Sunday, February 7, 2010

On- and Off-line Friends, and Crockpot Soup

I think we all agree that blogging gives us a warm sense of friendship and community, to a greater degree than expected when we began putting our words on the internet for the world to see. I value the connections I've made through blogging, hearing your feedback, reading your wise thoughts, gaining inspiration from your projects, and having the chance to share experiences with people all over the world. I would love to get together for drinks with all of the friends I've made online, but thus far, I've only had a few chances to meet fellow bloggers in real life.

Most recently, I met up last month with Jay of Mystic Domestica, who happens to live in the same lovely neighborhood as me, and with Amber of the (sadly defunct!) All That You Have is Your Soul back during her fabulous trip to New York in November. Both times, as we filled each other in on our lives and discovered commonalities, it felt like catching up with an old friend, or making a fast new friend. These experiences happily confirmed that on the whole, my online relationships are grounded in reality, and are not just superficial exchanges that exist in the ether. What about you, readers, have you had the chance to meet any of your blogger friends?

Jay very generously brought a gift with her, a jar of her mother's homegrown "magic" beans, a beautiful assortment of colored limas and black-eyed peas. I was excited to cook them, but couldn't decide on the right preparation. I found my inspiration about a week later during dinner at The Farm on Adderley in Ditmas Park. My appetizer was a luscious kale-lentil soup topped off with a poached egg.

So I subbed beans for lentils, added in the rest of my farro stash, didn't bother with chicken or vegetable stock in order to keep things simple, and used a stale hunk of parmesan rind that was sitting in the fridge as a flavor enhancer instead. Making soup in the crockpot is so easy, especially since I try to prep as much as possible the night before. And there is nothing better on a January day than coming home to a warm soup waiting for you. My egg poaching skills could still use some work. But the rich yolks, salty parmesan flavor, and creamy beans made a delicious meal out of a soup that sounds too crunchy-granola-healthy to be true. Thanks Jay!

Crockpot Farro, Kale, and Bean Soup with Poached Egg
1 cup farro
1 cup beans
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch kale
1 rind of parmesan or other hard cheese
crushed red pepper or other spices (optional)
fresh eggs

The night before:
Place farro and beans in separate containers each amply covered in water to soak overnight.
Dice onion and garlic, and chop kale into chiffonade. Place chopped vegetables and cheese rind into crockpot stoneware and store in fridge overnight.
The next morning:
Remove crockpot from fridge. Drain and rinse beans in a colander. Drain farro. Add beans and farro to crockpot, along with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and other spices such as oregano or rosemary, to taste. Stir to thoroughly combine. Add water, filling to about one inch above ingredients. Cook on low for 7-10 hours while you are out at work or living life.
Just before dinner:
Ladle soup into bowls to let cool.
Meanwhile, poach one egg per person and add egg to top of each bowl to serve.
Makes four or five servings.


  1. Julia! I keep meaning to email you after our meeting. I'm thinking it might be a post. It was an absolute delight to meet you.

    I want the secret blog.

    My own blog is coming back... Soon...soon...

  2. Amber, yes you should bring your blog back! it made me sad how we got to know each other better but then it felt like we had stopped "talking" because you're not blogging much these days. hope all is well with you down in australia.

  3. I don't eat beans, but that photo of them makes me think I want to!

    And way to hijack your blog, Julia, sorry - but Amber, dammit, bring back the blog!!

  4. I've met one other blogger and really enjoyed it. It was like you said meeting someone you already know. I hope to meet others but not quite sure how to arrange it. And the recipe looks yummy. I add a little paprika to similar dishes I make.

  5. i've never met any of the bloggers - so sad! we should arrange for the bk or nyc bloggers to get together!

  6. this recipe looks delicious, and i've been looking for a reason to dig out my very old crock pot and test it out.
    i just starting blogging a few months ago, so i've never had the chance to meet any bloggers in person. i also didn't expect this whole experience to have such a great effect on me. i feel like i have all these new friends and inspiration, and i look forward to reading their posts everyday. it's become a relaxing ritual with my morning cup of coffee. julia, i even got sad when you didn't post for over a week, so i totally hear you!

  7. Yay!!! I'm so glad you liked the beans--I'll pass the word to my mother, who'll be tickled pink that her beans are getting press, as it were.

    Of course, it was so nice to meet you, and to bump into you, Jesse, and the pups this past freezing Saturday! I hope you got your errands done quick and were back home and toasty soon thereafter!

  8. Sounds sooo fun! And looks sooo yummy. Yes, it is very refreshing to connect with like-minded folks. I haven't been able to meet any in person... and now that I'm in looks doubtful. But will be in NYC in April!! : )

  9. Elise - I didn't used to like beans either. I think one of the keys is eating beans with cheese.

    Marie - I used to use paprika a lot till I ran out and forgot to buy it since. Guess I have managed without it.

    verymarried - yea! let's do a bk meetup. i can never figure out how to email you so maybe it's easier if you email me about this.

    Giovanna - so true, i feel like i can't get on with my day until i've read my blogs first. that is so sweet that you missed me! wish i had the time to blog more myself.

    Jay - I know, so funny that we we bumped into each other like that on errands day. Nice to meet Dave as well. We should hang out again!

    Kate - cool what brings you to NYC?

    Denise - thanks!

  10. " the ether."

    any chance to employ the word "ether" should be fully pursued and executed. you write about this blogging friendship phenomenon with such clarity, it makes me want to go back and rewrite my post from today and attempt to be more articulate. YOU are dear friend, and i covet those magic beans, and i appreciate, *so much* the thoughtful musings i can always rely on finding here. and i'm so grateful for every wonderful comment at bigBANG.

    thanks, woman. you're the bomb. and i would LOVE to meet you in person the next time i'm in new york. how about it?!

  11. Hi there! Lovely comments you left me, thank you! Fleet Foxes and Lost - too bad I'm not in NYC myself to meet you as well! I agree with the first paragraph; I almost feel - at this point - that I have more blog *friends* than real friends. Which can be a pathetic thing, to some, but I don't think so at all! So hello, new friend! Let's share stories and love through the interwebs :)

  12. Mmmmm. That soup looks so yummy. I wish I had a pot on right now.
    I haven't met any fellow bloggers. That's a thought that makes me feel a little nervous inside. I mean, I'm just a plain ol' country girl. I'm not sure I would be what anyone expected. My personality is all over the map. But I think we could all throw a hell of a party together!

  13. bigBANG - i'm blushing. funnily enough i'm always wondering if i'm expressing my thoughts as clearly as i want to, so thanks. i admired your friendship post too. let me know next time you're coming to ny!

    melina - nice to meet you virtually ;-) i agree, some weeks i feel like i talk more to friends online than real friends and wonder if that's sad. i suppose it's all about balance, that as long as we have friendly ears somewhere in the world, it's all good.

  14. Julia - believe this or not...but when I was in NYC a couple times this past fall I thought about you while I was out exploring...wondering 'bout you and your fab grocery co-op :-)

  15. I'm totally going to shoot you an email but first - i left you something at my blog!

  16. If I ever make it down to NYC again, I would love to meet you. It's sad, I'm only 3 hours away, but I never seem to get the chance!

  17. Just yesterday I limed (er, sorry, hung out - I'm at home so the local slang slips out easily) for the very first time with some friends I originally made online, via a Carnival blog. I've been the last one to join in their real-life get-togethers as I guess until recently I'd retained a bit of scepticism about how genuine online friendships can really be (especially when they started due to a single narrow interest like an obsession with feathers and sequins). But it was amazing - I had the most wonderful day and I know for sure now that I have a collection of new friends for life.

    I can't wait to be able to meet with some of you lovely people I've gotten to know through my own blog. I guess in some ways we show a lot of our genuine selves through our blogs, so it's not surprising that the friendships formed through them can become the real deal.

    And especially? I can't wait to meet YOU. :)

  18. Miz November - plain old country girl? - pish posh - we're all a plain old something at heart. yes i do think it would be quite a party especially if elise is also involved :-0

    A Mountain Bride - that's funny because I thought about you...figured you were busy adventuring around NYC!

    Lindsay Road - well 3 hours isn't nothing - it's quite a trip - so it's understandable, but if it ever happens, feel free to let me know.

    agirl - a Carnival blog! feathers and sequins! how fun! I think it's not just that we show our genuine selves but also that the world of blogs let's us find niches where we can meet people who relate to certain interests more than our friend next door might. if you ever voyage to new york you know where to holler!