I’ve had a long overdue epiphany in the kitchen. After a decade of self-imposed struggle, I recently discovered that the remedy was there all along, boxed up and out of sight.
When the Fort Davis Lions Club Enchilada Supper rolled around this year, I unwittingly ordered about 50 pounds of un-shredded cheese. I’d borrow a friend’s big commercial cheese grater and it would be fine, no need to let panic bubble up.
Freshly shredded cheese is always best to use because the packaged shredded cheese has an additive that keeps it from clumping, so it’s not really “just shredded cheese.” But as luck would have it, she was in another town, and then told me to use a food processor, if nothing else.
Enormous hunks of cheese weren’t going to shred themselves, and I wasn’t looking forward to standing at a counter with a handheld cheese grater all day. Food processor? I had a food processor, still boxed, collecting dust.
The last time the thing out of the box was when it first arrived. I made homemade pesto, after much struggle with all the pieces, blades and the lock-this-in-place-before-you-can-do-that of it all. Cleaning it was tedious. I decided it was not my kind of thing and put it away, relying on my two hands, good knives and a blender if I needed to process food.
Owner’s manual in hand, I set out to shred the cheese. Holy cow, it was amazing! Who knew that the complicated, cumbersome, intimidating chopping device would so quickly change hunks of cheese into the most perfect shreds ever, in just seconds at a time? Apparently, a whole bunch of folks know that. And now I know it, too.
After that a-ha moment, the food processor gained real estate on the kitchen counter. I haven’t taken a knife to a single carrot or celery stalk, much less shredded cheese by hand, ever since. I honestly can’t believe it’s been there all along, and don’t even want to think about the hours (days, even?) that have been lost to standing at the chopping block, slicing and dicing with a knife, risking fingers with every stroke. Those days are quickly fading into old memories.
I recently decided to make a potato soup that was not my normal recipe. When we go to a certain French-bistro style chain found in nearby cities, my husband orders the Country Potato Soup, while I indulge in the creamy, buttery Tomato Basil. I’ve only ordered it once, and the Country Potato has a different flavor that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. He loves it, and I love my Tomato Basil.
Tracking down the recipe, the secret ingredient was leeks. The prospect of slicing leeks and about a couple pounds of potatoes wasn’t enticing, until I realized that I could probably run them through the food processor.
It literally took under one minute to perfectly slice two large leeks, all the potatoes and one big onion. I teared up a little – not from the onion and leek gases – but from the sheer wonderfulness of having everything sliced in under one minute. And, he said the soup tasted like what he normally orders, so that was very satisfying, too.
It’s not too late to ask Santa for a food processor if you don’t already have one. If you already have one that you got for a wedding gift a number of years ago and it’s still in the box, open it up and read the manual, and then give it some real estate on your counter. Don’t be intimidated. The free time you’ll gain in the kitchen far outweighs the hassle of cleaning the contraption. You won’t be sorry you made your kitchen life easier.
Hearty Country Potato Soup
- 1/8 cup unsalted butter
- 3 cups leeks, thinly sliced
- 1 cup sliced yellow onion
- 1-1/2 quart chicken stock
- 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced evenly in 1/4 -inch slices
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use KerryGold Dubliner cheddar)
- ½ cup bacon, cooked and diced
- salt to taste
In a large saucepan, melt butter and add leeks and onion, cooking until tender but not brown. Add chicken stock, potatoes, salt and thyme. Cook for 40 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Add cream, bring to a boil, and remove from heat. I used the immersion blender to to thicken and smooth the soup. Serve hot with crumbled bacon and shredded cheese on top.