|The Calm Before
||[Nov. 26th, 2014|08:56 pm]
Today I raked a lot of the leaves I didn't get around to collecting before the last yard waste pickup on Tuesday. I haven't put them into the wheelie bins yet, but the feral cats will enjoy the big piles I've left lying around the yard. Now that the weather has turned chilly they enjoy curling up in the piles of leaves to stay a bit warmer. The cats will thus appreciate and laud my procrastination, though people might condemn it. |
The opinions of cats have come to mean more to me than the opinions of humans anyway. Let the neighbors complain of the unsightly heaps. They have furnaces and fireplaces, but the cats don't. Besides, I don't think the heaps unsightly. I like the dead leaves, heaped or strewn. They smell good to me, too— much better than the smoke that is issuing from the neighbors' chimneys.
When dusk fell I sat on the porch for a while watching the crescent moon grow brighter in the darkening sky. In a couple of days the scattered clouds will be gathering together and thickening to blot out the moon and stars, so I must enjoy the celestial lights while they remain visible, even if I must shiver a bit to do so. Rain is still expected to begin Friday and continue through most of the week— not continually, I hope. This means there won't be any point to leaving the leaf piles on the ground beyond tomorrow night. The kitties won't want to curl up in them once the leaves are soaked.
I'm going to try to arrange a brief shopping trip tomorrow. The only people in the stores should be those on beer runs or those who have forgotten some ingredient for their Thanksgiving dinner. I hope to pick up just a few items and that they will last me through the rainy days. Only an extraordinarily good bargain could drag me out in blustery weather, so I am uncharacteristically hoping there won't be any such bargains this week. Of course I hope there'll be extra good bargains the next week to make up for it. Bargains and clear skies.
I've got a lot of Progresso minestrone and vegetable Italiano, and a few cans of their southwestern corn and potato with peppers, which they just introduced recently. As a rule I don't like canned soups with meat in them. The texture of the meat always leaves something to be desired, and the flavor isn't all that good either, and there isn't much of it (it's like that old joke about the restaurant where the food is bad, and the portions are so small.)
I make my own beans with ham, but I don't really think of that as soup. It's just beans with ham. We had it at least a couple of times a month when I was a kid. My mom always made it with salt pork, but good salt pork is hard to find these days, and way too expensive for what it is.
My mom used to cook up a big pot of what she called Navy beans with ham. It was to be eaten over cornbread. I liked it with a bit of ketchup. No idea if this was a localism or something she actually learned to like in the Navy!
I use the pink beans for beans and ham. Marie Callender's restaurants used to have a decent navy bean soup, but they have no outlet around here so I haven't had it in ages. I never got the hang of making navy bean soup myself. It just never turned out right, so I don't bother anymore.
What I'd really like to be able to make is a good French onion soup, but I can never quite get it right. The canned and instant packaged stuff is even worse, and I don't know of any restaurants around here that serve it. San Francisco is just too far to go for a bowl of soup.
I've never successfully made French onion soup either, didn't manage to get the onions cooked to the right color and texture. It's easy to do badly, I think -- once I had some in a restaurant on Long Island that I nearly choked on because the melted cheese was unchewable. There's a place down the block here that makes a good version, but it's a little salty for me to have too often. Well, now I know what I'll have to go have sometime soon!
San Francisco has good soup, eh? I've never been there, must go someday. They sell cioppino in tubs at a local market. Is that something you like?
Friends have told me that good onion soup is easy to come by in San Francisco, but I've never had it there. There were a few places in Los Angeles that had good onion soup, including one regional chain restaurant which has since gone under, but I knew people in L.A. who would go to San Francisco for onion soup because they thought it was so much better there.
I wouldn't know exactly where in the city to go anymore, though. This review
from the S. F. Gate recommends six places, but three are in the hinterlands (Yountville, Napa, and Larkspur) well north of the city.
I've seen some glowing reviews on the Internet for a place in the Hayes Valley district (just west of the Civic Center and handy to the Opera House) called Chez Maman, but I'm mindful of the second of Nelson Algren's three rules for life, "Never eat at a place called Mom's." I don't know if the warning applies to French restaurants or not.)
I've also seen positive reviews for a place right downtown near Union Square called Cafe Bastille, but perhaps those reviewers just lost their heads.
Ooh, those sound good! No wonder I screwed up, though, if they're taking up to a day and a half to caramelize the onions. Wow.