Tuesday, December 29, 2009

a husband by any other name

Who would have thought that one's husband actually reads one's blog? Well, mine did and is requesting an online name. You know, something cute, yet profound, mysterious, yet summative. Similar to the Pioneer Woman's husband Marlboro Man. Except for my husband is a tenor and hasn't been near a cigarette in many years. What he has been near is a guitar or two, a piano or two, a sound board, GarageBand, a flute, some drums, and hundreds of singers. So he will now, here, be known as Music Man.

Music Man himself, singing outside Milan's cathedral, Il Duomo, Spring 2002.

Monday, December 14, 2009

a different take on the food guide pyramid

I go to a really great church. Once, a visitor asked me why I liked the church so much, to which I responded, "It's very real here, very relevant." Authentic, meaningful, not fluffy, or stodgy.

Here's an example: about a week ago, the pastor had a sermon called something like "A Thankful Heart Prepares the Way." He made the connection between the old food guide pyramid to the way our thankful heart can focus its thanks.

Now picture the pyramid with 'things' at the top, 'well-being' next, 'relationships' next, and "nature/creation" in the big section at the bottom. I thought it really put into perspective how narrow our thanks can be sometimes (not only "God, thanks for my house" but also, "God, thanks for the rain, my family, my livelihood.")

I think this illustration struck me because I enjoy contemplating nutrition and this connection is easy for me to remember. And how fun would it be to say a complete prayer of thanks over a warm and fragrant meal!

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

not your ordinary squash soup

Squash soup sounds pretty humble and boring. Not this squash soup. I would serve this to guests. I would bring this to parties. I would use this to woo my husband.

So, yes, first you take a few winter squash, halve them, scoop the seeds (I'm actually attempting to save the seeds for spring planting!), bake the halves face down in water. Bake in a 350* oven for however long it takes for them to get soft enough to pierce with a fork (my little squash took only 20 minutes). I used some hubbard squash (the pumpkin-looking ones), a couple of acorn squash (the dark green ridged ones), and a strange unidentified small one.

Don't freak about the amount of squash I used - they were really small, and they were given to me by my darling mother, who loves me despite knowing me and saved them after she used them for her outdoor fall decorations. She's cool like that. If getting mine at the grocery store next time, I would probably get any 2 large squash or the equivalent.

While the squash are out of your hair and into the oven, dice 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and saute briefly in a bit of oil, along with one tablespoon of curry, one tablespoon of ginger, one teaspoon of cumin. Try to ignore your 3 year-old who, despite happily pouring in the spices, cries, "What is that horrible, HORRIBLE smell?"

Seriously, ignore her because the smell is heavenly. In an ethnic-heaven sort of way. Which really is the way I hope heaven is - ethnic and fragrant. But I digress.

Ok, so after the squash are all hot and soft, scoop the insides into a blender. Blend with 1 - 2 cups of broth and the fragrant garlic/herb mixture. You should be getting something that resembles a thick, smooth soup. Pour it back into the pot and repeat until all the squash is blended. Add some unsweetened, light coconut milk to the pot and stir, starting with 1/2 cup and adding up to the whole can, if you like that strong of a coconut taste. I ended up using about 1 cup or about 1/2 the can. Add salt and pepper to taste. (One reason I like this recipe is that there is a lot of tasting involved.) Heat slowly and serve warm. The original recipe calls for the juice of a lime and fresh cilantro for garnish. I didn't have these on hand (they're not exactly local to Michigan in December), but I'd like to try them for next time. Another thought is to toss in a handful of those little orange lentils and heat until tender, maybe blending them as well.

This soup has such an amazingly full scent and flavor that my carpool friend who dropped my daughter off from school noticed the aroma all the way from the front door. Husband loved the soup. I loved the soup. The children need to mature a little to appreciate such complex things. They will love it, they will love it. In the future. Or they won't get their driver's licenses.

A big 'thank you for sharing' bow to Kelly!