You have seen Kokopelli before but might not have known his name. This lively fellow is the humpbacked flute player with the wild hair-do who is associated with Native American cultures.
Kokopelli is a fertility deity, the trickster god filled with the spirit of music. And what does Kokopelli have to do with recipes or food? It’s the name of the café opened eight months ago by Kim Leslie – the Kokopelli Café adjacent to Huntamer Park in Lacey.
Leslie has always liked the energy that Kokopelli exudes and picked that name for her new business venture. She centers her business on excellent customer service and has created an atmosphere where customers can feel at home in the calm and relaxing setting.
Leslie worked in the food industry for many years and left it for a while for the corporate world but now is back with food. “I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing,” she said with a huge smile on her face.
When Kokopelli first offered soups, they came from a distributor. Leslie quickly realized that she would have control over the ingredients if she made her own. This was especially important for lowering the sodium content and also for tweaking recipes to suit the tastes of her regulars. Now she plans a month of soups at a time. She has fun testing out new recipes and believes that “if you make it from your heart, it’s got to taste good!”
I visited on Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup Day, which featured a thick soup that felt full on the tongue. My son liked the chewiness of the rice. Leslie’s recipe is vegetarian. When you make it at home, it could be adjusted to be vegan. All you would need to do is substitute a little soy milk and/or oil for the half and half. If you are more of a carnivore, it would be just as easy to add cooked chicken or sausage.
Are your brown bag lunches getting in the doldrums? A little soup can make a huge difference. If you fill a small thermos with hot soup in the morning, it will be warm at lunch adding substance and variety to that plain turkey sandwich. Think of soup to begin your evening meal. It can slow the pace of dinner a little and help you to feel fuller faster.
Another way to break out of your lunch blahs is to eat someone else’s food. You could try one of Kokopelli’s rotating lunch specials such as a Thai chicken wrap or a pulled-pork sandwich. There are also various deli sandwiches that are always on the menu.
Leslie also bakes her own cookies – favorites such as chocolate chip and oatmeal scotchies. Order your favorite coffee drink and pick from pastries, bagels and muffins. Kokopelli is especially handy for the state workers in the neighborhood but convenient for anyone to swing by. Remember that the cafe is open Mondays through Friday – not on the weekend. Maybe it’s time to let out your joyful Kokopelli spirit – or at least have some excellent soup. Bon appetit.
Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
Yield: Serves four side-dish servings
3 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup wild rice
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup mushrooms
1 tablespoon dry sherry
Combine broth and uncooked rice in a medium pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in green onions, cook for another 5-10 minutes or until rice is tender.
Combine half and half, flour, thyme and pepper into rice mixture along with mushrooms. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add sherry and heat thoroughly.
Mary Ellen Psaltis lives locally and eats globally. You can reach her at TheRecipeWriter@hotmail.com.