Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Soups for the Season, October 26, 2010

This is a six year favorite of mine, which I've posted before. It was made for me by a friend when Helena was just a few days old. Admittedly, I have some nostalgic and warm feelings about this soup that have nothing to do with the soup itself, but others who've tried it all agree it's pretty great. I blogged about it once before, but I believe it deserves a reintroduction. If you're lucky enough to still have some fresh tomatoes from the garden (I'm not, sniff, sniff!), here's a great use for them.

Tomato Cabbage Soup

1) Finely dice 1 carrot, 1 leek, well-washed and 1/2 bunch celery, including leaves. Saute in a soup pot with 1 Tb oil and 1/2 Tb whole fennel seed. When golden brown, add 8 c. water and 1 Tb pesto, if you have it, otherwise add 1tsp dried basil. Cover and simmer 1 hour.

2) Coarsely shop 5 c. fresh tomatoes. You need not skin them. (Or alternatively, add 1 qt. canned tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes somewhat in the soup pot). Add to soup pot with 1/4 c. canned tomato paste. Cut up 1/4 small cabbage into 1" squares and add to simmering soup. Cook another 30 min. When cabbage and tomatoes seem done, add 1/3 c. white rice and cook 10 min more. The rice really needs to go in much earlier to be done on time.

3) Season soup with 2 Tb brown sugar, 2 tsp salt and 1 Tb lemon juice. Taste and correct seasonings if necessary. Garnish each serving with sour cream.

serves 6

Of course, serve it with some good, crusty bread, maybe a salad. I have, on occasion, when hearty fare was called for, browned up some Italian sausage and tossed it in with good results. Whatever you do though, try this soup. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finding True North....part 4

Purple Aurora Borealis
Photo Courtesy of Anar Valdimarsson

There is one thing that has become abundantly clear to me of late, and that is this: The Good Life starts right here, right now, in this moment. It isn't tomorrow or next week or next year. It isn't when my body is thinner or tighter, when my house is cleaner or more finished, it's not when the laundry is put away, when the dishes are done, when I have the right job or relationship or geographical location. IT'S RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW.

I have spent much of my life working through the to do lists, whatever they were for the time, be it finishing school, work for the day, a list of tasks or goals. All of these pieces are necessary parts of life, the stuff that life is made up of. In fact, they are life itself, along with many other pieces that fit into what makes up our hours of our days.

But if we (read, I!) get some caught up in getting it all done, getting there, getting somewhere, so much so that we forget that it's the quality of each day, of our interactions as we move throughout our days, that really matters, then we lose something precious with each day that passes. Each day is rich with the possibility that I can slow down enough to savor it, to savor the moments with those I love, and those I hold on my own, no matter what I'm doing.

This is not to say that it's not important to strive for what we want and work toward it, but more that we (again, read I!) need to remember the richness in what we already have. 

Recently, I stepped outside for just a moment for something, and was struck by the incredibly rich beauty of the sunset, just reaching peak. I ran back in for my camera, and was distracted by something out of place, that irritated me begged to be put away. I did so, then grabbed my camera and ran back out, and the sun had already sunk below the hills.....I had missed it. I have missed other moments as well, for similar reasons. But, if I can learn by the end of my days, to soak up the richness of many more moments without missing them, to put into perspective and balance the doing with the being, then I will consider this a life well spent.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Soups for the Season, October 19, 2010

We have been eating soup at least twice a week since the weather turned cooler. I've been working my way through the deck of soup cards, mentioned here, as well as revisiting some old favorites and seeking out new ones through varied sources. I thought a weekly soup feature might be fun for awhile, so here is the first in our list of hits.

Moosewood Curried Zucchini Soup, recipe found here.

We have been love, love loving this soup....I've made it twice over that last few weeks. This one came from the soup deck, which can be had gently used on Amazon for about $8 total last I checked. If you're lucky enough to have summer squash still coming in, (and I know some of us are not feeling so lucky with an overabundance of summer squash at this point in the year), try this. It's rich and creamy while still being fairly light. I've done it now with zucchini and yellow crook neck squash with equally good results. Vegans could probably leave out the milk and yogurt and substitute some soy or rice milk with a little more vinegar too boost the tartness. I also think this would freeze well if you leave out the dairy until reheating, although I haven't tried it yet.

Serve with warm, crusty bread and a salad.Try this bread, which I wrote about here, and recipe found here if you want to bake your own. I've been baking this bread and variations for about six months, with a break in the summer for heat, and we don't tire of it.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Loving the Light

Having grown up and spent the first 32 years of my life in southern California, I have to admit that I took sunlight for granted. When it's all you know, and there's just, well, so much of it, it's easy to really appreciate it. As I move into my 8th real winter here in the east, I no longer take the light for granted.

I was prepared for cold, but not for how dreary it can be here. We have a lot of rainfall here, which accounts for the lush beauty of the area. But we can also go days without seeing the sun. It took me some time to realize this affected me. I think I really noticed it a couple of winters ago, when my then 4 year old daughter began to point out shafts of sunlight that occasionally streamed through the windows on cold winter days. She would grab my hand, and say "mama, I have a surprise for you, " then pull me into the room and position me so that the sun beamed into my face. I guess I had been pretty obvious in my delight at these bits of sunshine.

I have come to really love the light as it changes through the seasons here, and I noticed it particularly as the days get shorter and shorter as we move toward winter. There's something especially poignant to me about the autumn light.

These are from our backyard, yesterday, and this morning.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook, October 6, 2010

Join the Simple Woman's Daybook here.

Outside my window...~ it is very dark still, we're heading toward the shortest day of the year, and it feels it.

I am thinking... ~about how fortunate I am to be able to just stay home today.

I am thankful for... ~ the happy smile on my husband's face as he walked out the door.

I am wearing... ~pj's, sweatshirt, slippers.

In the learning room... ~how to pull together our IHIP (Independent Home Instruction Plan)

I am remembering... ~ that time for rest and play is as important as getting it all done.

I am going... ~to be home on a delicious, rainy, cool day with my sweet little girl.

I am currently reading... ~regulations of the commissioner of education...more IHIP stuff

I am hoping... ~that this path we've chosen, to home school, will support Helena's ability to learn and thrive.

On my mind... ~the pile on my desk...time to get to it!

Noticing that... ~quiet does me good.

From the kitchen... ~simple, easy food today...just H and I all day and evening, and more time to play that way.

Around the house... ~contained chaos...more organizing and purging needed, but it's time for a break to breath and just enjoy the day.

One of my favorite things ~the flowers on my desk H picked for me.