Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Curry carrot coconut soup

Did you get a giant bundle of carrots in your market box, too? If you think you'll go full Bugs Bunny, holding one stogie-like all week long to use them up, try making soup instead.

I didn't want to leave the house, so I just used what I had. And I was feeling lazy, so I only used one cutting board and a soup pan. I probably should have sauteed my garlic in olive oil in the pan before I stared, but I didn't-- and guess what? It turned out supertasty anyway.

Boil a few inches of water. Add chopped celery-- dregs from a ziploc bag in the freezer (equivalent of maybe half a stalk) will do just fine.

Add a few cloves of garlic, sliced.

Add chopped ginger. I like lots, so I chopped up a good-sized root. (I did skin this. You could also use dried ginger.)

Wash your carrots thoroughly and slice them into thick rounds. No need to skin if you wash them well (and have farmers you trust). Add to the boiling water. Make sure the water just covers the carrots. Add more if necessary. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until your carrots smoosh when you stick a knife at them.

Add some chives if you have them. Shake in some curry powder, cumin, and salt.

Remove pan from heat. Add a splash of coconut milk, if you have it handy.

Use an immersion blender to puree.

If you have cooked wheatberries, they add nice texture and nutrition. You could also top with some nuts for kicks.

See how easy it was to use your carrots? We ate them all within two days!

The Red Pyramid

Rick Riordan's latest, the first of the new series the Kane Chronicles, was a fun read, but somehow I expected more. I loved the use of Egyptian mythology, and I thought the author did a good job using two narrators effectively (and excitingly). However, something about the magic felt too ad hoc for me. This is a big problem when I'm reading fantasy: I need to understand the rules of the world if I'm going to buy into it.

I understand that Carter and Sadie don't know the limits and possibilities of their powers or those of the gods/goddesses/magicians/godlings around them, but as a reader, I have to feel like the author knows. I wasn't quite convinced. Almost-sixth-grader Jack asked me early on, "But how do those shabti work?" I still don't know, and I don't know how pillars of fire or magical caskets or god-channeling pyramids (in Egypt or Phoenix or Paris) work.

This makes me sound very literal and persnickety, but I don't think I am. But the suspense doesn't build for me if I keep thinking, "Well, he'll just pull something out like an avatar hawk warrior. Or a crowd of scorpions. Or a giant sweating crocodile god. Or Elvis."

Did anyone else feel this way about the book? I don't remember the same feeling in The Lightning Thief. Am I just being jaded?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vegan kitchen musing...

Have you ever noticed that portobello mushroom slices can look an awful lot like Mr. Potato Head's mustaches? I did, last night.

Let's Take the Long Way Home

I have lots of reading to catch up on here, but I just wanted to make sure I write about Gail Caldwell's gorgeous new memoir, "Let's Take the Long Way Home." It's a love song to friendship, dogs, and rowing. It's a beautiful reflection on loss and grief. It's poetic, strong, sensitive, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and empowering.
Caldwell writes with grace and power about her friendship with fellow author and dog-lover Caroline Knapp, and about Knapp's death from lung cancer. Anyone who has loved someone or ever hopes to love should read this book! Caldwell's descriptions of the balance of self and relationship that she and Caroline negotiate as two self-proclaimed "happy hermits" is tender and true. The risks and rewards of loving deeply are all here, in lovely prose.
I can't help but gush.
This is not an easy book, but it is a very meaningful one. I bawled and cheered and hugged this book to my heart.

In praise of grains

I just found an inspiring tidbit on whole grains in your pantry from Lava magazine online. We had our oats this morning with bananas, donut peaches, pecans, almond milk, and cinnamon. This week we've also been working though a big batch of quinoa with black beans. (Great with tortillas.) I'm a little burned out on the rye berries and wheat berries, but I'm hoping to get them back in the mix very soon. It's reassuring to see the Ironman site celebrating whole grains; sometimes I worry about making sure my marathoner gets all he needs nutritionally, but we're very aware, and this was just a nice reminder that we're eating well.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vegan coffee milkshake*

There's an asterisk there by "milkshake" because I am using the term in the very Rhode Island, Newport Creamery training book circa 1993 way-- denoting a beverage comprised of milk and flavoring, with absolutely NO ice cream (frappe) or ice milk (Awful Awful) or even ice. Although I'm sure you could find some coffee-flavored soy or coconut frozen treat with which to make a vegan frappe, this is for when you're just too lazy and it's so hot out, you don't even want to scoop anything into the blender.

Fill your glass halfway with ice cold water.
Fill it almost to the top with ice cold almond milk.
Top off with iced coffee.
If you're really lazy (like me), just drink it as is. For the best effect, blitz it in the blender or shake it in a martini shaker for about a minute to give it the authentic frothy Newport Creamery Milkshake feel. (For the authentic Creamery Girl experience, you can spill some of it on your polyester outfit and leather sneakers, then let it get niiiiice and sticky as it dries.)

Please note: I just went to the Newport Creamery site and downloaded the menu, for old time's sake. Looks like they are no longer confusing the world with their own take on the term "milkshake." Now it's just frappes, Awful Awfuls, and something new and exciting called an "Outrageous Awful Awful." All I can say is, "Awful big, Awful good."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Last week, I asked my rising sixth-grader student if I could share the link to his summer reading blog, and he said yes. So for everyone who has been curious about what it's like to read "Where the Red Fern Grows" and "Uglies" in the summer before you're twelve, here's summerreadingjack!

Reading and discussing with Jack this summer has been a blast. He's been a reading dynamo, and he's also gotten some great writing in. I'm still impressed when I remember how quickly he cranked out a thank you letter to Grandpa as if he were the main character in "Where the Red Fern Grows." Mad skills!

We just started in on a third book, "The Red Pyramid" by Rick Riordan. This was Jack's choice, and I am so thrilled! I've been looking for an excuse to move the first of the Kane Chronicles to the top of my reading stack.