Completed November To Dos


November found me, more or less, with my camera in one hand and my journal in the other as I struggled to piece together the month's to dos and uncover some latent desire to keep moving in my creative endeavors. When I shared my to dos for the month a few weeks ago I knew that they would, overall, be harder to document and present to you in a neat little package, and yet I kept with them because my hope was, and is, that the result of them became visible on the blog, even if only in the most miniscule of ways.

I knew, initially, that I wanted to try and write more seriously, to generate more for this blog, as well as my private and individual ventures. I knew that writing made me feel light, that it was (and is) cathartic for me in a way that I could never really explain, and as I felt other things building in and around me, I found that the desire to write became more pronounced and the need more challenging to ignore. So, I wrote. And when I wrote all of things I needed to get out of my head on paper, I wrote drafts- some of which I've already polished and shared with you, some of which are to come.

When the writing demons were satiated, I photographed. I photographed with my camera and with my phone- whichever was handy- and I found a will to keep looking and smiling through both because as I found myself looking for things to photograp, I found myself seeing. It's a strange side effect of photography that the more you practice it the more it changes you, making you really look and appreciate all of the wonders and beauty around you. I know, it sounds hokey, but it's true: photography works on you and makes you see things you would otherwise miss, and it's hard to not feel inspired by what you see through the lens of it. Which means that I have a stack of new photos to share with you- some of which are above and others which I've saved for later.

If I felt that these first two to dos were vague and shadowy tasks when I shared them with you, I felt that way even more so when I wrote that I wanted to make something- because I had no idea at the time what I wanted to make. I had half-hearted notions of knitting something up on dreary rain filled weekend; I thought I'd paint something for you, or maybe just make something holiday-ish. I floundered and I prodded myself wondering what it was that I really wanted to make, what it was that had launched itself so forcibly upon my subconscious as to make me rashly list it as a to do. And then, one cold and rainy night, it came to me: I wanted to make my recipe book. I love family recipe books and I love flipping through other peoples to see what kind of cooks they are- so, I suppose that it is no surprise that I have always wanted one of my own. Only I had very specific notions of what I wanted my book to look like and how I wanted it to be organized. I wanted something non-commercial, more journal-like with an easy means of adding notes and photos... more challenging to satisfy, however, was the part of me that wanted to some great old parchment filled book to create it in, something oozing old-fashioned charm and the dust of ages. Given all of this, I'm not sure how I suddenly found myself last weekend sitting in front of the coffee table with photos, pens, glue sticks, and recipes scattered all around me but I did. And I found myself making a recipe book very different from the one I had always imagined, and yet utterly perfect for me. I'm still adding to it, of course, but now that it's begun, it's strangely irresistible to fill.

Which is why, perhaps, that one of the very first recipes I put in it was my version of Pumpkin Soup adapted from Tiina's over at Sparkling Ink. I haven't had much of a chance to talk about Tiina's blog over here yet, but while we're on the subject, I would like to suggest that you check her blog out; she's been busy at the moment with other projects, but I love her blog so much that sometimes I pop over to just dig through her archives because she has so many beautiful photos and tasty recipes- I always leave her blog with a great sigh of contentment as if somehow she's just served me a magnificent feast. But, back to pumpkin soup! Tiina's Pumpkin Soup was one of the first recipes of hers that I ever made, and it's absolutely delicious- especially with the creme fraiche! Over the past year though, I've tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my tastes and to work with what I've had in the kitchen at any given moment. For this month's to do the recipes I used was as follows:

1 can pumpkin
1/2 of a large yellow onion (I prefer the sweet onion variety)
1/4 tsp dried red chili (this makes for the spicy version we love in my house, if you wish you can omit it or reduce the amount)
3 1/2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced.
1 1/4 C vegetable stock (plus more for gaining correct consistency)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 C cream (plus more for consistency)
1 1/2 TBS butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil

Most of the above is just a halving of Tiina's recipe with a few quantities increased to my taste and a carrot added because I love them- well, and I used canned pumpkin because it's easier to store long term! The instructions for preparing the recipe can be found HERE at Sparkling Ink; my only modifications in the preparation was to add the carrot in with the potato and onion and to alternate primarily between additional vegetable broth and a little more cream as I tried to get the consistency of the soup to my liking. I added my salt and pepper after gaining the consistency, since the vegetable broth had it's own sodium already in it. I forgot the creme fraiche this time so I just sprinkled it with Parmesan, which worked well. In the past I've put a rind of parmigiano reggiano in with it for flavor with great results, but alas, that modified recipe is somewhere in a box in California- but feel free to steal the idea, bien sur! This soup is also excellent served with Tiina's hearty Sunflower Honey Rolls which I pretty much adore during the winter- in fact, you can even see one of the tasty little devils in the background of the photo!

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