Thursday, November 19, 2009
In The Season of Second Chances, Teddy Hennessy often makes meals for himself and for Joy. In doing so, he shows the same kind of practical and creative talent that dazzles us in his renovation of Joy’s house. In this case, he invents a meal out of a can of soup.
“Sounds like garbage, doesn’t it?” our protagonist, Joy Harkness, asks us. “Tastes divine.” Here’s how she describes it:
“Teddy made me soup; or, to be more specific, ‘doctored me up’ some soup. It was his own invention: a sautéed onion, a can of Progresso Chicorina soup, whatever vegetable he might find in the fridge – this time it was a bag of baby spinach, a handful of angel-hair pasta, some beer, a dash of Tabasco, a squeeze of lime, with coarse black pepper”
If we can almost taste it, so much the better. But the real instruction is in the practicality of starting with something that already has the time element of soup-making under its belt. Progresso soup, I’ve found, doesn’t have as much of the tinny metallic, overly salted essence of canned soups. And once the beer, the lime, the Tabasco, the spinach all work their magic, the nastiness of canned soup is all but eradicated.
I’ve made a chicken pot pie with a corn bread crust – and I’ve made the corn bread from scratch. Not difficult – but not, truly, so much better than using a packaged corn bread mix and fixing any hint of ‘package’ by using orange juice instead of water, grating in some orange rind and adding a bit of nutmeg, black pepper and a dash of hot sauce into the mix.
I couldn’t be more hostile to that Sandra woman who suddenly showed up on The Food Channel and looked to be making meat loaf out of canned corned beef hash and instant pudding. But her popularity might be understood (at least a bit) by realizing just how time pressured we are.
Finding the smart short cuts to take – without compromising a level of quality and style is only one thing Teddy has to teach us. There is so much more to learn from Teddy in The Season of Second Chances. You’ll have a chance to read it when the book launches at the end of March. I’d love to hear what you’ve learned or enjoyed. Be in touch!