March 10, 2011

Beware the Ides of March

This line has been popping up in my head since the beginning of March. I think it has something to do with the insane weather we’ve been having, typical and not so much. It popped into my head again today (more than once actually) as I trudged from building to building for my lessons through flooded streets and intersections. Then I began thinking about it and why could I only remember that line? Was there more to it?

Since the weather in March can be so unpredictable I thought ‘Ides’ may have something to do with the winds. You know ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’ refers to the weather so it made sense to me, especially since I live in Ottawa where both of those crazy things occur throughout winter. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with weather. After some digging the only information I could find was on where it writes of Julius Caesar being warned of his death occurring on March 15th (the Ides). Wow! I read the classics in high school and university, but I didn’t read that group of classics. I was way off.

This winter has been harder it seems, maybe because of my early morning schedule (often teaching at 7:30am – What was I thinking?!) and my cooking being sporadic. My dreariness has been more profound than in the past. I cannot wait until spring and looking at the calendar hasn’t helped. Today as my feet got wetter and wetter and at one point I thought I no longer felt the water seep in, until I walked through another puddle and felt a little more come through. My winter boots are water resistant to a point and last night’s snow and today’s rain overwhelmed the ugly black things on my feet.

A few Friday’s ago I treated myself to lunch at Edgar. There weren’t any errands to run, I had energy, and the house was all tidied up. The sun was even shining that day so the short drive across the river was extra fast. Once inside I settled in the window and I decided on a cup of chocolate chai and the tomato soup. The tea was soothing (mental note: go to Marysol’s source and pick some up). For the soup a small amount of pistou was drizzled on top which I quite enjoy. I never do that for mine at home so it makes my treat extra special. Afterwards I couldn’t resist the desserts. There were pretty macaroons (no gluten in them) calling my name. I’ve never been able to make them – add that one to my list (let’s see: eggs, macaroons, oatmeal). It wasn’t busy so I was able to sit there and enjoy the conversation and laughter going on behind me.

As I paid Marysol said summer will be better for me as I won’t be stuck with soup; there will be salads. I didn’t worry as her soups are always tasty and heart-warming. Then as I left I realized that I really like soup. Maybe it’s one of the things that gets me through these wickedly cold and miserable days. My cookbook has so many soup recipes, some being more popular than others. I had made my quick and easy Thai fish soup earlier this week and tonight called for another one; something to warm me up from the inside out. After a cup of lemongrass tea I was still chilly and so it was decided: Black Bean Soup. I found this in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home and it can be tweaked how you like. Sometimes I add more jalapeno or cayenne and other times I puree it thoroughly while other times I leave it chunky. You have to love soup like that.

And like a good soup, it warms you up from the inside out.

Black Bean Soup                 40 minutes serves 4-6
10 sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 cup boiling water
1 ½ cups finely chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced, or ¼ tsp cayenne
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
¾ cup water
1-28 oz canned tomatoes
2-16 oz canned black beans
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Additional water or tomato juice
In a small bowl, cover the sundried tomatoes with the boiling water and set aside.
In a large pot, sauté the onions, garlic, and jalapeno for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the cumin 1/3 cup water and the canned tomatoes with their juice. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the beans and continue to simmer. Add additional water or juice so soup is the consistency you desire. Drain and chop the sundried tomatoes. Add them to the soup and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and puree the soup to your liking (sometimes I pure only half if I still want it a little chunky and thick).
*Nice with a dollop of plain yogurt.


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