Thursday, February 12, 2009

All Good in the Scherensnitte Hood

I haven't been working on very many art/craft projects around here. All of this walking & making sure there's always milk in the house, I suppose. I'm not used to doing it all. I have several projects that are sort of stalled right now. Promise to share when they're done. But I was looking around blogland today and found (thank you, Extreme Cards & Papercrafting) a German site filled with Sherensnitte patterns of all sorts. Balsten mit Elisabeth has a lot of really pretty designs of varying difficulty, and a lot of text I don't understand. And then there's this:

Image from Balsten mit Elisabeth

I'm officially cutting paper tonight.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What It's All About

A year ago today I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, I'm fighting with the bad sinuses I'm so used to. I suddenly love my bad sinuses! And I'm procrastinating with stuff like this:

Wordle: slowhome

Now I'm off to play with the plant friends and make today positive, between shower steamings.
Also! 100th post! I'm sorry it's not more substantial but I'm happy it's here.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Spicy Pumpkin Soup - SlowHome Style

I'm not going to lie, kids. This recipe I'm about to share was adapted from this one, over at Epicurious. But I have to say I like my version better and judging by the several happy dinner guests, you may too.

So did I blog about pumpkins last year? Mark and I always look forward to picking out pumpkins in October. We select very carefully, ride in wagons, drink cider, and our pumpkins usually end up with names by the time they get home.

See? I'm even wearing my favorite shirt. A friend and I were talking (waay back when things started getting nippy in her part of the country) about looking forward to pumkiny foods. But we noticed that you can't even find the most basic recipe that doesn't call for canned pumpkin. It's odd that we still handle this gourd every year, but the food part of it is completely removed from our homes. It pretty much only comes from a factory, even for people like me that cook from scratch 6+ nights a week. So this year we also got an eating pumpkin. And even though I still remember it's name, I did manage the butchering just a few weeks ago. I'll tell you how I did it, but before you think, "well, that must be a nice thing for a stay-at-home lady of lesiure to do," know that I was just a few months out from boob surgery #2, in the middle of physical therapy, and getting ready for an evening out while I broke this sucker down.

The Incredibly Simple Steps to Prepping a Pumpkin for Cooking:

1. Make sure your pumpkin is quite clean (nooks, crannies, etc.) and split him in half. Don't be intimidated. Go slow, use a sharp, large knife. Again, physical therapy girl did well here.

2. Scoop out seeds & fibers. Most eating pumpkins have very low seed-to-flesh ratios. It's a lot easier a job than with jack-o-lanterns. You can toast the seeds if you like. My pumpkin had about ten, so it wasn't worthwhile.

3. Place each half, skin side up, on a jelly roll sheet or roaster (a lot of juice may render, you need something to contain it well) and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 1 1/2 hours or until skin is very darkly burnished & bubbly. Your house will smell divine.

4. Scoop pumpkin out of skin. If it's completely cooked, you shouldn't need to mash it at all, but you can if you're on the cusp.

You can then use it straight away just as you would canned pumpkin. I divided mine up and froze half. Also, if you keep your pumpkin around in the fridge for a few days or so, you may notice additional liquid separating from the cooked pumpkin, yogurt-like. Totally normal. I just poured it off as all my recipes had their own liquid.

The Incredibly Tasty Spicy Pumpkin Soup:
Serves 14

1/2 c. whipping cream
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

6 tbsp butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded & diced
5 2/3 c. (45 oz.) pumpkin
2 c. whole milk
1 1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
2 tsp. nutmeg
9 c. vegetable broth

3/4 c. toasted pepitas and a few dashes sweet paprika, to garnish

Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl. Cover & chill.

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and jalepenos and saute until garlic is just starting to turn golden, stirring frequently. Mix in pumpkin, milk, and crushed red pepper. A little at a time, puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. Return puree to pot and add broth, stirring well. Add nutmeg and simmer 10 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with cream. Sprinkle with pepitas & a little sweet paprika, if you like.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Odd Interval

So here I am, now. Healthy, able to concentrate on lots of new and exciting things. But my recent past is chockablock full of heavy, scary junk. Stuff that new people do NOT want to hear about. I was prodded to test this by a particularly adorable friend last night and, um, I was right. As funny as I tried to be, those two nice young men were praying for a trapdoor to open under them when I said the c-word. Oops! Perhaps this is all feeling a little heavier a monkey on my back because of the ominous anniversary coming up on Sunday. Diagnosis Day. Ugh.

I'm also gathering information on the Three Day for November of this year. Very positive stuff. Exciting and challenging, and I will keep you posted. But there's this funny thing that happens sometimes when you see a snapshot of your emails, before you open the full in-box. For instance, Mark frequently gets emails from "Abraham Lincoln." I get all excited until he opens the email and I see that he's really being contacted by the Abraham Lincoln Book Store. Which is a cool bookshop, but not, you know, Abe. Today I logged into gmail and saw:

Breast Cancer - Let Us Help You Take the Next Step -

Okay, ha ha, no thank you, Breast Cancer! Apparently you're not over our break-up yet. Which I understand, I'm pretty awesome. Let me make myself perfectly clear then, we're through! No Mas! Basta! Get lost!!!

Oh, right. It's an email from the Breast Cancer Three Day, which I asked for. Must remember these important details.

And now, a birthday picture.

P.S. I do realize that Abraham Lincoln is not technically "alive" in a way that would be conducive to emailing. But maybe someday ghosts will learn to use computers? Or maybe Lincoln had a premonition about the interwebs and built a time-capsule to be opened in eight score???