A blog reader emailed me the following story about her daughter, who enjoys eating Not Your Momma's Chicken Soup.
"My husband once told M that mommy adds love to the soup, to which she replied, 'Love tastes good.' It has become a little joke in our family. The other day we were at the grocery store and M asked me if we could buy canned chicken noodle soup. At the moment I had a cranky toddler in the cart and didn't want to go into the whole explanation of why canned soup isn't good for you, sodium etc...so I just said, 'Oh it has yucky things in it that aren't good for you.' She looked up me and with a shocked look in her face said, 'This soup doesn't have love in it.' I couldn't help it; I said, 'No it doesn't honey.' She put the can down and said, 'I'm never eating canned soup.'"
This story really made me laugh and smile because truly, to get up and cook something for your family requires love. And when one cooks, there is lots of love that gets poured into the meal. It is blood, sweat, sometimes even tears (if you're chopping onions) but it is all worth it when your family gobbles down what you've prepared for them. It is one of the reasons I try and encourage as many people as possible, to please, try and cook something for your family. The satisfaction that comes from a family well fed by your hands is incomparable.
Daughters love polenta, so I often cook it for them for lunch. It's a bit of a pain because I'll rush back from picking them up from school and I'll have to bang it out for them. However, I like to try a few different variations and the look of pure enjoyment on their faces when they bite into the lusciousness of the polenta makes it entirely worth the effort. And next time, I'll remind them that it's love that makes it taste so good.
Polenta with Onions, Spinach, Sausage, and Fontina
1/2 of onion, sliced
2 cups of baby spinach
1/2 lb of sausage, sliced (I used Italian sausage from Trader Joes)
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of milk
3/4 cups of cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 lb of fontina cheese, sliced
2 tablespoons basil, julienne
Preheat oven to 375. In a heavy skillet, heat oil over medium heat and sausages and onions. Saute and cook until onions are cooked and sausages have browned, about 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 more minute. Set aside.
In a heavy pot, heat milk until it is almost boiling. Pour in cornmeal all at once, reduce heat to medium, and using a whisk, stir quickly until it is uniform in consistency and creamy. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes, and add salt and pepper, and tablespoon of butter. Pour polenta mixture into an 8X8 baking dish.
With a slotted spoon (so that you don't take the extra juice and oil), top polenta with sausage mixture and layer fontina carefully on top. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Serve immediately, careful not to burn your mouth.
Warning! Hot from the oven!