That one word pretty much sums up this past week for me. A week full of delectable little life tasks, primarily consisting of: laundry, cleaning, sleeping, and—of course—crafting. Nothing feels more invigorating than starting off the year with simplicity. Hence my wonderfully calm, simple nine patch of the week:
I ate a bit too much of this sort of thing while in Mexico:
(The most outstanding chicken and mole I’ve ever had)
I received this gorgeous Creuset French oven from my mother for Christmas:
And it’s been a tid bit chilly here in good old Boston.
So I decided to make something simple, delicious, and wholesome. Enter butternut squash soup. This soup consists of chicken broth, onions, seasoning, chicken stock, and a bit of milk. That’s it. Exactly what I’ve been in the mood for, and it’s been a wonderfully restorative meal (I ate the leftovers all week for lunch) for entering 2010. I used this recipe, but I upped the amount of squash and lessened the milk—I like a nice, thick, stew-like soup. Though you can apparently use a traditional blender, an insertion blender will make your life a whole lot easier—I found a mediocre but usable one for $25 at my local supermarket.
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (weight it after you’ve cubed it; approximately 1 large squash)
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 1 ½ tbsp butter
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 large garlic cloves, largely diced
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground gloves
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 2 ½ cups chicken broth
- ¾ cups whole milk
- Salt and freshly ground paper
- Fresh apple slices for garnish
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large French oven until it is shimmering. Add the butternut squash, onion, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to low, and add the butter, and garlic. Continue to sauté for about 12 minutes.
Add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cayenne pepper. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid; allow to simmer until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and wait for the broth to stop simmering. Use an immersion blender to puree the squash until it is smooth. You can leave chunks of squash if you like, but the majority of it should be liquefied.
Add the whole milk and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with slices of fresh apple.
I love soup, but it never feels like it’s enough of a meal on its own so, naturally, I made some bread to go with. I wanted a recipe that was simple and easy to make so I fiddled around with this book that my brother gave me and came up with these:
Maple Wheat Bread Rolls
- 1 ½ cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
- 5 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast (my latest and greatest discovery: wonderful for whole wheats)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour, plus approximately 1 cup more for kneading
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Olive oil for brushing
Combine the water and yeast in a large bowl. Stir slightly and let proof until slightly foamy (about ten minutes). Add the maple syrup and vegetable oil, then mix. Add the salt, then gradually add the 3 ½ cups of whole wheat flour (about half a cup at a time) until you have a dough that is just firm enough to knead by hand.
Lightly flour a board or counter, and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, incorporating more whole wheat flour as needed. The dough should be firm, but slightly sticky and elastic in texture. Lightly oil the inside of a large bowl and place the dough in it, covering it with a clean towel.
Preheat an oven for one minutes, turn it off, and place the covered dough inside. Allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Lightly grease a large baking sheet. Divide the dough into 16 round balls and place them on the sheet. Brush them lightly with oil for a thicker, crustier crust. Allow to rise again in the warm oven for about an hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Remove the buns and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the rolls for about 20-25 minutes, or until they are a dark brown hue.
Nothing beats homemade soup and bread.
What I forgot to mention in my last post is that in addition to some very successful textile shopping, I did a lot of knitting while in Mexico. My usual every-spare-moment kind of knitting. At the beach, during cab rides, even in bars. It’s sort of a high-risk way to knit (sunscreen, sand, and alcohol are a bit hazardous when it comes to working with yarn) but I couldn’t resist—if for no other reason then I finished the book I had brought after the first couple of days, and the Hilton’s bookshop only had Men’s Health Magazine and Bride Magazine, neither of which intrigued me. Long story short, I ended up with this:
Actually, I finished the body while in Mexico but had to wait to return home for blocking, seaming (ugh, my least favorite part of the sweater-making process), and knitting the cowl neck. I know, I know. It’s probably familiar. What can I say? You should know by now that I’m a firm believer in having your favorite things in every possible color. But since I have other knitting projects to return to/not enough of one kind of yarn to make another sweater, I’ll be mixing things up again.
And now that I’m back home and my life more closely resembles a somewhat stable routine, I’m looking forward to some sewing!