I have set a new goal for myself.
Each week, I want to find at least one way to simplify my life — by skipping something.
I might skip an entire task, or just one step from a complicated one. I might skip an ingredient in a recipe, if I don’t have it and I don’t feel like driving to the store. Frankly, sometimes I find that a recipe is better without the missing ingredient!
I already thought of something to skip this week, but I promptly forgot it again. Forgetfulness doesn’t count as simplification, in case you were wondering. Now I need to think of something else to skip…
In the meantime, I will share an example from the past.
I love potato soup; my mother made some great soups, and that was one of her specialties.
Please note: My mother is alive and well, but she doesn’t cook as much these days, which is why I am speaking of her in the past tense in this particular context.
My mother used a fairly long process to make her potato soup, including using an old hand cranked food mill to break down the potato pieces. This food mill was some kind of antique; as an adult I combed antique stores until I found one like hers. I believed that this device was somehow key to the potato soup making process.
In recent years, it occurred to me that my food mill took too long to use, and far too long to clean. I got rid of the food mill. First, I switched to my modern electric food processor… now I use only a spoon!
What could be easier to clean than a spoon?
I skip a step in the potato soup making process, thus making a spoon as useful as a food processor. I cook the potatoes directly in the chicken stock, instead of combining the two after cooking the potatoes, as my mother did.
I slice the potatoes, chop some onions, and dump them all into a pot with some chicken broth, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasoning I may be craving on that day. Then I boil until the potatoes are just soft enough to crush and crumble with a wooden stirring spoon. I add a little bit of half-and-half for creaminess (if this ingredient is not handy, I might skip it! Who needs the fat?) and serve the soup with a topping of cut chives. Sometimes, I substitute green onions for chives, but chives are really the best for potato soup.
My methods can alter the texture of the soup, leaving it a little starchier, but it tastes just as good.
By skipping steps, I can make a quick batch of soup for one or two people, in only one small pot, using only a vegetable peeler, a knife, a cutting board, and a wooden spoon. The clean up is a breeze.
The cold, hard truth is that if I had to make the soup the way my mother made it, I probably would not make it at all.
I would skip it.
No wonder my mother doesn’t cook as much as she once did…she’s skipping it, too.