Page 49: A Recipe for Curry Carrot Soup [vegan]

I want to know, right now, what is your go-to I Am On A Budget And Out Of Time But I Still Want Something Kind of Special Recipe?
I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours.

Curry Carrot Soup xoxolib

I’m going to bring you something special. Something that I’m going to refer to as a Unicorn Recipe. It’s a unicorn because it sits at this intersection where all these perfect aspects collide and it’s pretty uncommon to find something that is:

Inexpensive
Quick cooking
Not even remotely difficult*
Healthy
Totally Yummy
Unintentionally vegan (where my vegans at?)
Moderately impressive

*it’s not even remotely difficult if you happen to have a hand-held stick blender. Which I know not everyone has. If you have an upright blender it’s still pretty easy but can’t really be considered “not even remotely difficult” because, like, hot soup in a blender doesn’t sound like something I want to dance with. But you do you! Maybe order a cheap stick blender on Amazon and have it delivered next-day? This is the one that I have. I don’t stand by it or anything–it just happens to be the one that I have.

Curry Carrot Soup xoxolib
I never claimed that it photographed well.

Anyway this is a soup that I make probably once a month in the fall. And then I freeze the leftovers in Ziploc bags so that I’ve always got something on hand for those times when I’m exhausted and we need to eat dinner. Or it’s something nice to give to people who might want some soup?

Give of your unicorn soup, brothers and sisters.

Another thing about this recipe is that it’s one of those things that I’ve been making for so long that the recipe just lives in my brain. So this last time that I made it, I tried really hard to write down all of the ingredients and not just mindlessly toss it all in the pot on instinct like I ordinarily do. So I’m going to do my very best. There aren’t that many ingredients in here unless you count the spices. And, frankly, there isn’t a right or wrong way to season this. Once you’ve got the main ingredients in there, you just follow your instincts. If you trust your instincts. I trust your instincts. It’s only soup. It’s not neurosurgery.
For me, I like the Chinese Five Spice more than anything else so I tend to lend a heavy hand there. But other people may want to omit that all together and just season with curry? Or heck, just salt and pepper! That’s cool. You know what you like. Or, you will.

Okay so here goes. This is what you’re going to need for a really big pot of soup but it could easily be halved:Curry Carrot Soup xoxolib

2 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
4-6 crushed garlic cloves
1 T. Chinese Five Spice
1 t. ground red pepper
1 t. Hot Madras Yellow Curry Powder
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. turmeric (I add this specifically for coloring purposes only)
2 lbs peeled, roughly chopped carrots (or baby carrots)
2 32 oz boxes of vegetable stock

  1. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil. Cook until they are translucent (5-6 minutes).
  2. Dump in all of the spices and stir until the onions and garlic are coated and continue to cook for a few minutes before adding carrots. This helps the spices to bloom a little bit before getting washed away with all of the liquid.
  3. Add vegetable stock. Depending on the size of your pot you may not use it all (or you could need more–you can supplement with water). Just add stock until it covers the carrots and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to boil until the carrots soften. For me it was about 20 minutes or so. But that could change depending on the size of your carrots.
  4. Once your carrots are soft enough that you trust the strength of your blender to puree them, go to town! Use your immersion blender (or transfer, in batches, to an upright blender) to puree until smooth!
  5. From here, you are basically done. Unless you’re not pleased with the texture of your soup. If it’s too thick for you, thin it out with water or stock. If it’s too thin for your tastes, as it was for me, bring to a gentle simmer and reduce until it reaches a consistency of your liking. Make sure to continue stirring so that it doesn’t burn.

Curry Carrot Soup xoxolibAnd there you have it! I like to serve mine with a dollop of plain yogurt and a spritz of lime juice on top. The longer it sits, the deeper the spices get. I brought this soup to a family get together and I really wish that I’d remembered to bring yogurt since a lot of people mentioned that it was really, really spicy. The yogurt definitely cools it down and adds an extra punch of flavor.

Other things that I have added to this soup in the past depending on what I had on hand:
Sweet potatoes,
white potatoes,
butternut squash,
apples (sounds weird but it goes so well with the cinnamon and clove in the five spice).

I really hope that you try this and tell me what you did differently and how did that work out? We’re all learning.
And PLEASE SHARE YOUR UNICORN RECIPES IN THE COMMENTS! THE WORLD NEEDS WAY MORE UNICORNS!

xoxo, lib

Page Thirty-Seven: Honing Some Skills

So, last week Joy The Baker opened up a contest of sorts on her blog wherein she partnered with King Arthur Flour. There will be four baking challenges and that’s pretty exciting. Winning or not winning, I am not that concerned with it. Is it cheesy to say “we’re all winners”? It might be. I’m leaving it.

Anyway, for the very first session, we were challenged to make this Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread (there’s a recipe on that link). And I did it. And I loved it so much.

I love to cook. You all know this. I feel like I’m okay at throwing together a dinner (though my current rut is driving me bananas) together but baking I struggle with. I am not a perfectionist at all and baking is as much science as it is delicious so we don’t always get along. But I want to get better at it! I want to stretch myself and develop more skills. That’s why I agreed to this challenge. Because we all need a bit of a challenge every now and again.

unnamed (6)

 

So I made this bread and sure, it was delicious. That was a given. I mean, Joy The Baker is the developer of utterly flawless recipes. But what I liked the most was the sense of accomplishment that I felt when it all came together. It’s not easy! I needed Ryan’s help in a spot or two. I broke a dish at one point (sorry, favorite coffee mug). It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t the kind of thing that I would have ever made on my own (it’s hard to talk yourself into doing a project like this when it’s just you and your boyfriend in the house). But it felt so good. And then it felt good to bring it to a friend’s house later that night where we broke this bread, together.

Here’s to accepting our challenges.

xoxo, Lib.

Page Nineteen: Homemade Dry Shampoo

This morning, without any context whatsoever, I asked my boyfriend, “Does my hair smell like chocolate?” He sniffed me, said “nope” and went on about his business.
This discourse makes me wonder what on earth it’s like to live with me if “does my hair smell like chocolate” doesn’t garner any further questions.

But I asked because this morning I decided to take my homemade dry-shampoo on a test run and, believe it or not, chocolate is a main and delicious component of this product.

drypoo1

I’ve spent an entire day with my unwashed, dry-shampoo’d hair and the results are in. The results are that I don’t notice any difference whatsoever between what I’m wearing right now compared with what I have been using. And the ingredients, all together (which will probably make enough DP for one person to use over the course of an entire year), costs a lot less than anything you can buy in an aerosol can at the drugstore.

The only difference is that an aerosol can, can spray right into your roots without having to pay much attention. You have to apply this stuff with an old make-up brush but it’s perfectly easy.

Image

So what’s in it?
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 T. baking soda
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
And that’s it!! I sifted the ingredients together onto a piece of parchment and then scooped it into a small jar.

Image

It was so easy. It was so cheap. I sense zero difference… why would I ever buy this stuff again?

But, your head might not smell like chocolate. Which is a small disappointment.

Page 9: Current Events

Currently listening: Band of Horses, Infinite Arms
Currently drinking: ginger ale
Currently watching: my cat bat around a hair tie

windowrecipe

Remember when Xanga was a thing? Xanga was my very first introduction to the idea of blogging. This was in college where there were a lot of feels happening to a lot of people who all lived very close to one another. It was horrible. But there was always a spot in the format of writing the post that said, “Currently” and you could pick “listening to”, or “reading”, or “watching”, or something. And so you got to say, “Sure, I’m a typical emotional college kid but look at this cool, obscure band that I found that no one else has ever heard of.” I swear, there were months where I thought Fall Out Boy was supremely indie just because I’d never heard of them before. Nope. I was incorrect about that. Now, though, I don’t even care how obscure the band is that I’m listening to. Did I download The 20/20 Experience at 6:00 am on the day it released? Do I have regrets? Not really but, frankly, half of that album is a little disappointing to me. I mean there’s a song about space boning. You can’t possibly be serious, Justin, right? I mean, tell me this is a song that was rejected by The Lonely Island.

Currently, I’m riding high from the dinner I just made. The thing is that when I was thinking about what to have for dinner, I was like “well I have eggs and I have a loaf of bread that I should probably eat.” So I’d resigned myself to plain, ordinary scrambled eggs and toast.

Image

And then when I got home, there was a package on my door step. My frozen, stupid, ice encased doorstep. I opened it to find my copy of the Joy The Baker Cookbook! I’d forgotten that I’d even ordered it! Honestly, I haven’t even had a chance to flip through it, yet. But I think that it was something about having Joy sit there on the counter with me that prompted me. I whisked up the eggs, sliced my bread and then thought, “Woah! I’m nearly to French toast!” But I’m not a huge lover of sweets. Not to the degree that I want to eat them for dinner. I saw an onion and a vine of tomatoes on the counter and boom–that was it.

And here’s the closest thing that you’ll get to a recipe:

I caramelized the onions in a little bit of butter. Recipes will tell you that it takes 10 minutes to caramelize onions but they are liars. It takes half an hour over medium heat.

When they’re done enough (trust your discretion), slice up one tomato and mince a clove of garlic, toss in salt and pepper and dry basil and oregano. Let them sit with the lid on for a little while. It’s done when the tomatoes get sweet and fall apart and it generally looks like a mess.

Whisk up two eggs in a bowl with a big pinch of salt and a medium size pinch of black pepper and a small pinch of cayenne. Soak two hunks of grainey bread in the egg mixture and then fry them in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter.

Image

Then you just put it all together. I put a little of the tomato-onion stuff (I’m sure there’s a better word for that. “Compote?”) on the plate. I set one hunk of bread on top, a little more of the tomato mixture, and the last hunk of bread. And then I rained freshly grated Asiago cheese (which I bought on a whim last week and have not even remotely regretted despite knowing nothing about it at the time of purchase) down over top.

Frankly, it wouldn’t photograph well even if the lighting was excellent in my house, I’m pretty sure. But after every bite, I thought, “Oh my Lordy!” And to think that I was going to have plain, ‘ol scrambled eggs for dinner.  Thanks for being my spirit animal, Joy.

Page Five: Pizza

Few things in this life of mine are more gratifying than engaging in repetitive motion. Had a bad day? To the dishes! Run the sink, plunge my hands into the terribly hot water, scrub, rinse repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Or going for a walk. It’s just proper ear bud placement and one foot in front of another until the sidewalk ends.

Since I can remember, I’ve gotten deep satisfaction from slicing vegetables. It’s the Parker Girl way. As teenagers, my sister and I used to love cutting up onions so much that sometimes we would saute them in butter and eat them over white rice for dinner. That was a life-phase where I can’t imagine we smelled great.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken to this practice to calm or distract my mind when I’m feeling less than favorably. If you walk in and find that I’ve prepared fajitas and a tossed salad, odds are good that I didn’t have an awesome day. I have learned and accepted that I can be in charge of my feels but sometimes it takes doing something completely unrelated to take control of those feels. If it weren’t blizarding yesterday, then I would have gone for a very long walk. But it was, and so I went to the produce section.

These may have been around for ages but I just now discovered that you can buy a pillsbury pizza crust in the section of the grocery store that’s filled with canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls. So I bought a whole grain pizza crust (in a tube) and made everything up right there in the grocery store. Sweet tomatoes, salty artichokes, neutral squash, and feta cheese.

And I chopped a full bowl of vegetables (it seems like a lot but veggies not only get more delicious when you roast them, they also shrink down), did all of the dishes, and made enough for leftovers for a few days this week. I served it with a tossed salad but ended up just throwing the salad on top of the pizza and it was pretty delicious. By the time dinner was over, I couldn’t really recall what it was that I was feeling earlier.

XOXO, Lib

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

Ingredients: 

2 small, yellow squash (cut into a satisfying dice)
1 large zucchini (cut into a satisfying dice)
1 carton grape tomatoes (halved)

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
1 prepared whole-grain pizza crust
2 T. butter
1/2 T. garlic salt
1 T. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese

Directions

-Toss vegetables together in a large bowl with seasonings and oil. Spread out on cookie sheet and roast at 500 degrees for 20 minutes–stirring once. Once the vegetables are done, lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
-Press the pizza crust into a prepared cookie sheet and par-bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.
-Meanwhile, mix butter, garlic salt and red pepper flakes. Brush onto crust, leaving a dry edge around the perimeter.
-Top with 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, roasted vegetables, and then the rest of the cheeses.
-Bake until warmed through and mozzarella melts–about 5-8 minutes.