I hate this time of year. I think October through December are the best months of the year and all of the other months are just spent waiting for that final quarter. Now there is nothing to look forward to. No cool holidays. Halloween is so far away. Spring is so boring. Ugh. I wish we hibernated from January through September.
Happy New Year! Did you have a good one? Did you make any resolutions or do you think resolutions are silly? Or do you not even need to make resolutions because what's the point? What could you even improve?
Did you do some traveling for the holidays? Or did you curl up in your jammies and drink cocoa and watch the very excellent holiday film "Will You Merry Me?" Do you get the very punny joke in the title? Did you like the part where the Mom who was really into Christmas asked if the Jewish Mom's "booby" made her latkes or some other stereotypically Jewish food and she was like, "My what?" and the other one was like, "You know, your booby," and she was like, "Ohhhh, you mean my bubby." Good times. Like I said, just a very good movie. A holiday classic. (Actually, compared to the very, very long, slow, and boring "Christmas Angel" this movie was It's a Wonderful Life-caliber, which, incidentally, despite my love of Christmas movies, I do not like all that much. Provocative.).
I traveled and relaxed. Happy medium. Good story. On my flight from Boston to Michigan, where my parents live, I was bumped to business class, probably because I look like a very important CEO of a very important company (no), but that was nice because I was the first person on the plane, they greeted me as "Mr. Kostyo," and I got a free gin and tonic. Pinkies up. I was put back in my rightful place when I took the Amtrak from Michigan to Chicago, where I took the 7:30am train to save $50 and could barely find a place to sit, thanks to that heartless girl in the black long-sleeved shirt who pretended the seat next to her was full while I lugged my giant bags back and forth up and down the aisles from one end of the train to the other. I hope your coat was very comfortable having a seat all to itself and I hope a suitcase fell on your head.
On my flight from Chicago to Boston (I mean ORD -> BOS, which is how people love to put it on their Facebook even though they sound ridiculous), when our plane landed a woman said, "That was the worst flight of my entire life." Oh good. Then a guy runs back up to the gate and tries to get back on the plane and the gate agent says nope, sorry buddy, and he says, but my wife got sick on the plane, I have to get these towels to her, so the gate agent just takes them himself, then a petulant child gets off the plane followed by his mother a good three minutes later (there were long periods of time when nobody got off at all) who immediately started wiping the little boy's shoes off, which is when I got the story, because they started arguing about who vomited first. According to the mother, one lady started vomiting, which the man next to her smelled, which triggered him to vomit, which then triggered the other people to vomit.
Are you hungry for some curry pumpkin soup now? I try to think of the most appetizing stories to really whet your appetite. We had this last pumpkin leftover from our CSA, a medium-sized sugar baby, and it's soup weather, so pumpkin soup it was. You don't have to add the cream cheese if one of your resolutions was weight-related, but I don't particularly like cream cheese on its own yet I had some leftover from these sugar cookies I made over the holidays, so in it went. It does make it creamier and richer. Depending on your curry blend you may want to add more or less to your recipe - some are stronger and hotter than others.
curry pumpkin soup
+ 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
+ 1 small onion, diced
+ 1 medium-sized sugar pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into medium-sized chunks
+ 1-2 tablespoons curry powder
+ 1 tablespoon turmeric
+ 1/2 tablespoon sweet (Hungarian) paprika
+ 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
+ 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
+ 2-3 cups milk
+ 1/4 cup cream cheese
+ 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
+ salt and pepper to taste
+ mustard croutons (recipe follows)
In a large fry pan or dutch oven, heat the 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is just shimmering, add the diced onion and cook until transclucent.
Add the chopped pumpkin to the pan and saute until the pumpkin and onion are nicely browned. Add the 1-2 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 tablespoon of turmeric, 1/2 tablespoon paprika and 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon and roast the spices for a minute. Add the 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, 2 cups of milk (start with two cups - you can always add more later to get it to the consistency you want) and 1/4 cup of cream cheese and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn the heat to a simmer and cook until the pumpkin is fork-tender throughout.
Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for a minute or two and puree using your preferred method: a blender, immersion blender or food mill. When perfectly smooth and velvety, mix in the 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Add more milk to thin the soup as needed. Serve with a sprinkling of mustard croutons and black pepper.
serves 2-3 as a main course and 3-4 as a starter
+ 1 loaf stale french bread
+ 1/4 cup olive oil
+ 2 tablespoons mustard powder
+ 1 tablespoon kosher salt
+ 1/2 tablespoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Cut the loaf of bread into 1-inch pieces and spread them onto a large baking sheet, making sure they are in a single layer.
Drizzle the 1/4 of olive oil over the pieces. Sprinkle them with the 2 tablespoons of mustard powder, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 tablespoon of pepper. Toss the croutons together so they are well-coated in the olive oil and spices.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until they are completely dry and browned, tossing well every 15 minutes or so.
Store in a plastic bag.