So many things have happened since the last time that I posted. The biggest event being that I moved from South Korea back home to Vermont. The last few weeks have been a whirling of packing, cleaning, flying, unpacking, cleaning and getting over jet lag. The jet lag coming back to the states from Asia is the worst that I’ve ever experienced. For about two and a half weeks my little chiming internal clock was all confused as to when was an appropriate time to be awake or asleep: falling asleep at 5 or 6 pm every night and waking up around 2 or 3 am every morning. Being gone for so long and coming back is hard. Even though I’ve returned to the home and the town that I grew up in for the eighteen years before leaving for college, it doesn’t feel the same. And that’s because I’m not the same person I was growing up–I cook now! There are larger differences than that, but they’re differences and changes that I haven’t yet been able to verbalize. There are things small and large that take adjusting back to: the size of the roads, the shapes of the cars, the smell of the earth, the chirp of chickadees, the autumn leaf colors (which I’ve missed so much!), the types of trees (white birch and maple, how I’ve missed you) the shape and color of money, understanding every word every person within hearing distance says and not being able to tune them out, not being the only white person on the street. These things were so different for four years that I got used to how things were in Korea. Leaving and coming back has made me notice and think about all these small things in ways that I never would have if I had never left.
Ok, enough about that. On to the cooking! Since being home, I have been cooking and trying out some new things on my parents. In the next few days–now that jet lag and unpacking are no longer issues–I expect to be doing quite a bit of updating about all the yummy (and eh, not so yummy, but so far not terrible) things that I have been making. These will come in no particular order as to when they were made. Mostly, probably, just in the order that I find the olive oil, befloured, smudged and crinkled sheets of paper that I jotted all my notes down on.
And since I have been searching for this piece of paper for over a week and finally found it today, the first recipe update since being home is also one of my favorites. Drumroll… dun dun dun duh! Pumpkin soup with honey oat bread.
Maybe about two weekends ago (my sense of time is really very awful) my father mentioned that our town was having its weekly Saturday farmer’s market. Farmer’s market he said?! Hurray! Fresh, yummy produce and food that comes from here! Not from 1000 or 2000 or 3000 miles away, and devoid of flavor. Ok, let’s go. So we head down to the farmer’s market and at the first booth there it is, sitting proudly in front of all the other vegetables for everyone to admire: a little pumpkin. Cute. Orange. I had an urge to cut it open, gut it, and carve a witch into its face. This is all I’ve ever done with pumpkins; they’ve always been for Halloween and we never ate the insides. Well, occasionally we’d roast the seeds (which is delicious, and if you cut open a pumpkin this season, be it for eating or for jack-o-lanterning, save the seeds and roast them in the oven! You won’t regret it), but we never ate the flesh of the pumpkin. My second impulse was to buy the pumpkin and so I did, having no idea what it would become.
Coming home with me, Jackie (I decided the pumpkin was a girl) sat on the kitchen counter by the stove, with no future yet decided by the fates. I’d walk by her and ask her what she wanted to be and she wouldn’t answer. And then a few days later it was cold and I wanted soup. Ah-ha! Pumpkin soup. Perfect. I am no longrt vookinh solely for myself. There’s also my parents to contend with, and having already heard from my mom that she doesn’t like pumpkin, I knew that I had to make something else to go with the soup that she might possibly like, while hoping at the same time that this soup would convince her that pumpkin is indeed delicious. And so I came up with a honey oat bread.
This dinner of pumpkin soup and honey oat bread was delicious. My stomach was filled to its stretching point, and if it had been possible to stretch it any larger, I would have. My father agreed that it was indeed a tasty dinner, and both of us enjoyed it the next day as lunch; I love how the flavors developed as it sat overnight in the refrigerator. It was necessary to add a little bit of water when reheating, as it thickened. My mom tried the soup, but seeing as how she doesn’t like pumpkin to begin with, this soup did not convince her that pumpkin is a seasonal delicious treat. She did enjoy the bread however.
Ok, and now to the tasty recipes for an autumn dinner.
- 2 TB butter
- 1 diced onion
- 2 carrots: peeled and diced
- 1 apple: peeled, cored and diced
- 3 cups roasted pumpkin: diced (3 cups turned out to be about ¾ of my small pumpkin. The next time I make it, I’ll just use the whole pumpkin)
- 3 cups vegetable stock (In the beginning of this post, I talk about how I make homemade veggie stock: https://mykitchencooking.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/sweet-potato-soup-chunky-vs-blended/)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1” piece of ginger, peeled and shredded (A grapefruit spoon works really well for peeling ginger: http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQPEydi8X2nhLV-826SpiizdR4eefRiC1K_pD52Bl4v5OBXZ7fdJ3Cdo3P8 See how it’s serrated? Really useful)
- Turmeric (for spices I don’t really measure. I just add and taste, adding more if I think it needs it)
- Garlic (see note about turmeric)
- Dash cinnamon (see note about turmeric)
- Ginger powder (see note about turmeric)
- Dash ground cloves (see note about turmeric)
- If your pumpkin isn’t already roasted, roast first before starting Step 2. This will take about 30-45 minutes. I found this link really helpful for how to prepare and roast the pumpkin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJsOzzrtxlQ Let the pumpkin cool for a few minutes before attempting to peel, or it will burn your fingers! (guess how in my eagerness and excitement at cooking a pumpkin for the first time I found this out)
- Over medium heat melt the butter and sauté the onion until it starts to turn translucent.
- Add the garlic and apple. Cook approximately 8-10 minutes, until the apple is tender.
- Add the roasted pumpkin (it should be soft at this point) and cook for another minute or so.
- Transfer the apple and pumpkin mixture to a food processor or a blender and puree. In my blender I had to start adding some of the stock as I was pureeing in order for the blender to do its job. The puree should be very, very smooth, like silk. This took my blender set on “liquefy” (I didn’t know such a setting existed!) about 7 or 8 minutes until the mixture was a very smooth and uniform consistency.
- Return the mixture to the pot and if all of the stock hasn’t already been added, add it now. Add the rest of the spices (turmeric, ginger, ginger powder, cinnamon, and clove powder). Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and enjoy!
To make the honey oat bread, see this post: https://mykitchencooking.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/honey-oat-bread/