Friday, February 14, 2014

Cozy and Green + A Winter Wonderland

We have been shut-ins for a few days now. It is currently a "State of Emergency" in our area since an inch or two of snow and ice fell recently and road treatment programs here in the deep South are limited. I understand there are folks who have suffered with our recent storm -- I know of one house under a downed tree and people have lost power, but the declaration of a "State of Emergency" is mostly about diverting funds.

I enjoy being inside looking at the winter wonderland. Our normally perfectly camouflaged wildlife don't seem to notice that we can easily see them against the contrasting white. Yesterday morning 5 whitetail deer took their time sauntering down the middle of our street, completely unconcerned for their own safety. While I was on the phone with a friend yesterday, through the back window I witnessed a lone coyote meandering across the back edge of our yard and slipping under the fence of the adjacent property on his way to the retention pond where he likely finds his dinner on an ordinary evening. These last few nights there have indeed been more horribly bone-chilling coyote pack killings as their similarly unconcerned prey are spotlighted against the snowy expanse under the light of a full moon. It's an eerie sound. So, with the equilibrium of the circle-of-life temporarily tweaked, I'm happy to be cozily indoors, and also glad to have my own pups out of the spooky fray just beyond our walls. Here's something warm and delicious that I came up with during my shut-in days:

Kale Bisque
2 medium yellow onions roughly chopped-- I used Vidalia
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 bunch of kale, without stems, torn into large pieces
1 cup cooked rice or grain of your choice
2 Tbsp. shoyu
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
purified water as needed
salt and pepper to taste
nutmeg to taste

In a tall stockpot, saute the onions and garlic over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the onions and garlic become fragrant, lower heat to low and cook slowly until translucent and slightly caramelized. It's important to take your time with this part of the preparation, since you want a soft, unburned consistency. 

Add the kale and wilt, turning heat up to medium and stirring frequently until the volume of greens has visibly decreased. Add more oil if needed to avoid burning. Stir in the rice and only enough water to just cover the ingredients. I have ruined this soup by adding too much water at this stage, so it's important that the volume of the greens is lower before determining how much water is required. The shoyu, salt, pepper and nutmeg can be added as the pot simmers a few minutes more, softening the kale and grains further. While the kale is soft, but still bright in color, add the almond milk and blend the soup. 

I use an immersion blender in the tall pot since I am not crazy about pouring scalding hot liquids back and forth, but you could also use a standard blender. A Vitamix would yield a smoother result than what my immersion blender produced here, but I liked the immersion blender's results just fine. More water can be added, sparingly, if needed during blending.

Warm the bisque through and adjust seasonings to your liking. A little cooking sherry might be a nice accompaniment, traditional in other bisque recipes as it is, but I opted for a drizzle of high-quality virgin olive oil for my cozy bowlful.

Serves 4

I normally err on the side of under-seasoning, since too much salt ruins most flavors for me, but if you do find you've added too much salt, adding a little more rice and water will fix it.

We did venture out yesterday morning in the jeep, and were even able to help a nice family who were stuck in a ditch. My husband was happy to utilize the winch to pull the car out of the mire. It worked like a charm! Here are a few shots of our adventure:

  I had to laugh at myself as I was viewing my photos later -- as I snapped away, I hadn't even noticed the rear-view mirror!

It's hard to understand what you are seeing here, but I really liked the way this photo came out. The camera was on auto-focus as we were moving on down the road, and it obviously focused on the water droplets upon the plastic jeep window instead of the subject matter beyond. I think it's a serendipitously cool effect!

I hope you enjoy the bisque, and your own cozy, wintry adventures!


  1. I love the bold green color of that soup! And the snow pics are gorgeous.