Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Hominy, Hominy, I Think You Dropped A Bomb on Me!"

As I write this, I can almost hear my husband rapping that phrase – which he invariably does when I make this soup.  Oh, and there’s a little dance that goes along with it.  I’m sure he will be thrilled I am telling you that.
Unless you frequent authentic Mexican restaurants, where this soup is typically only made on weekends, you may not have heard of Posole’.   Posole’ in Mexico is what we call hominy.  It’s a white corn, with distinctive, yet somehow mild flavor and texture.  The recipe, along with a lot of raunchy phrases in Spanish, were taught to me by the women I worked with in a manufacturing plant 25 years ago.  I have made it (and swore in Spanish, come to think of it) at least once per year ever since.  There’s nothing like coming home to an Army-sized vat of this soup on a cold day, which is why Nick tends to break into a little song and dance. 
I am going to publish here, for the first time, a vegetarian version – which could easily become vegan with one small change.  The original variety is very meaty, caloric and expensive to make if you do not stock multiple varieties of dried peppers in your cabinet.  I hope you find my updated, ultra-healthy version something you make throughout winter to warm you up.
What you’ll need:
-Large stockpot
-2 to 3 Chicken bouillon- try Knorr brand soft cubes (or vegetable broth for vegan) 
-A good 2 lbs. of tomatillos (green tomatoes).  Husks removed and rinsed, left whole.
-A few regular tomatoes, any variety, cut in half (this is a great thing to do with overripe ones)
-One large or two small onions, peeled and cut into quarters
-Crushed red pepper, black pepper, minced garlic, ground cumin….all at your discretion.  I’d say about a teaspoon of each.
-2 to 3   15.5 oz cans of Hominy, drained.  Bush’s is fine, or there are some Mexican brands (I can’t tell the difference)
What to do:    In the stockpot, place all tomatoes, onions, bouillon and spices and cover with cold water.  Bring to boil and let simmer until tomatillos “explode”.  They will get soft and seeds will spill out.  Let cool slightly.
Ladle the pot contents into blender.  It may take more than one fill up to blend it all, and it’s okay to leave the bulk of the water in the pot, as you are only trying to blend the tomatoes and onion.  Pulverize it and put back in stockpot.
Bring it back to a boil and pour in the hominy.  Stir well and it’s done!
Now, here the fun part.  When serving the truly Mexican version, provide one or preferably ALL of the following fresh “condiments” to go on top of the hot soup.  It’s like a salad on your soup. 
-squeeze of lime (this one is pretty much mandatory)
-Tabasco or other favorite hot sauce for the inevitable person who wants it hotter.
-sliced avocado
-sliced radishes
-finely shredded green or purple cabbage
-finely chopped onion
-Chihuahua cheese
-corn tortillas for dipping
Try serving this at one of your football gatherings this winter.  It’s a real crowd pleaser, and you’ll get points for thinking outside the “chili” box!

Monday, October 7, 2013

10 Things I Know For Certain - Jeanslist

A number of popular magazines have a section called “Things I Know For Sure”, or something similar.  Many times, I skip to this section – regardless of whose list it is.  I am fascinated by a summation of what life has taught any individual.  That is why I don’t feel it overly self-indulgent to create and publish my list for you (Although, let’s be honest. The very act of blogging is a pretty self-indulgent practice). 
 Many of you I have never, and will never, meet in person.  Why would you care what I have to say about the meaning of life?  You don’t necessarily, but it is my hope that it will inspire you to create your own list.
So please read the following, knowing that they are NOT presented as some sort of empirical truths, but rather “The World According to Jean”.  For me, this list is fluid and should change as new things come to light.  And since I believe the meaning of life is whatever the individual assigns to it, this sort of exercise is pretty important to me.
In a world where we are always faced with the unknown, and bombarded by just how little we do know, I find it strangely comforting to tie a string to my own kite of wisdom and watch it fly!
In no particular order……
1.       Being overly concerned with how others perceive you is narcissistic.  Claiming to not give any sort of shit about the perceptions of others is anti-social.  It is yet another thing we must balance.
2.      If you are doing them right, sex and friendship will get more satisfying with age.
3.      If you plan to live past 50, no suntan will ever be worth the ravages it leaves behind.
4.      One’s children are the only vulnerability that cannot be overridden.
5.      Doing a constant post-mortem exam of your past is an excuse to not listen to the answers that are in the present.
6.      Anything that science and psychology has not yet explained, has simply not been explained yet.  For me, there is no comfort in anything mystical.
7.      Love does not conquer all.  In fact, it is often quite impractical.
8.      Even “honesty” is subjective.
9.      The greatest virtue is kindness.  
10.  The greatest travesty is mismanagement of resources.  I’ve never met a person who did not in some way waste what was available to them, myself included.

So there it is.  It took me a surprisingly short time come up with these -and I could likely write 20 more fairly easily.  It was not an emotionless endeavor.  Some of these were learned with great pain.  Still, looking at them all in a row is the adult equivalent of turning on the closet light to scare off the Boogeyman. 

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with a black and white list of your own.  One day, when you feel particularly adrift, it might just be your anchor.

I bid you peace.