September 29th, 2003



I should have taken pictures, as it was visually quite appealing, in addition to being a really good fall soup. I
invented this last night; or at least I made it without looking at any other recipe.

Whole Chicken
Big Can of Chicken Stock
2 Medium Onions
5-6 large cloves garlic
3-4 Tablespoons fresh chopped ginger
3-4 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Vegetables to taste -- brocolli, carrots, zucchini, daikon, green onions, leeks, whatever.
Japanese Wheat Noodles.
Bean Sprouts
One Lemon.

1. Cut chicken into parts -- i.e. breast thigh, drumstick, wing. Not strictly necessary but it cooks up quicker that way.
2. Put chicken parts in large pot, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cook for 1/2 hour or so until chicken parts.
3. Remove chicken parts, from stock to cool.
4. Add large can (28 oz? the big can. 2 14oz cans probably would do it.) of stock.
5. Chop onions and garlic into coarse chunks, puree with a little water in a blender or food processor.
6. Add onion/garlic puree to stock, bring to boil, turn down to simmer and let cook until onion and garlic disappear.
7. While your stock is simmering, chop up your vegetables, ginger, and cilantro. At a minimum I would do green onions, but this is a good soup for brocolli, as the combination of flavors tends to neutralize that skunky broccoli smell. Sliced Zucchini would be excellent too, and Daikon or white radish, though pretty much anything would work.
8. Remove meat from chicken bones. You can, of course throw the bones and skin back in the stock if you're trying to make real stock but I didn't bother. Chop meat into nice little chunks.
9. When the rest of your meal is prepared, and the table is set, bring the stock to a rolling boil.
10. Throw in the noodles. Bring back to a boil, and throw in the chicken, vegetables, ginger and cilantro.
11. Bring close to boiling again, and remove from heat. Add Lemon Juice and serve with bean sprouts dropped on as a garnish.

I've avoided quantities on the noodles and vegetables, because there is a continuum of different soups possible with this recipe, from a mostly broth, minimal soup, to a dish where it's noodles and veggies, with all the stock absorbed in the noodles.

I have strong opinions about chickens for stuff like this. I've noticed a lot of chicken you can buy is shot full of salt broth; ditto for pork. I hate that shit. Try and find a chicken thats actually a chicken. Organic is probably good, but I like paying $1/pound for chicken better than $3/pound.

The Asian grocery here has good fresh wheat noodles, much cheaper than gourmet fresh pasta. They absorb a lot of broth, and can get gluey if you cook them too much, so be careful. You could use dry pasta or wheat noodles, but you'd want to cook them longer.

This is meant to be served moments after it's done. It's not horrible as a leftover, but it no longer has that Asian character of the vegetables being crisp, and the ginger and cilantro still tasting fresh.

Hitchcock Vertigo

Saw this for the first time last night. Good ol DVD.

I know this is a classic of the genre, and I enjoyed it, but the story is ... slight? Incredibly artificial? The best part of it for me was the location stuff and the cars; it brought up all sorts of vague memories about how California looked back then, when I was very young. The film was actually shot the year before my birth. Photography and use of color was great, naturally, and the Bernard Herman score is fantastic. I couldn't help thinking, after it was over that if it came out today, it would get trashed by reviewers for the plot and dialog.

If you get the DVD, there's a AMC documentary about the making of/restoration that's pretty good. Skip the commentary track, which seemed really inane to me.

Also watched:

"Earth Girls Are Easy" which is so dated (it came out in 1989) that it's worth watching just for the clothes and the Nile Rogers soundtrack. Geena Davis looks like a total mutant, which, well, is part of her appeal, but she's especially freakish in this pic.

"Cecil B. Demented" -- there's always something really stagey and amateurish about John Waters, which works better on some movies than others. This one is not up to his classics, like "Polyester", or even the level of "Serial Mom" which is the best acted and least rickety of his movies. The best way to watch this is to blow off seeing it with the original soundtrack at all and just listen to Waters' commentary track. He's funnier riffing on the movie and the people in it than the actual dialog.

J B Lenoir

When I was in Toronto on an High School Orchestra tour in 1973, I brought home one record, a curious
blues album by J.B. Lenoir.

J.B. Lenoir died in an auto accident when he was 38; this album comprises some late recordings with John Mayall's interview with his wife Ella Louise. I'd heard a fair amount of blues before but something about JB spoke to me in a different way -- he had a way of making the blues almost pop, and coming up with new rhythms. Unlike most Chicago blues guys, every song sounded different, even as it remained faithful to the blues idiom. He had a sweet tenor, and sang as many songs out of happiness and sadness. I've played the hell out of that record and still have it today.

Well, if you haven't heard, PBS is running one of it's series about music, 'The Blues.' Tonight's episode focused on J.B. Lenoir, Skip James, and Blind Willie Johnson. Every episode is directed by a different well-known director -- tonight was Wim Wenders. He miraculously found some 16 MM footage of J B Lenoir, of whom ANY film is exceedingly rare. The film performances were fantastic! And he had footage of Skip James performing late in life as well, equally riveting. Less successful was modern artists singing songs by the old guys -- Nick Cave was effing horrible. But being able to see JB for the first time ... man. I had tears in my eyes.

Don't know about the rest of the episodes, but the Wim Wenders one is crucial.