After years of reading “Old Mother Hubbard” (“and when she came there/the cupboard was bare/and so the poor dog had none”), I struck an emotional connection to the rhyme yesterday that blew the dust off those words.
The a-ha moment came while making chicken soup, a staple at my house given my desire to spend more time rolling balls for snowmen and less time cooking. So there I am, making chicken soup, when I open the crisper to find No.Carrots. Sure, chicken soup can be made sans carottes, but it ends up reminding me of one of those monochrome meals from college with cheesy broccoli and tater tots sidled up next to saucy noodles.
How could my cupboard be bare? Not bare, exactly, but bare enough that it lacked the mirepoix essentials? At one point in my life, when I lived on the Upper East side, I picked up groceries every day. A few tomatoes, a banana, whatever I needed from a street vendor on the walk home from the subway. Over the years my trips have dwindled in inverse proportion to my family size. Now there are five of us and I shop once a week, mostly for milk, yogurt and whatever protein I’ll build our menus around. The veggies come from my farm share, which drops from weekly to bi-monthly in the winter. Given the holiday, there hadn’t been a goodie bag in a month, and with a house full of company we’d long ago blown through it. Onions? Gone. Spaghetti squash? Gone. Potatoes? Ditto. All that remained were two heads of garlic, but they weren’t going to be a satisfying stand-in for my missing carrots.
But today was CSA pick-up day and thankfully, I’m back in business. One-and-a-half pounds of freshly scrubbed carrots—cleaned under the admiring eye of my 7-year-old (“Wow, look at all that dirt!”)—are now sitting in my vegetable drawer, just waiting for the next batch of chicken soup. This time with carrots.
Click here for my recipe for Chicken Soup