Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And Visions of Butternut Squash Dance Through My Head

We have it so bad here - still hitting 80plusF during the day and dropping to the mid sixties at night and I'm craving cold, fall, crisp air, winter's chill.  I want soup weather!

I came back from the farmers' market Sunday with  Hatch Chile Ristras, local apples and butternut squash - soup definitely on my mind so heat or not, I made a very simple, very flavorful soup to lull me into thinking leaves will soon fall, the duvet can come out of storage and I can wear sweaters.  Did not go so far as to put the AC on to create a chill but I did open all the doors and windows to let the cooler evening air in.

I thought about incorporating some of the fresh chile but decided instead to go for the purity of root vegetable flavor, tarted up so to speak with the apple. This colorful, flavor rich, low calorie soup is a snap to make.  If you want to avoid battling a *butternut squash buy the pre-cubed packs from the vegetable section at your grocery store. All amounts are approximate. ** The smoked paprika gives a lovely mellow flavor to the soup but if you don't have any, substitute ground coriander.  If you use already chopped squash, this takes less than 5 minutes to prep.

 Sinfully Rich, No Guilt Butternut Squash Soup
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TBS butter
  • About 1/2 Cup thinly sliced white onion
  • 1 large, crisp, tart apple cored and sliced
  • 1 sweet potato cut into chunks ( a Cup plus)
  • Around 4 Cups of chunked butternut squash *
  • 32 oz. of low sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet, smoked paprika**
  • Maldon Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter with the oil in a heavy bottomed stock pan. Saute the onion over low heat until limp and translucent (about  8-10 minutes) Add the paprika and stir into the onions. Add the vegetables and apple, stir to mix. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the vegatbles are very tender - about 20 minutes.
Use a hand-held immersion blender to pure the soup to a creamy, lump free consistency. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 main dish servings and 6 starter servings.

Monday, October 11, 2010

This I know ....

Just unpacking and regrouping after  close to a six thousand mile road trip during which I lived with a self-imposed break from the cyber world but for seeking out pet friendly motels and checking route maps.

           Some truths learned along 
                          the way                    
America is beautiful
Dog makes a great road-trip buddy
It's election season
Farmers' markets make me smile
You can't beat an heirloom apple for taste
Gas is expensive 
Books on tape beat loud-mouth, foaming-hatred, talk show radio hosts 

First leg of my trip was an epic thirteen hour plus drive to Oakland where I stayed long enough to sleep and tickle the grand kids before setting out on route 5 though California, Oregon, Washington to the ferry at Anacortes and a few days re-charging batteries on one of my favorite places in the whole world - Orcas island . Had the delightful experience there of meeting Dr. Rosie Kuhn - a long time contributor to Connectionsforwomen.com .

Off island again my plan had been to pick up a second ferry to the Port Townsend and from there follow Rt. 101 to California - my timing was off (can't expect a ferry to wait for me!) so instead beetled down Rt. 5 again and cut over before Portland to cross the Columbia and join 101 at Seaside. What a glorious drive down that coast line - I stopped wherever the fancy took me, climbed on rocks, walked on beaches, ate fresh crab, slept soundly. One delightful incident in Oregon is still making me smile.
I had stopped at a remote beach access area , wandered around hard-packed wave-washed sand while dog scampered off to explore. A very large, shaggy dog bounded from behind massive boulders - Hamish chased after him - I heard a shriek. "Oh shoot", my first thought being my hound had scoffed up someone's brie and caramelized onion ciabatta! I rounded the rocks into a secluded cove. A couple, she in front of an easel, he crouched on a bolder - both au naturel - looked at me sheepishly. Easily in their  late sixties I imagined that she announced she was doing a nude portrait of him on the rocks, he had protested, she had convinced him by saying "look, I'll strip and paint in the nude so we'll both be naked"! She gave a grin and a wave - I blew them a kiss, leashed dog and continued not without a twinge of envy for their togetherness and sense of fun.