This morning, it was 53 degrees in my house.
No, I didn't set my air conditioning that low. I don't even have air conditioning. It's just that it was 48 degrees overnight, and all my 23 windows were wide open.
Yes, I know it's July. Isn't it great?
On the sunrise edition of our local NBC affiliate, the meteorologist claimed today was going to be the best day of the year. I've seen that same weatherman wear a pink feather boa while doing his forecast, and it wasn't a rehearsal of Victor/Victoria, he was just having a laugh.
I love that.
Central New York is a great place to live. Our air is fresh, we have an abundance of clear, clean water, and if you don't count winter snowstorms, we rarely experience violent weather. The food scene is vibrant, with several farm-to-fork operations, as well as summer farmer's markets in every village and town. Central New Yorkers love food, and aren't shy about expressing their enthusiasm for rich, ethnic traditional dishes hailing from Italy, Ireland, Poland, Germany, and Russia. Dairy farms surround larger urban areas, providing wonderful local milk for delicious ice cream. In Central New York, ice cream is considered a legitimate food group, along with Saranac beer, "Riggies" and "Utica Greens". Regional architecture is varied, interesting, and unique, historic properties by no means obsolete. Village life is lively; often supporting "central" K-12 schools. The Adirondack State Forest sits literally on our back door, drawing visitors from far and wide; driving a dynamic tourism industry in both summer and winter.
Perhaps my favorite part of CNY life is the people. Having had the benefit of living all over the U.S., I can say with confidence that Central New Yorkers are some of the nicest, most laid back, old-school-firm-handshake group of folks I've ever had the privilege to live around. Twelve months of the year, there are festivals and benefits for everyone from a young child with cancer, a family displaced by fire, or a church soup kitchen. I've never lived in a region with such an enormous heart. Whoever needs help, support, or just a hug, gets it in Central New York. Absolutely no one is left to fend for themselves in crisis, unless they choose to. Good Samaritans in CNY aren't deep pocketed corporations funded by national donations. They are small groups of caring local folks who look after the welfare of their neighbors, funded by neighborhood bake sales and raffles.
People here are real. They don't take themselves too seriously, and like to have a good time. Most around here work to live, and not the other way around. Humble workaday lunch counters are scattered all over the landscape, and cater to everyone from the local attorney, to the farmer up the road. All are equal; all are welcome. As a newcomer to Central New York, I notice patterns of eating- what's popular, what's not. Since it's often chilly here, even in the middle of summer, soup is a staple meal choice. Every eatery has some sort of soup/sandwich special lunch offering, with more choices available for dinner diners. So as a nod to the greatness of my adopted home, the recipe choice for today is soup. I wrote this recipe myself about ten years ago, when I was a Culinary School student. I'm not sure what possessed me to include skim milk, and a bouillon cube, but I'm sure my Chef Instructor busted my chops for it.
This is a versatile meal, appropriate for any time of the year. Tonight, it'll be back in the upper 40s, clear and dry. It will be perfect, served with the fresh bread currently baking in my oven. Wherever you are, whatever your climate, treat your loved ones to this savory, flavorful dish, and by way of toasting Central New York, substitute some rich, local cream, and look in on your neighbor.
2 c. boiling water
1 c. assorted oyster, morel, porcini, mushrooms (1 oz. dried mushrooms)
1 1/2 c. chopped leeks, white part only
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp curry powder
4 c. skim milk
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 c. chopped fresh portobello mushrooms
4 c. chopped fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 Tbsp dry sherry
Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms. Set aside.
Saute leeks. Add flour and curry. Add milk and bouillon cube. Stir in fresh mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Remove dried mushrooms from hot water and squeeze out excess water. Chop. Add to soup. Stir in sherry. Serve hot.