Meatless Monday: Fish Dishes

Like many families with Italian heritage, Dan’s family does seven fish for Christmas Eve. My family has done seven fish in the past as well, although in more recent years, we’ve done meatless dishes instead of just fish. My parents still do like to do lobster, though.

My MIL had wanted to pass the Christmas Eve feast to us last year, but we went up to Erie for Christmas Eve instead.

So, the baton, and the apron, got passed this year instead.

The apron, literally, passed to me.
The apron, literally, passed to me.

We (my husband, my SIL, my MIL, and I) sat down one Saturday early in December to work out the menu. We decided on the following:

Tuna sauce
White clam sauce
Fried cod
Fried smelt
Crab cake (2 — one for my MIL, one for Nephew)
Calamari
Shrimp cocktail

Plus: green beans.

And dessert was going to be Christmas cookies.

I started the Saturday before Christmas by baking cookies all day. One evening of the week, I made a double batch of marinara sauce, split it and added tuna to half. Another evening I made the white clam sauce.

The trickiest dish was the cod. My MIL had offered to fry the smelt and the cod. But my husband brought home a huge piece of salted cod — known as baccala. He was so excited when he presented it to me. I looked at it and thought, “I have no idea what to do with that.”

Thank goodness for the Internet.

When we had baccala when I was a child, my grandmother made it, and it was in a thick tomato sauce and served over polenta. But Dan had found a baccala salad recipe he wanted me to try. I was game, although I did have to send him to the grocery store on Christmas Eve day for ingredients.

Something else interesting: no two recipes for white clam sauce were the same. Some included heavy cream, one I saw had Old Bay spice. So I just looked around and made up my own version.

White Clam Sauce (for Linguine)

3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 cans of whole clams, chopped, with juice (I put them in my mini food processor)
Parsley

Heat butter and olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about five minutes. Add the clams and juice. Heat gently through.

When ready to serve, add parsley, and toss with hot linguine noodles.

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Baccala salad
From epicurious

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of baccala
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup small fresh basil leaves (I had to use dried, and only used about a tablespoon)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I forgot this, and it was not missed as far as I can tell)
3 tablespoons olive oil

The tricky part of salt cod, or baccala, is that it’s not something that you fry or otherwise cook for a long time. Also: all that salt.

The Monday before Christmas Eve, I rinsed the coating of salt off the fish. Then I cut up the cod into about five pieces, say 3 to 4 ounces each, and started soaking it in water. The water has to be changed every eight to twelve hours.

The day of: Drain cod and cut up into smaller pieces, about 1 x 1 inch. Put into a pot of water, and bring water to a simmer; simmer — do not boil — for about three to four minutes. Fish should easily flake.

Pull cod out of water with slotted spoon and transfer to platter to cool.

Once it’s cool, shred the cod and mix with celery, garlic, olives, roasted peppers, parsley, and basil.

Stir together lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, and oil, and pour over salad. Toss everything to coat well, and chill until serving.

This was the best fish dish I made Christmas Eve. It will be on the menu in coming years!

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Other notes:

  • Kate learned how to clean and fry smelt with my SIL, so that tradition can continue.
  • The shrimp cocktail and crab cakes barely count, as I didn’t really “make” anything. But, hey, fish.
  • Our guest, our nanny’s boyfriend, cooked the calamari; we kept it simple; he sautéed it with oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • All the children like fish. They ate (or at least tried) everything. The shrimp, smelt, and calamari were especially popular.

What did you have good to eat over the holidays?

Meatless Monday: More Internet Recipes FTW

This weekend was surprisingly slow-paced — at least once we got back to the house on Saturday.

Saturday morning it was: up, workout, shower, drive Dan to work — oh, yeah, Dan’s car broke down Friday night, JOY! — and take Flora and Kate to church by 9 a.m. for Kate’s First Reconciliation. That was a little bit of scrambling and running around. And at the last minute, Michael decided he didn’t want to go to church with us. Instead of fighting with him, I sent him to Bella and Tadone. (Oh, yeah, Bella and Tadone are back from Florida. They are glad to be home, but they would like warmer weather to GET HERE SOON, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.)

We had been having Internet connectivity issues, so I had scheduled a technician visit Saturday afternoon between the hours of 1 and 5 p.m. In my head, I pretty much blocked off that time, and made no plans.

Turns out the guy showed up around 12:50, and was gone by 1:30. The girls made themselves scarce by going next door to hang out with their cousins. Michael and I played a little bit, and I also made strawberry banana muffins to celebrate Kate’s reconciliation. I used my trusty Moosewood recipe, although I added too much milk (a cup instead of a 1/2 cup — not sure where my head was when I read that part), and had to start the wet ingredients over.

All in all, it was a quiet afternoon and evening. I didn’t even cook dinner, we just got a take-and-bake pizza, which seems to be our Saturday night dinner lately.

Sunday, however, I was determined to cook, and cook a lot. I had wanted to run to the store — we are badly in need of vegetables — but the weather precluded that nonsense.

So I stayed in and made mujadara from this recipe (h/t to @jonniker, who shared it on Twitter). I finished it in the rice cooker instead of on the stove top. I also topped with feta when I served it. It is DELICIOUS. Letting the onions cook for a long time is absolutely key, so make it when you have some time to caramelize.

I also made a three-bean chili because I didn’t have any soy crumbles. Basically: two cloves of garlic; three small carrots; chili powder to taste; a can each of garbanzo, black, and kidney beans, a can of diced tomatoes. I drained the garbanzo beans and kidney beans, but not the black beans or tomatoes. Turned out pretty good!

And then, for my finale, I made snickerdoodle cookies from this recipe (h/t @mindybakes), and you should do the same. They are wonderful.

Lonely Snickerdoodle
I brought the cookies to work, and someone left a poor, lonely half cookie. Who would do that?


What did you cook this weekend?

Meatless Monday: The Quick Links Edition

It’s apple season, and how. Here’s my suggestion for you.

First, go make homemade applesauce.

Then, with two cups of that applesauce, make these muffins. OMG, so good. They are a hit, and I will be making them again. (Along with more applesauce.)

I also have been meaning to share this recipe for sesame noodles because it, too, is very, very (VERY) popular.

Because we were cooking for five children this summer, as well as between four and six adults, I went out looking for children-friendly recipes that weren’t boxed mac and cheese and not/hot dogs. The only child who turns her nose up at this meal is Kate; she likes her noodles plain, or with butter. I just put some cooked pasta aside for her. And I do give Flora cut up raw red peppers, because that girl LOVES her some red pepper.

I usually leave out the red pepper FLAKES though, or serve them on the side for a little extra kick for the grown-ups.

On Saturday, I baked oatmeal raisin cookies, and served roasted potatoes and veggie burgers for dinner. On Sunday, it was the sesame noodles, plus tofu and chicken for protein, and the applesauce muffins. A lot of cooking, and a lot of cleaning, but now that the children are helping, it’s not as onerous. (The cleaning, I mean. I LOVE cooking, and seldom find it onerous.)

So, go forth, enjoy, pick up some apples at the nearest farmers market. It’s the perfect season for lots of time in a hot kitchen. It’s probably time to bring back Meatless Monday, too. I’ll have to try to remember what else I’ve been making these days!

Have you tried anything new in the kitchen lately?

Apples!

image source

Meatless Monday: RHUBARB!

Our CSA has a check box on their sign-up and renewal forms for rhubarb. Having never used rhubarb before and being otherwise unfamiliar with it (I had never knowingly consumed rhubarb until recently) I usually checked the NO box.

Apparently I forgot to check that box this year when I signed up again. The first week, I got a good bunch of rhubarb — and had no idea what to do with it.

I think I thought rhubarb was hard to cook for some reason. Probably because I had never used it before. I thought it was tough or tart or needed to be peeled or cooked before it could be used in recipes. And I’d always only seen it paired with strawberries… but, I did have quite a number of those to hand as well.

So I decided I was game, consulted Twitter, and looked up a rhubarb-strawberry crisp recipe online.

OMG. It was… delicious. Mouth-wateringly tasty. It was amazingly good plain, but it would’ve paired divinely with vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb is juicy and sweet-tart. It does pair well with strawberries, but it works on its own too. Since the crisp, I have also made rhubarb bread and rhubarb sauce, and I’m already sad that the season may be over, and I will not have rhubarb this week in my CSA box. The recipe I used for the bread made two loaves, and I brought one to work with me. People loved it.

I am a rhubarb convert. And possibly a bit of an addict, too.

Anyhoo, here’s the bread recipe.

Rhubarb Bread
(adapted from Taste of Home)

1 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups diced rhubarb

Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9 x 5 loaf pans.

1. Mix the lemon juice into the milk and let stand for 10 minutes. (Or, use buttermilk.)

2. Combine sugar and oil in one bowl. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Alternate mixing the milk and the dry ingredients into the sugar/oil mixture.

3. Fold in rhubarb.

4. Mix up topping.

5. Pour batter into loaf pans and spread topping over in little dollops. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If you know how to make a streusel topping, I recommend it. Cool for 10 minutes, and remove to wire rack to cool.

Refrigerate overnight, and serve the next day with butter and coffee!

Rhubarb sauce is stupid easy: 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 to 4 cups of finely diced or thinly sliced rhubarb, 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar. Melt the butter, stir in the rhubarb and sugar, and stir over medium or medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Let cool and serve over ice cream.

Rhubarb: Yes or No?

Meatless Monday: Beans and Rice

Dan mentioned this recipe early in our dating life. I had to adapt it because it’s a Puerto Rican dish that uses chicken wings — although with my newly omnivorous daughter, I should try it with wings some time.

When I first started making it, I used a big Farberware sauté pan. But since we got a rice cooker, I have used that instead. If you don’t have a rice cooker, then you should just go get one. But if you’re not going to, a sauté pan is fine.

Rice and Beans, the rpm way

1 and 1/2 cups brown rice
1 15 oz. can pigeon peas, drained
1 8 oz. can Goya tomato salsa
1 packet Sazon (from Goya) with Coriander and Annatto
2 spoonfuls Sofrito
2 cups vegetable stock

I put this all in the rice cooker, stir it all together, and press the button for brown rice. I suppose you could also so this on the slow cooker setting or in a slow cooker, on high, for about two hours.

If you don’t have a rice cooker, I suppose you need a little oil, and you may want to sauté some garlic or onion before you dump everything else in the sauté pan and cover it; cook for about 40 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.

With a salad, this is pretty much a complete meal.

And, no, Goya did not sponsor this post.

Do you have a rice cooker? What have you done with it besides cook rice?

Random Thoughts: The I'm Doing Weekends Wrong Edition

(If you don’t want to read this whole thing, you should do yourself a favor and skip down Mini Meatless Monday, below. The recipes are worth your time.)

Once again, we had a crazy weekend starting Friday evening — when the weather is nice on Fridays (i.e. over 60 degrees), Pittsburgh traffic loses its mind. And I understand. Everyone is stir crazy, and everyone wants to get someplace to hang out. I just wish it didn’t seem that everyone else was trying to get to the same place I was. The Crafton exit, both directions, was a mess Friday evening. So Friday night we pretty much ran late.

Everyone survived, although M got a bump on his lip. I’m still not sure how or when. Being the last baby is hard, yo.

We did a church fish fry (St. Philips: fried cod sandwiches, huge and tasty; mac and cheese, very good; pasta dinner, very good; haluski, divine; coleslaw, terrible); an interactive light show in Market Square — check out the slide show; Flora’s in it! — and a late night stop for milkshakes at Eat ‘n’ Park. I’m not sure we could have had a more Pittsburgh evening if we tried!

Saturday, M had his first playdate. We bowled with a little buddy of his from daycare and the buddy’s mom (whom I also know from Twitter). Flora came along; Kate was on a playdate of her own. It was a lot of fun!

Then I kind of threw my weekend off the rails a little bit. I had thought we would go directly from the bowling alley to Costco, but after being at the bowling alley for two hours, I thought maybe M would want to nap. He did not, although he did hang out in his room for a quiet hour; Flora went next door to check out the chickens; and I cleaned the kitchen.

And then Dan came home with a couch strapped to the roof of the Flex.

Saturday night was Mass, dinner and shopping at the Market District — which was a little chaotic — and then trying to get everyone to bed.

And then Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m., M threw up. He ran a fever all day long, and I kept home from daycare today, too. (He stayed with Bella and Tadone, God bless ’em.)

In some ways, M getting sick was a blessing in disguise. We had been scheduled to go to the nephews’ birthday party (I have three nephews born in March), but it turns out that one of my nephews was also sick. So half of our day got canceled right there. I spent the morning cooking, the afternoon with the girls at SkyZone, and the evening hosting my parents for dinner while Dan cut up our old couch. After dinner, we completely rearranged our front room.

It turned out to be fairly productive, actually. Although I still have a pile of odds and ends to sort through.

Here’s the payoff for staying with me for so long — or for skipping right down to here.

Mini Meatless Monday

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I was planning, with my MIL, to do a little St. Paddy’s Day dinner for us and the children tonight. The menu includes veggie sausage (there is no vegetarian equivalent for corned beef, alas), potatoes (okay, fries), roasted cabbage (that only the adults will eat), and Irish soda bread. In looking online for recipes, I found this interesting article at epicurious. I made the Brown Soda Bread recipe, and my MIL made the White Soda Bread recipe. I only have about a fourth of the loaf to share because I hadn’t intended to feed my parents — see canceled birthday party, above — but it worked out well.

I also have had this black bean soup recipe in my little mental recipe box to try. My parents, coming back north after a month of traveling in and around Florida, stopped at our house for a visit, and I served soup, salad, and bread for dinner. All were wins! The soup gets a thick consistency from pureeing two cans of the beans and a can of tomatoes; the bread is hearty, chewy, and flavorful.

Black Bean Soup
adapted from allrecipes.com

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp balti seasoning (the original recipe calls for chili powder, but I used this instead)
1 tbsp ground cumin
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cans black beans (drain 2)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can crushed tomatoes

1. Heat oil in large pat over medium high heat. Saute onion for 10 minutes; add celery and carrots; sauté another 5 minutes. Add garlic, balti seasoning, and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in vegetable broth, the 2 drained cans of beans, and corn. Bring to a boil.

2. In the meantime, process the other two cans of beans and the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Stir this into boiling soup mixture, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.

I put this soup together around noon, and after it simmered for 15 minutes, let it sit on the stove. I rewarmed it around 5. It was perfect.

How was your weekend? Did it drive you bonkers if someone wished you Happy St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday?

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

In the past two years, I have been getting beef and chicken from a local farmer. My CSA is affiliated with them, and I decided that when my family ate meat, I wanted it to be from here the majority of the time. Especially since Kate has decided she’s an omnivore.

I’ve decided that I am also going to eat it occasionally. Especially the chicken.

Yes, I’ve turned into one of those people. A suburban dwelling, CSA-produce getting, organic/local/hormone-free meat eating flexitarian.

Sorry, Mom and Dad. You raised me better than this.

In order to keep things simple, I’ll probably keep telling people that I’m vegetarian. After all, if the meat doesn’t come from this farmer (Lewis Family Farms near Cranberry Twp. if you’re interested), I’m probably not going to eat it.

Like I said: One of those.

Anyway, I’ve had a whole chicken in the freezer for a couple of months now, and I decided I wanted chicken and stuffing. I wanted to do it in the slow cooker — I love my slow cooker — because I figured that would be easiest.

And then, in a stunning lack of judgement, I decided I wanted to cut the chicken up before I put it in the slow cooker.

I have a strong dislike of preparing chicken. It seems to me even chicken breasts from the grocery store need a lot of handling. Dan likes them tenderized, and then they need to be marinated; if they are too fatty, I’m supposed to cut that off, it’s all slippery and all. I find the process of preparing chicken vaguely revolting.

I guess I made the decision to try to disassemble my chicken because most of the recipes I saw called for four chicken breasts, which is about two pounds of meat. The chicken I had was between 4 and 5 pounds. I figured if I cut it up it would work better in the recipe.

Let me just say, cutting that whole chicken up into parts was one of the grossest things I’ve ever done. And I’ve given birth, people.

Plus, I did a bad job. It probably takes practice.

Next time, I’ll either get someone else to cut up the chicken, or I’ll try this with a chicken that I roast whole and pick clean. Shorter time in the slow cooker, I would imagine. Possibly more liquid to make sure the meat doesn’t dry out.

However, the end result this time around? Was delicious. After 6 hours in the slow cooker, the chicken was falling off the bone, and the stuffing was incredibly moist. I had about two helpings of the stuffing alone, and I just had leftovers for lunch today.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing
Adapted from this recipe

4 pounds of chicken parts
1 cup broth (irony: I used veggie broth because that’s what I had)
10 ounce bag of stuffing mix (again, irony: I used a vegetarian stuffing mix, Arrow brand)
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water

Put the chicken parts in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the broth over the chicken.

Mix the stuffing, soup, sour cream, and water together. Place this mixture on top of the chicken.

Cook on low 6-7 hours.

Serve with bright vegetables such as green beans and carrots. Salad and bread optional.

Even Dan declared this recipe delicious. (Because I am a person who doesn’t cook meat often, I really feel for my guinea pig husband. Kate likes all the meat I have cooked, but she is a less experienced meat eater.)

So, how does one go about roasting a whole chicken?

Meatless Monday: All the Fresh Produce

I struggle to use all my CSA vegetables, and this is even with splitting my share with my sister-in-law.

But I sure made an honest attempt to use them all this past weekend.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream
Adapted from my CSA newsletter

Three cucumbers, two peeled, one unpeeled, sliced very thin
Salt
Scallion, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp mustard

Put the cucumbers in a bowl, and sprinkle with salt (this removes the bitterness of the skin). Let sit for 3 minutes.

Mix the sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and mustard together. Pour over cucumbers, and serve.

This makes a fabulous lunch the next day when mixed with leftover cous cous.

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Eggplant and Tomato Cheese Strata
I pretty much made this up

One eggplant, peeled and sliced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 8 tomatoes (depends on size; I used roma tomatoes, so I needed about 8), sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs

Lay the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle both sides with salt; let sit about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Rinse eggplant, then layer on bottom of casserole dish. Cover with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle garlic on top, then ground pepper to taste. Next, layer tomatoes, the other cup of mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan and bread crumbs. (I would estimate I used about 2-3 tablespoons of the parmesan and bread crumbs.)

Cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.

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I also made apple crisp that was ridiculously good. I attribute it to the little tart apples from my CSA, but there was quite a bit of brown sugar and butter in the recipe. Plus vanilla.

What are you making with your summer produce?

Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Fried Rice

After weeks of cooking on autopilot, I finally made it a point to try some new recipes this weekend. I have a refrigerator full of leftovers and a freezer full of food. I may never have this much food to hand again. Or at least for the foreseeable future.

Having had leftover rice, which I seem to always end up throwing out, I put out a call on Twitter for what to do with it. I got many, many good suggestions, most of which I’m sure I will use at some point. Saturday, however, became slow cooker day, so this recipe (h/t @TwinMamaTeb) won the day.

Slow Cooker Fried Rice
adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

2 cups leftover rice
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sweet and sour sauce
black pepper (a pinch or to taste)
1 cup vegetables, whatever you have to hand (I used 1/2 cup frozen peas, and 1/2 cup fresh diced carrots)
3/4 to a whole block of extra firm tofu, lightly drained and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 egg

Here’s the best part: Throw all the ingredients into a slow cooker. Mix it up. Turn the slow cooker on high for two hours.

Dinner!

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Honorable mention goes to @AbbyKuftic, who suggested arancini, which I had to look up. Arancini is Sicilian for “little orange”, which is what these deep fried rice balls end up resembling. They call for Arborio rice rather than plain white rice. So I’m going to cook up a batch of risotto. I might try this recipe for Easter Day if I have the time!

What do you do with leftover rice?

Meatless Monday: Two Quickies

A coworker made these vegan mushroom tarts for a Food Day we had before the holidays. They are easy and tasty. I made them to bring to Christmas dinner at my brother and sister-in-laws, and they were completely gobbled up.

Plus, when you put the puff pastry in the muffin tins, it automatically makes them look really pretty.

Mushroom Tarts
1 or 1 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used 8 oz of baby bella and 4 oz of assorted specialty mushrooms — oyster, shitake, cremini)
1/2 medium onion, sliced
4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar
2 sheets of puff pastry (I used Trader Joe’s)

Saute the onion in the butter and oil over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes.

Add sliced mushrooms, and let every thing cook down for about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add a splash or two of balsamic vinegar.

Refrigerate the mushroom mixture, anywhere from 1 hour to overnight, depending on how much time you have.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw the sheets of puff pastry. Cut into squares and put into muffin tins. Place a spoonful of mushroom mixture in the middle of each puff pastry square. Bake for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye that the puff pastry isn’t getting too brown).

This recipe made 18 tarts. When I make it again, I may drop a dollop of goat cheese on top of them when they come right out of the oven.

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I am getting winter boxes from my CSA; one box every two weeks. As you might imagine, they are full of root vegetables, so my experimentation with those continues. (Also, I have squash, potatoes, and beets for you, SIL!)

Since I had two bags of beautiful carrots, I went looking around for a soup recipe.

Curried Carrot Soup
Adapted from The Food Network

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
4 cups vegetarian stock
Salt
Sour cream
Chives

In medium pot over medium heat, add olive oil, butter and onions; cook for 20-30 minutes.

Add carrots and saute 5 minutes. Add curry powder and cinnamon and saute for 1 minute. Add 4 cups vegetarian stock, and about 1 teaspoon salt to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If the soup is too thick, add remaining stock, up to 2 cups, to achieve desired consistency. Adjust seasonings.

(I haven’t tried it with the sour cream and chives, but hey, it looks pretty.) Place sour cream in a plastic condiment squeeze bottle or into a medium food storage bag. Cut a very small hole in the corner of the bag with scissors. Ladle soup into bowls and squirt a swirl of sour cream around the bowl from the center out to the rim. Drag a toothpick from the center of the bowls out to the edges, forming a spider web design on soup. Pile a few pieces of cut chives at the center of each bowl to resemble green spiders in their webs.

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This soup is spicier than I thought it would be, but I plan on eating every bite. I’ll probably try it with a dollop of sour cream (lots of dollops here today), but since I’m not trying to impress anyone with it, I won’t make the pretty spider web pattern.

Readers, I have turnips. What the heck do I do with turnips? Aside from mashing them with some potatoes. I know that trick.