A belated Christmas gift from Will of a new lens means a few random pictures for you as I fiddle around with it.
I don’t really know what I’m doing! But Rosie will tell me.
It’s a totally new thing for me to spend my snowed-in winter days without children to keep busy with activities — or even teens to talk to! All day, just me … the Chief wanders in now and then for a meal … Habou gets herself to her studio if the roads let her. But really, time is different for me now, that’s for sure!
I have much less of a clamor going on. The days are often wide open, especially when commitments are cancelled due to you-know-what. Yet, more than ever, they rush by as I try to accomplish all I need to do! How is that even possible!
I’m trying to clear out some projects, as you know. This one is a chalice veil that I’m supposed to be repairing, as the lovely silk backing had been worn to shreds. Yes, it was originally that hot fuchsia!
It has taken forever to find the right kind of silk and then figure out how to sew it on. Sounds easy (which is why I said yes), turns out to be tricky. Probably another decade and I’ll be done.
And then I was cleaning out some more things in my pantry/studio/storage space and came across these calligraphy panels from Deirdre. I think I asked her to write out the prayer to the Holy Spirit for my Atrium class. Poor Deirdre — she’s always making or giving me beautiful things and then they get stuffed away (at best) until I “deal.”
Isn’t her work beautiful?
And I need to get on some baby caps for the spring rush!
How about a delicious butternut squash soup with quinoa?
First I’m going to tell you something about getting butternut squash into a form you can manage, without making a dish like this a complete chore.
Don’t do what the recipes all tell you to do! Don’t peel the un-peelable, or try to cut up the un-cuttable. Don’t end up with watery substance.
Instead, get your squash (preferably two) when you know you will use the oven for something else. The temperature doesn’t matter too much — anything from 300* to 450* will do. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Put the squash whole in it. Bake it for a good long time, like an hour, or until it’s browning and exuding its sugars.
Take it out and let it cool a bit. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and easily just scoop the flesh away from the skin. (Now wrap up everything that’s left in the foil and toss. Easy!)
Now distribute the butternut squash between whatever you are making for this dinner (for instance, buttered, salted, and a little cinnamon, serving up as a lovely side dish for roast chicken) and some containers. Pop the containers in the freezer.
When you are making soup, pull out one or more containers! While you are out at your freezer, maybe get those chunks of ham you squirreled away the last time you had ham, and some chicken or ham broth ditto. Let it all defrost on your counter until you are ready to cook.
This way, this kind of soup will only take you about 40 minutes from start to finish. Don’t let recipes turn something simple like soup into a long affair. Soup is meant to be what you make after you’ve made all the other things!
Butternut Apple Quinoa Soup, Like Mother, Like Daughter
(adjust these amounts according to what you have handy — nothing is set in stone here)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbsp butter or olive oil
- 2 Tbsp ras el hanout, garam masala, or curry powder, or one Tbsp each cumin and coriander
- 4 Tbsp flour, if you want a thick soup
- 1 quart chicken, ham, or vegetable stock, homemade and stashed in your freezer before you even thought of making this soup
- 2 cups of pureed butternut squash (maybe 1/2 a good-sized squash), prepared as suggested above for maximum efficiency and concentrated, caramelized flavor
- 1 cup, more or less, of ham, chopped into pieces (sausage will work very well also!) if this isn’t an abstinence day — but it’s fine without
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 apples, peeled and chopped
Saute your onion, celery, and carrot in the oil or butter for a minute or two. Add the spices and garlic, stirring for a minute, and then the flour. Cook the roux for a few minutes, and then gradually add your stock, whisking to make a thickened broth.
Add the butternut squash and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
If you like, at this point you can puree the soup with an Immersion Hand Blender*. Don’t get it perfectly smooth — just make the vegetables smaller and the squash not stringy.
Now add the ham pieces and quinoa. Add more water if you need it: Think about the soup at the end, and what consistency you want it to be (and also think about how many you want it to serve!). Stir it all up.
Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is soft.
Add the apple pieces and cook for 5 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*I like my stick blender for this type of thing. It’s far too much trouble to pour hot soup into a blender or food processor — not worth it. Just chop the veggies smaller if you don’t have a stick blender. And if you are getting one, don’t be tempted to get a cordless one, even though that would seem to be way preferable. In fact, they are not powerful enough. So, cord it is.