Arugula and delicata salad

January 22, 2013 § 22 Comments

arugula delicata salad 1

Right at this moment, it is 20 below zero outside.  The windchill is -43F, and the high today is a balmy -4.

In other words, it is January in Minnesota.  And while this kind of weather does make you vaguely wonder how life can exist here, it is also pretty great – after the thaw we had two weeks ago – to feel like we’re getting a spot of normal weather.

delicata half moons

In case you don’t live in such a frigid place, here are some things to know about this type of weather:

Yes, there is still a palpable difference between temperatures when you get lower than 32F.  Sure, it all feels freezing, but not at all the same level of freezing.  5 degrees above feels downright vernal after a spell of -15.  When it’s around 10 or 15 below, salt actually stops working to melt ice.  It’s kind of funny.  When it gets really, really cold you can toss a cupful of water up in the air, and it will freeze before it makes it back down to the earth.

The best way to respond is to go outside in spite of the cold, just be sure all of your skin is covered and that everything you’re wearing is thick and wooly.  Then, make some type of remark to everyone you meet about how arctic explorers would be overjoyed to have such a pleasantly warm day.

On a related note, you must learn to recognize everyone by their hats and puffy coats because you can’t really see faces.  You need boots that are in a whole different league, preferably made of moose skin.  The long fur coats you inherited from your grandmother stop looking like a politically incorrect bit of fashion history and instead look like an extremely reasonable and adaptive way of dressing. « Read the rest of this entry »

Creamy “pumpkin” soup

January 2, 2013 § 35 Comments

pumpkin soup 1

Happy, happy New Year to you all!  Did you ring in the New Year in style?

I know we did.  Much more stylishly than we really are, in fact.  But if the holidays aren’t a time to up your style game, when is, right?

Perhaps it’s the crash after the high of holiday activity, perhaps it’s that the New Year always makes me nearly as nostalgic as October does, but I’m now left feeling quietly morose.  “Another year,” a voice somewhere inside of me sighs, “another year, and I still don’t understand.”

onion skins

So I’m sitting in our living room now, which feels dark as the Christmas twinkle lights have all been put back into boxes, wondering to myself, ‘understand what?  What do I so yearn to understand?’

The answer, I’m sorry to say, is anything and everything, as far as I can tell.  The answer is Life.

Day by day life happens, intermittently glorious and terrible, and I don’t understand any of it.  At all.  Not a bit.

I’m suddenly remembering a quote my mother told to me earlier this year (I’m not entirely sure of its origin), “this thing of which we speak cannot be found by seeking.  But only seekers will find it.”

I don’t entirely understand the quote either, but it speaks to me about life and meaning on a level separate from understanding.  I feel somehow like that’s it.  Like maybe trying to understand won’t get you anywhere.  Life just is, it isn’t an entity to be dissected and understood.  You have to get out of your own way, but at the same time seek and make that daily effort to get out of your own way. « Read the rest of this entry »

Roasted bell pepper soup

September 8, 2011 § 23 Comments

I feel a bit as though bell peppers are raining down on my head.  Tumble, plump, bumble, plop, boing… And then scattering across the floor.  Thankfully they aren’t actually, though I imagine it wouldn’t be entirely unpleasant.  But, it would make a lot of peppers to clean up – and they’d require extra scrubbing after being on the floor and all.

Anyhow, we do have bell peppers in abundance.  More than can be reasonably used, even through a well strategized line up of stir fries with peppers, pasta with peppers, salad with peppers, and sauteed melanges of who knows what but it definitely includes peppers…with peppers.

I thought about pickling them and packing them by the peck (into pints, of course), and it may yet come to that.  But, in the meantime, the clever, immediate, and entirely delectable solution was soup.  Roasted pepper soup.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Cauliflower sautee with garlic bread crumbs

March 3, 2011 § 14 Comments

I was, shall we say, a feisty little devil when I was very young.  I had about the temper control of a raging volcano.  And, when I wanted my way, I really wanted my way.  Rumor (which I shall neither confirm nor deny) has it that I would pull out all the stops in order to control the situation, including but not limited to: dumping jars of food or pitchers of juice on the floor, holding my breath until I passed out, and peeing my pants (yeah, I’m never ever going to live that one down).  One particularly vivid memory has to do with cauliflower.  One of the dishes in my mother’s repertoire when I was growing up was a sort of baked cauliflower casserole with some cheese and some mushrooms and maybe some lemon juice or something of the sort.  Now, I was okay with the cheese, but when you are 4 or 5 being faced with both cooked cauliflower and mushrooms in a single dish is overwhelmingly abhorrent.  If I remember correctly, in my young mind it was approximately on par with being served a casserole of brains (which, come to think of it, some people would probably happily eat.  Not I, I’m afraid.).  What followed at the dinner table was a classic case of frustrated parent trying to get picky child to take just one bite.  I’m sure you can envision the scene.  But, when said picky child was finally required to take just one bite, things got interesting.  I put the bite of cauliflower in my mouth, gagged it down.  And then promptly threw up all over the place, just to show my parents how I felt about vegetables.  It was not one of my finer moments.

Over time, I grew more appreciative of cauliflower.  In fact, I have grown to love it, as long as it is roasted or sauteed so that the outsides turn brown and caramelized and the insides are just tender.  Cauliflower can be nondescript, receding into the background and taking on whatever flavors you let it mingle with be they curry or lemon juice.  Or it can be confined to adding body and a bit of creaminess to a blended soup without giving it a powerful flavor.  But, if you can coax the shy flavor out, it is actually quite lovely, sweet and nutty.  And sauteeing the cauliflower does just that.  All you need to do is toss little florets into a pan with a pat of butter (or olive oil) and a sprinkling of sea salt, let them relax in the sizzle for a bit, stirring them up a couple of times, and soon you’ll have a beautiful simple side dish. « Read the rest of this entry »

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