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Ronnie Paul: Bucket list update

Ronnie Paul
Columnist
To serve this white bean soup, finish each bowl with some Parmesan/lemon topping.
Photo by Jeff Kane

I’ve finally accepted that my sags and wrinkles multiply daily. And when I wonder why I’m standing in front of the stove holding a bunch of spinach leaves in one hand and the grater in the other, I understand once again that memory lapses occur occasionally.

Last week, when Jeff and I talked about the exotic vacations we no longer need to put on our bucket list, I felt sad. Was my life force ebbing? Was stagnation the next stop?

I felt elated, though, when I awoke at 2 a.m., and understood that although I’d probably never crest a Himalayan summit or ride a camel across Turkestan, I still had exhilarating dreams. I suddenly had a burning desire to create a new bucket list. For instance, dare I risk pushing a clove into an onion for the veggie broth? My heart raced when I also considered adding a Parmesan rind to the pot. I realized that the hours I devoted to studying soup broths produced the same excitement that I formerly felt when perusing travel brochures.

Quick to seize this golden opportunity, I began a new bucket list. Concocting daring soup broths topped the list. Then I daringly added wearing shiny floral leggings to the gym, performing a ukulele solo on stage, and reading tasteless novels in the afternoon. As of yet, I haven’t crossed off the last three.

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I hope these recipes are worth adding to your bucket list.

White Bean Soup

Serves 4

I was delighted to cross this one off my bucket list.

½ onion

1 clove

A 2-inch by 2-inch Parmesan rind

5 cups veggie broth

½ cup chopped parsley

1 dried bay leaf

1 cup diced tomatoes (I used canned)

1 cup sliced carrots

1 cup sliced celery

2 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed

Salt and pepper

Topping

Mix:

½ cup grated Parmesan

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Cut the onion in half length-wise and remove the skin and tough outer layer. Thoughtfully decide where in the onion to insert the clove.

Bring the veggie broth, onion, Parmesan rind, bay leaf and parsley to a boil, then turn down the flame, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, carrots, and celery and simmer covered for 10 minutes until the veggies are tender. At this stage, the onion should be soft enough to cut up a bit.

Add the beans and salt and pepper and simmer uncovered for at least one hour (longer is always better) so it thickens.

To serve, top each bowl with some Parmesan/lemon topping. Whoever gets the Parmesan lump wins a prize.

Down-Home Buttermilk Biscuits

1 dozen

Perhaps making buttermilk biscuits is already on your list.

2 cups white flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup buttermilk

1 packed tablespoon chopped scallions

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Mix the dry ingredients together. Then add the butter and buttermilk and stir until incorporated. Finally, stir in the scallions and Parmesan.

Divide the batter and drop it onto a greased cookie sheet. Wet your fingers and flatten the tops.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until the tops brown and the center is set.

Ronnie Paul is a Nevada County freelance writer.


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