My husband has started to claim that he’s not retired but retiring. That’s why he left on Sunday morning for a consultancy and Christmas shopping boondoggle in Senegal. About 30 minutes after he left, it began to snow and has been at least flurrying every day. Undaunted and secure in the knowledge that our pantry and freezers would allow the dog, cats and I to survive a 10 day blizzard without ever leaving the house or lifting one shovelful of snow, I went to the door to answer the ringing bell. Outside stood a young man with a shovel who asked if I would pay him to shovel my walk. I told him I sure would and asked him to also clear a path from my kitchen back door to the garbage cans and the car in case I lost my mind and thought of driving in the snow and ice. He did an excellent job and we were both pleased 🙂 He’s been showing up after any snow build up. Yesterday it snowed all night.
On Tuesday I was invited to Anne and Bob Lynch’s house for a potluck get together. Their house is about 4 houses away and usually within walking distance. However, I had to take the car because I was carrying a hot, vegetable gratin and was afraid I’d slip and fall on the ice. I reasoned that if it was too icy after the party, I would just leave the car and walk home empty handed.
I like to make this gratin because it’s easy, can be made ahead and you can vary the vegetables according to what you have. This one has steamed cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potatoes. I took this opportunity to use my new $15.99, two level steamer that I found in an Asian supermarket in Allentown. I love it!
I covered the steamed vegetables with a cheese bechamel sauce and sprinkled the top with cracker crumbs before baking. Bread crumbs will work also.
One of the reasons I don’t like to bake is that the measurements must be so exact for success. Measurements should be joyful and free flowing, like this cup of cheese for the bechamel. The extra cheese on the board went in too 😀
When I’m “home alone” I try to avoid standing and eating directly from the refrigerator because that’s so depressing! I put the left over duck and zucchini in a bowl with boiled eggs, sat down at the table and ate it for breakfast like a cold salad. Tasty and pretty.
I’ve never understood why my husband nor M. Parret dislike yellow wax beans! M. Parret ate them grudgingly, whining and complaining after each bite. I couldn’t wait for wax bean season in France because I like them and I adore serving them to Le Parret 😀 My husband won’t complain but he looks so sad that I don’t serve them often. But when the cat’s away….
Smoked pork chops cost the earth at the Alpine butcher but are so good and perfect with the beans.
The bamboo has such a hard time during the winter. I’m always afraid that it won’t survive but it does and is green and beautiful again each Spring.
Udon noodle soup is always good but especially comforting after a hard snow. I had some sliced pork belly (I don’t know why they sell it like this) from the Super Duper supermarket and rediscovered aged but edible udon noodles from the bottom of the refrigerator freezer.
My husband still believes that nothing can ever go bad in the freezer, no matter how long it’s been there. It’s pointless to argue. The udon noodles had lost some of their chewy texture and broke down a bit in the soup, but the soup base that came with the noodles added that Wagamama flavor 🙂
I browned and crisped the pork belly with a little olive oil for a crunchy texture.
I didn’t have much in the way of soup vegetables but appreciated the red bell pepper, the handful of mushrooms and a little spinach with garden green sprouts.
Pork Belly with Udon Noodle Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1lb pork belly, skin on, sliced
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 large red bell pepper, diced
1/4 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 slices fresh ginger, chopped
5-6 brown mushrooms, sliced
2 packets noodle soup base
1 tsp garlic chilli sauce
3 cups chicken broth
2 packets udon noodles
1 -2 handfuls spinach/garden greens
Brown and crisp the slices of pork belly with the olive oil in a large pot. Remove and slice into bite size pieces. Set aside. Wipe out the pot with paper towels.
Heat the peanut and sesame oils in the pot, add the bell pepper, onion, garlic and ginger. Saute until the aromatics are soft. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in the soup base and the chilli sauce. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, add the reserved pork belly and simmer for 5 minutes. Bring the broth to a boil, then add the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes or according to package instructions. Remove from the flame and stir in the greens.
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the scallions.