Wednesday, July 07, 2010

On being a domestic artist: a salute to Jane Brocket

Jim took me to Barnes and Noble after my birthday lunch so that I could use the gift certificate I got from the Girl Scouts.  I was really pleased to find Jane Brocket's book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity as well as a lovely little Jane Austen address book.  As a devoted reader of Jane's blog, Yarnstorm, I had been anxious to read this book.  Not only has she filled it with wonderful colors and textures,  she also shares books, films, and paintings that inspire her as a "domestic artist."

I'm very fond of this phrase because I think it rightly elevates what many of us do around the house.  The word "homemaker" conjures up images of June Cleaver and doesn't get at the really creative work that many women do to feed and clothe their families and make a pleasant living environment.  Jane Brocket also is very adamant about the fact that being a domestic artist doesn't come with a set of rules or standards that one must meet, or the necessity to do it all.  This will make Jim happy because he is very against the various domestic divas on television who set standards so high that no mortal woman could reach them.

In my work as a domestic artist today, I am making cold cucumber soup for dinner.  This is a recipe that I cut out more than 30 years ago from the Columbus Dispatch. It is not credited.

Cold Cucumber Soup

1 tablespoon of oil
3 green onions, chopped
1 large cucumber
1 cup of watercress or parsley
1 medium potato, pared and diced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Sprinkle of salt
1 cup half and half
Chopped chives, thinly sliced cucumbers of radishes for garnish

  • Heat oil in a two-quart saucepan.
  • Add onion and cook on medium heat until onion is soft and translucent.  Do not brown.
  • Pare cucumber.  Remove seeds if they are large.  Dice cucumber to get about 2 cups.

  • Add cucumber, watercress, diced potato, broth, pepper, and salt to pan.  

  • Cover, bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer about 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  • Remove from heat and cool slightly.

  • Puree mixture 1 cup at a time, in a blender or food processor.  If too much is added at one time while blending, the hot mixture may spurt over the top of the blender. (WORD!)

  • Pour mixture into a large container, stir in cream, cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

  • Serve well chilled.  (Quilted Librarian notes: Remember to taste the soup for salt before you serve it.  As the great Julia Child tells us, as things get cold, the lose their savour.  I also chill pottery bowls in the freezer in which the soup is then served.)   


Barbara said...

Cold cucumber soup was our favourite evening starter when it was so hot outside. I am glad to read a new recipe and I'll certainly have a go with your recipe. My recipe is very simple, made of two cucumber, parsley and vegetable bouillon (sometimes onions too), salt and pepper, a little dill, bring to boil everything and afterwards
put it in the food processor and finally, when it is cold, add some sourcream.
In my work as "domestic artist" I created a new garden bed with hostas today ;-) !!
Greetings from a sunny and warm garden!

Dana W. Fisher said...

Hi Barbara,
Thanks so much for your version of cold cucumber soup. There is just nothing better on a hot day. I hope it's not as hot where you are as it is here if you are outside gardening.
Kind regards,