Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thrifting, again.

I think I wore out my thrifting karma for the week yesterday as our trip today yielded very little for me. However, a very good find was this gorgeous vintage Tiffany blue Scottish mohair wrap. It's so pretty I might not even mind another cold day if I can wrap up in this. It's about 6'x1.5'. And $2!
Steve acquired a pile of books, but the only other things I found today was a gold and frost glass to add to my collection and a big divided Tupperware vegetable carrier, perfect for transporting to parties and picnics!
Yesterday my finds included a mushroom spoon rest from the 70s, a teeny teacup and saucer, an acorn/squirrel covered dish that is most likely a Martha Stewart repro (still, for $3, a bargain), a footed and handled china bowl with white gold trim and a little cutting board with rooster tile and teeny cleaver (still quite sharp!).

What am I doing with all this stuff? Who knows. Just don't call "Hoarders" please.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pizza Pizza!

The Boy had a brilliant idea this afternoon at the grocery store. "Let's have pizza!" I hadn't made a pizza in quite some time and now that I think about it, I'm not sure why. At any rate, fresh salsiccia in hand, special "pizza yeast" purchased and we had a plan.

I let the pizza dough rise for a little bit, maybe 15 minutes, even though the directions said it wasn't necessary. The resulting crust was thinnish (I spread it out on a pretty large baking sheet) and light and crispy. It wasn't chewy at all, which I missed a little bit, but it tasted good. I didn't exactly follow the recipe given on the yeast, so I can't attest to what happens if you do.

This one was topped with the aforementioned salsiccia, cremini mushrooms, red pepper, onion, corn and mozzarella. And it was good.


We did a little bit of thrift shopping this week so I thought I would post some photos - of things we bought and things we didn't.

At the Salvation Army on Cherokee I snatched these off the rack and was terribly excited when they fit perfectly.
Vintage red Famolare mocs, for $2.99! The Boy finds them hideous, and I admit they are a million miles from sexy, but I love them. I had Famolare sandals when I was in 8th gtrade and I adored them. I have to get used to the rolling gait again, though.

Also at the Salvation Army I found a few pieces of interesting glassware. I've recently become a little obsessed with glassware printed with gold (and often black) and suddenly I seem to be coming across odd pieces here and there. I shall be mixing some VIP cocktails soon. And maybe storing some candy in that fancy jar.

I was sad to realize, once I got it home, that the refrigerator container has a big crack in it. So, I can't safely put any foodstuffs in it, but I will surely find some use for it. Maybe sweetener packets...
I wanted these plates (there are six), but I have absolutely no room (nor need) for more dinner plates. Plus, I thought they were a little expensive at six for $4.49. The Vegas mug had a really good graphic, but the style of the cup itself wasn't so great.

I did get these weird mugs that turned out to be from some chocolate online site. They are shaped like cacao beans. You're supposed to warm up your hands when you drink from the cups, yada yada yada. They were two for 69 cents so I had to buy them just to figure out what the hell they were.

Next we  headed to St. Vincent dePaul and the lesson I learned is to wait to check out until one of the dudes in charge are working the cash register. They do creative things with prices, generally in the consumer's favor. The other gals do not. Ah well, it's for charity, right?

I found yet another Tiganello purse (my third). This one came with a pink rosary and a St. Thomas handkerchief. I really like this one and the leather is nice and thick.

This sweater is sort of ugly/good, but since it cost 25 cents, I figured I could take the plunge. I'm hoping I can cut off the neck band and the cuffs and have something better. Maybe I'll even make it into a cardigan...Again, for 25 cents, it's a minor loss if it doesn't turn out.

I also found a few shirts for the Boy, which aren't very interesting, as they are contemporary, but were certainly good deals.

The Boy goes to thrift stores for books and he did pretty well this time out. If nothing else, the graphic designs are top notch.

 A couple of books I didn't buy, because I have no desire to re-visit the subject, were two math books I'm pretty certain were part of my curriculum. The design is lovely, but that's all I remember.
  And last but not least, if you have smallish feet, you might want to go pick up these British creepers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy anniversary, baby/Got you on my mind - Braised chicken

Today is our 15th anniversary! I was sure it was our 14th until Steve reminded me otherwise. I am a hopeless non-romantic as I barely even remembered the date. I don't love my husband any less, I just don't remember the date we got married. Is that so wrong?

To make it up to him I gave him his choice of dinner and dessert. He waffled on the entree choice but picked chocolate cake for dessert. As I was wandering around the grocery store today I found chicken thighs on sale and started thinking about a nice slow oven braise, particularly since I had also found sliced crimini mushrooms on the clearance rack and I thought they would go nicely with the thighs. So, I seasoned the thighs, dusted them with flour and browned them in a Dutch oven in a combo of oil and butter. Then I added a large sliced sweet onion, five cloves of garlic and about a pound of sliced mushrooms (there were eight thighs), a cup of white wine and a couple cups of vegetable broth. For seasoning other than salt and pepper, I tucked a little bundle of fresh thyme stems into the liquid. I had preheated the oven to a low 250F and popped the covered pot in the oven for about 2.5 hours. After that, I raised the heat to 400F and let the liquid reduce and thicken and the tops of the thighs to crisp up. In the meantime, I made some mashed potatoes to go alongside.
A few days ago I promised to share the easiest, best chocolate cake recipe. You can find it here, on This is so easy and so good that once you make it, you'll never buy another chocolate cake mix again. (I suppose I should look for a similar yellow cake recipe; I'm sure one exists.) It's moist and chocolate-y and not too sweet (despite the amount of sugar in the recipe...). I like making either a cocoa buttercream or a cocoa whipped cream icing (or a combo, which is what I did today), but a white frosting with coconut would be really good too. Good photos of the cake eluded me, however, so this is all you get.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When I'm dancin' the hoedown and my boots kinda slow down/Or anytime I'm week in the knees, I hanker for a hunk of/A slab, a slice, a chunk of/A snack that is a winner/And yet won't spoil my dinner! Cheese souffle

Remember how I said more souffles where definitely in our immediate future? Nothing else sounded good today so it occurred to me it was time for a savory souffle. Oh, and candied bacon too. The last few times I had been grocery shopping, I had sidestepped the bacon area, trying to resist buying any. But a couple of days ago, I could resist no longer.

Since the Real Simple recipe for chocolate souffle turned out so easy and so tasty, I went there first for a cheese version. After checking a few others for comparison, I decided to stay with Real Simple again. While the cheese version is slightly more work than the chocolate, it's still relatively easy. You make a bechamel with cheese, blend in the egg yolks, whip the whites and mix it all together. Oddly, even though I filled both cups to the same level, one of mine sort of erupted and spilled over the edge while baking, even while it raised the same as the other. So, my advice is to always put your souffle container[s] on a baking sheet or pan for safety.

As far as the candied bacon goes, I combined several recipes and ended up dredging the raw bacon in a mixture of flour, brown sugar, dried mustard, cinnamon and chili powder, twisting each piece and laying in on a rack placed in a foil-covered cookie sheet (make sure you use one with sides!). Then you bake it till it's done (which means brown and crisp).

So, basically, we had a kind of fancy bacon and eggs for dinner.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cool cherry cream, nice apple tart/I feel your taste all the time we're apart - Meatless Monday

I'm not always in observance of Meatless Monday, though I do try for at least one other meatless night, particularly if we miss it on Monday. Yesterday I spotted some lovely, huge portabello mushrooms and thought we'd have burgers made with them today. I marinated them for a few hours in a mixture that included soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, white wine vinegar, a bit of canola oil and spices. To go along with the burgers, I made oven fries. I think potatoes are often too wet to get properly crispy when I make baked fries so I sliced up the potatoes a few hours in advance and let them air dry for a few hours before baking. It gave them a sort of chewy texture and I liked it.
Since I had leftover custard sauce from yesterday, I thought I'd make an apple pie today to go with it. This was a total cheaters apple pie. I don't apologize for using the Jiffy pie crust mix, because I love that stuff (and you do still have to mix and roll it out, so it's not completely cheating). As an aside, add a little sugar to that mix and you have a basic pate sucree. When strawberries are in season, I make a cobbler/pie hybrid with slightly sweetened pastry, strawberries and blueberries that is soooooo good. Anyway, I do apologize for using a can of apple pie filling. I can't even remember why I had a can of apple pie filling, but I needed to use it, right? I doctored it up with some cinnamon, nutmeg and just a little grating of lemon zest. The texture turned out to be all right in the finished pie, not nearly as mealy as that canned stuff usually tastes. I sprinkled some raw sugar and dotted some butter on the top crust, just to add a little richness to the pie. All in all, it was pretty good.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Give me a drink boy, wash my feet/I'm so tired of running from my own heat - Korean beef

This morning I found a beautiful bundle of rapini (broccoli rabe) at the grocery store today and it got me thinking about dinner. I was craving beef and it was going to be warm enough to grill outside. At the time I started preparing a chuck steak for marinating, I still had no idea of the seasonings I wanted . But I suddenly thought that the flavors of bulgogi (Korean marinated beef) would go perfectly with the rapini. I used a marinade of soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, black pepper and sesame seeds and popped the steak in for hours (actually, I let it thaw in the marinade). A few minutes on the grill and it was perfect.

For the rapini, I heated some oil in a wok pan, added a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped, and then the rapini, which quickly wilted down. Some salt and pepper and 10 minutes or so later and it was done. Because Steve isn't a big fan of the stuff, I served it with big shavings of parmesan to make it more palatable to him. He said it was all right. I, on the other hand, loved it.
 Now I can't remember what made me think of it, but today I woke up wanting to make chocolate souffle for the first time. Turns out I came across the easiest recipe first and stopped looking. Simple ingredients and a not very complicated process. This recipe also lets you make it up to 24 hours in advance and then put it in the fridge till time to bake. To go along with the souffle, I made a vanilla amaretto custard sauce. The chilled sauce was so good on the hot souffle. I feel a souffle flurry coming on...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Come on, let me through/I've got so many things, I've got to do/I've got no business being here with you/this way - Pork chops

I am a bargain shopper, for groceries along with everything else. One of my favorite things at my local Schnucks is the 'clearance' rack in the produce department. (I have yet to encounter an equivalent at any other Schnucks. Anyone?) Before you wrinkle your nose in disdain (or worse), keep in mind that this is perfectly good produce, although it does need to be eaten that day or the next usually. They've recently begun to sell these convenience containers of vegetables cut up for soup. I would never even consider such a thing at full price, but a tall container full of chopped onion, celery and carrots for 89 cents? You betcha!

The other day I bought a tray full of banana peppers without a clear idea of what I wanted to do with them, which is unusual because I'm usually inspired by my bargain finds. The first I did with them was make some spicy vinegar; I heated vinegar with a little sugar and salt, then poured it into a jar atop the sliced peppers (seeds intact). I prefer the tart snap of this concoction to a plain hot sauce, particularly for bean dishes. Today for dinner I pulled out a couple of pork chops and thought I would grill them and make a sauce of sort from onions and the peppers. It turns out that the peppers had grown quite hot so after a bit of sauteeing I had a teeny amount of raw sugar, some white wine, and finally, after the wine cooked out, a bit of butter and cream. It definitely mellowed the heat, as did the leftover mashed sweet potatoes.

Everything...everything...everything...everything in its right place - Hawaiian plate dinner

Yesterday was a day of waiting, waiting, waiting. I only had to wait a little while till the new laptop got delivered (oh thank you, FedEx overlords, for delivering to our neighborhood so early!) and I pulled my new little darling out of the box and got to work. As usual, I underestimated the amount of work and overestimated my skill that it would take to get her (she is called Big Kitten, if you must know) up and running. Cut to eight or so hours later and I was still waiting to get it right. In my zealous attempts to do it myself (I was feeling very Stuart - "look what I can do!") I had done some confusing and, well, wrong things. Since I was chronicaling, to an extent, my troubles on Facebook, a kind soul came to my rescue.

When the phone consultation proved to be inadequate for the amount of work to be done/corrected, an in-person consult was required. After a few hours, which included taking apart the old G4 and pulling out the hard drive to extract the information, it was 11:30pm, but the job was done. Thanks, Russell, you saved me!

Somewhere amid all the computer madness I had decided to make a dinner that replicated my food truck lunch in Portland at 808 Grinds. That would be a Hawaiian plate lunch with shoyu chicken, macaroni salad and white rice. Even though Steve had to be in charge of baking the chicken and cooking the rice, and we didn't eat until nearly midnight, I think it turned out all right.
This morning I was looking forward to getting back to the laptop to play, but I was also thinking I wanted something warm for breakfast. Suddenly I thought of cinnamon raisin biscuits.
Now, to crawl around on the floor and set up a wireless printer. Woo hoo!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flashlights go out/Stars will light the way - Navy bean soup

A couple of days ago I made a pot of navy bean soup and it tasted pretty good that night. But, like all soups, it tasted exponentially better tonight after sitting a couple of days in the refrigerator.

Other than that, I got nothing tonight. Let's see: I found out I have a second interview for a job (to be scheduled) and I'm impatiently waiting for my new laptop to be delivered tomorrow. In the meantime, there's a photo of my soup and nice green salad.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tell her that I'm not in here/tell her I'm a freak/tell her that I fall about every time I speak/she has got in for me/yeah I mean it honestly/I just scream - Grilled chicken

When it's 70F in February, you have to make hay while the sun, literally, shines. So even though it's dark this time of year by the time I'm thinking about cooking dinner, I still wanted to cook some bone-in chicken breasts on the grill. Grilled chicken, even more than pork steaks, signals warm weather to me. So, I threw a couple on the grill, got out the flashlight to check on doneness and popped some more sweet potatoes in the microwave because you can never have too many sweet potatoes.

While I was grilling, I sipped on my new favorite drink, the limoncello fizz. I poured some homemade limoncello over ice, added a splash of lemon juice and then filled to the top of the glass with club soda. So lemony and fresh and bubbly!

I stressed myself out yesterday worrying about the purchase of a new laptop. Long story short, I went from choosing a used Macbook circa 2007 to buying a new, albeit refurbished, Macbook Pro this morning. And I cannot wait to get it! It's due on Friday and I suspect that I will drive myself crazy waiting for that delicious, aluminum covered machine to arrive. I love my battered little iBook, but I certainly am looking forward to having a laptop that can actually run video, has a power cord that doesn't have to be repeatedly manipulated to work (currently it's taped to the monitor) and has keys  that I don't have to write the letters on with a Sharpie. And while I was at it, I finally bought a new printer too. Let's hope this one lasts longer than the piece of shite Lexmark that crapped out in just a little over one year.

Monday, February 14, 2011

If you were a pill, I'd take a handful at my will/And I'd knock you back with something sweet and strong - Shrimp and portobello fettuccini alfredo

For Valentine's Day this year, I get a new [to me] laptop and Steve gets the dinner of his choice. OK, so the exchange seems a little lopsided, but the dinner was good and I'll pay him back somehow. Steve chose shrimp fettuccini alfredo. Add on a simple green salad and it's an easy peasy dinner that looks impressive.

I decided to add portobello mushrooms and sauteed them with the shrimp and a big fat clove of garlic. In a saucepan, I made a roux with butter and flour, cooked it for a bit and then added half and half, whisking the mixture to make sure all the flour lumps were incorporated and smooth. After it thickened up a little, I added a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, a pinch of salt, and grated in some fresh nutmeg. Then I threw in a generous amount of parmesan cheese and let it cook and thicken for a few minutes. Then I added the shrimp/mushroom mixture to the white sauce and let it simmer for another few minutes before adding it to the hot pasta. Yum. I found a delicious sparkling pinot grigio and it's a perfect accompaniment to the rich sauce.

For dessert we'll be having hot tea (mine is white peony, his is herbal chai) with non-dairy mochi ice cream treats. Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

She thinks she missed the train to Mars, she's out back counting stars - Barbecued pork steaks

Today was a day of conflicts. From the moment I opened my eyes in the morning, I had a pounding headache, leaving me feeling like doing a whole lot of nothing. On the other hand, it was unseasonably warm outside and I knew I should want to go out and play, but I just couldn't muster up the enthusiasm. The sun kept shining, however, and it was warmer outside in it than inside the cold house. Furthermore, our shady, south side of the street still remained a frozen tundra despite the fact that our neighbors across the street have been enjoying their early spring. I couldn't think of anything fun I wanted to do so I decided we should tackle chipping the ice off of our front walk. Should have been easy, right? You'd only say that if you live on the sunny side of the street. An hour later we had chiseled out a a measly foot-wide path on the sidewalk and had broken one spade. The pounding and scraping of metal on ice and concrete left my head pounding even worse.

It just seemed wrong to be so warm whilst standing on three inches of ice, but when we were done we were both sweating and feeling a little achy. Again, I knew I should be outdoors enjoying the weather, but I just wanted to curl up and sleep. So I did. But not without getting some pork steaks out of the freezer. Because warm weather means, to me, cooking outside on the gas grill.

I waited (not on purpose, really) until it was dark to turn on the grill and get the pork steaks a-cooking, but it was still ridiculously warm outside. Then I looked up to see that it was an exceptionally clear night and the sky was chock full of highly visible stars.  Orion, my favorite constellation since I was a little kid, was right overhead and his intended prey, Taurus, was just as prominent. The biggest and best surprise was seeing Pleiades, though. The intense little cluster of stars always freaks me out a little, in a  good way. So whether it was the double dose of antihistamines or the stars, I was feeling better.

While I waited for the pork steaks to grill, I stuck a couple of sweet potatoes in the microwave and put some sugar snap peas on the stove to cook. I mashed the potatoes with some butter and they tasted amazingly sweet and rich. We haven't had sweet potatoes much this winter and that was a mistake. So, more sweet potatoes!

I still don't feel great, but a little taste of summer in February is never a bad thing, right?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity/He's broken every human law/He breaks the law of gravity - Gooey Butter Cake

Although I don't have a real beef with them, I'm not a big fan of boxed cake mixes. You can easily make a cake from scratch (stay tuned for the easiest and tastiest chocolate cake recipe ever) without much more fuss than from a mix. However, the tried and true St. Louis homestyle gooey butter cake traditionally starts with a cake mix and who am I to argue with STL tradition?

Steve and I are MC'ing the Tenth Life Cat Rescue Trivia Night and Bake Sale tonight and I wanted to bake something to contribute to the sale, despite the fact that my homegrown stuff will be side by side with some fancy bakery goods. Who can turn down gooey butter, right? Well, that's my hope anyway.

Tenth Life Cat Rescue, run by our friend Elizabeth Frick (with her husband Adam),  is a charitable organization that deserves your money! Elizabeth takes in the neediest cases, scouring shelters and answering late night calls, to rescue cats that would otherwise often be euthanized. She helps them get the surgeries or medications they need, gets them into tip top health, finds foster homes (she always needs foster homes - the more fosters, the more cats she can save - hint hint!) and eventually gets them adopted to loving forever homes. She has a shoestring budget and can always use donations! There is an easy Paypal button on the website!

At any rate, for the bake sale I decided on two plain gooey butters and two of the chocolate variety. Both of the chocolate ones have chocolate crusts, but one also has chocolate filling. They look like they taste good, anyway.

The recipe for gooey butter is seriously simple. This recipe makes one 9x13 or two 8x8s. You need: One cake mix (flavor combos are only limited to your imagination, but traditional is a yellow cake), one stick of butter or margarine, three eggs, 8 oz. cream cheese, one teaspoon vanilla, and four cups of powdered sugar. To make: Preheat oven to 350F. Mix cake mix, butter and one egg. When well blended, smoosh mixture into the greased (or sprayed) pan, going up about one inch on the side. For the filling, beat the softened cream cheese with two eggs and the vanilla until smooth, then add the four cups of powdered sugar and continue beating till well mixed and smooth, about two minutes. (For the chocolate filling, I simply added in about a quarter cup of cocoa [for an 8x8 cake].) Pour the filling on top of the crust mixture and place in the over for about 20-25 minutes. You need to keep a close eye on the cake so that it doesn't get too browned. It's really to your taste as to how browned you let the top get. Obviously the less browned it is, the more gooey the cake. After taking out of the oven, sprinkle with some powdered sugar and you are done.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Need a Fix 'Cause I'm Going Down/Down to the Bits That I Left Uptown - Steak

Tonight for dinner I just wanted something simple and, well, meaty. I had gotten a sirloin steak out of the freezer yesterday, but by dinnertime I was feeling sick and not up to cooking, but all I could think of was the lovely steak in the refrigerator. Yeah, I know.

And because I stared all day at the photo of the French roasted potatoes up there at the top of the blog, I had to make them as well. I got the recipe from the Huffington Post: Cube potatoes, roast on a cookie sheet with oil and salt at a fairly high temperature (400F) till brown and crispy. While they are roasting, get out a food processor and add a couple cloves of garlic, a glob of mayonnaise, a bit of milk and some pepper. Process till smooth. When the potatoes are done, put them in a bowl and drizzle with the dressing. Yum!

I like steak very simple; sprinkled with a commercial steak seasoning (Durkee Steak Seasoning), and, in the cold months, put on the ole George Forman grill for a few minutes. It's not quite as good as outside grilling, but it's a damn good substitute. As another side, the Boy chose Brussels sprouts over salad and that was a simple matter of steaming them in the microwave and tossing with some salt and butter when they were done.

I'd be crazy not to follow/Follow where you lead - French Onion Soup

Has it really been since the summer of 2009 since I've posted a blog entry? I think one could probably draw a direct line from the advent of my discovery of Facebook to that neglect. Charmed and drawn by the lure of writing merely a sentence and getting instant feedback, the posting of a blog entry and putting it out into the vast nothingness of the interest became less interesting. In the meantime, I've posted on Facebook myriad photos of the food I cook for dinner with nary an explanation of the process. All it took was one person to ask for more to send me back over here. What can I say? We're all slaves to attention and validation, right?

Warning: I'm what I call an intuitive cook. Which basically means I don't really follow recipes, instead relying on experience and whatever knowledge I've managed to pick up along the way. Inspired by another Facebook friend, I decided to make French onion soup the other day. And like her, I wanted to start completely from scratch, which meant I needed to make my own beef stock. I may have made it some time in the past, but in recent years, I've taken the easy route and used store bought. Perhaps no more because the process was really easy; it just required some time.

The process: You will need raw beef bones (Depending on where you live, these might be somewhat hard to find; I got mine at the Gravois Plaza Shop 'n' Save. If the store has a butcher counter, you could probably ask for them. They are cheap.), some carrots, some celery, salt, and pepper. Normally you would add an onion or two to this list too, but I skipped that since I was making onion soup. I thought it would just be redundant. Put the bones and vegetables into a roasting dish or pan and put into a hot (375F or 400F) oven and let roast for about 30-45 minutes. Watch it to make sure things don't burn, but you do want some nice browning and caramelization. Depending on the kinds of bones you have, you may end up with a lot of fat in your pan. Drain the fat off, being careful to retain all the brown bits in the pan. Transfer the roasted bones and vegetables to a large pot and add water. The amount of water depends on the number of bones, etc.  I had about three pounds of bones and made a full pot of stock. The more bones you have, the more stock you can get out of them. In the roasting pan, add some hot tap water and stir, scraping up the browned bits that are stuck to the pan. Dump that liquid into the pot too. Now add pepper and salt to the pot and any herbs you might like if desired. I didn't have any fresh parsley, but I would have added a bundle if it was in the house. Bring to a boil and let simmer for a couple of hours. Check the level of liquid as it goes along; you might need to add more.

In the meantime, slice up about a pound of onions. I used yellow ones. Add to a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil that's been heating in a pan. I have found that cast iron or other dark surfaces are best for caramelizing onions, so avoid stainless steel (it'll take forever!) if you can. Once the onions get going, turn the heat down as you don't want them to brown instead of caramelize. I also cheat a bit and add a little spoonful of brown sugar to send the onions on their way. You have to keep an eye on the onions and the time it takes can vary wildly. I don't know why!

After a couple hours, your stock should be nice and brown and tasty. You need to remove the bones and vegetables - I just pulled everything out and skimmed the veg out with slotted spoon. You could certainly pour it through a strainer if that's easier for you. Just be careful!

Once you have your stock back in the pot and the onions are properly caramelized, add the onions to the stock. At this point, I also added the leaves from about four stalks of fresh thyme and a couple of shakes of Worcestershire sauce. I also deglazed the onion pan with a generous glug of vermouth and added it to the soup pot. You could also use white or red wine, or even a cognac. I let the pot simmer for about another two hours, adding salt and pepper to taste.

When it was time to serve, I ladled the soup into bowls, topped with a couple thin slices of baguette and then a handful of shredded Swiss cheese (Gruyere is traditional, but Swiss works fine and is cheaper). Also traditionally the soup bowls would go under a broiler to melt the cheese. I was too lazy for that, so I used my little butane torch and that worked well enough.

After all that, you get this: