Sunday, December 26, 2010

season's greetings

walking downtown

We're snowed in at HWWLLB's parents' house in the mountains. It's wonderful.

It was such a busy, hectic fall. Being snowed in over Christmas means that basically everything has stopped. We didn't travel to see more relatives, I'm not trying to cram in any work, we're not even making trips to the grocery store. We're here with yarn and books and toys, finding little ways to have fun, and taking lots of naps. I really needed this break. It took a foot of snow to get me to slow down and relax!

I have two knitting projects going here: one secret and one decoy. The secret project was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but it wasn't done in time, so it will be a birthday gift in January instead. It's Elizabeth Zimmerman's Norwegian mittens, and they are the most beautiful things I've ever knitted by far. I keep stroking and gazing at them (which may be why they weren't finished in time for Christmas!).

The decoy is because we're hanging out with the mitten recipient, so I can't very well gaze upon the mittens (or knit them) in front of her. So I'm working on a bulky jacket for the Pea with big fat giant colorful Lang Mille Colori Big yarn. It's beautiful and soft and quick and fun.

It's hard to fit all this knitting in between naps and baking, but somehow I'm managing. I hope you're having a wonderful holiday. This is just what I wanted for Christmas!

Monday, December 06, 2010

recipe::warm & spicy winter soup

I am a firm believer in the healing powers of home-made soup. As a vegetarian, I'm always looking for the non-meat version of the incredibly comforting chicken-noodle soup. This isn't that exactly, but it is a warm, aromatic bowl packed full of vitamin C, protein, and immune-system-boosting ingredients for a cold winter's night.

If this soup is for family dinner, serve it with salad and a crusty bread to make it snazzy - but if you're feeling under the weather, a bowl by itself is nutritionally complete and sure to warm your bones. Bonus: this recipe is also vegan and gluten-free!

warm & spicy winter soup

prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 1 hour
serves 4-6


1 onion, minced
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch stick of fresh ginger, peeled & minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup dry mung beans, split peas, lentils or other quick-cooking dry bean
1/2 cup millet or quinoa
1 sweet potato, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
1 bunch of fresh greens (spinach, kale or chard work well), chopped
1 quart of vegetable stock
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Mince the onions, garlic and ginger in the food processor or by hand. In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions, garlic and ginger until the onion becomes tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and saute another minute. Pour the vegetable stock into the pot.

Rinse the beans and grains well and add them to the pot. (If you are using quinoa, soak it first and rinse it thoroughly to remove the bitter husk). Bring the pot to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cover the pot. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the carrots and sweet potatoes and dice them. Add them to the pot, and continue to simmer, covered, until the vegetables and beans are tender (another 20-30 minutes).

Once the veggies and beans are tender, add the greens, stir them in and let the whole pot simmer until the greens are tender, another 5-6 minutes or so. Salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, add the lemon juice.

tips & variations
- Chopped frozen spinach is a fine substitute for fresh, especially when you're in a hurry.

- If you have some leftover cooked brown rice, you can add that instead of the millet or quinoa. Cooked grains should be added about the same time you add the greens.

- If you like thicker, creamier soup, try this: Just before the point when you'd add the greens, scoop about 1/3 to 1/2 of the pot of soup into the food processor and puree. Return the puree to the pot and stir it in well. Then continue with the rest of the recipe.

- If a little extra heat makes your runny nose feel better, consider adding 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or hot chili paste to the onion saute along with your curry powder. Serve with a bottle of hot sauce on the table, too.

- I like to make a big batch of soup and then freeze containers of one to two servings for another day. If you do that with this recipe, I'd suggest leaving out the greens and lemon juice. Add them instead when you defrost and re-heat the soup to get a fresher taste, brighter colors and more nutrients out of your leftovers.

I hope this helps you through your winter colds!