Mar 232018

Today is World Meteorological Day (WMD – ominous acronym!!) celebrating the founding of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on this date in 1950.  It is the successor to the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873. WMO is the specialized agency of the United Nations for meteorology (both weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences. Its current Secretary-General is Petteri Taalas and the President of the World Meteorological Congress, its supreme body, is David Grimes. The Organization is headquartered in Geneva.

On 23rd March 2017, WMO released a completely revised and updated electronic version of the International Cloud Atlas — — combining 19th century traditions with 21st century technology. The International Cloud Atlas was first published by WMO predecessor, IMO, in 1896. The new version contains hundreds of images submitted by meteorologists, photographers and cloud lovers from around the globe. It includes new classifications, including volutus, a roll cloud; clouds from human activities such as the contrail, a vapor trail sometimes produced by airplanes; and asperitas, a dramatic undulated cloud which captured the public imagination. It also features meteorological phenomena such as rainbows, halos, snow devils and hailstones.

Today would be a good day to have a teaching moment with someone who confuses weather and climate and says things like, “This winter has been really cold and snowy; how can climate change be real?” There are plenty of them, so you will have your work cut out for you. The theme for 2018 is “Weather Ready; Climate Smart.”

What recipe would make you “weather ready” today? It will very much depend where you are. It is always 32˚C during the day here in Phnom Penh (which reminds me that if you live in a benighted country that still uses Fahrenheit for weather reports, you might want to take some time to get used to Celsius). My old home in New York has been experiencing snow storm after snow storm this year, and it looks as if they are dreaming of a White Easter. Actually, whether it is snowing or baking hot, I always enjoy hearty soups (yes, I know, I am weird). To be ready for anything, especially if you are snowed in and making do with what you have, I always enjoy what I call “throw-everything-in-a-pot soup.” I have some on the stove right now. Some people in the US call it refrigerator soup (that is, pull everything out of the refrigerator you can find and simmer it up together). The difference for me is that I put in dried legumes, pasta, sauces, and vegetables from my garden, along with stuff knocking around in the refrigerator.

I usually start with a chicken stock base and add whatever meat or bones I have available. If I am using dried legumes they have to go in first because they need to cook for several hours (lentils, a little less). The trick is to time the addition of ingredients:

First: meats and dried legumes

Second: vegetables

Third: pasta

The pasta is last because I like it just al dente when served.  The absolute key to throw-everything-in-a-pot soup is taste, taste, taste. You need to adjust flavorings regularly according to the underlying taste of the stock. I may add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, mushroom ketchup, and various herbs and spices depending on how the stock base is evolving. This is a real test of your culinary skills. If you are not careful you can wind up with something hideous. You can also end up with something magical. Have at it.

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