Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snowtober... really?

It is October 29 and we are getting 8-12 inches of snow.  We knew it was supposed to snow a bit tonight, which was ridiculous already.  But then it started early, which meant that I had to leave working on campus early, and it took me an hour to drive home from campus. 

And if that weren't bad enough, to get almost a foot of snow in October - they had to come up with a stupid name for it. 

I call shenanigans.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Godfather (Part I)

This weekend, we went back to Ohio for Alex's baptism.  Although we have a church we (well mostly I) attend in CT, all of our families live in Ohio, and we just got our new rector at St. Mark's three weeks ago (as in, we didn't have anyone who could baptize Alex when we bought our plane tickets).  So Southwest was having a sale over the summer, we bought three tickets and picked a date.
So we had to get the baby, and all his stuff, on a plane.  We of course, left later than we planned.  As we were on the freeway, I realized that I had forgotten my cell phone (nooooooooo!).  I use Dan's phone to call my phone, no ringing from inside the car (sob!).  It's too late to turn around, we're already running late.  I accept my cellphoneless existance for the weekend.  Dan drops me, Alex and all of our stuff off at the door, then went to park the car.  I lug our stuff inside and collapse in a heap (baby stuff is heavy!).  And then I hear my cellphone (Joy!).  I manage to hang up on my mom attempting to find my phone in my backpack.  I call Dan and tell him where I am.  Then several minutes later, I remember - the carseat base.  I call him, no answer.  I text him, no answer.  Dan shows up a minute later, no car seat base. Damn. 

We lug our stuff over to the Southwest counter, get our bags checked and all that, and ask about the carseat base.  They do recommend using the base on the plane.  Double Damn.

We head over to security, and are directed into the family/medical line.  Dan decides to run back to the car to get the car seat base, I wait in line.  And wait and wait and wait and move approximately 4 feet.  After about 10 minutes,  I see a man with a car seat base looking at the front of the line - that would be my husband.  I shout his name to get his attention, he comes over, after asking permission from the TSA, and gets in line with me.

At this point I'm starting to feel less favorable towards the "nice" person who directed us to the family/medical line.  I don't think that was meant to be helpful to us.  I think they try to stick all the slow people into one line to let everyone else go faster. 

We're starting to get antsy - we're past the time they should have been boarding our flight, and we're still stuck in security.  We start to get worried about missing our flight.  We finally get through security, which wasn't actually that much of an ordeal for us.  They let me carry Alex through the regular metal detector, although Dan had to use the backscatter X-ray thing.  We speed walk to our gate, and get there exactly 2 minutes after our plane's scheduled departure, and they've already closed the doors.  We missed our flight.  Triple Damn!

Luckily, Southwest is awesome, and they totally got us on the next flight out.  We had time to get some food (sweet potato fries FTW), feed the baby, go to the bathroom, etc.  It's finally time for our new flight, we get to board during family boarding and we need to get the car seat set up.  Turns out there's not quite enough room for the car seat without pushing up on the seat in front of it.  Unfortunately, there was a person in that seat, a person who kept responding by pushing back.  Not helpful guy.  We finally get the seat in.  I am pointedly instructed to put on my own oxygen mask first, before the baby's.  And then we leave.  Alex, at this point, had taken 0 naps.  It was 3:00pm.  At this point during the day he should have had 2-3 naps.  0 naps.  So my flight was spent attempting to amuse a very tired and cranky baby who did not like all of the ear popping and pressure changes, thank you very much. 

We had enough time at our layover to use the bathroom and change Alex's diaper, and then back on the plane.  I made Dan sit next to Alex so he could deal with Mr. Fussy Pants this time.  Alex was totally fine on that flight and slept for most of it (of course).

We made it safely to Columbus, which is where we'll pick up next time.  Class dismissed :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, and Garlic with Caramelized Onion Soup

First, I really need to come up with a shorter name for this soup. Second, as an introductory note, I don't measure most things when cooking, so what I'm about to share is mostly estimates. Cooking, to me, is an art, while baking is a science (and thus needs accurate measurements).

Anyway, I mentioned on facebook sometime in the recent past that I had made delicious soup. Well, I'm finally getting around to blogging about said soup. More accurately, I'm going to share the "recipe." I put recipe in quotes because I made it up, and per the note above, did not measure most ingredients. So, here goes...

2-3 pounds butternut squash, "peeled" and chopped
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bulb garlic (yes, I really like garlic)
3 cups stock (I used homemade veggie stock that Corinne made, but other stocks, or even water, would probably work)
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
Olive Oil

Salt (I used fresh ground sea salt)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2) Peel off the outer papery layers from the bulb of garlic. Chop a small bit off of the pointy end, and stick, chopped side down, into some olive oil. Set aside.
3) Hack the skin off of the butternut squash, as there really isn't a good way to peel one. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and "guts," and then chop the rest into smallish pieces. Smaller pieces will roast faster and more evenly, but you really do not need to cut it too small.
4) Peel and chop (around the same size as the squash) the sweet potato.
5) Put the sweet potato and butternut squash into glass baking dishes, trying to keep it to a thin layer (I had to use two in the end)
6) Drizzle (liberally--I tend to use lots of olive oil, but I think that's the Italian in me) the sweet potato and squash with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Toss to coat.
7) Take the garlic out of the dish, and thoroughly coat with olive oil (I just rolled it around in the dish, but I've used a pastry brush to apply olive oil in the past). Wrap the garlic in foil.
8) Put the baking dish(es) and the wrapped garlic in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, making sure the pieces are nice and tender. You can stir it once or twice during this time to ensure even roasting.
9) In the mean time, heat some oil in whatever pot you will eventually use for the soup. When the oil is warm, add the onions. Cook over medium to medium high heat. The goal here is to caramelize the onions. While I've never run in to any issues, apparently this is harder than it looks. So, here are some tips: use a decent amount of olive oil (butter works too), stir immediately to coat the onions, you do not want to saute the onions so gradually lower the heat as the onions cook, finally, the more the onions cook the more you will need to stir to avoid over cooking/burning/sauteing. The onions should gradually turn translucent and then, after some time, start to turn a caramel. If they don't change color, don't worry. You'll know by the smell (sweet and smokey) that they are caramelizing.
10) When the squash, sweet potatoes, and garlic are done, remove from oven. Let the garlic cool (or, work quickly with reckless disregard for your fingers...not that I would ever do that *looksinnocent*), if possible, let the garlic cool unwrapped. Once the garlic cools, remove the cloves from the peel/covering (at this point they should come out with very little effort).
11) Add the squash, sweet potato, and garlic to the onions in the pot. Season with a little more salt and pepper, as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes to let the flavors blend.
12) Add the stock and simmer for 25 minutes.

13) Remove from heat. Let cool. Blend (I left it slightly chunky as I liked having a few pieces of squash and sweet potato, thoroughly roasted, left in the soup) to desired texture. If you have an immersion blender, this is pretty easy. If not, let cool longer and blend, in batches if necessary, in a blender.

14) Return to pot (if you used a blender), warm it up to taste, and serve. This soup is really good with bread.

Thoughts: I had considered adding a splash of white wine when I add everything to the pot, prestock, but didn't. I still think it would work well with the soup. A possible alteration would be to use some cream or milk, added after the soup is blended. However, because of Alex's dairy intolerance, I didn't try this. The soup was rich, with well-blended roasted flavors. Moreover, the cumin and coriander worked amazingly well with the cinnamon and nutmeg. It seems that adding these seasonings at different times allowed the flavors to seep in and ultimate layer well together.