I told him about our new house two weeks ago and I finally heard back from him. It sounded celebratory and slightly more congratulatory that I was hoping for. Immediately, I ducked. I said (like I’ve been saying a lot) that it’s not a big deal and I’d like very much for it not to be made one. I wasn’t preaching or forcing ways for people to feel. I still feel a lull. It’s always been this way come major life changes. I’ve heard of people taking photos of their new house keys, smiling so big that they did it! They made this wild decision and they saw it through. They ought to have a photo to remember it. Our keys were placed in the box that lets us open the garage door from the outside. It was that exciting.
I don’t know if I’ve ever told you about the time I got married. I planned every single part of it. In 5 months. Two of which were spent thinking about how much I really don’t like planning a wedding. When we finally did get married, it happened so fast and it was so great but I still wish we just had a house party where I wore normal clothes. 2012 Matt agrees.
To further romanticise this notion of home-ownership, our water heater just stopped working – in the middle of the “where are my pants/flannel-over-flannel/underwear 6 am dance. The water heater won and I’m not allowed to tell you how long ago that was because it’s hella cold out here in the A.M!! I smell great and the Whirpool people better make this first (non) issue disappear by showing up tomorrow. And then I’ll fold all the clothes on top of the washing machine.
And make myself a cozy dinner.
And I lie. I lie.
Having a house – like being married – is great. But it’s hard. You wish for solutions to magically show up, while you say reassuring things like “we’ve got each other” in your head (sometimes out loud). You feel a cat will solve all your worries but it won’t, it really won’t. I did say it was great though and I stand by that. I get to go on this brilliant adventure, totally-run-of-the-mill, with this perfect guy I married. He tried to fix the water heater all evening yesterday, refusing to listen to me telling him not to, and cursing this BRAND NEW heater all the way. He’s also trying to fix a part of the house on outside so that rodents don’t get in. That’s love people.
That’s something you can congratulate.
Butternut squash and pear soup
What I love about this recipe is nothing goes to waste. Every single part of the main ingredients were used to elevate the taste of this soup a million times over. I’m a fan. There’s a part in the recipe that calls for the roasting pan to be deglazed with water and I thought to myself: “What if I did that with brandy instead? Or cognac! Or bourbon?” I didn’t do any of the three but next time…next time.
Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
- 1.1 kg/2.5 lb butternut squash
- 3 Asian pears (total weight 730 gms/1.6 lbs), cut in quarters with seeds removed
- 12 gms + 5 gms fresh ginger, cut in thin slivers (the 5 gms will be used in the latter part of the recipe)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt + more to flavour the stock
- A crack of fresh pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tbsp butter
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, finely diced
- Fresh cream, thyme leaves and pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large roasting pan with parchment paper.
Next up, you will need to roast the squash and pears together. Cutting the squash is always challenging for me so I take my time with it and use a sturdy knife. That’s half the battle. If you prefer, you can pierce a couple of holes in the squash and microwave it for a few seconds. I just trusted in the knife. Cut the squash in half length-wise and then into thirds. Remove the seeds and save them in a small jar. You will need them later to make stock for the soup. Cut the pears into quarters. Place the squash on the roasting pan, skin side down. Brush the vegetable oil over the flesh of the squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place the slivers of ginger evenly over the pieces. Flip the squash over once your done seasoning it and brush the skin with the remainder of the oil. Place the pears in the gaps between the squash. Put the roasting pan into the oven (preferably the middle rack) for an hour. Midway through the roasting process, flip the squash and pears over so they caramelise on all sides.
Once your squash and fruit is roasted, let it all cool down. You’re going to need to separate the flesh of the butternut squash from the skin. Using a spoon, scoop out that squash goodness and save the skins for the stock (Remember those seeds you saved? The skin is going right along with them in that stock.). Once all the ingredients are off the roasting pan, pour a cup of water in and let it catch all the leftover juices. Pour the water back into a cup.
To start off the stock, place a pot on the stove with 6 cups of water plus the cup of water you just used to de-glaze the roasting pan. Bring the water to a quick boil along with the butternut squash seeds, skin, the bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Once the stock starts to boil, turn down a heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain the stock into a bowl and set aside.
Put the same pot back on the stove on medium-high heat with 2 tbsp of butter and the thyme sprigs. Once the butter melts, add the onions to the pot. Cook them slowly, until they turn light brown and translucent. Add the rest of the ginger, the squash and pears. Pour the stock into the pot and bring it all back to a boil. As soon as the pot starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cover, for 20-25 minutes. Taste for salt and add accordingly.
Let the pre-soup cool just a bit to be on the safe side and then puree in batches (depending on how much your food processor holds). While the original recipe asks that the soup be passed through a sieve post-food processing, I kind of like my soup slightly chunky. If you want a smoother texture, strain the puree before you eat. Serve it up with a swirl of fresh cream, thyme and pepper. The end.