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Thursday, September 26, 2013


...for winter...for departure...for whatever comes next.

One of the biggest challenges of life in the city is finding good, qualified, professional service people. It is one of the advantages that people living in smaller places have over us city-dwellers, I think. (My friends in Pennsylvania, where I grew up, seem to have a much easier time getting plumbers and electricians to show up than I do, but maybe that's anecdotal.) I spent all of yesterday afternoon waiting for a heating tech who wasn't coming. When I called, at the end of the time window I was given, it was clear I was being stood up. After several calls, we rescheduled for this morning. The guy came early--frankly, every bit as annoying as being late when you're not ready. I literally ran down he stairs with one shoe on (untied) and the other in-hand. The good news, though, is that he thinks we can eke out another year, maybe two, with our boiler. We shall see if that holds true come January!

On Saturday, I will be headed out to Washington. I travel a fair amount, and sometimes I get organized enough to have food prepped for my husband. Today I am cooking up big pots of mushroom barley soup and vegetarian chili. (Vegetarian options are good, because when I am gone, he is likely to eat three things: pepperoni pizza, orange beef, and steak.) I'll put a few containers in the fridge and the rest in the freezer and he can take what he wants. I also promised him a batch of extra dark chocolate espresso brownies. 

Mushroom Barley Soup

Last night's soup was a big hit. I am (almost always) loose about recipes, and big on improvisation. One of my favorite things to play around with is a roasted soup. Last night I peeled, cut up, and roasted the following at 400F:

3 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium onion
6 or 7 large carrots
5 garlic cloves
1 Honeycrisp apple
All tossed in a few tablespoons of olive oil and a little bit of kosher salt.

When they were soft and beginning to caramelize, I transferred them to a stockpot. I added three boxes of stock (two chicken and one vegetable, because that's what was in the pantry), two teaspoons of sweet curry powder, and a good amount of black pepper. I used a stick blender to purée it until mostly smooth. I tasted and added a bit more salt. When it was heated through, I served the soup with a dollop of sour cream (one could use creme fraiche or even Greek yogurt) and a drizzle of roasted pumpkin seed oil. Walnut oil would also be good. If I had had pears instead of apples, or squash instead of sweet potatoes, I would have used them. I tend to have root vegetables on hand at this time of year, and they make a great base to start with.

The afternoon will be consumed with packing, prepping my travel projects, and maybe some cuddling with my cat, Pitch. 

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