Friday, October 23, 2009

Sleep Soup

The photo above sums up my state of mind this past week...namely it has been a doozy.

I mailed off six revised manuscripts of the book I have been working on for years now...and it felt so good. Until I left the post office, after a twenty minute wait in line, and realized that in a relatively empty parking lot I parked the car in the handicap space...and the short bus was waiting for me to move. I felt terrible. The bus driver threw his arms up at me as I raced to strap Lil' Bit into her car seat. I mimed an apology and sped off to the nearest coffee shop. Sleep deprivation had obviously taken its toll, and caffeine seemed the only way I could feasibly survive the day without drifting into total oblivion.

Lil' Bit is learning how to fall asleep on her own this week, which has been a nightmare. There is no other word for it. Watching your toddler cry and scream for you to pick her up out of her crib for 45 minutes straight is a true trial of love. Chef and I sit and sing and talk to her until she finally gives up and settles down to sleep. It is my fault for having rocked her to bed every night of her fresh life, but I would not give up that bonding time with her for a million sleepless nights.

Now that shades of reason are slowly beginning to wrinkle her brain, she has become more adept at understanding and it is time for her to understand that drifting off to sleep is a lovely skill, and totally necessary to sanity for all concerned.

The weather finally broke. For about 36 hours the temperature dropped 20 degrees and it felt like fall. It was wonderful. The windows at home were thrown open and the curtains billowed in the cool breeze. I wore scarves and sweaters and was just about to sport boots when climate change reared its ugly head. Alas, the brief respite from heat is over, it is now back in the 80's. The wisp of seasonal change was such a tease. For those of you living in cooler climates, the following statement may seem a bit naive, but I long for winter.

Chef made a delicious pozole on one of those fleeting fall nights. It is a dish that his Hispanic kitchen staff has made him as a treat throughout his career, and it is one of his favorite comfort foods. We both love Mexican food, and this dish was perfection.

Pozole is peasant food, a soup made of pork, hominy, and dried red chiles. A classic Mexican supper. What makes it fabulous is that it is topped with radishes, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions, ...and usually eaten with a tostadas. The cool crisp toppings blended with the hot hominy stew creates the perfect balance of light and hearty. It is like soup and salad all in one.

Chef chose a Rick Bayless recipe, because it's rooted in the true anthropological nature of peasant food. Pozole comes in many variations, this recipe in particular is for red. If you are not into eating pigs head, you can substitute pigs feet, if you are not into pigs feet, you can just double the quantity of meaty neck bones...which is what I requested Chef to do being that as a pregnant lady I can only stomach so much.

Good Life Recipe # 13/Pozole Rojo/Rick Bayless from his book Authentic Mexican

Makes 10-12 large servings


  • 4 quarts of canned hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 3 medium (2 1/2 lbs) of pigs feet well scrubbed and split lengthwise plus 1 1/2 lbs of meaty pork neck bones
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean, boneless pork shoulder, in a single piece
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 large (about 2 ounces total) dried chiles anchos, stemmed seeded and deveined
  • 4 large dried chiles guajillos, stemmed, seeded and deveined (if you can't find the two mentioned chiles use 9 California or New Mexico Chiles)
  • Salt, about 1 tablespoon
Ingredients for condiments:
  • 1/2 medium head of cabbage, cored or very thinly sliced or 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 8-10 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup dried oregano
  • 2 to 3 large limes, cut into wedges
  • 15 to 20 tostadas
  • Measure 7 quarts of water into a stockpot and add the pig's feet and neck bones, the pork shoulder, garlic, and hominy. Bring to a simmer and cook until the corn is tender

  • Tear the chiles into large, flat pieces and toast them, a few at a time, on a heavy skillet set over medium heat, using a metal spatula to press them firmly against the hot surface until they crackle and blister, then flipping them over and pressing them down again. Remove to a bowl, cover with boiling water, weight with a plate to keep them submerged and soak for 30 minutes.
  • Drain, place in a blender and add 1/2 cup of water. Blend until smooth.

    Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into the simmering soup, then mix well.
  • Generously season the soup with salt, and let simmer for another hour or so.
  • Remove the bones, feet, and shoulder from the simmering broth. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, feet, and shoulder. (For pigs feet remove and discard the cartilage and bones, then chop what is left into 1 inch pieces). Roughly shred all meat
  • Just before serving season soup with salt. Add the meat to the pot and let simmer for a few minutes to reheat.
  • Ladle the soup into large bowls, top each one with a portion of shredded cabbage or lettuce and some sliced radishes. Pass the onion, oregano and lime wedges separately for each guest to add to his or her taste. The tostadas are a crunch accompaniment to enjoy between big spoonfuls of the soup.


Marcy Gordon said...

Looks good Nan. But I always get a little pang of envy when I get even a fleeting glimpse of that beautiful kitchen. At least I can get a vicarious thrill reading about what you guys are cooking there. I miss that tile and that granite and miss you too!

Nan said...

let me tell you lady...there is not a day that goes by that we don't appreciate you and roger's immpecable taste! just know that this beautiful kitchen is being but to excellent use. although, the simmer gas burner was just telling me how much she missed you and roger...and i was in total agreement.