Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cook Like Julia Childs for $4.22; Making JC's Potato & Leek Soup

Because I just finished the book Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously which chronicles blogger/home cook Julie Powell's attempt to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (AND because my sad kitchen only has cereal but no milk, peanut butter but no bread and a handful of potatoes), I decided to make Julia Child's potato and leek soup, or, as she calls it "Potage Parmentier", which makes it sound tres more sophisticated.

It's the first recipe that Julie attempts to cook in the book and hers turned out wonderfully--and the recipe only calls for 5 ingredients and 3 steps--so I figure it'd be an easy first recipe for a soup-making novice such as myself. Author Julie only writes about the general method in her book so I followed for exact measurements of ingredients (I cut down on the butter and salt by a third since JC is known to be a heavy-handed with the butter and it was fine.)

1) Wash and cut leeks and potatoes and throw in a pot with water and salt for 45 mins (no stirring even needed!)

You're supposed to use russet potatoes but I had my random colorful spuds from Trader Joe's laying around, and I'm kinda interested to see if my soup will have an indigo-ish hue from my purple potatoes.

2) Mash potatoes with a food mill (whatever that is), or a fork (what I did, which leaves courser bits of potato pieces that the food mill but I think the lumps gave the soup some character)

3) Stir in butter and serve

Although it's not the prettiest looking soup (and would probably be a more appetizing creamy color if I used normal potatoes), it's almost inconceivably tasty and hearty considering it's just water, salt, potatoes, leeks and a tab of butter! And what other dish could you make with just those ingredients? Two helpings later, I'm still quite impressed with myself.

I had to get buy two stalks of leeks ($2.23), my existing potatoes cost me $1.99 and I had salt, butter and water on hand so my 8 servings of soup cost me a total of $4.22. Enough for a couple of bowls plus leftovers!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dog-A-Thon: Walking For The Underdog

As a pet-less dog-lover, I get my fix of puppy love and doggie-activities through my friend's dogs; whether it's attending an awesome, un-ironic puppy b'day party, being dragged up Runyon by the leash while hiking with my friend and her four-legged pal or helping her 'park' her pooch at the 'doggie valet' at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market (yes, really. right next to the 'bike valet' on Main Street.)

Tobie at his 6th birthday party.

Dibo being dropped off at the dog valet.

Although not ready for the responsibility--or to pick up the poop--of a dog of my own, I'm happy to be poser dog owner this coming Sunday, May 18th at the 'Walking For the Underdog' 2K Walk. I'm borrowing my friend, C.S.'s Shih Tzu's (ex-birthday boy Tobey and ex-rescue survivor, McGuyver) and, together with her sister, joining other pet owners and their beloved pups walk the La Brea Tar Pits to raise money for a variety of rescue foundations (including cutely-named, pun-heavy organizations, Bark Avenue and Diamonds in the Ruff as well as Lhasa Happy Homes...which is where my borrowed McGuyver I'm walking with is from).

If you're interested in walking, it's not too late to register (you can either raise money and awareness by having your friends sponsor you, or just donate the $25 participant fee). Although I'm borrowing a pup for the event, dog-less participants are also welcome...and you may even leave with a new best friend; dog adoption booths will be set up from 10am-5pm. There's also live music, vendors selling pet-friendly goodies and something which the official website intriguingly states as 'dog-related entertainment'.

Photo from last year's event; perhaps the 'dog-related entertainment' they were referring to?

Walk for the Underdog is a great excuse for dog-owners to take Rover out for a walk and maybe meet new doggie pals, for non-dog owning pet lovers to be surrounded by cute parading pups and for wannabe dog owners to adopt a new four-legged friend while directly supporting local shelters and homeless dogs (according to the Walk for the Underdog organization, very sadly, 600 dogs are put down in L.A. shelters every week due to over-population, but every $75 saves a dog's life).

If I haven't convinced you to lend a helping paw, maybe Alanis Morrisette will. Check out this 15 second video narrated by her giving more detailed info on the event. I'll post pics of the event next week.

Walking For the Underdog
10AM-5PM, Sunday May 18th
La Brea Tar Pits 5801 Wilshire Blvd. LA, 90036
Registration begins at 9:30AM, Walk starts at 11AM
$25 to participate in the walk, free to check out the event
Street Parking or lot parking on Curson Avenue, between Wilshire and 6th Street. ($7 for all-day parking)