Saturday, December 1, 2007


My mother called me around 8:00 this morning and asked me if I had snow. I peered out the window and said no, there was no snow on the ground here! Apparently they had gotten an inch or so at my parent's house.

Shortly thereafter I dragged myself out of bed and on the way to the Y. I realized, once I got outside, that I had been wrong—there was a little bit of snow on the ground. A powdered sugar dusting, so light that I could only see the flakes between the blades of grass from a very close proximity. There was a little bit more on my car, just enough to sweep aside with one swipe of the windshield wipers.

But I did think it was very possible there could be snow on the way. It felt cold, cold enough that I found myself making a point of thinking it was cold, and the air was heavy and moist. You could almost taste the snow in the air.

But a couple hours later, when I left the Y, the grey clouds had faded and the sun was partially out. Perhaps there would be no snow.

By the time I finished some errands, stopped at Starbucks and two grocery stores (one for groceries and one for brown rice sushi) and headed home, it was close to 1 p.m. Still partly sunny, still no snow. I popped myself into the bath for a long soak.

Long enough, apparently, for the snow clouds to roll in and start dumping big snowflakes! When I looked out the window again, cottonballs were falling from the sky and the ground was beginning to whiten.

The snow continued on and off, light and heavy, for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. Around 4:00 I ventured out again to the grocery stores to get a few more things. I was not the only one stocking up for the blizzard—the parking lots were crowded and the checkout counters had lines.

I came home to make Squash Soup. I am crazy for this Squash Soup—I have now made it four times in the last two months. The recipe is from Greg Atkinson and can be found, in its official version, on his website. Here is my slightly modified variation.

  1. Make turkey or chicken broth. Homemade broth is essential and is what makes this soup sublime! I eat a lot of roasted turkey breasts and an easy way to make broth is to simmer the remains of an eaten turkey breast in hot water to cover (4-6 cups) for a couple of hours, then cool and strain. Freeze if you're not using right away. You can also use the carcass of a roasted chicken, or just simmer some chicken breasts or thighs (or assorted pieces), use the chicken for other meals and save the broth. If I am using the bone from cooked turkey or chicken I will throw the skin in too, but if it was raw chicken I would take off the skin to get rid of all the fat. Or you could refrigerate the broth overnight (if you have time) and then just take off the fat once it is solidified.
  2. Use a medium-sized Kabocha squash if you can get one, or another yellow/orange winter squash of your choice (buttercup and sweet mama are also recommended). I couldn't get a Kabocha squash today (I think they're out of season now), but I had a small buttercup squash at home and I bought a couple of delicatas to add to it. Cut the squash into pieces and scrape out the seed. Then peel carefully with a large knife and cut into cubes. You should have five or more cups of squash.
  3. Slice up a medium or large onion (depending on how much squash you have), and saute it in a large deep cookpot in about two tablespoons of butter until the onions soften and turn golden. You can use more butter if you have a lot of squash.
  4. Add the squash and 4-6 cups of broth (depending on how much squash you are using and whether you prefer your soup very thick or thinner). Throw in at least a couple teaspoons of kosher salt to taste. You may need a little more if your broth was unsalted (which it should be if it's homemade!). If you must use prepared broth then be careful with the salt.
  5. Simmer for about 15 minutes or as long as is needed until squash is very tender. You can then puree it using an immersion blender right in the pot. If you don't (and I do not, although my mother does), then you have to puree small batches in a blender. Be very careful doing this, as the hot soup tends to explode in the blender! You might want to let the soup cool some before even messing with it. Cover the blender with a towel for extra protection.
  6. You may want to season the finished soup with a little white pepper. My mother doesn't like white pepper so I now leave it out and just add a tiny bit to my bowl when I think of it. It's delicious with or without the pepper. Don't use black pepper, though, because you don't want little black specks in your soup!
  7. For serving, top each bowl with a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds. You can follow Greg Atkinson's directions to toast your pumpkin seeds, or just buy the tamari seasoned seed in the natural foods section of your supermarket.
  8. This refrigerates and reheats well—I plan to be eating it all week!

So, while I was making my broth and soup, the snow continued to fall and by late evening there were a few inches on the ground outside.

As much as I love the snow, I am worried—how will this affect my running plans for tomorrow morning? Sunday is the day for my long-ish run of the week. I was planning on at least seven miles tomorrow to keep me on track.

Well, for now, the running plans are still on. Unless I fall on my behind, or the snow turns to rivers of slush flooding the sidewalks, or sheets of ice, I plan to be out there tomorrow morning. Well, late morning. No need to be up at the crack of dawn. So we shall see how it goes!

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