fall

Bulla Soup



My Danish great-grandmother used to make this soup for my mother, and my mother used to make it for me. Last week, when Jacob was staying with me, he felt sick, and so I had to call my grandmother, who knew my great-grandmothers recipe, and told me how to make it over the phone, and so now I am sharing it with you. 
This soup is called Bulla Soup, and I don’t know exactly how to describe it to you, but it’s like dumplings. Really rich, floury, wonderful, boiled dumplings. 

November is the time for soup. 

In New York,  when I was very hungry, I would go to this crazy dumpling place where you could get eight fried pork dumplings for three dollars, and I would walk and eat all the dumplings just dripping with soy sauce, and I felt so young and so free and so good. 
It’s food like that, that makes me feel the richness and glory of the world. 
Bulla are not pork dumplings, you have to sit down and eat them in a soup, with a spoon. You do not get the romance of walking through grimy streets alone, while taxi cabs howl at you when you cross the street before the little flashing hand signals you can go. (I was always crossing streets at the exact wrong time.) 
But bulla are a quick thing to make. Very simple, and satisfying. 

Here is how to do it: 

First, you heat some broth, such as chicken broth. Make sure it just about boiling. 

Then in a separate pot, heat a cup of water to a rolling boil, add 1/2 cup butter. 
You heat these together, and then, all at once, stir in 1 cup of flour. Stir rigorously over the heat, until the mixture forms into a ball. Remove from heat. Then, thoroughly beat into the flour/water mixture, four eggs, one at a time. 
Next, take a spoon,  and grab a rounded scoop of the mixture, gently lower it into the boiling chicken broth. 
And then you wait for the bulla to rise to the top. 
And when it has risen to the top, you know it is finished. 

The simplicity of good food, occasionally speaks for itself. 
So I'm not going to say anything beyond, "These really do it for me." 

I hope you’re so well. 
Talk soon. 
I love love love you. 

XOXO

Swedish Meatballs

Life is good, mostly great. 



But today, and lately, lately being most of October, I've had the blues. 
I'm not alone in this, everybody I know is a little tired, or a little weary right now. A little lonely despite being a little too busy. 
I don't know what it is. 
Often, Barbarajo says to me, "You couldn't pay me to be 21 again." 
I think about this often. 

Maybe it's just the time of year. 
Maybe we all just need to drink more.  

On Sunday night, I stood in my kitchen, and made Swedish meatballs. 
I thought about everyone I know, and wondered where we are all going to go 
And the splintering effects of the final year of college, and how maybe you don't get some things back and other things you just pray and pray that you do, and also the hope that you can have a beer on a Tuesday night, and finish the thesis and everything else on time, maybe, if the magic happens, because I guess it's all happening all the time anyways. 
And I thought about-- it is so terrifying, and so good, to be this young. 

So I made Swedish meatballs. 
They are great. 
They are the flavor of comfort. 
Despite the October blues. 

I love you I love you I love you. 

xoxo


Swedish Meatballs
from The Gourmet Cookbook

3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
1/4 heavy cream
1/4 club soda
3/4 pound ground beef round
1/2 pound ground veal
1/4 pound ground pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Stir together bread crumbs, cream and club soda in a small bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes. 
Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400F. Oil two large baking sheets with sides. 
Combine beef, veal, pork in a large bowl. Ad onion, breadcrumb mixture, egg, salt, and pepper and blend with your hands just until well combined; do not overmix. 
Form level tablespoons of mixture into meatballs and arrange about 1 inch apart on oiled baking sheets. Bake, turning meatballs over and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until browned, about 20 minutes total. 
With a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a platter. Set baking sheets on top of stove or a heatproof surface. Divide 1/3 cup water between pans and deglaze, off heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon.
Drizzle pan juices over meatballs. 


Tortilla Soup


There is a book I love that I have never read. 
It is called What It Is.
I love it for the title.
What It Is


Right now-- all this-- it’s just what it is.

My mother tells me I need to be more patient, and I guess that’s how you get through the days when the blues and the mean reds come-- by clinging to the belief that tomorrow will be better.
And frequently tomorrow is better. 
It’s almost always better. 
But frankly, I feel like I’ve got this stack of tomorrow promises that I waste a lot of time thinking about, when really, I simply need to be present for right now, for whatever this what it is happens to be. 

But on those days, when the blues arrive, and the mean reds threaten to swallow and swamp me in memories of the past or promises of the future-- I go to Central Market, my favorite grocery store. 
I go to Central Market, and I take one of the plastic salad dressing containers from the salad bar and I use it as a cup to sample all the soups at the soup bar. 
I always try the tortilla soup. 
It is my favorite. 
And somehow, even though soup sampling with salad dressing cups in undoubtably pathetic, somehow, this also cheers me up. 
Because like kittens and grass and trees and hot cups of coffee-- soup just is. It’s just what it is. And thinking about what it is scares the blues and the mean reds away. 


And sometimes that’s all that can be done. 
So I finally made some tortilla soup for myself this past week, because I got tired of driving to Central Market. 
And the flavor of something so simple and so good. 
I don’t know. 
It reminded me that no matter how unsettled things might feel-- everything is just what it is. 
And that is more than enough. 

love, 

m


Chicken Tortilla Soup
via allrecipes.com 

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
1 cup white hominy
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile pepper
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
crushed tortilla chips
sliced avocado
shredded Monterey Jack cheese

- In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. 
-Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, cilantro and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes. 
-Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, and cheese. 

Midnight Cheese


There's a line from the Joni Mitchell song "My Old Man" that I love, it goes "The bed is too big, the frying pan is too wide."


Baby, that's where I'm at.
Lately, when I can't sleep, I roll out of bed and stand in cold light of the refrigerator and eat hummus and chocolate and cheese in an attempt to fill up the night and the hollow spaces inside me.
Because at night, I easily get lost in the past and overwhelmed by the future, and food is so tactile and so real that something as simple as a snack brings me back to the present, which is also intimidating, but better, because there is chocolate to be had in the present. 
And chocolate is comforting. 
The famous food writer Ruth Reichl wrote a beautiful memoir called Comfort Me With Apples, which is a mostly perfect title, but if I were to write that food memoir right now it would be called Comfort Me With Chocolate. Or, Comfort Me With Cheese


Baby, if we're being totally honest, I just can't bring myself to really cook meals these days. 
The frying pan is too wide. 
So mostly I am eating eggs, hummus, beans out of a can and apples and coffee and beer. 
Which is simple and small and just fine. 


But this is really to say, I think about you all the time and I have a lot to say, I'm just figuring out how to say it right. 
I don't know. 
I'll bake you a cake soon and we can talk about that. 
But right now my frying pan is too wide, and I really just want to eat two kinds of cheese until I'm full enough and then go laugh and drink beer with my people. 
Because right now that feels nice and sweet and good. 

So. 
Cake soon. 
Meals again soon. 
But for now. 
I love you I love you I love you. 

xoxo
mary 



Excellent Midnight Cheeses:
Tillamook Sharp Cheddar: http://www.tillamook.com/
Cabot: http://www.cabotcheese.coop/
Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar: http://www.barbers1833.co.uk/