Monday, August 29, 2011

Dragonflies~ Tortilla Soup ~ Scorpion

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear
for newer and richer experience.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Dragonfly by Gene Sasse

Saturday, the patio thermometer waggled its way up into the danger zone: 105 point who cares.  Outside, dragonflies hovered about the water features we keep for wildlife.

Many cultures view the dragonfly as symbolic of transformation. Several Native American cultures believe that dragonflies hold the souls of people who have died. Perhaps this is how in the United States, dragonflies symbolize rebirth and renewal after trauma and loss.  
Asians have brought to our country a likewise high respect for the expert hover-matics. I am told that Japanese view the dragonfly as the embodiment of  joy as well as a symbol of courage and strength.  I read that in Japan and China. dragonflies are harnessed for medical purposes. I have read the Vietnamese use these insects to aid in forecasting the weather. This makes sense as when I see ants on the kitchen counter I know one of two things his about to happen: rain or extreme heat.

When I see dragonflies, I think of the quote at the top by a great former first lady.
Days like these are when I like to scan leftovers and canned goods like they are sea shells and I am a child at the beach.  For Sunday Supper, I assembled the makings of Tortilla Soup, feeling every bit like I was a Mexican Mama.

Lydia's Tortilla Soup

More often than not, in the freezer there are parts of a chicken that were used to create a broth. Sometime in the past few weeks, the remains of what was not used in a formal recipe were simmered with an onion, celery, carrots and spices (black and white peppers, salt, parsley and  and thyme) in water and white wine.

This was pulled from the freezer, defrosted and strained of all but the broth, which was boosted with a gluten free chicken broth to fill the medium- large pot 2/3's way full.

As the pot came to a simmer, vegetables were layered in. A few peeled and chopped russet potatoes, a carrot that was peeled and cut more to resemble chunks than slices.  One stalk of celery is sliced and a handful of chopped sweet onions fall into the broth as easily as a teenager falls in love.

From the freezer I pulled some chicken meat, cooked and diced for ravioli. The Italian dish can spare the meat without giving away the secret that a portion of a cup was stolen from the stash.  Dirt was scrubbed off a A Mexican summer squash before its slices were split in two half moons.

A cup of corn kernels  should take about the same amount of time to go from starch to sweet- so in to the brew they go  to finish while I go out to the pantry to gather the rest.

These don't need to cook, they just need to warm: An average sized can each of white hominy and black beans drained. Also opened and drained were a (4 ounce) can chopped hot green chili peppers and sliced olives.  A can of chopped tomatoes made the broth rich and added inviting color. 3 crushed garlic cloves and a spoonful of chicken flavor enhancer- anticipation now floated throughout the house.

As the flavors simmered together, it gave me time to fill the baby fryer  with corn oil to heat.  A stack of tortillas sliced into thin slivers  was offered to the bubbling oil until it turned them golden crisp. Drained and lavished with garlic salt- they are offered as a condiment to serve.

Besides these slivered homemade chips-a tray crowded with bowls of green onions finely sliced, cilantro chiffonade, jack or Mexican cheeses  finely shredded  and a plate of avocado slices was at the ready.

As we stood at the counter, ladling out bowls full, we forgot how hot the day was. This is the kind of food that encourages words without fear- conversation.  A nice way to end the Sabbath. 

We almost didn't notice the scorpion scampering across the kitchen floor at bedtime. May he rest in peace.


  1. Lydia,

    That was the most poetic recipe I have ever read. Sounded yummy but I expected you would say you added the slivers of fried torts to the soup. My mouth is watering but since it's 10:30 p.m.I will use my won't power to not eat anything else tonight.

    How RUDE of that scorpion to intrude on your lovely evening but I think by then you were finished with dinner. Those things are scary! Glad you all helped him meet his demise!

    XOX Trisha

  2. Yikes!

    Just as I finished reading your recipe and began settling back in my chair in a rather dreamy state to ponder your soup, I saw your final words about the scorpion.

    What a jolt back to reality!

  3. LOL- The scorpion sighting was not the end to the evening either of us envisioned. We don't get many here- but they sure cause quite a bit of excitement when they are dumb enough to turn up inside.

  4. Thanks for your "poetic" tortilla soup recipe! xo

  5. Feels like I'm just at your elbow as you put your soup together. I love hominy :-) Mmm fresh corn. What else? A bit of squash, some chilis, olives... Yum!

  6. WHAT?? I was enjoying your dinner party until you got to the part about the scorpion!


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