Where was I? Oh yeah, food. I just read Michael Pollen's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you've been meaning to read Michael Pollen ... well, you really should read Omnivore's Dilemma, because it's awfully good. But if you're not going to (though you should, really you should), read Food Rules instead. It will take you half an hour. Forty-five minutes if you're a really slow reader. Food Rules is Pollan's explication of his own seven-word (seven again!) answer to the question "What should we eat?" Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
Here are some of Pollan's 63 Rules that I particularly like:
#3: Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.
#7: Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.
#13: Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
#20: It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
#27: Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
#39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
#43: Have a glass of wine with dinner.
#51: Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.
#53: Serve a proper portion and don't go back for seconds.
#55: Eat meals.
#63: Cook. (That's my favorite, I think.)
Speaking of cooking, here's what we had for dinner:
Curried Apple Butternut Squash Soup
(this is from my brother and sister-in-law; we had this for Thanksgiving, minus the butter)
Cut two butternut squashes length-wise and put then cut-side down on a cookie sheet with a little water. Bake in a 350 degree oven until soft.
Saute two small or one large finely chopped yellow onions in 4 tablespoons of butter (yes, butter!), along with 4 or 5 (or 6) teaspoons of curry powder or paste and two or three cored, peeled, chopped apples until soft, about 25 minutes.
Add three or four cups of vegetable stock (I made my own today, with roughly chopped parsnips, onions, carrots, cabbage, a bunch of old parsley, some bay leaves, and a tea ball full of thyme, rosemary and peppercorns) and a cup or two of apple cider.
Scoop out the squash and add to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste.
Bring the whole thing to a boil and let it simmer for a little bit.
Blend it all up with your immersion blender (and if you don't have an immersion blender? Get one! Everything is better with an immersion blender).
Serve with grated apples and/or a dollop of sour cream or just a scoop of soft butter if that's all you have.
Cabbage-Carrot-Beet Salad with Caraway and Cider Vinegar
(I made this up)
Boil two large or three or four small beets until soft, and then peel and cut into cubes or sticks.
Slice up a quarter-or-so wedge of green cabbage and saute in a couple tablespoons of butter, along with some kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Grate a carrot or two into the cabbage as it cooks. Grind up some caraway seeds (maybe a tablespoon or so) with a mortar and pestle and add to the cabbage. When the cabbage is a little soft but not totally wilted, add the beets, a little more whole caraway, and a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar. Toss and cook for a few minutes until everything is warm and pink. Serve warm or room temperature.