One of the pleasures of being a comfortable cook and having some basics on hand is that you can throw together something to eat at (relatively) the last minute. Case in point; after the holidays I had a little over a pound of beef from a standing rib roast. It was beautifully cooked rare, and I anticipated that we’d make sandwiches with the leftovers. But days passed and for whatever reason, it was still there. Suddenly I found myself with this delicious piece of meat, and a need to make something with it, lest I allow it to spoil.
I rummaged through my refrigerator and pantry cabinets pulling out remnants from past meals (half a diced onion leftover from brunch, a couple of ounces of sliced bell peppers leftover from making pizza, about of cup of dried wild rice in the cabinet, etc) and slowly the meal came together like one of those chef show’s mystery boxes. In my freezer I had homemade chicken stock. Beef stock would have been better, but chicken stock will work just fine (it’s homemade soup people, not the Bocuse D’Or). In my refrigerator’s vegetable drawers I had the staples I always try to keep; carrots, celery, garlic plus some mushrooms reaching their prime, so into the pot they go.
Some quick slicing and dicing, and in about 20 minutes everything was in the pot. Dinner was ready less than two hours later.
As I was cooking I thought to myself, “I should share this on the blog. It tastes great and it’s something anyone could make.” But then I had one of those moments of self doubt. If I was going to blog about it, I needed a photo. And I didn’t want to have to take a photo when there wasn’t any good light. I also didn’t have time to do the necessary post production. Finally, I didn’t want to delay my dinner by having to set up the perfect shot. When this happens, usually I just share my thoughts on Facebook, like this post.
You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting all that much lately. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been doing some freelance writing and photography, plus the constraints of everyday life; job, family, holidays and even other blogs conspire to suck away my time and attention.
But that’s not all.
In thinking about it, one of the other issues preventing me from blogging is the pressure I put on myself to be “perfect”. Many times I’ve made something delicious that I want to share, but the pictures aren’t up to my standard and I can’t bring myself to post without a photo. Or, at times I have a photo and a recipe, but nothing to “say”, no real introduction or anecdote.
But no more. I am giving myself permission to be imperfect. I may post recipes, like this one, without a photo, just because I think people will like it. Or because I want a record of it. I may put up recipes without much of an introduction in lieu of posting nothing at all. I’m sure many of you can relate, even if you don’t have a blog.
I will admit this causes me no small amount of anxiety, this posting without a photo. I feel like I’m breaking food blogging rule number one. Will people actually read the post if there are no pretty pictures? Can I capture their attention and keep it without photos? I have faith in you, my readers. With no picture, I’m aware the post can’t be “Pinned” or put up on Foodgawker, but that’s ok. It’s not about self promotion, it’s about giving myself permission to be imperfect because really, no matter how hard I try, I will never be perfect. I can just be the best I can be.
What about you? What do you need to give yourself permission to do or be?
1.5lbsbeefcooked rare or raw, roast, chuck, or stew meat
1eachsmall oniondiced small
2eachmedium sized carrotsdiced small
2clovesgarlicsmashed or minced
8ozmushroomshalved and then sliced
1/2eachbell pepperany color, diced small
1/2tspdried ground sage
2quartsstockbeef or chicken plus 1 quart water (or stock)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepperseason to taste
Cut the beef into 1" cubes
Dice all the vegetables as described above.
Heat a large heavy bottomed soup pot (about 12 qts) and add the olive oil.
Add the onions and the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until the mushrooms get soft and begin to color.
Add the beef and saute with the vegetables until it begins to brown. Add the dried herbs and stir.
Cover with the stock and water and bring to a simmer.
In a small pot add the wild rice and cover with about 3 cups of water. The water should cover the rice by 2 to 3 inches. Cook the wild rice until it begins to open, about 50 minutes. If there is any water left, drain it off and then add the rice to the soup. Cook for another 10 minutes so the rice can absorb a little of the soup's flavor.
Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
If you don't have wild rice, try substituting a whole grain like barley, farro or wheat berries.
I cook the wild rice separately so that it doesn't suck up all the liquid from the soup during the cooking process.