding somewhere upstate. I saw us traveling on a map and we went North and a little West, to the North woods. The map looked like it was carved from wood and painted. When we arrived, all the guests were staying in a make-shift communal hippy tent, with cots and tapestries all over. The friends who were there weren’t real people in real life. Everyone was in a party mood and there was a beach by a lake. We were out on the beach having fun and it started to rain. Everyone ran inside the tent and the bride and groom were bummed. Then it stopped raining and we all went back out. Then it started pouring really hard and everyone got soaked and went back to the tent and we all thought the wedding was ruined. But then I looked up the weather on my phone and saw that after the current rainstorm passed, there would be clear skies for the rest of the day. I looked up at the sky and saw that it was night and the sky was clear and there were lots of stars, and I could see the tops of tall pine trees in my periphery.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:

Camping Hobo Chili-Mac and Pie Iron Sandwiches

My real-life group of friends goes camping on occasion and have this little graniteware pot with a lid that we call the “chili pot”.  When we camp, we make chili in that pot with a few cans of beans (any kind), a few jars of salsa, maybe some water if it’s too thick, and veggies if you have them. Then this sits in the fire for a while (well, on the grate on the fire if the campsite has it). Meanwhile, we make a box of mac & cheese. Whatever brand you like, but I would strongly suggest you choose those of the shell variety. Yes, this means you have to bring butter and milk camping, but you have a cooler, right? Plus then you can put milk in your coffee in the morning which is a treat for Tom and I but maybe not for other people. [Aside: it occurs to me that I have NO IDEA what percentage of the population prefers milk or cream in their coffee. I know that in my household, we are black coffee drinkers except sometimes on weekends IF we have milk, or when camping, or on holidays. If you take cream in your coffee on a daily basis, just know that I am completely fine with that, but also know that I secretly think it’s kind of decadent. I guess this is something I’ll have to work on.] Serve the chili mac in the empty cans from the beans and stuff, but be careful of the sharp edges!

We also all have sets of pie irons, which are pretty common I’m sure among seasoned campers. My parents never took us camping exactly, so pie irons are relatively new to me and pretty amazing. Anyway I’ll assume that everyone knows how they work. What we’ve been doing is using  tortillas instead of bread. So you can throw whatever junk you want in there and put it in the fire. In the morning if you make yourself a breakfast burrito in the pie iron, leftover chili-mac is real good in there. And why wait till you go camping to eat like a hobo? The answer is: you don’t have to. Also I apologize if I have offended any hobos, whether they take cream in their coffee or not.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Parks Department Wizard Hats

I dreamed that I was walking my parents’ dog through a community garden near their house. There was a woman there who saw me walking by and stopped me. She showed me some trees that had soft white and pink tufts growing off of them. The woman showed me how she was spinning the tufts into yarn and string and I helped her for a few minutes.

Then I ran into my mother and a bunch of current and past friends who all worked for the parks department. They were working at a different park. I was with someone (I can’t remember who) and we needed a ride home but couldn't find anyone to take us all the way there. First we found a ride to a roller skating rink and a connection there who would take us the rest of the way. At the roller rink, all the parks department employees were having a party and some of them were wearing wizard hats. I recognized one of them as a former high school classmate (but really I met him as an adult) and he agreed to give us a ride to our neighborhood. I decided I would walk home from there. Some how I ended up hitching a ride with someone in a purple car on the freeway.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:

Lentil Stew
2 C. green lentils, rinsed & picked through. Can use red, but they'll probably get mushy.
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped (optional)
Handfuls of spinach
About 14 oz strained tomatoes, or whatever tomatoes you have on hand
5 C. chicken or vegetable broth, homemade. If you don't have homemade broth just use water. Don't even bother with the store bought stuff.
Herbs: bay leaf, thyme, oregano, basil
Piece of a parmesan cheese rind, if you have it
Worcestershire sauce (optional, but really does add a nice tang)
Salt & Pepper
olive oil

Saute the onion, carrots, celery & green pepper in the olive oil until soft. Add the lentils and herbs and saute a minute more. Add the broth, 3 TBSP of Worcestershire sauce & parmesan cheese rind if using. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & cover. Cook for 20 mins. 

Uncover, add the tomatoes & spinach. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat, cover & cook 15 to 20 more mins. or until the lentils are tender. Serve with buttered bread and wear a wizard hat to dinner if you have one.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Giant Dogs and Weird Funerals

I dreamed that the husband of a family friend had committed suicide. He looked like a newscaster but had been a football player. No one could understand why he had done it. The funeral was held at an old Catholic church in a rural area and I chose to sit in the back row because I don’t like funerals and if I’m going to get weepy then I prefer to be in the back row. It seems like I’ve had other dreams that took place in this same rural area/town. I happened to sit next to a thin-lipped woman who looked a lot like a character I had seen on Mary Tyler Moore the night before. She had blond hair and was dressed kind of plainly. She was older than me. She said she was the deceased’s sister. She kept talking to me, remarking about things as we waited for the funeral to start. At some point, two men - goth-punks - were walking around in the church. They were at least 40 years old and obviously really dedicated to being goth-punks because they were still doing it. Their hair was dyed black and one had a sort of grown out mohawk. They both were wearing eyeliner and black denim vests – jackets with the sleeves cut off. I assumed they were there to attend the funeral. Then they put on priest robes and began the funeral ceremony. The sister of the deceased was kind of shocked and appalled that these two goth punks were priests, but then someone else said that they had done a great thing for this church, they had revived it and gotten people in the area to attend again.

Both goth-punk priests were sitting at the front of the room and everything was wooden. It was afternoon outside so the light was not so bright inside. To the left of the rows of wooden pews was the entrance door which was blocked open because it was warm outside. As part of the funeral ceremony, giant real animals began filing in through the door, across the front of the room and then out another door which lead to a big covered tent picnic area, where a party was to be held after the funeral. First there was a giant puppy, which was about the size of Clifford the big red dog, but he was black. Then there was a mini-elephant, and then a huge over-sized grizzly bear, who growled loudly and startled everyone.

At the party afterwards, my brother and his wife and my parents were sitting at a table away from the rest of the people, but my sister had changed into really short shorts and was dancing on a table. I got really mad at her for doing that. Then I went back to a hotel room with my brother and his wife to go to sleep. We woke up the next morning at 10:30 and realized that we were supposed to have checked out at 8:00.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:
Tuna melts. Make tuna salad however you want. My secret ingredients are two big plops of dill pickle relish and a little dill, and red or white chopped onions, in addition to the regular stuff. Put it on toast and melt a slice of cheese on top. I prefer sharp white cheddar, but do what you will. While you eat try to shake off that feeling that you are mad at your sister for something but you don't know what and remember that you were only mad at her in your dream.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Soup of Ages

I dreamed that I had escaped enslavement by men on horses. I had a companion and together we travelled on foot through a forest terrain. Eventually we came to a clearing by a river and stood on a rounded low hill next to the water that was covered in smooth rocks. Across the brown river were cliffs, maybe 50 feet high. On top of the cliffs were formations made of rocks stacked on top of each other in gravity-defying piles – like the stacks of rocks you see in zen gardens. There were many of these on top of the cliffs, spaced about 10 feet apart and each of these was also a waterfall.
Then we were walking across a schoolyard toward a school building. The sky was cloudy. Inside the school building, no school was going on. The school had been converted into a shopping mall but I could hear children reciting lessons a floor above. The floor that I was on had various stores and one was an optometrist. No longer concerned about being enslaved, I got an eye exam.

Then I was a short, troll-like man with an equally short, troll-like female companion. She wore a hood. We were selling a big pot of homemade vegetable broth door to door. Many doors were closed in our face. At one residence in an apartment building, a woman answered the door who looked a lot like Lady Elaine from Mr. Rogers. The me in my dream thought to myself of this lady that “the tip of her nose looked like it was pushing a dinosaur”. Her nose was long.
I heard music playing in the hallway and it was my alarm clock.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:

Vegetable Broth (if I suggested anything else it would be blasphemous)

I have never actually made vegetable broth from scratch, but I have made chicken and beef broth with startlingly wonderful results. Making broth is easy though, makes your house smell good and freezes well. You can use it in almost anything in place of water - like rice, quinoa, and so on and so forth. You can save vegetable scraps in a bag in a freezer and use them to make broth later.

But basically, to make it you'd need carrots, onions (leave the skins on for a richer golden color), celery, as a basic, but other vegetables can be used too. Maybe stay away from broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage as they tend to give the broth a slightly off putting odor. But if that doesn't bother you then by all means include them. I've even heard that you can add egg shells to the broth to give it extra calcium. You can also add whatever herbs you'd like: dried oregano, thyme and basil are good, and a bayleaf or two.

Put these vegetables and scraps and such in a big soup pot and fill it with water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Simmer for an hour or two. Strain out your vegetables. Bam - you've got broth. HOWEVER. You can take this a step further, but only if you love flavor. If you prefer a lighter broth, then stop right here, you are done. But if you love flavor, then consider the following:

After you strain out the vegetables, pour the broth back in to the pot and continue simmering for another hour or two until the liquid reduces by about an inch or so. This step will give you a rich, dark and completely flavorful broth and is highly recommended by me and Lady Elaine.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why is a stranger wearing my clothes

[DISCLAIMER: I frequently have dreams in which my boyfriend is a complete jerk. In real life he is actually a very nice person and not a jerk at all.] I dreamed that I was attending an awards show for film or television, but it was being held at a honky tonk bar in the country. Actually it was more of a saloon because it had wooden floors and tables and swinging doors which when opened revealed a stereo-typical wild west dusty brown wasteland. A strange place indeed to hold an awards show for film or television.

In the audience with me were my boyfriend and some other real-life friends. We were sitting in chairs around a table, facing an empty wooden stage. I was wearing a floral dress and cowboy boots. Next to me was a girl I don’t know who looked rather bored, but my boyfriend was sitting on her other side and whispering in her ear and hugging her and such. She was wearing a dress that I own in real life. Actually she might have been the model from the website that I bought that dress from. Anyhow, I was supposed to be okay with this behaviour because my boyfriend was just trying to be nice to her or something like that, maybe she was new in town, I don’t know. I was annoyed so I went into the bathroom and took off my cowboy boots.
This dream pairs well with the following meal:

Vegan “cream” of broccoli soup & The Ultimate Coffee Shop [DISCLAIMER: Not vegan] Sandwich
I think I might have dreamed this because earlier in the day I thought my throat was feeling scratchy like I was getting sick. It is flu season after all. My theory is that we have bad dreams when we are sick [DISCLAIMER: I am not a scientist and this “theory” is based on absolutely no scientific evidence.]  As a result I thought I should consume as many vegetables as possible in one single dish. The joke’s on me though because it turns out I wasn’t getting sick at all.

For the soup you will need:

2 bunches of broccoli, florets and stems, chopped
1 large potato or 2 smaller potatoes, diced. Leave the skins on because they’re good for you.
2 carrots (optional), chopped
1 medium onion, diced
Garlic, as much as you wish or can tolerate, minced or finely chopped
olive oil
About 42 oz of vegetable broth or water
Salt & pepper to taste
Whichever spices you wish. I would suggest oregano; it’s supposed to be good for fighting colds.
Immersion blender, regular blender or hand masher

Sauté the onions and carrots in olive oil in a big pot till the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté a minute or two more. Add the broccoli and potato. Add the broth or water. You want enough to just cover the veggies. Add the spices. Bring to a boil and simmer until the carrots, potatoes and broccoli are soft – soft enough that you can easily pierce them with a knife. When they are soft, use an immersion blender and blend everything until it’s smooth, or blend in a blender or just mash with a potato masher until it’s as blended as you can get it.

For the sandwich, you will need:

Bread: homemade whole wheat is best but if it has to be store-bought, then get the bread with the most oatmeal/nuts/seeds etc. in it you can find.
Muenster cheese
Tomato, sliced
Cucumber, sliced
Red onion, sliced
Alfalfa or other sprouts (did you know that you can sprout these at home?)
Mustard, if desired

Build your sandwich as tall as you can. The foundation absolutely MUST be based on a really REALLY thick slice of cheese. At least ¼” thick at a minimum. I suggest this order: bread, mustard, cheese, tomato, cucumber, red onion, sprouts, bread.

After you eat this, you will be filled with so many vitamins that it would be a good idea to find whatever person is doing something to annoy you in your life and tell them to knock it off.