Inside my heart is breaking, my makeup may be flaking, but my smile still stays on… (Queen)
This isn’t exactly news, but being an adult sucks. I am mourning exactly one year of living and working as a REAL adult. One year later, all I’ve got to show for it are more bills, mo’ problems, increasingly superficial needs and wants, decreasing quality of life, loss of optimism, and a receding hairline (which is worse on women btw). I am mourning the death of youth and idealism, as it quickly leaches out of me, leaving me with terrible skin, new frown lines(!!!), thinning hair, and only a skeleton of what was once a cheery disposition.
I look around with envy at friends my age who still hold onto their youth and optimism and naivety, whose eyes still twinkle with awe at the world and glisten with hurt surprise when it disappoints them. My eyes have hardened, the twinkle long gone, and a permanent stoicism have over come them. No amount of disappointment surprises me – it’s always a business-as-usual-mantra. Somewhere over the course of the last 367 days, I was robbed of my youth, and I can’t do anything to get it back. As a kid, you could run from your problems and have mommy and daddy deflect them for you. Or you could just sleep it off, and the next day your problems would resolve themselves. But as an adult, those tactics don’t work, and you just have to keep moving along. After all, the show must go on.
French Onion Soup
For a special holiday dinner, I conjured up a French meal for my immediate family – steaks au poivre and onion soup, the latter which I will be sharing with you today. French onion soup is super easy to make, and while Thomas Keller encourages caramelizing the onions for hours to achieve the desired effect, I honestly believe you can accomplish similar (enough) results in a fraction of the time. This is classic French bistro food, and doesn’t require a special occasion to make. Often times, I eat a bowl as a meal, and find that the Gruyere toasts and rich soup are satisfying enough after a long day. Enjoy.
Source: Adapted from Ina Garten
2 1/2 lbs yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 stick (12 tbs) butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp all purpose flour
1/2 c cognac [I used Remy Martin]
1 1/2 c dry white wine or vermouth [I used pinot grigio]
8 cups beef stock [Better-than-Beef-Bouillon and Water]
1-2 tbs fish sauce [I won’t apologize for being Vietnamese]
Salt and pepper, to taste
French bread, cut in 1’4″ slices
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, heat the butter and olive oil together, until butter is all melted, then turn the down the heat to medium. Add the sliced onions, bay leaf, and thyme, and saute until the onions become fragrant and a deep brown color. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. I’ve read that a slow, low heat is most effective in allowing the onions to achieve a natural caramelization, but I haven’t tested it out to see a difference. If you have the time, perhaps try it that way. If not, medium heat for about 40-60 minutes is more than enough to cook down the onions into a jammy consistency.
To the pot, sprinkle in a teaspoon of flour and stir to evenly distribute. Allow the flour to cook for 5 minutes before deglazing the pot with cognac and wine, and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes uncovered, scraping the pan’s bottom with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Once the liquid has reduced (and most of the alcohol evaporated), add the beef stock and bring the soup to a boil. Allow to simmer an additional 30 minutes for the flavors to develop. Fish out the bay leaf and thyme stem. Season with salt, pepper, a tiny dash of fish sauce, and allow to simmer another 5 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, add a half cup or so of water, and bring back to a boil.
To serve, ladle soup into ramekins, then top with french bread and gruyere cheese. Bake in hot oven until the Gruyere cheese is melted and brown. Alternatively, the Gruyere toasts can be made separately then placed in a bowl of onion soup. Enjoy.
My soup came out on the thicker side this time, but was soo delicious. Being rather impatient to eat, I unceremoniously ripped up handfuls of French bread and sprinkled a handful of gruyere on the pieces before putting them in the toaster. Please excuse my impatience… At least it still tasted wonderful!
I was spoiled over the holidays by my family. While I was home, I was easily able to forget that adulthood even existed. I slept in my old childhood bedroom, had home cooked meals prepared daily, and was even driven around by my parents (you see, 3 years in NYC and I essentially don’t drive anymore). And yet all along, adulthood was lurking just beyond the new year, ready to reclaim me. Yes, you may have reclaimed me, but you will never defeat me – this smile still stays on.
PS. I apologize for the saturated pictures – I still haven’t gotten the hang of my new camera yet!