Something that you invisible readers may not know about me is, I have a horse. I go horseback riding every week. My aim is to compete in dressage. Dressage, for those of you who have never heard of it, which I hadn't really four years ago, is horse dancing. If you watched the equitation competitions in the Olympics, dressage is the fancy footwork, where the horse aims his rear end at the rail, and trots or canters along in unison with other horses, and makes a fan shape. Think Lipizzaners. Now, my horse, who was highly trained, can do that. I am just learning the basics.
This Saturday, I was full of plans. I stopped at the Bethesda Farm Women's Market, and bought fabulous ripe tomatoes, corn on the cob, basil and one of the tastiest, juiciest peaches I have ever eaten. After my lesson, I was going to join my son at an auto dealership, and we were going to look at new cars. However, fate, in the shape of a tall chestnut gelding, intervened.
My horse is somewhat unpredictable. After three years, I can predict his unpredictability. He will start out his lesson half asleep, and about half way through, turn on the afterburners and start tearing madly around the ring. If I take him out on trails, he will act like a complete fool, and shy at blades of grass, hay bales, trees, and other non threatening objects. If I try to ride him over poles, he will jump three feet into the air over each three inch obstacle. But, up until now, when he's in the ring, the main thing I have to worry about is his racing around at top speed and me losing control.
Saturday, after my lesson, I was letting him walk around the ring with loose reins. This is part of the dressage test. It's called the free walk. I wasn't particularly paying attention, as there was nothing in the ring to pay attention to. Or so I thought. Suddenly, my horse jumped two feet to one side, and I found myself face down in the dirt. I wound up with a cracked pelvis, a pulled muscle in my left leg, and very sore, but not broken ribs.
Two days later, I am hobbling around the house with a cane, swearing when I have to get up or sit down. But I still had the three pounds of tomatoes, and two highly expensive pounds of smoked haddock. So, this afternoon, since the emergency room doctor said to resume my normal activities as much as possible, I knuckled down and cranked out Fresh Tomato Soup and Smoked Haddock Flan.
Reaching over my head caused me to either gasp in pain, or yell one of the two basic explatives. However, the maneuvering required to cook could be done without too much discomfort. I hobbled from the sink to the counter to the stove and back again with sweat trickling down my face..
Fresh Tomato Soup is an excellent recipe, since it does not require peeling the tomatoes, which usually ends up with burned fingers. Nor does it require seeding them. You just chop them up and throw them into a pot. After cooking, you grind them through a food mill, and peels and seeds are scraped out and dumped in the trash. The recipe says reheat, but we had it cold.
Fresh Tomato Soup
3/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or one-half teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh bsil or one teaspoon dried basil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth ( or vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1. Heat one half cup of the butter and the oil in a heavy kettle. Add the onion and cook until tender but not browned.
2. Add the thyme, bsil, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Simmer ten minutes.
3. Mix the flour with six tablespoons of the broth and stir into the tomato mixture. Add remaining broth and cook thirty minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Pass mixture through the finest blade of a food ill or through a fine sieve. Reheat and stir in the sugar and cream. Do not boil. Swirl in remaining butter.
Makes 8 servings.