Saturday, February 14, 2009

Roasted Corn Soup

Roasted Corn Soup

It was the British voice of Nigella Lawson which coaxed me into a preparing a corn soup. We had just received our first big snow, and I was on my way home from work, maneuvering my car through the slush, and listening to NPR. Already starving, I imagined the taste of a velvety soup. Hers sounded healthy, but in my midday soup dream, I was dumping in the cream, stirring slowly until white, radial streaks appeared, offset by the deep yellow soup. I swerved to miss a squirrel family, then returned to ladeling my soup into a bowl. And then there were toppings. Oh, the toppings. Piled high over my soup were layers of cold sour cream, crisp scallions, pepperjack cheese, and crunchy tortilla strips. Forget the soup, I wanted nachos. But in the end, the soup won out. After all, if I've learned one thing so far in my life, it's that when a British voice tells you to do something, you do it.

Roasted Corn

WARNING: The following recipe may contain multiple toppings. Strict compliance with all topping guidelines is absolutely critical. There are to be no exceptions.

Roasted Corn Soup
makes 1 huge serving

2 lbs frozen corn
4 tbsp butter
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
chicken stock, a few quarts
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
5 oz pepperjack cheese, grated
4 scallions, minced
1 cup half and half
2 gallons sour cream
corn tortilla chips

  1. Thaw corn under hot water. After shaking off the excess water, add the corn kernals with a pinch of salt to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Work in one layer batches so the corn has plenty of room to roast. Let them burn slightly, giving them a stir every few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the onion in butter over low heat until translucent. Remember to add some salt to help pull out the moisture of the onions.
  3. Add the jalapeno and about 3/4 of the corn to the onions along with the chicken stock and bring to a boil. If you don't add enough, you can always add more later if you need it, but if you add too much, you'll have to wait for the soup to reduce.
  4. Using a blender (or hand blender) puree the soup. At this point, you can strain the soup through a sieve or leave the corn "pulp" for a more rustic soup.
  5. Dump in most of the cheese and scallions, reserving a small portion as toppings.
  6. Remove from heat for a little bit before adding the half and half.
  7. Here, you might let the soup sit on low heat for half an hour or so. Flavors in soup don't come together instantly, and the longer the soup sits, the better it tastes.
  8. Just before serving the soup, taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Sometimes the smallest squirt of lemon juice can keep a soup from tasting flat.
  9. Finally, and this is crucial, you will need to add the toppings to each bowl.

Green Onions, Jalapeno, and Cheese

Things to do differently...
  • Next time, I think I should roast the jalapeno along with the corn.
  • I think I might try a more strongly-flavored cheese, like asiago.
  • Half and half is a cop out. I'm going with cream from now on.
  • The 2 gallons of sour cream goes fast.

Things to keep the same...
  • Roasting the crap out of that corn. The sweetness of the corn starts to caramelize, and it's pretty much amazing.
  • Adding that squirt of lemon juice really brightened up the flavor.
  • The cold sour cream was a great contrast to the hot soup.
  • The corn tortilla chips added some nice, crunchy texture to the soup.
  • The scallions gave each bite a crisp freshness.
So, as I sit here now, the snow has melted, the slush is gone, and that squirrel family is probably roadkill. The sun is out, and the world seems to have rebalanced. Yet far, far away, across thousands of miles of ocean, the proverbial butterfly flaps its wings, and Nigella Lawson issues her culinary edicts.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Internet, the Economy, & John Hagee.

Warning: This has nothing to do with anything.

As I left the Coffee Ethic tonight, a song I heard there stuck in my head. A tune so catchy that it would not stop its nagging replay until I discovered what it was. I pulled out my iPhone to search some keywords online. After a few minutes, and to my horror, I discovered that the Edge Network was down, rendering my iPhone internetless. I became genuinely annoyed that I would have to endure a 10 minute drive home before I could begin my song sleuthing. I pay a premium every month to have this convenience at my fingertips at all times. And it occurred to me what those before me would have done without the endless search capabilities of Google. Such a song would disappear from their mind after awhile, and no matter their unquenchable urge to hear it again, that experience would lie in Fate’s hands, or perhaps a barista's named Fate. Now, I can get online and listen to it a hundred times every few days and become so disgusted with it that I delete from my library the song I paid $0.99 for. And with a dollar coming out of someone’s pocket every time someone strains to meet their need for convenience, I wonder how our economy could be doing so poorly right now. All I know, is that if it has anything to do with oil, John Hagee has something to say about it. Which reminds me of last Sunday morning when I sat transfixed in front of the television as his weekly Doomsday message was broadcast across the nation. The xenophobia literally condensed into beads and oozed from my television screen. And in between the ethnocentric rhetoric and the sound of my own dry heaving, I wondered how a “ministry” whose message is so tainted with political bias could possibly retain a nonprofit status.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David Foster Wallace

I was listening to NPR today and was drawn into an interview with author David Foster Wallace. He was describing his youth in playing tennis and the mindset of athletes compared to his own. Plagued with doubts about his ability, he was never able to perform on the courts.

He went on to talk about life and the emptiness of material things. He was engaging and interesting. Seemingly upbeat and somewhat positive, he offered the occasional chuckle to punctuate his weighty insight. What a valuable mind, thoughtful and provoking.

The segment ended with a note that it had been cut from a 1996 interview with the author and that last Friday night he had taken his own life.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

He speaks... about summer.

So, the posts are starting to come a little less frequently, I know. School has me busy again. There are a few preliminary things that take up my free time right now, but once those are out of the way, I think my schedule will become a little more natural, and I'll be able to devote more time to writing. In the few minutes I have right now to get a post out, I'll summarize a little about this summer.

To start, this was probably one of the best summers so far. It was extremely productive and rewarding. I learned a lot about discipline and willpower. My goal-setting allowed me to focus my time and energy into work that achieved things not for the present, but for the future. There's a value in hard work that is hard to see for the less mature. I think that I'm coming out of that "less mature" stage, albeit slowly at times.

If I were to name two important things that I learned from this summer, I might list them below. And in fact, I did:

1. If you can cultivate a motivation, a focus, and a plan, you really can accomplish things you used to just sit around and wish for. In just a few short months, you can take a few classes, complete a few massive research projects, go to Chile, build a piano studio, and maybe read a few books on the side.


2. Time is valuable. Once it is gone, it is gone. You'll never get it back. And any benefit you might have reaped from focus and hard work during that time is lost, as well.


Monday, September 8, 2008

The Iceberg Theory

A poem by Gerald Locklin.

all the food critics hate iceberg lettuce.
you'd think romaine was descended from
orpheus's laurel wreath,
you'd think raw spinach had all the nutritional
benefits attributed to it by popeye,
not to mention aesthetic subtleties worthy of
verlaine and debussy.
they'll even salivate over chopped red cabbage
just to disparage poor old mr. iceberg lettuce.

I guess the problem is
it's just too common for them.
it doesn't matter that it tastes good,
has a satisfying crunchy texture,
holds its freshness,
and has crevices for the dressing,
whereas the darker, leafier varieties
are often bitter, gritty, and flat.
it just isn't different enough, and
it's too goddamn american.

of course a critic has to criticize:
a critic has to have something to say.
perhaps that's why literary critics
purport to find interesting
so much contemporary poetry
that just bores the shit out of me.

at any rate, I really enjoy a salad
with plenty of chunky iceberg lettuce,
the more the merrier,
drenched in an italian or roquefort dressing.
and the poems I enjoy are those I don't have
to pretend that I'm enjoying.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Lied...

This video was too hilarious to pass up.

-Taylor Baldwin

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Olympic Montage

This might normally be the type of thing that I post on my Tumblog, as it lends itself more to scrapbooking content, but I when I saw this short Olympic montage broadcast on NBC several days ago, I knew this was something I needed to find online and share. Now, some crappy computer speakers coupled with the terrible image quality leave this video with much to be desired, but I think you can get the point. And I promise, more substantive posts from now on.

-Taylor Baldwin