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yellow sour curry butternut squash soup

So the weather was cold enough last night that I not only made soup, but also I closed the windows.

Let me tell you about my oddly delicious butternut squash soup!

I started this soup a couple days ago not quite sure where I wanted to go with it, but I figured not sweet and probably asian flavors (though I hadn’t even decided as far as whether I’d be going for south asia or southeast asia).

So I peeled the squash, saved the seeds, and cut it into very rough chunks.

Melted a Tablespoon of butter, diced 3 small onions and sauteed them, diced 4 garlic cloves, minced a lot of ginger (1.5″ or more), and cut the flesh off of a couple jalapenos and diced that in, too.

Added the butternut squash, and then didn’t quite cover with vegetable stock.

Cook cook cook stir stir cook.

Cover and ponder.

So I pulled out one of my 5.6oz cans of coconut milk (seriously, I am never buying a big can ever again – these are prefect) and added that.

And then I went to my stack of Maesri Thai curry pastes to pick one. And I chose the yellow sour curry paste. I cracked it open and tasted it (my first time using this flavor) – and it was perfect! All dark-salty (from the fish content) and sour (from tamarind), and I added a little and tasted and a little more – and I ended up adding about 4 teaspoons to get the balance just right.

And despite my recent acquisition of a stick blender, by the time this one was finished, it was already mostly smooth and I decided that I wanted some chunks of squash for texture.

I seriously love this soup, and I can not wait to walk home through the rain tonight to curl up with more of it.

YAY! Archaeology, Music, and thee – review: Serrano (of Tin Angel)

A few weeks ago, Heather poked me that Billy Boyd‘s band, Beecake, would be playing in Philadelphia. And so I decided to fulfill my fannish duties and jumped all over that and got us tickets and dinner reservations (because that’s the only way to get reserved seats at this location).


And I took a full vacation day from work.

Despite being hella windy, it was a lovely day.

And so once Heather came up, we walked over to the UPenn museum of Anthropology and Archaeology (with a brief stop to appreciate the architecture in the Fine Arts library built by Furness), and I got to show off all of the amazing stuff they’d plundered back when that was how things were done. We started with Egypt (where I did not manage to convince her to fondle the Sphinx just a little), popped into a room for a bit of Islamic tile joy, and then fled from a bunch of students into China. A few southeast Asian countries later, we were popped through Jerusalem to get to Rome and the Etruscans. We almost managed to miss Greece, but we did manage to remember the vases and stele (and I gave my explanation of the mutilation of the Herms in 411). Woot! Then a brief visit through Polynesia, and we were out in the lovely weather again. (I mean, we were there for hours, but it went quickly)

Popped by Penn’s library for a (tiny) display of Jane Austen rare books (apparently, completely missing a copy of Pride and Prejudice), and I also showed off their digital media lab, a display of nifty book arts, and my office.

Out back for a cupcake and drinking chocolate at Naked Chocolate… which led to another mile walk (a little less, really) to show my favorite coffee shop and it’s excellent chocolate selection.

And then we took a bus.

Oh, and I called a friend for the location of the concert venue because I hadn’t bothered to write down the exact location. ~handwave~ (thanks, Kim)

Popped on the #40 bus because that one was the next one to show up. I knew that one went all the way to old city, but I had forgotten that it was also the one that dipped south and gave you the scenic route. Heather, however, had just been mentioning that she’d been disappointed that the last time she’d been in philly, they’d gone to South Street for cheesesteaks but hadn’t then taken the time to see South Street – and look, we got to go the whole length without even having to walk. ~grin~ And then we walked north on 3rd to Chestnut.

Even moving rather slowly, we ended up at the Tin Angel a little early for our reservation, but we decided there wasn’t really anything we’d rather be doing than sitting down right then (because that was a lot of walking!). Nice waiter. Very nice waiter. He only laughed at us a little for showing up an hour early, being only the second people in the joint, decided to do all appetizers, and then picking our first round of food as the Calamari and a side of mashed potatoes. Wot!

vietnamese fried calamari tossed with pepper, onion & cilantro
chilis, sweet & spicy dipping sauce
– Very light and crunchy and not chewy at all. The bell peppers and onions were a nice addition, and I loved the dipping sauce. We were warned there were spicy rounds of jalapeno peppers in the mix but only found the little roasted whole peppers. I thought they were delightful, and my dining companion was able to avoid them easily.

mashed potatoes side dish – So the windy day and much walking had made me especially susceptible to pining after the mashed potatoes listed as accompanying one of the specials, and I could not resist ordering this. Fairly small bowl, but full of rich tastiness. It had a rich flavor that was not strongly buttery. Very comforting and served wonderfully hot.

potato pancakes special of the day – served with bacon and shrimp confit – Okay, so this was not latkes. Think instead of a crabcake made all of potato strings. Thinly shredded, in a patty that’s 2″ in diameter and 1″ tall — and then I think it wasn’t just topped with bacon, but also fried in bacon fat. At least partially. There was a light sauce on top, and there were baby greens underneath. With more greens, slightly wilted from the heat of the pancakes, this would have been a wonderful entree salad. No matter how odd, it was delicious. A good balance of greasy and vegetable.

warm goat cheese bruschetta strawberries, laura chenel chevre, carmelized shallot, fig balsamic, black pepper oil – this was not perfect. Instead of just having fanned strawberries on top, they had also processed strawberries in with the goat cheese. But that made it all a bit sweet instead of leaving you with contrasting sweet and tart/sour of the cheese. It really ended up being more of a dessert thing than a savory entree.

garlicky spinach side dish – was very good and tasty, but it was a little frustrating because it had a distinct asian seasoning that we couldn’t identify. It definitely wasn’t 5 spice, wasn’t ginger, and while there might have been some soy sauce that wasn’t primary. It almost tasted like sesame oil, but not quite. Still delicious.

blueberry plum crisp – served in a very shallow tart dish with an ice cream scoop of dense whipped cream on top. The whipped cream was not good, so I tumbled it to the side. The crisp, however, was delicious. The shallow dish made for a great ratio of oaty, crispy goodness to hot, sweet fruit.

As for the music? It was fun to listen to, but I was not sad to leave without an album. They like switching between ballad mood and hard rock mood in their songs, but their opening song also had a sort of swing mood thrown in the mix, too. And three totally different tempo thingies is too much. I put my foot down. Okay, so it was still fun, but still. So I questioned some of his aesthetic choices, and I questioned some of the messages in the songs. My favorite song of the lot was Rip It Up

And then we went back to my place and had tea, chocolate, and good times.

Food on my mind – planning events

First thing I need to organize: bridge this Sunday

I’m taking Saturday off to clean, but it’s supposed to rain. So if I want to get laundry done, it’ll have to be on Friday morning.

Saturday tasks: completely change litterbox, clean bathroom, move chair out of the way and vacuum floor, swipe at dirty spots on kitchen floor, find a space for my exercise clothes that is not on top of the table I use as a buffet for bridge.

remind friends to not mention to my parents: that I have started karate classes, that there are sex offenders living near-ish to my favorite house so far

I’m vaguely flailing in the direction of food to serve for bridge. I am thinking:

  • sweet potato potato salad, which no one will like, but I want to make anyway
  • popcorn popped in bacon fat and dressed with cheddar cheese and salt (do you make dipping sauces for popcorn? if so, I’m thinking sour cream with honey and adobo sauce)
  • maybe a cheese plate
  • and my mother will bring deviled eggs

Second thing I need to organize: Chocolate Show in NYC – Oct 31

Ticket purchase is through Ticketmaster, so the $28 ticket becomes a $38.20 ticket. It’s $30 at the door, but last time there was an awful line that it was wonderful to be able to mostly skip.

My plan is to get in, eat all the chocolate, take notes, and then abandon anyone else with me to go spend the rest of the weekend with my grandmother. I love you all, but I am behind on my 1 weekend/month plan. I’d like to get to her place no later than 3:30pm.

So who wants to go up from Philadelphia with me? So far I have Merisunshine and Redwizz.

The new location – Metropolitan Pavilion – 125 West 18th Street – New York, NY 10011 – is equidistant between the drop off locations for the Chinatown Bus and the Bolt Bus, it will be slightly easier to navigate to the site from the Bolt Bus.

Possible Bolt Bus times include:

depart PHL arrive NYC
7:15 AM 9:30 AM
8:00 AM 10:00 AM
9:00 AM 11:00 AM
10:30 AM 12:30 PM
11:00 AM 1:00 PM

ETA: Leaving Philadelphia at 8am!

(And then from the Bolt Bus drop off, walk about 1 block to Penn Station, find the subway entrance for the 1 train, take the train 3 stops south to 18th street & 7th, walk toward 6th – viola!)

All the tickets are around $12 for one way and that day’s $1 fare isn’t until later in the afternoon. So when should we leave?

If anyone’s wondering what the show was like last year, here are my notes from then

Third thing I need to organize: Roman Cooking Workshop – Sunday, October 25th

Apparently, also know as Project Clear Out My Freezer.

I know we’ll be cooking a pork loin. I was very tempted by the cumin, salt, and honey plan of one of the previous workshops. But in the spirit of trying new things, I think I’ll go for the recipe where you brine it with bay leaves.

And then maybe a barley soup recipe that would use up the roast pork leftovers also in my freezer.

And everyone loves a mushroom recipe.

And I’ll look for a couple vegetable recipes.

And maybe brains or organ meats for fun, if I feel like sourcing the innards for it.

Potato salad – with white or sweet potatoes

I’ve had potato salads I enjoyed, but I’ve never been all that wild about them. For some odd reason (perhaps novelty), I am loving this new potato salad recipe and I want to make it all the time.

First iteration – white potatoes
I had these potatoes from the farmers’ market – thicker skinned, like baking potatoes, but only about the size of fist. While I was roasting several other things, I popped a couple in to try – and then filled up on the other food and just put the baked potatoes into the fridge.

The next day, the skin was coming away from the flesh, so I peeled them. And then I broke them (for greater surface area) into smaller chunks. I added a small about of brown mustard (maybe 1/4 tsp) and just enough herbed mayonnaise to hold the salad together (herbed mayonnaise is storebought mayonnaise this minced herbs from my garden: rosemary, thyme, savory, chives, and parsley)… and then I looked in my spice cabinet and decided to try Penzey’s Vindaloo spice mix. This mix, despite the name, itsn’t all that hot – it includes: coriander, garlic, cumin, ginger, Korintje cinnamon, crushed brown mustard, cayenne red pepper, jalapeño pepper, cardamom, turmeric, Tellicherry black pepper and cloves.

I loved it and served it over the last of the roquette in the fridge (dressed with a mixture made from heating 1tsp a very sticky sweet lemon curd until liquid and then mixing it with 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar, 2 tsps cider vinegar, and 1 tsp soy sauce). \o/!

Second iterations – sweet potatoes

So there I was roasting things for soup (have I mentioned that the weather changed? YAY!) and I threw in a sweet potato… and then I decided to throw in a few more because the oven was already on and I could try this potato salad recipe again.

So I peeled them… and I waffled over whether or not to include the mustard again because it did have a bit of a kick and the Vindaloo seasoning includes mustard, but I decided that I had liked the mustary/vineragy kick. And I, again, added the 1/4 tsp of brown mustard. This time, I used plain mayonnaise, instead of the one with the herbs. And I was a little bit more generous with the seasoning (not measured, just sprinkled) because I knew I’d like it. And I let it sit overnight because I was making soup and eating other things.

This time, I served it (microwaved briefly, to take the refrigerator chill off) over pea shoots from the Weavers Way stand at the Headhouse Square farmers’ market (using up some of the leftovers of the same dressing I used on the arugula).

I have no idea what variety they are, but the sweet potatoes at my local produce truck recently are this soft, not too fibrous, bright orange things of beauty. I went back and bought another bag of 6 (for $1!) because they were so gorgeous.