Monday, October 4, 2010

it's time for soup and sweetzels!

Happy October!  Yes, it's still exciting, especially since last night (after clearing some room in our bellies after our Blackbird feast) I welcomed Autumn the best way this Philly gal knows how:

Nothing says "Welcome to October" like that first glorious display of these familiar orange and brown-black boxes of locally made ginger snaps.  Sweetzels are as much a Philly tradition as pretzels and cheesesteaks, but fortunately, they are vegan without any tweaking.  Served on a pretty plate along with a nice hot cup of decaf hazelnut coffee, they walked me down a path of memories scattered here and there like the leaves which will soon crunch beneath people's feet.  I remember when I was a child, how excited my father got this time of year - it was time to break out the Sweetzels and the apple cider (and apple cider donuts if we were really lucky), maybe pay a visit to Highland Orchards and take a hayride before filling our arms with apple butter and donuts (maybe a few caramel or candied apples for good measure).  It also signified that there were only a couple of months until my father's other favorite seasonal treat - egg nog.  It took me years to realize how gross that stuff is, but it still invokes nostalgia if I smell it and I just might take a chance on Silk's "egg" nog this December.

Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day, growing crisp as the sun began to fade beyond the far silhouette of the treeline as we left Lancaster county and re-entered our familiar city limits.  Today was just miserable, cold, and rainy: the perfect day to stay curled up in bed, emerging closer to noon than sunrise (if, indeed, you could find the sun) to drink cup after cup of coffee while eating toast or waffles or fruited oatmeal.

I went to work.

After a brisk walk through the mist upon returning home, repeating a mantra-prayer that went something like this "please don't rain 'til I'm home, please don't rain 'til I'm home" repeat ad infinitum.  It appeared to work, because I was only a little misty when I got home, rather than wet and sad.  Either way, I was chilled and wanted one thing only.

Tonight's dinner was White Bean-Tarragon Soup from The 30 Minute Vegan which I served with surprisingly tasty grilled cheeses made with cheddar Rice Vegan on Whole Foods brand multi-grain bread.  Hopefully, my mother will read this at some point, look at that picture and laugh at me because I burnt the sandwich.  I was such a pain when I was younger - I think I gave her anxiety problems just from my grilled cheese requirements, chief of which was don't burn the sandwich.

In any case, I was impressed with how flavorful the cheese was.  It didn't melt as in "get all gooey," but it did bind the two pieces of bread together, so it must have done something.  I don't think you can tell a difference between this "cheese" and regular cheese in a burnt-ish grilled sandwich, which is fine by me and Mister didn't appear to mind.  I could justify adding this to my fridge-pantry list, though I would like to try some of the other brands out there now that we have so many in the city...not in Lancaster.

Enough Lancaster-bashing (for now), let me tell you about my soup!  The broth was extremely flavorful and there was a definite Asian influence, probably owed to the minced ginger and tamari.  The soup was actually far chunkier than I thought it would be, which I believe was its saving grace with Mister.  Half the ingredients are herbs or spices and the other half are celery.  Okay, maybe not, but it sure seemed like the celery was almost as prevalent as the beans!  The grilled cheese didn't necessarily go, cuisine-wise, with the ethnic-inspired soup, but grilled cheese and soup go together like Angst and his blanket.

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