It was hard getting out of bed. It was comfortably cool in the room and I knew that once I stepped out, the torture would begin. Still, I got up. It helped that Speedy brought me coffee to clear the cobwebs in my head that were threatening to send me spiraling back to sleep.
It’s Wednesday. And, every Wednesday, the cleaning lady comes in. Today, the gardener, her husband, came in too. When we first hired her months ago, the cleaning lady always came with a packed lunch—for two, when her husband was scheduled to clear the garden; and for three on days when there was no one home to care for their seven-year-old granddaughter and she was obliged to bring her. But although they brought food, we still shared our lunch with them. After a few weeks, I told the cleaning lady that she didn’t need to bring lunch. We’d take care of that.
I finished my coffee while sitting on the bed. I got up, washed my face, brushed my teeth and finished my bathroom routine. The moment I stepped out of the air-conditioned room, the hot air, sticky with today’s 94% humidity, hit my skin. The air was so heavy it felt oppressive. But, as I glanced out of the window, I saw hope. It was a gray day. Perhaps, it would rain. I hoped. Fervently. If I were religious, I might have stepped out of the house to do a rain dance. I might have offered a branch of the mango tree to any god that would listen. But I’m not religious. So, I just hoped that today was going to be the day that summer officially ends this year.
I took a pack of pork from the freezer and all the vegetables in the fridge. It would have to be chop suey for lunch because that was all that I had the energy for. Then I remembered all the chop suey jokes that we have thrown Sam’s way. When we eat out and someone suggests a Chinese restaurant, Sam’s first question is always, “What will I eat there?” And we say, “Chop suey, of course! Just remove the meat.” She doesn’t find it funny. But it’s hard to be a vegetarian in the Philippines and, while in college and living away from home, she did live on chop suey. For years. Say “chop suey” to Sam these days and she’d be mutinous.
No chop suey for Sam today, I decided. Soup was a better choice. She loves soup. Whatever she wanted to have with her soup, she could prepare herself. That’s her routine these days, anyway. I cook something for her and she’d make an additional dish for herself.
Somewhere between soaking dried shiitake in hot water and peeling the carrot, it started to rain. I was going to survive cooking chop suey and a soup.
Corn and Mushroom Egg Drop Soup
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 6 green beans trimmed and cut into half-inch lengths
- 1 small carrot peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 2 shiitake mushrooms thinly sliced (if dried, soak in hot water for 20 minutes or longer then slice)
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon onion flakes (available in the grocery)
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons tapioca starch or corn or potato starch
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
Heat the vegetable broth in a pot.
When the broth starts to boil, add the green beans, carrot, sliced shiitake, corn kernels and onion flakes.
Season with salt and pepper.
When the broth starts to simmer, cover the pot, turn down the heat to low and simmer the vegetables and mushroom for five minutes.
Dissolve the starch in a tablespoon of water. Pour into soup. Stir well. Cover the pot once more and continue cooking the soup for another five minutes or until the vegetables are done.
Turn off the heat. Drizzle the beaten eggs into the soup in a circular motion. Let sit for about ten seconds (see two ways to make egg drop soup). Stir.
Serve the corn and mushroom egg drop soup while hot.