This Friday was unusual for my family, because everyone was home at the same time. We decided to make it a little special, and since nothing was playing at the movies (the only special thing within fifty miles) we thought of movie night at home.
Paul, Mom, and I went to get provisions to see us through this venture at the local Super-Walmart, in Wabash. Since we were cooking dinner, we had a little discussion. Mom decided she wanted fish and chips, English style. Paul was all for it. Dad, we all knew, would eat anything that stayed still long enough for him to fork, because he "kills his food before he eats it," a process involving a fork and the prayer that family members are far enough away to retain all necessary limbs.
I wanted soup, like the Soup Lady makes at KenapocoMocha. I thought I would make cream of potato, and I would make it special by using the ricotta cheese she uses to thicken her soup and make it creamy and nice.
For movie options, we headed over to electronics and ended up with the hilarious snapshot of the eighties: Romancing the Stone as a bonus, we bought the sequel too (Jewel of the Nile).
But no one was hungry when we got home, so we all sat on the couch and were bored until we decided to start cooking. Mom made her fish and chips, a quick process, and I began the long and involved task of making potato soup from scratch. Well, almost. I used stock in a box.
I cooked my garnish, bacon, first. This involved several burns. Then I set it aside, forcing my father to take only one piece. The man has a heart condition, and he eats bacon like some people eat chocolate. It is his candy.
Then I proceeded to peel and boil potatoes, cook onions and garlic, make a roux, thicken milk and chicken stock, all while my mother cooked the fish in the fryer, and dispersed it to the guys.
Within minutes, they began to come back into the kitchen with plates of uneaten fish. It was soggy, they said, it tasted wrong, and they wondered how long it had sat on the pier before being packaged, frozen, and shipped to landlocked Walmarts throughout the world. I condoled with them. Mom trashed the fish.
Meanwhile, my potatoes were finished cooking. I drained them and almost poured them straight into my soup-to-be, when I noticed there was something wrong with them.
My perfect potatoes had brown spots. Not all of them, but some of them. I was then forced to sort through and toss half of them, because there was something not quite right with at least two of the spuds I had peeled and diced. Something wrong that was not visible to the naked eye. You needed special equipment for this problem.
I added in the good potatoes, and stirred in the ricotta, slowly so that it dissolved. I had turned off the heat just in case, but now (apparently) I turned the burner back on so that the ricotta could melt. Of course, I had it on low.
At this point, Mom walked into the kitchen and commented that my soup looked mighty good. That was because my soup was mighty good, worthy of the KenapocoMocha. I had minced herbs for this soup, people. Fresh herbs. Really.
We both got bowls of it, garnished with cheddar cheese (freshly shredded, again my doing) and with bacon pieces. I drove my father away from the bacon and told him if he ate it, there wouldn't be enough for everyone to have some with their soup in the future.
Then we watched the movie. I ate my yummy soup. Ladies and gentlemen, that soup was very, very tasty. The potatoes were tender but not mushy, the creamy broth was thick but light enough not to make you feel like you were drinking straight heavy cream. This was fancy, yummy soup. My best, perhaps, for a long time. The soup was blessed, sent from above in the guise of soup to bring joy to humanity.
But its perfection could not remain unmarred, in this the least-perfect of worlds.
Dad had walked into the kitchen, presumably to steal bacon from me, when he mentioned that the soup was still on, and did I know? Shocked, I lept up, heading to rescue my lovely. Dad then said, "Wow, Laura, I don't think you can use this, there's a lot of stuff stuck to the bottom."
I strode into the kitchen and proclaimed confidently: "Everything can be saved! ...Except this."
Crushed, I looked down at my once-beautiful creation. The cheese, of course, had separated when the soup go too hot, leaving a clumpy, oily mixture behind. This was, of course, in addition to the numerable potatoes and onions (and other) adhered to the bottom of the pan.
I was miserable; I wanted to cry. All that work, for nothing. All I wanted, the only thing, was a good cookie to make me feel better. The good cookies are the pepperidge farms sausalito ones, the milk chocolate macadamia nut ones. I had eaten the last of them the night before and had refused Mom's offer to buy me more in Walmart earlier that day.
My father and brother proceeded to mock me mercilessly throughout the night, coming up behind me to say, "Everything can be saved! Except this!" and "Laura, you may not have soup, but you do have a quote we will remember forever."
This only made me more depressed and more in need of the nonexistent cookies. Oh, how I needed those cookies! I tried to give myself solace by feeding the bacon to my Darcy girl, something that made her, at least, a bit happier.
Before the movie had ended, I had thrown out my former masterpiece, Dad was in bed, and I was depressed with nothing to knit and no cookies. How's that for family night?