So, lately I have been in a soup funk. I guess it’s not really a funk because everyone around here seems to be happy with it. Basically, I seem to be only thinking in soups these days when it comes to cooking. I even convinced my newly minted 3-year-old to have 2 kinds of soup for his birthday party. It was a “soldier” birthday party and I wasn’t really lying when I said it was perfect soldier food, ya know? In the past few weeks, I’ve made tomato soup, roasted tomato and fennel soup (x2), potato and leek soup, potato soup, roasted vegetable soup, and this asparagus soup. I can’t help myself. It is perfect for lunch or dinner, whether it’s cold or hot.
I wish I had made this today and not last week because we caught the not so very elusive airplane cold on our trip back east this week. It started with me last Wednesday and now it has 5/5 of us. Needless to see the mood is a little irritable amongst the troops. Soup would be awesome right now. I was supposed to go to a food truck gathering tonight to get a butter-poached lobster grilled cheese, but I decided taking 3 kids with runny noses to such an event would be a bad idea for us and the people around us. Too bad because it’s the first time this truck, Devilicious, was going to be at this otherwise quiet get-together. We don’t get the good trucks down in south San Diego very often. Instead, I threw together a tomato and goat cheese tart. I guess it worked out.
Yes, it’s not your computer. The picture is a little weird because it was late and the sun was down. I’m only saying that because I don’t like looking at this kind of lighting but really wanted to share the easy recipe. I hope that’s ok.
I love asparagus so very much. My Mom even knows how much I love it because she put some in my fridge for our return home.
Thanks, Mom :)
Start by sauteing all of the veggies, except the asparagus, in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes or until soft.
While that is cooking, prepare the asparagus by trimming the ends. The best way, I’ve found, to remove the ends is to hold the woody/hard end with one hand and grab the whole spear halfway down with the other. It will just snap where the tender part meets the hard part. It just lets you know because it’s that fabulous.
You can add it to the other veggies.
Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Then, puree in the blender or with an immersion blender and season again if needed. I tried this with the immersion and the consistency ended up being a little coarse for me, but I’m sure it would have ended up fine in the blender.
I made up a bunch of grilled bread (with olive oil and salt and pepper) and a few poached eggs for everyone. I love me some poached eggs!
I love this picture because it demonstrates a lot of what I’ve been feeling lately. You might see this pumpkin pirates arm and see strength and determination. You might see the cute little potted plant and see order and neatness. When I first look at this picture, I see the pumpkin that had all of his pieces torn out over and over, got rolled down the entryway steps, and then went rotten just a few short days later, making this sight no longer existent. For the most part, I am a happy person. When things get bad I don’t usually mention it to many people, I try to move on and focus on the good points if I can. Lately, I’ve been feeling like this pumpkin. I feel triumphant in many areas of my life that God has allowed me to grow and learn in. However, sometimes I feel like I have had my arms torn off and somebody tossed me down the stairs. I mean that figuratively and literally. I have 2 boys, ya know. When I look at this picture for while longer, I see this pumpkin pirate put back together and whole again. This makes me smile because I know that’s the way God sees me. Whole. Even when I am feeling broken, he sees me whole.
“Perhaps we shall best use this wonderful power of reasoning by giving it plenty of work to do, by asking ourselves what is the cause of this and that; why do people and animals do certain things. Reason which is not worked grows sluggish; and there are persons who never wonder nor ask themselves questions about anything they see.”
One thing I am very thankful for right now is the time to teach my sweet girl. With all of the difficulty that has come from my boys, I think it’s such a great privilege to see her light up as she learns right before my eyes. When I sent her off to school last year with hesitation, I started doing the math of how much time we spend in the car driving to and from school, how long she was at school, how exhausted she was when she got home, and how much she missed being a part of the learning that we do every day a home and in our city. I remember during the first week of school, I was told over and over that I would “get used to it”. What? God put this child in me to grow for 10 months, she grows 5.5 years and I send her away for the next 13 years (with the exception of college) to go to school for 7 hours, 45 minutes in the car (1.5 hours for her brothers and mom), and nothing left at the end of the day. I was looking around at everyone saying, “Doesn’t anyone else find the evolution of the school-day a little unsettling, to say the least?” I’ve been talking about this with so many people for the last year (read: for as long as I can remember really). Everyone admits there is a problem but no changes are being made, in fact it could be getting worse. Think of the phrase, “Yeah, ___ had a bad teacher last year and ___ is going to have her next year. Oh well, what can you do.” Craziness. Yes, you CAN actually do something. Nobody said it was an easy solution(it’s been rough for me), but we have to make change. For now, I intend to teach my kids at home and continue to be as much a part of my communities as ever…if not more. I have to make the choice that the “we” has to become “I”. I have to make change. I don’t want them to be a statistic from 2011 that could have been changed but wasn’t. I know there are exceptions. I have friends who are just wonderful teachers. There are also great schools across the country. Just think about it and try not to look at good change over your shoulder as you walk past it, even if change means difficulty.
With all of the difficulties, Miss F is full of life in her learning now and doesn’t have a dead part to her day. The only exception would be when she is so disappointed we don’t read another chapter of what we are reading or we haven’t seen a Black Phoebe bird in the yard that day.
For this date, my husband had taken the boys on a camping trip so we had the whole day to ourselves. We went to the museum of art to see some of the paintings from the artists we had studied that week.
Matisse, Monet, and Degas were 3 of them so we were excited to find this Monet here for a short time. We don’t get a great showing of famous paintings here but this one was lovely enough for 2 giddy girls. We have LA to go to for the famous ones.
My little ballerina was thrilled to find this Degas since we had read the very interesting story of how these paintings came to be. The girl in the most famous sculpture was a very talented dancer. She said she was going to be “the most famous dancer in the world”. Her family could not keep up with their payments for her classes. She started posing for Degas to earn some extra money but could not continue to attend. Eventually she grew up and her sculpture had become the most famous dancer in the world. So sweet. Too bad Degas was a grumpy, angry sort of man. It was a happy ending though.
We also got to see the Stickley exhibit which was sweet. It was cute strong and adorable, just like the furniture is. I loved that they had pieces of the wood to fit together so they could understand the way the furniture was made with no nails. It was pretty cool.
I loved this carpet and this clock. My picture is a little blurry because I was taking it 5 seconds while the security guard was around the corner. I never saw a single sign about not taking them, but their body language was suggesting serious business so I didn’t tempt trouble. The Louvre had less security surrounding the Mona Lisa, for crying out loud.
Just a little of what’s happening before the winter plantings. I had fun this year with the garden and at the same time I had the most pests, especially the 2 year-old kind. This was the year with the most expansion and I’m excited to plant more trees next spring! There have been so many people interested in gardening this year which is fun for me. I like to send people home with food whenever they come. I’m glad to have enough now to do that. This is the start of our 4th year in this house (crazy!) so the trees I rushed out to plant then are just now starting to produce. Wahoo!
If you are interested in starting a garden, just go do it. I started with 4 planter boxes, made by my husband, and expanded into my yard the next year. Although the boxes didn’t produce enough to share, I really enjoyed everything I learned during that time and recommend them for starting. I still use mine for my root veggies and to start my plants. I still remember how excited i was to bring my sparse but cute “harvest” in to cook with. Fun times. You have to start somewhere!
The curry plant is looking beautiful this time of year.
Just planted some peas a few months ago and they are coming in nicely. Oh wait, they were until the bugs got 1/2 of them.
It’s raspberry season! Even though the stores seem to carry them at the beginning of summer and they are draped across fourth of July desserts, now is their time to shine in the garden.
One pickin’ from our plant. These vines were never put back in the ground after we had taken it out to replace a piece of our fence. It didn’t grow much because of these but it still making a lot of berries right now.
Speaking of berries, our blackberries are on their way to 2012 awesomeness. They are going into their 4th year now and I’m finally getting the hang of it. If I train them now, I will get ridiculous amounts next year. Good deal. So, every few weeks I keep weaving the vines along the fence.
I planted 2 plum trees, Satsuma and Santa Rosa, this last spring and they are growing up too.
My middle guy planted watermelons just because and here is a baby one.
This pear tree is coming into its third year and is finally making pears
My persnickety mango tree that was here when we moved in finally decided to actually make some mangos. Sheesh. You give a tree some water and some love and how does it repay you…
We are getting a lot of apples this year which is sooo nice. These ones are on the other side of our fence which means my little unripe fruit snatcher can’t get to them.
The meyer lemons are turning colors soon. I’m gonna have fun with these fellas!
The kids and some friends planted lettuce and spinach in our front porch pots in August and they seemed quite happy there. Unfortunately, the next day some caterpillars moved in…I’m just keepin’ it real.
I love the passion fruit flower so much. More than that, I love passion fruit. It is one of my favorite flavors. It was one of the very first things I planted in hopes of getting many delicious fruits a few years later. Turns out, it was mis-labeled and is actually the non-fruiting version. Ugh. It’s pretty though.
The french tarragon is happy and I’m enjoying it before it goes dormant.
Fresh marjoram has been fun to have around as well. It has a very unique smell…much different than the dried kind.
Another planting by my little buddy, a pumpkin this time.
A late season to tomato volunteer that is ready to go!
It’s Fall and also October as far as the calendar goes, but it could not be further from cool and scarf-worthy here. That will not keep me from enticing it with spices my kitchen and soup on my stove. I made this recipe from good-looking seasonal veggies from my fridge and tons of garlic. It was perfect for a quiet Sunday evening at home after a long week. It was good for the soul. Check out the playlist at the bottom of the page for this recipe :) I’ll try to add that when I think of it.
I love my Grandma’s dishes with this soup. I think she would have liked this soup, too.
Go out and find yourself some great looking tomatoes…organic heirloom if you can. The reason I get that specific kind is not because it sounds cool…even though it kinda does. The heirloom varieties are grown from seeds that are from an old variety of tomato plant which hasn’t been altered by cross-pollination or hybridization. Basically, the person who saved the seeds for future plants saved them in a way (involves covering the tomato blossoms to prevent cross-pollination) where they were not changed. They are pure, which I love.
Toss the tomatoes with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste.
Do the same to the fennel, onions, and garlic. Roast them both in the oven at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until browned.
While you’re cleaning, beware of battle-scenes. You never know when they might happen.
After they are finished roasting, pour both pans of food in the blender and puree. I poured about a cup of vegetable stock in to thin it a bit. That’s it. I didn’t even have to season with extra salt and pepper or add any herbs. When the vegetables roast, they create their own rich flavor from the slight caramelization. The cool thing is that you won’t have to add any cream. making this a vegan dish if you leave out the creme fraiche. Maybe that’s not cool to you, but I have some friends who will think it’s cool. Plus, I think it’s cool.
Roasted Fennel and Heirloom Tomato Soup
5 pounds of tomatoes, chopped in large chunks
4 large pieces of fennel, sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 red onions, chopped in large chunks
10 cloves of garlic, halved
Salt and pepper
1 c. vegetable stock
chives, for garnish
Creme fraiche or sour cream, optional
I guess it was nice to enjoy it on the patio with a tank and flip-flops, instead of inside with no fresh air. Wherever you are, I hope you enjoy it!
New! Just added these playlists so you can rock out to it too…if you feel like it.