Wednesday, January 27, 2010

so much from so little

I've been on this kick lately. It's a carrot thing. Every time I have some stray carrots hanging out in my fridge I feel a compulsion. A need to make something beautiful. It's the same thing over and over.

That something is soup. Carrot soup. So simple, so lovely, so much the very essence of the self-same vegetable. I have Jennifer to thank.

I mean, it's so simple. A bunch of carrots, an onion or shallot, a dab of Dijon mustard and good stock - vegetable or otherwise. Then, if you're feeling really indulgent, a good slug of cream.

It's my new favorite thing. A little breath of spring in the middle of a cold, cold winter. So bright and so, so... carrot-ty! I find myself smiling just thinking about it. It's so much more than the sum of it's parts. Add slice of toast with a good smear of goat cheese and you have the perfect afternoon meal.

Carrot Soup, adapted from "Last Night's Dinner"

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1/2 medium onion or large shallot
1 lb. carrots, peeled and rough chopped
1 Tbs. dijon mustard
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Heat olive oil and butter in large stock pot over medium heat.
Add shallot and a pinch of salt and pepper, cook until soft and transluscent.
Add carrots and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add mustard and stir to combine.
Add stock and turn up heat to high. Bring soup to a boil and turn heat to low.
Simmer until carrots are soft and falling apart.
When carrots are done, transfer all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until very smooth, about 3 minutes.
Return to stock pot and turn heat to low. Add apple cider vinegar.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. I like to keep it on the simple side with little salt and a little extra pepper.
Add a splash of cream or whole milk if you like.

Enjoy with a green salad, grilled cheese or toast spread with goat cheese or hummus.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Um, so I had a birthday

Yeah, it is pretty much a blur. I do know, however, that it was perfect.

I filled the house with flowers, I cooked all my favorite foods to share with a few dozen close friends, and had (part) of my family come to dinner at my favorite Sunnyside restaurant. (Pssst! Do me a favor and don't blow up the spot, OK?)

Oh, but the gifts. You know your friends are keepers when they know you this well. I bagful of goodies came with my friend, Lynn, from Brooklyn. My mouth is watering just thinking about the Flying Pigs Farm apple and sage sausage in my refrigerator right now.

And homemade vanilla sugar from Ellen, for (in her words), "You know, making creme brule or whatever." Thanks Ellen!

Also, my roommate extraordinaire gave me the greatest gift of all. He helped me finish a home improvement project that had been the bane of my existence since September. More on that later. You rock, Kevin!

I have never felt so loved or so blessed. Lynn's mom said that her 30's were the best decade of her life. Mine started out pretty rocky, but have been progressively getting better and better. Which means that this year can only top the last one!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Ring in the New! (Year, that is.)

Last year, at the new year, I sent little DIY gifts to my best college friends, who are scattered around the country. They consisted of a homemade brown sugar scrub and some candies.

It was such a lovely idea - a little pick me up at the start of the year - that I decided to do it again.

I just couldn't resist these reissued classics. I'd seen them at Anthropology, but picked them up via Amazon. I got four, each one carefully picked for each friend.*

For, LF, the Pragmatist: "Sense and Sensibilty"
For MW, the Adventurer: "Great Expectations"
For CB, the Moral Sounding Board: "Pride and Prejudice"
For LK, the Romantic: "Wuthering Heights"

I included a recipe for spiced cider/mulled wine (whatever your heart desires!) on a little bit of paper, tied to a muslin bag that I got here. Dirt cheap.

My hopes are that they will be able to curl up with a long-forgotten classic, sip some soul-warming brew and have a cozy start to the new year.

Enjoy, ladies!!

*I didn't use full names for privacy reasons. You know who you are. ;-)