24 November 2009

winter squash and root gingered soup or if you think i have a squash fetish you would be right

Last night I felt my stride once again in the kitchen (it's been gone for a while) when I created this soup in honor of my mom and dad's arrival for Thanksgiving, which brought me an unexpectedly exuberant feeling of joy during a dark few weeks of life.  

I had only a butternut and a blue hubbard left from the Farmer's Market (now closed for the season, but opening for a single holiday market on Friday, so I can hopefully procure more squash) and decided to make them into a soup.  The farmer who sold me the blue hubbard told me they were best combined with other root vegetables because they were too mild to stand on their own.  After tasting them, I'm not sure I agree with her, but I'd already started the carrots and roasted the butternut squash, so I went ahead with my plan to combine a variety of squash and vegetables.  I suppose you could leave the tomatoes out, but I like the balance of the acid brings to the sweetness of the squash ( I sometimes find butternut soup cloying).  This soup is quite easy even though you need to plan on roasting time for the squash--you can use that time to make a salad, set the table and get everything else ready for the soup:

Winter Squash and Root Gingered Soup

½ stick unsalted butter

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

6 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 small butternut squash, roasted

1 small blue hubbard squash, roasted

1 32 oz. can whole tomatoes

2 quarts chicken stock

1 quart water

1 t. cumin

¼ t. cayenne

1 t. (or  more, to taste, if you like it spicy) sriracha

½ pint heavy cream 

1.     Wash and pierce squash and roast whole in a 375 oven.  Cool slightly, seed, and scoop out flesh.

2.     While squash is roasting, peel and chop and then sauté onions and carrots on medium low in butter.  Grate ginger into onions and carrots and continue cooking.  This amount of ginger gives a very subtle background note, so if you really dig a gingery soup, add another inch or two of root.

3.     Combine stock, water, tomatoes (and juice), cumin, and cayenne.  Let soup simmer for 10-15 minutes.

4.     Purée soup until smooth.  Heat soup through then finish with cream and a teaspoon of sriracha. 

I I I went all out and put on a table cloth, dim lighting (my best solution for bad wall paper and a non-spotless house), lit candles, etc.  Mom and Dad, Pat and Bonnie and all the kids save Eva were there. I didn't photograph the soup because the moment was too good and I didn't want to leave it.  In a moment, one single moment, my depression lifted and was completely gone.  Almost twenty-four hours later, I still feel great.  What happened?  It feels miraculous, or maybe my soup is medicinal. 

P.S.--My mom said I should enter my soup in a recipe contest.  That was pretty much the highlight of my cooking life, coming from my cooking idol herself.



19 November 2009

Hercules Beetle

I saw one of these today, a real one, dead, pinned against moth-repellent in a drawer of beetles housed in the Bean Museum's insect collections.  The most interesting things in the exhibit, however, were the boy specimens--four seventh-grade boys I was chaperoning on a tour of the insect collection guided by a nerdly entomologist who somehow captivated their attention for an hour and patiently tried to find specimens that would satisfy their curiosity about:

*the biggest insect in the collection (do you want wingspan?  no, just massive.)
*the smallest insect in the collection (fleas on alcohol slides)
*the most deadly (the bee, fyi, who is the most dangerous animal by far in the U.S.)
*the weirdest (these huge walking-stick type insects from New Guinea)
*butterflies with clear wings and owl moths

Suddenly those boys were the cutest things I've ever seen, their baby faces, that in three or four years will be handsome, animated and looking engaged  with the material in a way  that I don't often see in the classroom.  Being that I teach English.  (In my limited experience with Jr. High and High School boys, many of them seem particularly resistant to writing in the classroom, or maybe they're just resistant to me.)  

I wish I could make this happen every day, but for now having a beautiful moment among 2,000,000 specimens  of insects was just really, really good.

18 November 2009

Hunger Banquet

Hello All!

A few friends and I are hosting an Oxfam Hunger Banquet for our senior service project. We would be honored if you would join us. It will be held on November 19 at 7:00 pm at the Walden School (4230 N. University Avenue), tickets will be $10.

            There will be talks from Gerald Brown and Warner Woodworth, as well as some musical entertainment and a photo slideshow.

We hope to see you there!

Ingrid Asplund

ps: email me (asplundingrid@gmail.com) or call my friend Hillary (801-400-8182) for tickets and more information

17 November 2009

lame links

I was so proud of all my links in the last post until I tried opening them all and found I had posted them wrong.  Ingrid calls this my "old person's problem."  They were really cool links, so I'm posting them again, sans old person's problem:

6) Yoga

16 November 2009

Oh My Goodness

If you're too overwhelmed for narrative, write a list. I got inspired by my friend Julie's awesome blog to finally update again.

Here's what I've been doing lately:

1) Teaching my students to write ghazals, haiku, sestinas, and sonnets, which they totally hate. I love the ghazal, especially this one by Shahid, and using my favorite book on the subject, Ravishing Disunities. The Ghazal works with fragmentation and avoids the kind of unity that we look are trained by our English teachers to look for in say, the sonnet. This is why my students hate me and ghazals right now--they're struggling to learn to live with ambiguity, multiplicity, lack of closure, actually things I love the most in poems.

2) Yoga. I'm trying to go four or five times a week in the hopes of not resorting to pharmaceuticals to keep my mental health in check. Nothing against them--I love them and have used them and would use them again if necessary, but I love not feeling dampened by them, and love not paying for them every month, and love the absence of side effects when not on them. So I'm trying not to develop my yearly full-blown depression.

3) Squash--acorn, sphagetti, butternut, amber cup, green hubbard. Roasted, pureed, mashed, and so on.

4) Reading Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches Me and I Fall Down and Berton Roueche's The Medical Detectives in preparation for teaching a writing/ lit. class on medical writing, idea inspired by my friend Teri from Mills who now teaches bio-ethics at Gallaudet and who contributed a chapter in this awesome book on House.

5) Editing and revising my manuscript of poems for this press, forthcoming in winter of 2011.

6) Finishing up fourteen. That's 1-4. Loads of laundry.

7) Revising a new manuscript, tentatively called Gentian Weaves her Fringes and a chapbook Physic at the Table so I can start submitting them.

8) Thinking a lot about finishing the novel I started last year. Totally discouraged about not having enough time right now.