Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Derby Day

 The J-bird recently joined the Cub Scouts, something he's been asking to do for about two years. He's super excited about it, and he's having a great time and making lots of new buddies. One of the fun things the Cub Scouts do is the Pinewood Derby. They get a little kit, and they get to build a car to race against all the other scouts. It was important to James (and to me) that the J-bird do the building, so it was really HIS car. James helped, since it involved some power tools, but the car the J-bird took the race tonight (aka: "the Shadow") was definitely a result of the J-bird's vision and work. He was SO EXCITED.

He was not the only one!

The Shadow was car #1

The track

The J-bird got to race in the first heat

And his car came in first!

He didn't come in first every time. Sometimes his car came in second. Or third...

Or last....

But he never cared. He was having too much fun.

 In the end, he came in fifth overall (out of 19), and his car got "Best Wedge". He had a BLAST, and we were so pleased with what a great sport he was and with how he supported his friends.

Miss V had a good time too. She be-bopped around with all the younger siblings, ate snacks, cheered for Big Brother, and only got totally exhausted at the very end, when it was past her bedtime (at which time I whisked her out and took her home).

Friday, January 15, 2016

Byoooooootiful Soooooouuuup!

 When I was in college, my health-conscious roommate was particularly fond of squash. She'd make different kinds, and I'd watch her eat them and just shake my head. I was in a Taco Bell and cheap wine phase - what can I say? Anyway, this one time, she made a butternut squash soup, and she raised an eyebrow at me and said, "You should try this. It's really good." I looked at her and thought to myself, "You are an actual crazy person if you think I'm eating that", but I did try it, and she was right. It was amazing.

A few years ago, I was trying to come up with a good winter soup to make, and I remembered Laura and her squash, and I decided to see what I could come up with. I'll say up-front that there's a good bit of prep involved, and this baby has a long simmer, so I make a LOT of it to ensure tons of leftovers. It freezes well, and it's a good thing to make when people you really like are coming over for supper.

Start by prepping your squash. You can roast it in the shell, but I find that this wastes a lot of the squash, so after I chop it up and scoop out the seeds (an ice cream scoop works well for that), I peel off the shell with a vegetable peeler.

Put the pieces face down in a baking dish with some water in the bottom. Coat the tops with a little oil, then roast until soft.

While that's happening, chop up half an onion, a whole head of garlic, and however many carrots seem good to you, and then saute them in your fat of choice. I like butter.

When the squash is done, put it in the pan with the other vegetables and break it up.

Add 8 Cups of your broth of choice. I use chicken broth, but you can go veg if you want to. It will not hurt my feelings. Add another 4-6 Cups of water. Mix it up and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then blend until very smooth. I use my immersion blender for this, so I don't have to take it off the stove.

Now it's important to start tasting and seasoning fairly regularly. I just use salt, pepper, and chili pepper.

After blending the first time, the soup will be fairly thin and a little weird. I simmer it for a couple of hours, tasting and testing, and then I blend it again. I usually make this around lunch time with the intention of serving it for supper and just simmer it all afternoon.

I'm sure someone could figure out a crockpot way to do this, but I'm not your huckleberry on that. I tried it, and I got so frustrated that I poured it back into a saucepan and did it on the stove. Pouring it was messy, and it made me mad. I'll stick to the stove top method.

I like this soup on its own, but it's also great with some meat thrown in.


Stuff you need:

2 medium butternut squash (or one giant one)
1/2 yellow onion
1 head garlic
lots o' carrots
oil of your choice to saute veg and coat squash
8 C broth
5-6 C Water
spices of your choice (salt, pepper, chili pepper)

Time and patience
Possibly a funnel to pour this directly into your face when it's done.