Lately I've been receiving a lot of emails from folks who've read my blog and have cooked my recipes. By a lot, I mean a lot for ME, which is, you know, more than zero.
Let me just make one thing clear, receiving any encouraging emails at all makes me feel pretty dang special. Receiving multiple emails in the same month is like "whoah".
I might be getting a big head, but don't let that stop you from spreading the love. My big head won't bother anyone but Scott Bobleo, and he's five years deep in a lifetime contract to put up with me no matter what size my head gets. (Poor man.)
Anyway, I wanted to share one of my favorite letters with you all. Partly because I'm a big ham, but mostly because it tickled me pink to hear from another person who believes in the powers of soup. Soup is a healing food. There's nothing quite like a warm belly and a happy mouth. No matter what's troubling you, I feel like the right soup can go a long way toward making it better. Go soup.
Mary Helen:I had made this soup years ago but had forgotten enough of it that I searched it online and found your version. I liked this version because it had the benefit of baking the vegetables (my original recipe was all done on the stove top). This appealed to me as one of my staple soups, a tomato-onion soup, is baked as well and has the same relative simplicity.I made the soup last night and served it to my two truculent teenagers. They admitted to liking it and then blessed me with thirty minutes of civilized conversation. I though that was a fortunate aberration but then this evening I served the left-overs to my girlfriend who eventually pledged her ever-lasting-love to me...If you could make a large enough batch of this soup, world peace could be within our grasp...Sincerely,John
In case you are wondering, John is referring to my Roasted Carrot and Cashew Soup recipe, a really simple combination of tasty ingredients, blended and made hot. When it comes to soup, the simple ones are often the best.
I was certainly feeling the love this weekend during The Mac and Cheeze Takedown over at Shangri La. As you probably heard (since I have been blasting ice cream photos all over the internet for the last two weeks) I made Mac and Cheese Ice Cream Sundaes for the competition. I made cheddar and havarti ice cream, and topped it with deep fried elbow macaroni dusted with cheese powder and powdered sugar. Then, I drizzled a little dab of Strawberry Jam and Austin Slow Burn Green Chili Jam on the sides.
I have to say, I think that the sundaes turned out great. After every food competition I usually end up kicking myself, thinking of a better way to do one thing or another. This time though, I was pretty content with what we put out there. Sure, if money and time were no object, I might have hand crafted a superior macaroni for the fried topping, but with the resources we had at hand, I think we really did the best we could. That's not a bad feeling to walk away with.
Especially when you also walk away with a prize. As usual, we didn't place in either the judge's or the crowd's top three, but we've come to accept that as part of showing up with an outside-the-box entry. Plus, the people who did win brought some seriously kick-ass mac n cheese. My personal favorites were a cornbread topped macaroni bake, and my friend Brett's amazing five-cheese mac. He used sodium citrate to melt otherwise un-meltable cheeses. That's some mad scientist shit right there.
We did take home "Most Innovative" which is pretty much the same as the "Most Experimented" prize that we've recieved in the past during The Food Experiments. This is our third competition in a row taking home the "weirdo" prize.
What can I say? If the shoe fits, wear it.
Besides, our entry garnered plenty of praise and enthusiasm from the crowd, which is a prize in and of itself. The people who loved it REALLY loved it, and came back for cup after cup. We even scored a pretty sweet compliment on Relish Austin.
"...we were happy to give Mary Helen Leonard of Mary Makes Dinner the award for most innovative for her mac and cheese ice cream, which reminded me of Paul Qui's Cheddar cheese ice cream sandwich but better."
That's right. Hats aren't even gonna fit me anymore. (Get it? Because my head is so big.)