Recently, we celebrated Bert’s birthday and my uncle in-law gifted me with a whole bag of cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes from his garden. Given that I have a notorious black thumb, any time that someone wants to pawn off their garden surplus on me, I am so very happy to oblige. I’ve been thinking about a chilled cucumber soup lately, and then Uncle Joe showed up with a whole bag of cucumbers! Clearly the universe decided that chilled cucumber soup needed to make an appearance here at Always Daydreaming, so here we are.
The first time I tasted green curry, my mind was blown. Believe it or not, I had no idea that curry sauce existed that didn’t contain the curry spice blend. The spice curry is actually a blend of other spices including turmeric, cumin, and coriander, among other things. But Thai green curry has an entirely different flavor profile that includes really bright ingredients like lemongrass, galangal (a relative of ginger), cilantro, chilies, and lime leaves. I love food and I love learning about food, but Asian food knowledge is not particularly in my wheelhouse. As much as I enjoy different varieties of Asian food, I don’t eat it often. This is entirely due to the fact that many of those cuisines use ingredients and sauces that often contain shellfish, to which I am highly allergic. The sensitivity of my allergy is such that even using the same cooking utensil for my boring old chicken after using it for a batch of shrimp can create a problem, so I have come to avoid certain restaurants because the risk of cross-contamination is so great.
If there is one type of food I make more than anything else, it’s soup. At any given time, my freezer is filled with soup. So much soup in fact, that we are always left scrambling trying to find space for my husband’s venison after hunting season. This is a situation which I know he finds to be especially irksome, however I have told him that this could be resolved if we got a larger freezer. He has thus far refused. And so, the Battle of the Deep Freeze will continue to be waged into the new year.
Pumpkin is a tricky ingredient. By the time November rolls around, we are conditioned to think that everything we eat needs the pumpkin spice treatment. We get used to the sweet and warm spiced flavors that often accompany pumpkin, so adding it to your smoothie or coffee sounds like a good plan, but have you ever eaten a spoonful of plain pureed pumpkin? It’s really not so awesome. However, if you don’t sugar it up first, pumpkin is super healthy. Pumpkins are low in calories and high in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, so it is well worth your time to seek out savory pumpkin recipes that don’t require lots of additional sugar to make it palatable.
It would be impossible to tell you about this soup without first discussing my recent parenting Fail. That’s fail with a capital “F.” We all have times when we don’t exactly shine in the parenting department and recently I had my turn to be in the shade. These days being a parent is already competitive enough without exposing our failures to each other, but I’ll share mine because nothing makes you feel better about your own parenting fiascos than hearing about someone else’s, right? Consider it my gift to you!
When my alarm went off early one morning to go to Zumba class, I found 4 text messages from Olive indicating that she didn’t feel well and was in the bathroom. For starters, I never heard any of the messages come in, so it wasn’t until an hour later that I found her there, curled up in a tiny ball and asleep on the bath mat. She said she never got sick, so I helped her back to bed, and she went back to sleep. A few hours later, she said she felt better and was ready to go into school. I could tell that something about her was a bit off, but she insisted that she wanted to go, so to school we went! And, as luck would have it, she was at school less than 20 minutes before she got sick, a spectacle which thankfully left her classmates unscathed but I am told covered a desk and a half. She was mortified and I felt terrible. The lesson to be learned here friends is that if your kid is white as a sheet, but says they feel fine, no good will come from listening to them.
Come fall, pumpkin becomes the star of the culinary world and it is easy to forget that there is a whole family of winter squash out there that are equally delicious. Somehow we have started putting pumpkin in just about everything. It’s certainly festive, but I’m always a bit perplexed by the pumpkin-everything phenomenon because when it comes to winter squash, pumpkin is arguably not the best one. Butternut squash is sometimes a bit neglected but it is just as versatile as pumpkin, if not more so. It is naturally sweeter than pumpkin with a mellow flavor. Just because Starbucks has thus far failed to bring the world a butternut squash spice latte doesn’t mean that butternut squash isn’t worth a try. The next time you find one, pick it up and make this soup!
For as good as butternut squash tastes, it doesn’t make it easy on those that want to cook with it! Its shape is cumbersome and the peel is tough enough that a vegetable peeler doesn’t really cut it (literally), so you actually have to peel it with a knife. On top of that, butternut squash tends to leave an orange film on your hands, which is admittedly a bit bizarre. When it comes to butternut squash, however, preparation and cooking doesn’t get much easier than cutting it in half, scraping out the seeds, and tossing it on a pan to roast. By the time it comes out of the oven, the flesh is tender and you can scoop it out with a spoon. No peeling, chopping, or orange hands necessary.
I pack soup for lunch just about every day. It’s easy to think of soup as strictly “winter food,” but I work with my husband who prefers to keep our office as cold as possible so every day is winter in our building! In January it’s chilly and drafty and in August the air conditioning is cranked so high that you need two sweaters to remain defrosted enough to type. Needless to say, I find hot soup to be welcome no matter the season.
Recently, I made the potstickers from over at Damn Delicious and they were indeed damn delicious. I was such a fan that I wondered if I could use the filling to make meatballs and float them in a soup kind of like an Italian wedding soup with an Asian twist. So that’s what I did. I modified the filling and shaped it into little potsticker meatballs and then used similar flavors to spice up the soup broth.