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Casting a Food Spell

Miss Liz McConnell, NPHS - English Teacher

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As I scan the cafeteria from my lunch duty perch, I am always amazed by the length of the line at the Cookie Corner. Who could resist, honestly? Students file by me with stacks of pillowy soft pretzels, the salt coating crunching under their teeth as the gossamer paper wrappers flutter to the ground, forgotten.  

And those cookies—oh, the cookies. Friends of mine who graduated in the mid-‘90s asked me to procure two dozen Cookie Corner cookies for a party. I sent the cookies to the party with my fiancé, Mr. Weizer, and he relayed the scene to me the next day.

                “They couldn’t wait to eat those cookies,” he laughed. “It was like I had brought a bag of gold to the party or something. Everyone was silent for a good 10 minutes as they focused on eating.”

                “Did you have any?” I asked.

                “Of course!” he replied, shocked that it was even a question.

                And so now it has become a tradition among the group that whenever there is a get-together, I bring the cookies. I usually pride myself on elaborate homemade goodies, but Cookie Corner cookies are the only acceptable sweet for these guys.

                Food memories and food itself have power—for better or for worse. These 30-somethings still remembered the gooey centers of a cookie that they hadn’t tasted for close to 15 years, but still, just the thought of being able to eat that treat brought about a giddiness they wouldn’t want me to disclose.

                In contrast, the smell of burnt popcorn reviles me. It’s not only malodorous, but it reminds me of the night before the first day of classes my freshman year of college. My roommates and I decided to pop some popcorn—a distraction from our anxiety ridden conversations about lectures and exams. We burned the popcorn, set off the smoke alarm, and evacuated the entire dormitory at 11:30 p.m. Needless to say, our embarrassment was palpable and I forever associate burnt popcorn with the wrath of co-eds.

                Most of our food memories—and aversions and acceptances of food—are created when we’re young. Our senses work overtime as new smells are introduced to our lives almost daily. Now, food is more of the same and the smell of something like pumpkin pie transports you to your grandmother’s house, Thanksgiving, 10 years ago—not to a recent memory.

                It’s not too late to create new food memories, though, and experiment with new flavors and techniques. Each week I’ll be sharing a nourishing and healthful recipe that hopefully opens up new food doors for you. Most of these recipes will be vegan (no animal products) as many of us not only need to try new things, but also eat more wholesome foods.

                If the sunset at 4:30 p.m. makes you want to crawl under the covers until April, this recipe is for you. A great replacement for chicken noodle soup, the tender rice and rich coconut milk will make you forget about chunks of chicken, excessive sodium, and animal fat. Layered with flavor and nutrient-rich ingredients, this recipe should extricate you from the couch and your Snuggie.

 

 

Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons (vegan, GF)

adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking

 

  1. Melt 1 Tbsp of coconut oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion and 1 finely chopped garlic clove to the pot along with 1 ½ tsp of red curry paste. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the onions are soft. Make sure the curry paste is well incorporated.
  2. Rinse 1 cup of wild rice under cold water and add to the pot. Pour in 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cover. Let the rice cook for about 40 minutes, until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, peel a sweet potato and cut into ¼ inch pieces. Heat another Tbsp of coconut oil in a heavy skillet. Add the sweet potato chunks and sprinkle with sea salt. Stir once to coat the sweet potatoes in the oil. Sautee until crispy on the outside and soft on the side, about 10 minutes. Don’t move them around too much as you want a nice crust on the outside. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Once the wild rice is tender (their fluffy white insides will be showing), add 1 15 oz. can of coconut milk, 1 cup of water, 2 tsp of turmeric, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp of sea salt. Stir to combine. Allow to simmer for about five minutes to let the flavors mingle.
  5. Taste for seasoning. Before serving, squeeze a lime over the soup. Make sure to scoop from the bottom so each bowl has some of the wild rice. Top with the sweet potato croutons.

 

Coconut oil helps boost the immune system and aids in digestion. It’s also wonderful for hair and skin. You may substitute extra virgin olive oil if you don’t have coconut oil.

 

Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene and Vitamin A. They are a much better choice than croutons made of white bread.

 

Wild rice is actually a grass that’s packed with protein, potassium, zinc, B vitamins and folic acid.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Casting a Food Spell”

  1. Kayla on November 11th, 2011 1:46 pm

    Yummmyyy

    [Reply]

  2. Jewel Rama on January 30th, 2012 2:04 pm

    Its funny how food has its place in out hearts and minds. Food is a part of our everyday life. Many memories we have often have food in them. Moreover if its a memory of a loved one and their “special dish” that nobody could cook like them. Or if its a family meal, first date, engagement dinner. Food remains vivid in our memories, many times people can’t remember what they where wearing or even where they were. But, they can often remember who they were with and what they ate. Food has that much of an impact

    [Reply]

  3. Rebecca Carroll on January 31st, 2012 5:43 pm

    That sounds delicious. I love the fact that old traditions can connect people no matter how much time has passed.

    [Reply]

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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA
Casting a Food Spell