I’m one of those people who gets sick after a stressful event. In college, I got sick on every visit home; for a while in Philly I was getting sick each weekend. I moved to New York, and the constant stress was such that I didn’t actually catch a cold until the week after I stopped working at my job. So after these past few weeks, in which I had a lot of fun but did a LOT, I’m now sick! And home on a Friday night, so I’m talking to you guys for the first time in ages.
First, I started the apartment hunt. Anyone who’s lived in New York knows that finding an apartment in this city is one of the most painful experiences you’ll ever have. In truth, my search was relatively easy . . . and I found the most gigantic apartment ever, at a supremely affordable price, and near to some new friends!
Then, while packing up my life, Jocelyn_ came for a visit. She’s been a Flickr/email friend for two years, and she was my inspiration for starting the 365 self-portrait project. We played in the big city, of course.
The same day Joce left New York, I flew to Boston to visit with my closest bloggy friends. We email daily, but there’s just no match for hanging out for reals. And did you see the mittens Maritza made for me? Gorgeous. I’m carrying them around with me whenever I go out, but honestly it’s not cold enough. So I pet them on the subway.
And THEN, because I’m not greedy enough for knitterly goodness, I went to Rhinebeck! Anne-Marie chartered a bus for the Sit ‘n’ Knit New York group, so we all went for the day on Saturday. I got to see some bloggers I hadn’t seen since last Stitches, and, um, I bought more yarn. But you wouldn’t know it from the photos, because I only had eyes for the changing leaves. Just believe me, I was there.
The end to all this fun was the actual move. I packed up my postage-stamp-sized apartment on the Upper East Side and the movers carted it all down to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I am loving it down here—it makes me think of South Philly, actually, and in so many ways it feels like home. Unpacking is . . . going slowly. And like I said, I’m now battling a gross head cold. But the apartment is cozy and big and just totally, totally awesome.
To make myself feel better, and also to christen the new kitchen (gas finally got turned on today), I made my favorite black bean soup. The original recipe is just a jumping off point for a lot of tasty variation—today I used 2 chipotle chiles in adobo instead of fresh jalapeno, and I didn’t have a tomato so I just left it out. It’s easily made vegetarian (in which case, I highly recommend a chipotle, so you get some smokiness, which I get a double-punch of with the bacon), but please, please don’t make it vegan: the cilantro-lime sour cream is the condiment that makes this soup.
Here’s how I make it.
4-6 bacon slices, chopped (substitute some vegetable oil if making vegetarian)
3/4 cup finely chopped celery (a few ribs)
3/4 cup finely chopped onion (half an onion)
3/4 cup finely chopped carrots (2-3 carrots)
3/4 cup finely chopped leeks (one large leek)
2 or 3 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained (3 is preferable but I only had 2 tonight)
4-5 cups low-salt chicken broth (or veggie stock, of course, but both preferably homemade)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup (packed) fresh cilantro
1/3 cup (packed) chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 jalapeño chili, minced or 2 chipotle chiles in adobo or heck, both!
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Additional chopped tomato
Cook bacon in heavy large pot over medium heat until brown but still soft, about 4 minutes. Add celery, onion, carrots, and leeks and sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add beans, chicken broth, tomato, 1/2 cup cilantro, parsley, garlic, jalapeño, vinegar, cumin and coriander. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer soup until beans are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
Puree with immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.)
Mix sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice and 1/2 cup cilantro in small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Place dollop of sour cream mixture atop soup. Garnish with additional chopped cilantro and chopped tomato.