This evening we ate sancocho for dinner. I saw the recipe in a recent issue of Organic Gardening magazine that my awesome mother-in-law gave to us. Sancocho, as the article “The Architecture of Soup” mentions, is a much beloved Latin American soup. Being the daughter of a Puerto Rican, I had heard of sancocho before today but had not yet tried to make it myself. It came together surprisingly quickly; we found the hearty, warm, & tropical soup deeply satisfying & an escape from some of our more typical meals.
Because I am not in the habit of making my own broth, I set some organic store-bought on the stove with some extra water for good measure & brought it up to a simmer. I added in my chunks of plantains & carrots, and as they cooked I chopped my yucca. About 15 minutes in I added the yucca. I also sautéed onions and garlic in a side pan with some salt and pepper, what the writer refers to as a refrito. Finally, I had some frozen peas and corn on hand so I poured those in along with the refrito & let it all cook together for a short time, just until everything was tender. What really made the meal was the chopped fresh cilantro and lemon that we let float around our steamy bowls of soup.
I really enjoy cooking, as I also enjoy eating. Happily, I have come a long way with my cooking skills, thanks mainly to a lot of practice. I spend at least a few hours every day in the kitchen feeding myself & my hungry family. I also love to peruse cookbooks & collect recipes, so if you have any that you’re willing to share that you particularly like, send them my way!
I live about 40 or so minutes away from my mom and my aunt, and sometimes I find myself pining for a hot bowl of arroz con gandules or just plain beans for that matter. When these women get together, the Spanglish flows. Get them in the kitchen cooking with one another & there are few places that I’d rather be. I love to hear their loving banter about the correct way to prepare the red rice, or the sofrito. I ask them for recipes that I have made a dozen times, because each time is like hearing a story that I love very much once more.
My father is also an excellent cook. I grew up spoiled on wonderfully ethnic dishes from such diverse backgrounds as Indian, Creole, & Jewish. My father, being Jewish himself, would often cook up potato latkes during Chanukah. Trust me, he could not cook fast enough to keep that serving platter full. In college, I enjoyed the company of friends who treated me to freshly baked challah, cucumber and tomato salads, hummus (which they swore there was a specific direction to dip from), baba ghanoush, bourekas, the hot & spicy Yemenite spread zhug, many a kugel & more. I also happened to have a Kenyan roommate who taught me how to make chapatti, ugali, & stew, though I unfortunately forgot most of the methods I learned from her.
I gain so much through watching other people cook, and I feel that sharing food is truly a bonding experience. When I gave birth to my daughter, a group of our friends decided to come bring meals by once a day for almost 2 weeks. I will always remember those days, both for my joyous first days with my little girl, as well as for all of the pumpkin waffles, quinoa and black beans, Armenian lentil soup, kale and potatoes, oatmeal cookies & the rest.
Sigh. For all of you family and friends out there reading this, I love your cooking!! Is it crass to yearn for these food experiences again and again?
I’ll leave you all now with these deliciously dreamy anecdotes. Goodnight!