Saturday, November 29, 2008
I made it again today, but I regret I can produce no photographs. The camera was away, serving the needs of the high school senior in the house who is also one of the photographers for the school newspaper. In lieu of pictures, here is the original recipe for the stew:
1 pound boneless lean beef round, cut in cubes;
1 tsp. salt; freshly ground pepper;
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil; 2 large sweet onions, halved, sliced;
2 large cloves garlic, minced; 1 tsp. dried rosemary;
2 sprigs parsley; 3 bay leaves;
1 tsp. ground cinnamon; 1/4 tsp. allspice;
2 cups water; 1 and 1/4 cups white wine;
2 large red potatoes, cubed;
1/2 pound rotini pasta;
2 tsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and brown the meat in hot oil in a heavy pot. Remove the meat, and cook the onions in the drippings for about 5 minutes, until they are soft. Remove half the onions and set them aside for later. Add the garlic, rosemary, parsley, bay, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and allspice to the remaining onions in the pot. Stir well, then add water and wine. Return the meat to the pot. Bake, tightly covered, about 1 and 1/2 hours.
Stir the potatoes into the stew. Return to the oven and bake, covered, about 30 more minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
Meanwhile, cook pasta and drain.
Remove the stew from the oven, discard the bay leaves and parsley, and add the reserved onions and the vinegar. Serve stew over pasta.
As long as you include the main flavor ingredients -- the wine and the cinnamon -- this is a forgiving recipe. I was short on parsley, rosemary, and vinegar, but substituted sage and basil, and I always like to cook my beef stews far longer than a mere two hours. You may thicken the sauce or not as you like. And, a single piece of beef chuck is simpler to deal with than dozens of little beef stew cubes.
The result is unusually strong, tangy and savory, with a taste that does not necessarily shout "cinnamon" to those suspicious souls who think that spice only belongs in apple pies. Since I used chardonnay for the "dry white wine," I followed the rule of drinking with dinner the wine used to make dinner. And the chardonnay was surprisingly delicious with the beef. It seemed to lose its hot, woody bite, and to become supple, rich, and perfectly fruity without any hint of sweetness. Kevin Zraly in The Complete Wine Course describes chardonnay as the white wine masquerading as a red -- just as pinot noir is the red wine masquerading as a white -- and suggests that it is the only white that can pair with beef. (Our ancestors would disagree, and include champagne in that category.) The success of this pairing prompted me to consider the possibilities of a chardonnay with steak, or with a hamburger (hold the pickle, probably?).
Looking over the recipe and the omissions and substitutions I inflicted on it, it occurs to me that anyone following it more closely might come up with a far different-tasting dish. Rosemary and balsamic vinegar alone are powerful flavors, and of course chardonnay is not what everyone would consider steely dry.
This particular one, by the way, was a Frontera 2006, from Concha y Toro, in Chile -- $4.99 at the grocery store. There is an interesting post at Vinography about chardonnays and other wines that are, um, popular in America, and way down in the comments someone mentions the circumstances under which he would drink Concha y Toro ... too.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The wine is a Norton from Stone Hill Vineyards in Missouri. Norton is the name of the grape, a native North American vitis aestivalis variety. Appellation America calls it the oldest native American grape in commercial use, and traces its history back to 18th century Virginia. By the mid-19th century, it had moved west to Missouri, where wine makers had begun to produce red wines from it good enough to win awards in Europe, and even to give European growers hope that it might save their industry from collapse following the invasion of the (also native American) phylloxera parasite.
Such was not to be; though resistant to fungus and pests, Norton proved not to like France's "highly calcereous lime based" soils. Today, the grape is the pride of Missouri and Arkansas, and has a "cult-like following" among wine makers and consumers elsewhere. Its further fame is curtailed, it seems, because the vine does not enjoy being propagated from hardwood cuttings as other vines do, and of course because prohibitive shipping laws may easily keep the finished product out of your state if your state's lawmakers vote thus.
I was lucky enough to taste a Stone Hill Norton 2004 several months ago, when a new distributor brought it in for sampling. It was a very interesting wine. The color is dark, as dark as grape jelly, and the taste is also deeply dark, as dark as grape jelly -- but it was dry, complex, and silkily fruity in a way not to be described by the usual raspberry-cherry similes addressed to more famed red wines. It might do well, if not to accompany the holiday meal, then perhaps as a sort of pre-dinner cocktail, which is often the way we drink "big" red wines anyway. And think what fun it would be to introduce your guests to a native wine bearing the delightful sobriquet "the cabernet of the Ozarks." You might raise a toast, while you're at it, to Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton, Virginia "physician and ardent gardener."
Friday, November 21, 2008
Needless to say this has not happened to me, yet. Probably a good thing, as the ethics of the matter confuse me somewhat. Very recently, Tom at Fermentation encouraged bloggers to accept the chance to review wine samples; as I seemed to recall that earlier in the year he had chafed at it as a sleazy thing, I had to sift through his posts and refresh my memory about his professional opinions. He advises that accepting a sample and then choosing to post a review about it is fine, ethically. The sleaze factor arises when a winery knocks on a blogger's door and says "we will send you a sample only if you promise to review it, and in a certain time frame."
Clear enough -- though how many bloggers make no promises, take in a free sample, and then don't review it? Why wouldn't they? -- because they didn't like the wine but feared to post something negative? In any case, my ethical and slightly sweaty hand is held by the BlogHer ad network, which, since it already runs top-drawer advertising for me, tells me exactly the circumstances under which I may or may not post a review of a potential competitor's "freebie."
All moot points, since I have never yet opened my back door to find a bottle of wine sitting there gurgling like a baby in a basket. And, truly, what is the helpfulness to wine drinkers of wine reviews? (I leap out of my skin to assure the heavens that of course I'd still be delighted to do one. Gobs of fun.)
Paul Jaboulet Aine, Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone 2006, Tain l'Hermitage, France. 60 percent grenache, 40 percent syrah. $8.99. (BlogHer says I may review anything I like so long as I paid for it.)
This was a smooth, even a bland wine, considering the typically rough-edged nature of the grapes in the blend. Suggestion of raspberry; red satin. Plain. Nice with any beef dish.
It occurs to me that this review, of the way a wine of my choice affected my taste buds, would only be useful if it inspired the reader to go out and buy the same thing and, with luck, enjoy it as well. Or at least learn that he never wants to taste this again. Paul Jaboulet Aine is a workhorse French maker whose product shows up not only on your grocery store's shelves but also in lists of good "everyday" wines like that in Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course (Sterling Publishing, 2007, p. 215). So, it further occurs to me that perhaps the only point to a wine review should be to draw within the reader's notice a wine that is affordable. I'm a consumer, too. What do I care that a $100 bottle of something seemed to taste -- to someone else -- of roses and honey and the dreams of kings?
Not that I wish to sound churlish. Even though Good Wine Under $20 seems to have taken this idea, of concentrating on reviewing inexpensive wines, and run with it long since. But what are we getting from a wine review? Shopping advice? Good writing? A vicarious experience for its own sake? The world of wine is so vast (apologies for the cliche) that I venture to guess each little review is like a news headline, adding its own mite to the store of information for the day. What use the reader gets from the headline must depend partly on how deep his knowledge already goes. The Dow recovered slightly in early trading ... Somali pirates attacking oil tankers ... and oh yes, Rhone reds tend to be grenache/syrah blends, don't they. That, I must admit, is just about where my knowledge rests at the moment. I am not quite ready to nod in agreement with Dr. Vino , for example, when he explains why he "has several magnums of Deccombes, Desvignes, and a mini-vertical (three vintages!) of Clos de la Roilette cuvee tardive" in his cellar. Bless him.
More than one wine writer has prefaced a book by explaining how inevitable and necessary it is, sooner or later, to talk about wine. Human beings communicate through words and we want to share our pleasures, so wine being a pleasure, we use words for it. Some of us use numbers. Those 100 point scores seem to have enslaved everybody. I remember most of the wholesalers I met quoting Spectator and Advocate numbers as if they were holy scripture. For a while, I tried a shorthand of my own for my wine notes: I tried exclamation points, or slash marks, or smiley faces. Chateau Petrogasm's use of images only is delightful and refreshing, but curiously blinkering (another image!) after a short time. And I say so being a new contributor to the site myself.
Incidentally, I had a professor who adored the use of images and actions over the use of words, apparently because a professor of his had persuaded him in turn that images and actions convey information as words do not. Not that he wasn't proud of having his book -- of words --published by the University of Chicago Press. He said, you can teach more about the immigrant experience by having students climb up three flights of stairs carrying a load of wet clothes, than by having them read a book about how difficult it was for tenement dwellers to solve their laundry problems. Maybe so, in that case. But, in the case of wine -- excusing the pun -- the use of images opens up such possibilities for cheating and humbug. Who am I to say that a photo of a piano on a quiet beach does not accurately reflect the sensations of an expensive Bordeaux? The use of language compels anyone to come down to earth and convey information in disciplined and established patterns that all can understand. If I'm a poor writer or a sloppy thinker, or am perhaps just not much interested, then yes, I'll have a hard time expressing what I want to say. I'll also have a hard time disguising humbug. Not that the Bordeaux piano was necessarily humbug.
All so dreadfully serious, and we are supposed to be sharing pleasure! Well, let's have another, then, and I'll use the shorthand, sans smiley faces, that is becoming useful and comfortable for me.
Bolla, Chianti 2007, D.O.C.G., San Pietro in Cariano, Italy ($6.99). Color! Raspberry preserves -- green olives -- horses. Acidity became silk with spaghetti and meatballs.
Oh, and one more image for the winery reps out there who may be hemming and hawing about where to send their next sample.
(Basket baby! from Stephanie Robin Photography and Design, stephrobin's photostream, Flickr.)
Monday, November 17, 2008
November 17th marks the 450th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth I to the throne of England (1558), so all good Tudor history geeks must stop a minute and salute her Majesty.
When you major in history in college, you are expected to choose a specialty, inevitably so when you go on to graduate school, where of course the point is to produce original research. My specialty would certainly have been the Tudors, for the sake of sheer interest and spiritual affinity, but I always felt foolish about it. Everybody likes the Tudors. A hundred gazillion romance novelists, bless them, like the Tudors. All that passion and gluttony and wife-marrying, and then Shakespeare and world exploration, and royal persons making fine speeches before beheadings and things. It's so exciting. But "it's so girly," my gynecologist agreed one day, as she was doing her thing and we were discussing What's New With You.
Indeed it is. How fitting it should be a gynecologist, and a woman, who understood this. "Girly." For a century or so, while the Tudors stomped about London and all those vanished Thames palaces, history and religion and war and diplomacy lurked anxiously outside the marriage bed and the birthing chamber. Obstetrics ruled the English court. Professional historians still tot up the miscarriages of queens, and sigh soberly over what might have been, if only this unfortunate baby boy or that had lived. Five centuries on, the history geek, particularly the woman, feels -- or once felt -- really she ought to apply herself to something more serious and worthy, like urban labor movements or changes in early twentieth-century hospital record keeping in the Tyrol or something. Besides, she can't very well do original research on good Queen Bess here on the south side of Chicago.
But true (historical) love intervenes. Having rebuffed graduate school, having spared myself the need to pick a more correct and noble official specialty, I am free to indulge myself now. ("Time to be in earnest," as Samuel Johnson quipped.) And today is Accession Day, which truly does seem to have been celebrated as such well into more modern times in England, even into the pre-World War I era. So there. So, putting aside our girly qualms, what shall we eat and drink to celebrate? Something Tudor, surely.
An article linked through an excellent Tudor blog, run by a woman in Texas as it happens, tells us what not to prepare for our celebrations. In 1558, New World products like tomatoes, potatoes, squashes, coffee, chocolate, and corn would not have been available even for the rich. Tea from China was also unknown. (We take so much food for granted. Somewhere in the famed Paston letters there is, I believe, a record of a banquet for King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, at which even such an Old World delicacy as a lemon was not used or consumed, but only displayed in a special cup on the high table, to show the king could afford this.)
So we won't plan a menu around New World comestibles. We'll plan it, assuming to begin with we are fairly humble people, around simple things like coarse bread, porridges, the "white meats" cheese, butter, and eggs, and possibly bacon or other salted meat. So much on the table depended on people's status then, on seasonal produce and on religious observance. Everybody was commanded to eat fish, only fish, during the seven weeks of Lent; perhaps even in November we would still be tired of it, and not want any more. Fresh meat must have been a relative luxury, since animals were only slaughtered twice a year and most of the meat salted and put aside. Simple vegetables like cabbages and onions would have grown in any kitchen garden, and fruits would have had seasons -- apples in November -- we don't always recognize anymore, because so much is available all the time. It seems the Tudors liked their salads cooked, and sweetened.
What is off-putting about the feasts of the upper classes and the very rich -- assuming we climb a bit up the social ladder now -- in Tudor times is the huge preponderance of meats and sweets served together, and jellies and pasties made with weird and fatty fish. Lampreys, for instance. I used to think the point was, again, to show one could afford all this, but it seems the more practical reason was that sweet, pasty, or creamy ingredients mollified the salt-heavy effects of preserved and pickled meats. Then, to move to the bakery, we are startled to see ingredients like rose-water, almonds, and honey in the place of much of our vanilla, white flour, and sugar.
And what would we drink? Ale, beer, and wine, some of that sweetened too. The Tudors might enjoy our drink menu of heavily sweetened carbonated waters and sweet fruit potations for children.
Carrolly Erickson says Elizabeth liked her ale "light and tart," though, and flew into a temper when it spoiled in hot weather and became "as thick and sweet as Malmsey wine" (The First Elizabeth). The Tudors would have had a variety of different wines available to them: claret from Bordeaux, sack (sherry) from Spain, and Rhenish wines (rieslings?) from Germany. All of these were considered "small," that is, light in body and taste. They also would have had heavier, sweeter, more alcoholic offerings, like Malmsey (the malvasia grape), made in the hotter climates of Italy and the Greek east -- Cyprus and Crete. The middle chapters of Hugh Johnson's Vintage trace the story of wine's spread in a western Europe just on the threshhold of the modern age. And incidentally, what was it like to take a sip of wine from public fountains, on great occasions like a coronation, when royalty decreed that all the fountains should run joyously with wine? What else had been sluicing through the plumbing just before?
Never mind. A banquet, then, a full-throttle, meat-and-sweet gentry feast: we'll eat things like meat pastries and eels in spicy sauce, roasts, chicken stewed with crayfish, almonds, and toasted bread, more fish in hot sauce, eel pastries, venison and frumenty (a pudding of whole wheat grains and almond milk), and "jellies." A light, tart ale might be the only saving grace in all that. Add to this the realization that almost everyone struggled, at every meal, with bad and painful teeth. Somewhere in my long and loving amateur study of the time, I remember coming across the factoid that people then believed sugar was a remedy for tooth decay, and that poor Queen Elizabeth herself actually cleaned her teeth with a sugar syrup. (I must find that reference, and then start taking better notes.)
But really. Or "God's death!" as her Majesty would shout. It makes one want to put one's head in a fountain.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I said, "Ooooh. What a good idea." It is quick, easy, delicious, inexpensive, and if not exactly new, it is sort of unusual to us because we are a family with both a lactose intolerance problem and a gluten allergy problem, and so I haven't made Fettucine Alfredo -- all cream, butter, and noodles -- in a long time. I was excited.
"But what will Dad and E---- eat?" she asked. I paused and considered. "They'll think of something," I said cruelly. (Luckily they both like a treat of Chinese carryout now and then.) And I went to the store, bought the handful of ingredients needed and a bottle of wine, came home, and set to work.
The recipe comes from Marion Cunningham's 1986 revision of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, and yes, it begins with a half pound of butter (you will boil a pound of fettucine). While the butter begins to melt over a low fire, add two cups -- yes -- of heavy cream. Warm and melt it all together gently and thoroughly. If a Cub Scout den leader rings the doorbell meantime to deliver the popcorn you ordered two months ago, well, don't forget while you are handing over the money and asking him What's New, that you've got a very quick dinner cooking on the stove. Maybe he'll notice.
While the noodles and butter and cream sauce are each in preparation, grate some fresh Parmesan cheese. A cup and a half of it. Yes. (This is the dish once famously dismissed as a Heart Attack on a Plate, isn't it.)
When the noodles are done, drain them and combine them with the butter-and-cream and the cheese.
A bit of salt and pepper, an extra grating of cheese per person if desired, and dinner is served. The pile of fresh boiled spinach on the plate is meant to be a kind of tasty talisman against all that fat.
And OMG, is it good. The wine, also meant to be a tasty, red, resveratrol-laden talisman against all that fat, was an inexpensive Chianti from Bolla. I like Chiantis. They have a gorgeous, cranberry-jewel color, and a unique flavor that combines tart-sweet raspberries, briny green olives, and something piquant, something leathery or almost horsy. In a good way.
Marion Cunningham says that the Italians would serve this as a first course. For us, it was dinner. What on earth could follow it, and not seem anti-climactic?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Ninety years ago to the day after the guns of World War I, "the Great War 1914-1918" fell silent -- at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918 -- the above are a handful of everyday expressions and words dating from that time, which we use without thinking of their origins. To go "over the top," for example, meant to undertake something far more awful than merely to appear extravagant, goofy, or out of control.
Ninety years ago, when the guns fell silent, the toll in European casualties was unbelievable. The Germans and the Russians lost over 1,700,000 men each in battle deaths alone. France lost over 1,300,000 troops; Austria-Hungary over 1,200,000. Britain sacrificed over 900,000 men, Italy 650,000, Turkey 325,000. Civilian deaths at both fronts, in Serbia or in Poland, in Belgium and northern France, are estimated to amount to five million. These figures come from Appendix III to Norman Davies' book Europe (Oxford University Press, 1996). He points out, in tiny print beneath one of the tables, that some of these counts come from "post-war demographic shortfalls," not the actual cataloguing of smashed bodies in the field. A lot of people just disappeared.
This is hideous stuff, and not the sort of information we want to associate with champagne, the wine, in all its froth and joy and celebration. But listen to a wine writer describe Champagne, the land, in France:
The northern edge of the old province touches Belgium, and it includes the departement of the Ardennes, the cool, forested hill country which abuts the frontier. The southern neighbour is Burgundy. To the west lies Paris, to the east, Alsace and Germany. (Champagne by Serena Sutcliffe, Simon and Schuster, 1988).
It begins to sound sinister. She goes on to say that Champagne not only lies thus at the crossroads of western Europe, but also that its flat, open land and the wide valley of its river, the Marne, all make it quite easy of access to invaders. Its capital, Rheims, was captured five times in four fairly recent generations (1814, 1815, 1870, 1914, 1940), and its splendid Gothic cathedral was "virtually destroyed" during World War I. When you read history books on this war you will find that the place names sprinkled about in them, still and forever tinged with eerie melancholy, often belong in lovely Champagne.
And it's not just names in books about this war. Leap back in time 1600 years, and meet, prowling the vulnerable province circa 450 AD, no less a figure than Attila the Hun:
The valour of Attila was always guided by his prudence; and as he foresaw the fatal consequences of a defeat in the heart of Gaul, he repassed the Seine, and expected the enemy in the plains of Chalons, whose smooth and level surface was adapted to the operations of his Scythian cavalry.
This is from the wonderful Edward Gibbon, in his The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Vol. II, chapter XXXV). A quick look at a map will clarify that in Chalons, we are in Champagne. Incidentally, we are a long way from Scythia. The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, given him here by "the last of the Romans," a general named Aetius, is considered one of those seminal events that prevented the West from being swallowed up by gigantic, slave-like, and always predatory Asia.
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Leave Attila and leap forward again: Champagne was also prowled over by (non-Asian) armies of different religions and different nationalities in -- pick a century -- the 1400s, the 1500s, the 1600s. Any thirsty troops could readily drain the cellars of the wineries whose fields they were tromping underfoot, not least of all the cellars of a place like the abbey of Hautvillers, once home to the monk Dom Perignon. The abbey lost 600 barrels at one go, it seems, when one Marshall Turenne was there in the 1650s (Hugh Johnson, Vintage: The Story of Wine). When Russian soldiers were quartered in Rheims in 1814 -- think Napoleon, and all the enemies he made -- an enterprising woman champagne maker decided to appeal to the occupiers' taste by loading up her house's sparkling wine with sugar. The rewards were excellent: the occupiers liked it, took the taste for it home, and soon bottles of Veuve ("widow") Clicquot "became very popular in the land of the Tsars" (Sutcliffe).
What proportion of Champagne's wine making history, dating back two thousand years at least, has been spoiled by war? Did Attila's horsemen also treat themselves to a gulp of something good from the cellars beside the Marne, before abandoning hopes of Europe and commencing that long jog home? And I wonder if it seemed too grotesque for the men signing the armistice in Marshal Foch's railway carriage on November 11, 1918, to drink afterward the wine of joy and celebration. An American in Paris described the delirious happiness of that day.
The streets are crowded and all traffic held up. There are some things, such as this, that never will be reproduced if the world lives a million years. They have taken movies of the crowds, but you can't get sound nor the expression on the people's faces, by watching the pictures.
He doesn't mention champagne, but it does seem that after four years of most unexpected carnage, the public festivities in a victorious capital that day were, shall we say, over the top.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
One pound of round steak will give you four roughly uniform pieces. With a heavy saucer, you can pound each steak a little tenderer than it would be otherwise. Lay on a strip or two of bacon, then a piece of onion and a dill pickle spear. Roll up the steak and either secure the package with toothpicks (my dad could do this, but it is tricky) or tie it at both ends with kitchen string.
Then you will simply brown each meat package in olive oil or shortening. All the cookbooks are right, of course, about not crowding the pan, lest the meat steam to grayness rather than sear nicely. I did two at a time, and removed each batch before browning the next.
When the last batch of little meat packages is browned, return them all to the pot and add water to about halfway up their depth in it. The bacon and pickle in the recipe mean you do not need to add salt to this broth. Bring the rouladins to a boil, and then either turn the heat down and simmer them carefully for two or three more hours, or cover the pot with a lid and put it in a 350 degree oven. After it has baked for an hour, turn the heat down to 225 and let the stew cook slowly for two or three more hours. When you are ready to serve, you can thicken the broth with a combination of flour and cold water dissolved together and stirred into the pot.
For some reason, rouladins make this excellent, velvety brown gravy effortlessly. Mashed potatoes are vital to accompany it. A sweet vegetable like carrots or peas is also a good counterpoint to the piquancy of pickle, onion, and bacon in the beef.
The choice of wine to go with this is something that I think would challenge anyone. A workhorse sweet riesling? A big, heavy, California cabernet? I chose what I hoped would be the fleshy but un-tannic, solid berry flavors of an everyday ($8.99) Rhone red: Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone 2006, from Paul Jaboulet Aine (60 percent grenache, 40 percent syrah). Pretty good the first night, better the next night with the leftovers.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Did the store ever have a chance? It's hard to say. It was tucked away in the tiny, gingerbread-looking "downtown" of a wealthy suburb that an outsider would need a treasure map to find. Right across from the train station! (After-work commuters didn't stop in.) Right across from the library! (Who goes from the library to the wine shop in the course of an aftenoon's errands?) Right next to the post office! (Ditto?) And wine is such a booming business! (But what does that mean? -- booming from being the drink of maybe 6 percent of the population to being the drink of 7 percent of it?) And if only we could have put tables and chairs outside, to let customers sip and socialize al fresco in the good weather ... such good advertising ... but the town fathers would not hear of it. That's like a bar, and would lower the tone so.
In the end I suppose we simply could not compete with the lower prices and equal or better selection offered by grocery stores, discount stores, and even independent shops making ends meet by selling the quaffables we did not. Independent shops which did not, by the way, lose eleven percent of their take each month, debited to the corporate body far away. Is that normal?
All most interesting. And me with student loans to repay, and a new desire to stay in the wine business which I must, nevertheless, not allow to blind me to other, less oenophilic opportunities should they arise. The good news is that one of my favorite grocery store wines -- we never carried it -- St. Gabriel riesling in that nice blue bottle, has come down in price and is now fifty cents cheaper than it used to be. Oh dear. Overproduction? Lowered standards? Reduced demand, like gas? At any rate I'm having it tonight with that good frugal vegetable soup a la Madeleine Kamman's New Making of a Cook. "Any vegetables you like, simmered for as long as you like in plain salted water. And that is all."