Impromptu Stew

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been posting more frequently than usual. I’ve been trying to post every day for NaBloPoMo, a month-long posting challenge issued by BlogHer.

I missed Tuesday, mainly because I don’t want to post just for the sake of posting. Instead, Todd and I went to vote. This was Todd’s first time voting, because he just became a US citizen about a year ago. We celebrated by going out for dinner at El Beso, our new favorite Mexican restaurant. Not very interesting. That’s why I didn’t post about it.

I like to post when I really have something to tell you, like a recipe to share.

Speaking of which…

A few days ago, I made Punkin’ Pie Ice Cream. I published the post, then went to check out what some of my favorite food bloggers are up to. Lately, I’ve been corresponding a bit with Allison of Spontaneous Tomato. She has a great voice, interesting stories, stunning photography, and delicious recipes. The first time I read her blog, I told her, “Your blog is everything I want mine to be.” And I meant it sincerely.

I know my photography is miles away from the level it needs to be, but a lot of that comes from not using natural light. It’s even harder now that it gets dark around 4:15, and I need to force myself to put school first. I’m in my last semester, and I’m currently undergoing a Super-Senioritic Cerebral Excision. That’s when the stress and anxiety of your Super-Senior year of college begin to physically remove the parts of your brain associated with language, retention, movement, and the general elements of a positive disposition. I have big plans for this blog after graduation, though, as it seems my schedule will be opening up quite a bit.

On Monday, after I posted my ice cream recipe, I went to look at what Allison was up to. Well… see for yourself: Here’s what she posted a few hours before.

If that isn’t bad timing, I don’t know what is. I had 2 pie pumpkins and never thought to make my own puree. I immediately went into Pumpkin-Roasting mode.

Without hesitation, I grabbed my 2 pumpkins, cut 4 vents in each, threw them on a cookie sheet (covered in tin foil), tossed on 2 stalks of celery and a few handfuls of carrots, drizzled on some olive oil, sprinkled on some salt and pepper, and popped them in the oven at 350.

This kind of looks like a festive robot face to me.

While the veggies roasted, I started a stock. Now, this is not something I have done before. Ever. And I don’t know why I didn’t look up a recipe at this point. Possibly because I knew I had lots of homework to do, and I thought I could leave the stock to simmer while I worked on said homework. But I grabbed an onion, took off the outermost layer, quartered it, and threw it in a pot with 6 liters of water. Liters? Yeah. Liters. Because our big measuring cup is in metric. Thanks Todd.

Then things got frenzied. I grabbed a bunch of spices and added what I thought was an appropriate amount of each. I just eyeballed all of this, so I can’t really give you any specifics. Go with your gut? I added salt and pepper, paprika, Indonesian cinnamon, dried red and green bell pepper, some beef bouillon, and something kinda spicy that I can’t remember. I then tasted it, realized it tasted like water with spices in it, and decided to wait until I added all the actual ingredients to try it again.

An hour of roasting went by, and this happened:

I chopped up (cut up with a scissors so it would take me very little time) the carrots and celery, and I threw them in the pot. I then – rather skillfully – put my pumpkins onto a cutting board and relocated to the table.

I cut the tops off of the pumpkins, then quartered them. I then scooped out the seeds and goop.

I then removed the skin. Notice how the skin separates from the flesh in some places? Just get right underneath it and peel it off.

I cut the pumpkin flesh into pieces no bigger than 2 inches wide/long. Then, I put the pieces of pumpkin in the soup pot and cooked them for about 10 minutes. Next, I blended everything in the pot using the immersion blender. Then, I tasted it again. I could tell it needed something, so I added a large can of black beans. I tasted it once again, and added the juice of one lemon. Then, I decided to give it some time simmering so all the flavors could marry.

Finally, I garnished it with a little sour cream because I’m fancy, and gave it a try. And the verdict: Delicious!

Somehow, this ended up being a great soup, really earthy, slightly sweet, and very multidimensional. I was surprised that I could figure out exactly what my soup was missing. Before I started this blog, I probably would have just made things worse. I guess that means that I’m starting to build up some culinary intuition. Even if it’s just throwing a bunch of ingredients and spices in a pot, it’s a lot better than I would have done 2 months ago making something from scratch.

I know this might be a little pumpkin overload, but ’tis the season! But what do you think I should work with next? I haven’t posted anything with chicken, yet. Are there any ethnic chicken dishes you’d like me to find a recipe for? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll work on it for my next post.

Until the next taste,