Friday, November 11, 2011

Roast Butternut Squash Soup

I made this for the first time yesterday and was quite pleased with the result.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks.
  • 2 small onions or 1 medium
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
  • 1 medium apple peeled, cored, and diced (I prefer Granny Smith or McIntosh, but any will do.)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 leaves fresh sage
  • 3 cups milk plus more as needed (I made this with skim milk and was happy with the result.)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Toss the squash with some olive oil in a large flat-bottomed baking pan. Lightly season with salt and black pepper. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. Toss the onion and garlic with the squash and cook another 20 to 25 minutes, until the onions are done.
  2. While the squash is cooking, simmer the diced apple, ginger, and sage leaves in the milk over low heat, about 20 minutes. Remove the sage when done.
  3. When the squash and onions are done, place about half in a blender. Add about half the apple/ginger/milk mixture. Blend. Be careful blending hot ingredients. I hold the lid down tightly with a towel. When fully pureed, pour into a bowl. Blend the rest and add to the bowl. Adjust the seasoning. If too thick, add additional milk.


Refrigerate the leftovers. Reheat in the microwave. My squash weighed about 2 pounds and made enough soup for 4 servings as a main dish.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Salad of the Day

Mesclun Mix with Strawberries and Feta Cheese


  • Toss mesclun greens with a bottled vinaigrette

  • Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese

  • Add sliced fresh strawberries

  • Lightly splash the strawberries with balsamic vinegar



I tried a new salad idea last night. I've been growing mesclun greens indoors since May. They seem very happy at 75 degrees in a shallow tray by a sunny window. I've seen strawberries in salads at restaurants. I've also heard chefs on the Food Network sing the praises of strawberries with balsamic vinegar. I had strawberries on the verge of going bad, so I gave it a try.

Wow! The balsamic vinegar seemed to intensify the flavor of the strawberries. The strawberries were a bit overripe, but that was perfect for the salad. The sweetness of the strawberries contrasted well with the slightly bitter greens, and the feta added a nice salty flavor.

This one's a definite winner.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Ishiguro

I just watched Never Let Me Go last night, a science fiction movie based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is the second movie I've seen based on his novels. The first was The Remains of the Day. The Remains of the Day features Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson as household servants in post-war England. They work "in service" and take great pride in their work. In "Never Let Me Go," there's a different kind of class system (that would spoil the movie to reveal, so I'll just leave it at that). In this film, which takes place in England between the 1970s and 1990s, the underclass also take pride in their roles and do not (for the most part) challenge the fairness or morality of the system or their places in it. Both are excellent films and in both the characters' willingness (and sometimes eagerness) to accept their positions is palpable and disturbing.

In the discussions on the IMDB page for Never Let Me Go, several people criticized the movie for not explaining what mind-control mechanisms or whatnot are used to keep the underclass in their designated places. These comments explain why I dislike most science fiction and why I like this one so much. In this film, the system is in place, the characters are living in the middle of it, and the audience comes into the middle of it, watching characters who have been born into it and accepted it. The point is to make the viewer ask why and to feel it viscerally.

Ishiguro was born in Japan and raised in England from age 6. Both movies are very English in the cultures they portray and in the issues they raise. He's been nominated for the Man Booker Prize four times and won once. It's time I take a break from my non-fiction reading and dig into some Ishiguro.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Poem Published

My poem Simulacrum is now online at Referential Magazine, an online journal with an interesting twist - many of the works on the site refer to specific phrases or images of other works already on the site. I thought this poem about coffee went well with the coffee in another poem on the site, and the editor, Jessie Carty, liked my poem, so it's up now and it links from the word coffee in the earlier poem.

Simulacrum has an interesting provenance. A friend started a ten-word challenge on Facebook, and her friends added words until a list of ten was complete. The challenge was to use all ten words in a single poem. Here's the list: leaf, prone, cloudless, sudden, splinters, ink, snow, yearning, apparition, floating. I thought the list was heavy with delicate, whispery poetic words, so my contribution was splinters. The poem itself is somewhat of a reaction against the words.

One more bit of trivia: I had run through a streak of about twenty consecutive poems that were rejected by journals or contests, and Simulacrum was accepted back in February, breaking that losing streak. Beginning with this poem, I've had six of my last nine submissions accepted, including two that had previously been rejected by other journals. Adding in eight poems that were accepted last year before the lengthy losing streak, I currently have fourteen pending publication.

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