Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Minestrone Soup

It was 5 am. Why, oh why, was I awake? It’s senseless to consider why. It happens. I embraced it. Sorta.

I stumbled into the kitchen, without turning on lights, found my 12 oz bodum French Press, dumped two tablespoons of Starbucks Pike Place Roast and 1/8 tsp of cinnamon into the glass carafe, followed by nearly boiling water and took it with me back into my bedroom to steep as I watched the room fill with sunlight. This little coffee maker makes one mug of rich coffee to start my day. Who cares about Time? The pleasure of the first hot sip erases all anxiety. “Good morning”, it says. Yes it will be a good morning and a good day. It’s vegan day.

Pocono Cream of Buckwheat (USDA Organic), made with rice milk instead of water, topped with farmers market fresh sliced strawberries and about 1/2 cup of rice milk was next. I'm hooked on this complete protein grain. Gluten free, budget friendly, mild in flavor and filling. It digests easily and slowly to give me even energy until lunch.

The Italian and the Minestrone Soup.
My good friend, the Italian died last week. I have been thinking of how to honor her. The Italian was generous and passionate. In her 92 years she helped many in her family and her neighborhood. She was a cook. It was her habit to grocery shop everyday on her way home from work, insuring that her meal would be fresh. She always served 3 vegetables, bread, salad, and meat or fish; wine of course, it goes without saying. Everyday, she made a plate for a widowed neighbor. And not a paper plate and plastic utensils, a real plate and real silverware. She was a class act.

So for lunch today I made minestrone soup. Not her recipe. Her recipe was in her head and hands. I dug around my cookbooks until I found something that sounded like her recipe. I found it in my Los Angeles Times California Cookbook, copyright 1981. The spine is broken, the pages are yellowed. This is what I found:
"It would be difficult to find lustier minestrone than this one from Valentino, a fine Italian restaurant in Santa Monica. " (Well, they didn't know my Italian, talk about lusty minestrone)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
2 tablespoons oil (not olive)
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon oregano
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 (1 pound) can tomato Puree
5 puree cans water
2 bunches of spinach, chopped or 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
1 (1 pound) can green beans (I used fresh green beans)
1 (1 pound) can or 1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas
1 (1 pound) can red kidney beans
8 ounces shell macaroni (I found some brown rice noodles)
Salt, Pepper

Saute garlic, celery, onions and carrots in oil until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add thyme, oregano, bay leaves, tomato puree, and water. Bring to boil and add spinach, green beans, peas and kidney beans. Bring again to boil and add macaroni. Reduce heat and simmer until macaroni is cooked al dente. Do not overcook. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes 6-8 servings.

In honor of the Italian, I made a green salad, grabbed a bottle of wine and shared this meal with a neighbor. Wine for lunch? How very Italian.

Sometimes Vegan Day lands on Pizza fundraiser day. My granddaughter’s school invited me to their Pizza fundraiser at a local Toppers Pizza Parlor. What would I find in their salad bar? Bonanza: Dark green lettuce, carrots, celery, garbanzo beans, red kidney beans, cucumber, beets, bean sprouts, broccoli, Jicama, unsalted, raw sunflower seeds and Italian dressing. I was pleased. You can be a Vegan and have fun at the Pizza parlor.

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