simple cookery: roasted red pepper soup

We sometimes stop in at this discount grocery store.  Mostly it’s full of processed food that we wouldn’t eat anyway.  And sometimes you come across completely disgusting food, well beyond what can actually be rightfully deemed “food”.  But usually there is a thing or two worth having at a decently low price.  And every once in a while an amazing find that makes it totally worth while to stop by whenever we’re in town.  Like our most recent trip where we came home with a 40 lb. box of organic bananas for $6 and an entire case of organic red peppers for $7 all in near perfect condition.  Amazing, right?  It takes a little work and hustle to get it all preserved before it has a chance to go bad, but it’s totally worth the effort.

We sliced and dried some of the bananas in the oven and froze the rest in chunks to be used in smoothies and things in the future.  Most of the peppers were frozen raw-some in chunks (to be used primarily for kabobs) and some sliced (for stir-fries and the like).  They keep quite well that way.

But first thing first, I made some soup!  A big pot of soup- some to eat and some to freeze for later.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

2 onions

1 extra large zucchini (or 2 medium, or 3 small)

3 cloves garlic

balsamic vinegar

broth

salt

oil

15 red peppers

1 tsp red pepper flakes

bunch of fresh basil

bunch of fresh parsley

Slice the onions.  Saute them in oil until translucent. Add in the garlic, cook for a minute or so stirring frequently.  Add a good glug of balsamic vinegar- use care, it’s going to sizzle quite a bit!  Allow the sauce of vinegar and onion juices to thicken.  Add the zucchini* and red pepper flakes.  Add enough broth to just cover everything.  Simmer until the zucchini is soft.  While this cooks, roast your peppers.  Slice them in half.  Remove the stem. Scoop out the seeds.  Broil them on a cookie sheet until the skin bubbles and they get a bit browned.  Flip and cook the other side.  Strip the leaves of the herbs and add them along with the peppers to the broth.  Puree the whole thing, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used a Vitamix to blend my soup.  If you aren’t using some sort of high powered blending device, you might want to consider peeling both the zucchini and the peppers.  You may also need to cook the peppers in the broth for a while to soften them.

We’re in the final week of summer vacation and I’m both trying to prepare and trying to say “yes” as much as possible…getting my lessons plans in order, trying to get the house set up to accommodate everything, switching out baby clothes for the next size up (yet again), wondering where everyone else’s cold weather clothing got to, trying to keep up with the garden and the harvesting and the processing of food.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working to get my homeschooling binder in order, updating our calendar and trying to wrap my brain around new schedules; work two days a week for the big boys, multiple dance classes, multiple riding lessons, other possible classes- all of the related shows and special events and the things that come and go; in the last month between us we’ve had 8 doctors appointments, most of them 45 minutes to an hour away.  That’s not counting the all day affair that is traveling to our geneticist, which took place in the last days of July.  I’m having trouble trying to figure out where to fit in all of the dentist and eye doctor appointments that need to be scheduled, amongst all of the appointments with the other doctors and specialists and how are we to still have time for anything else?  It’s all rather stressful.  So far there are only 3 appointments scheduled for September.  But that’s mostly because we’re supposed to be going away for a while, so they can’t be scheduled for a bit.  Did I mention that I’m trying to plan a trip?  Right.  There is a lot of planning for that.  And then there are the yes things…meeting friends at the pond for yet another “last swim”? Yes.  Make ice cream for the third day in a row? sure, why not.  Work on that ridiculously messy big project? go for it.  Sometimes the yeses are stressful too (for me anyway), but worth it.

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34/52

The toys were a hit!

Seraphina Violet Juliette…

weighs 20 lbs and is 26 1/2″ long; our tiny giant!

reaches out her arms to be picked up.

is getting used to the car.

has been sitting on her own for longer stretches at a time.

has tried to say a few words…hat, hi and na-na (our word for nursing)  I know it sounds crazy, but I swear it really sounds like she’s trying to say them back to us.  I have witnesses.  Other people have heard it too.

likes to play with the baby in the mirror.

can be quite silly and giggly at home, but gets very serious when we are out, studying and trying to figure out everything new around her.

may be teething already?  She’s acting that way lately, but it could be a while yet.

has left her siblings all grumbling about how she won’t cuddle anymore.  too busy!

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Welcoming Seraphina

Our littlest one was officially welcomed into the world and into our community with a shower of blessings and rose petals.  As with our vow renewal, it rained and the ceremony had to be moved indoors at the last minute.  I planned everything in pastels.  A friend showed up unexpectedly bearing huge bouquets of flowers in the brightest and boldest of hues; a complete riot, so entirely different from everything I had imagined and completely perfect.

Our Sweet Wild Violet wore the gown and bonnet I made for her sister 5 years earlier.  It was a bit too warm to add in the stockings as well.  I love that they both were able to wear it.  Still I wanted to make her something special of her own.  The party was to be an all day event.  Since it didn’t seem practical to keep her in the gown all day, a party dress was in order!  I decided to give the Lizzy Dress another go using the chart this time.  The yarn is Knit Picks Diadem in ‘Azurite’, blue, blue…deep blue…like the ocean and the sky, her eyes when she was tiny, her beautifully formed umbilical cord, our birth tub!

Rosebud had a new frock of her own to coordinate.  I modified this pattern for the bodice.  Originally I pictured it with a floral skirt, featuring hints of that same blue.  I think there was a specific Liberty of London print that I kept seeing in my mind whenever I closed my eyes.  Then I remembered this amazing single yard of green Radiance, cotton silk blend, that I had tucked away for a special occasion.  I thought the combination a bit daring really.  The silhouette has kind of a regency feel with the empire waist, scooped neck, slightly puffed sleeves, but the striking colors make me think of some of the really bold fashions that started appearing in the 1920′s.  Kind of a The House of Eliott vibe.  Together they put me in mind of the skyline around our home…treetops reaching up into the deep blue of an early autumn sky.  She looked a tiny goddess in it.

I wanted to get some really nice photos of my girls in their dresses, but I didn’t take most of the candid shots that day.  The pictures of Seraphina in her gown and most of the decorative detail ones are mine, but most of the rest were taken by other people as my camera got passed around throughout the day.  I’ll have to try to get some better ones for posterity’s sake.

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staycation

The pictures above were sent to me by my husband.  This weekend we packed Steve and Iain up and sent them off to a campground for a kind of right-of-passage, special father and son bonding adventure.  From what I hear they’ve sent most of the weekend fishing, kayaking and eating s’mores.  Oh, and drinking coffee.  The boy had a decaf at the local co-op, very grown up.

Meanwhile the rest of us are keeping the home fires burning and having a bit of a holiday ourselves, full of little treats, old movies, long walks hunting for wildflowers and junk food- of the slightly more wholesome, home-made variety- we’re working on perfecting our grain-free pizza crust recipe.  On Friday night, after we got the little ones off to bed, with our Sweet Wild Violet sleeping beside us, Elijah and I made milkshakes (with coconut milk ice cream) and watched The Music Man.  Then we stayed up late looking at horse books and talking.  He’s going to keep a horse for me to learn to ride on when he has a stable of his own.  I’ve set him the task of finding a breed that resembles a Clydesdale, but with more the stature of say a large German Shepherd, the intelligence of a dolphin, loyalty of a puppy and temperament of a lamb.  He says he’ll have to get back to me on that one.

The weekend is almost over now, with a crazy busy week ahead.  I’m so glad we took this time to recharge and connect a little.

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31/52 & 32/52

I thought I was all caught up, but somehow I fell behind again?

Seraphina Violet Juliette…

points her toes and flaps her arms when she’s excited.

sings her “mournful song” when she’s tired or wanting me.

favorite toy = carrots from the garden (she doesn’t have any teeth yet, so can’t get any little bits off).

with wooden spoons coming in second.

doesn’t seem too upset that her family hasn’t managed to dig the baby toys out just yet.

is very interested in everyone’s food.  (too soon baby!  too soon!)

likes to steal daddy’s hat.

has figured out that if you pull on the edge of something, you can generally get it to come closer to you.

does not understand why pulling on her skirt doesn’t bring her toes within reach.

watched a beautiful blue, black and white butterfly fluttering around the garden.

and tried to catch the luna month on the other side of the window glass.

laughs when we sing the Sweet Potato song at bedtime.

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Feeding Our Families ~ Summer

Breakfast sausages made with garlic scapes, mint, basil, cilantro and red pepper flakes, served with steamed greens and roasted onions.

Two months worth of a belated post!  Right now I’m trying to eat from the garden as much as possible.  Simple is best – steamed broccoli topped with garlic scapes sauteed in ghee.  Proponents of the kitchen garden always like to go on and on about the ease of eating fresh picked.  But the fact is, it’s just a big old lie!  Is it tastier?  No doubt about it.  More nutritious?  Absolutely.  Easier then cracking open a plastic bin of triple wash spinach?  ennnt. nope. sorry.    I’ve been trying to make lunches almost exclusively from the garden.  It’s a balancing act.  I want to make the most of it, but I also can’t devote what sometimes turns into hours for a single meal, every day.

If I’m being perfectly honest there have been times when growing a garden has actually caused us to eat worse.  Busy times where it was just too much trouble to harvest, wash and prep.  Instead we would end up eating whatever was available inside, which obviously wouldn’t be fresh produce, because why would I buy fresh produce when there was so much already growing outside?  So far this year we’ve managed to avoid that.

Cobb Salad

A summer slaw; finely sliced collard greens, tender young broccoli shoots, fresh mint, basil and cilantro, with a sweet and tangy lime dressing.

I’ve started season specific pinterest boards to help with meal planning inspiration: Summer Meal Planning, Autumn Meal Planning and Winter Meal Planning – spring is still far enough off that I’m not really thinking about it yet.  Because clearly the 5 different food specific boards I already had: Putting Food By, Sweet Stuff, For Baking Day, the Whole30 Compliant Recipes board I was invited to join and just plain Food, not to mention my food heavy travel board: On the Road Again, were not enough.  On these boards I’m gathering ideas that I’d like to use for our seasonal dinner meal plan, but also season specific treats and recipes for special events occurring in that season.  Party food, birthday food, holiday food, everyday food, recipes for anticipated garden surplus…anything that I come across and think I might need is right there.

Pesto sweet potato noddles with chicken and broccoli from the garden, eaten on the porch.  Pure summer.

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not by the hair on my chinney-chin-chin….

There has been a lot of building this summer.  Iain and Elijah spent a couple of weeks helping around the building site where a straw bale home is going up.  At home Galen has been reading My Side of the Mountain and constructing his own shelter from whatever he can glean around the yard.  The building came first which in turn inspired me to dig out the book.  He’s entering third grade next year and from a Waldorf perspective there is quite a bit of focus on building and shelter.  It’s fascinating to me to find him ushering himself into the curriculum without my in any way leading him to it.

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It was the best of times…

At one point I was going to post here about postpartum bliss.  So much is said about postpartum depression these days (rightfully so, information is so very important), that I think I was a little startled to find myself experiencing the exact polar opposite; inexplicable, deeply abounding, over-whelming joy, even in the face of unpleasantness.  Kids yelling, roof falling down around our ears, up to our eyeballs in laundry, me smiling serenely and telling my bewildered husband how much I love our family, make my heart beat funny exultation.  It’s there still, in glimpses here and there, precious, perfect, fleeting moments.

And then there is the other side of the coin, more pressing just now, stifling at times.  I have the capacity for such great joy, in a family that I love, in a life that I love, housed in a building that I love, settled in a landscape that I love….trapped in a body that often seems determined not to let me enjoy any of it.  Everyone has their sad stories, their struggles.  I know this.  And I also know there are stories far worse then mine.  Nightmare-ish existences that cause me to bow my head and give thanks for everything I have, every single day.  But I also doubt that every person out there reading this right now has a folder on the desktop of his or her computer titled “if I die”, full of letters to their children.  This is a big chunk of my life right now.  Testing my genes, testing my heart, testing my brain, testing my mother (!) testing, testing, testing.  All in the hopes that the next test or the next expert might be able to tell me whether or not it’s likely that I could drop dead at a moments notice with no warning.  So there’s that.  How worried should I be?  I don’t really know.  And no one else seems to either.  I rarely talk about it and I often play it down if it’s ever brought up, but secretly I worry.  I worry a lot.  A little about me I guess, but mostly I worry about them.

I try to put it all aside in my mind when I can.  At night when I lay awake trying to plan contingency on contingency for a time when I might not exist, I remind myself to put a hand on Steve’s chest or back or arm, sleeping beside me steady and real and here right now and his warmth and the beating of his heart calms me.  When I feel well physically it’s easier to forget.  Much easier.  I live in the moment and those snippets of indescribable transcendent joy flicker in and out on waves of laughter.  When I’m unwell, a shadow falls over everything, lost in a fog of fear, worry and pain.  It helps to accomplish things- to move forward in life despite everything.  Only often when I do those types of things, I end up paying in pain later on and being smothered in the fog yet again.

Sometimes our life is lush gardens, the softest of ballet slipper pink yarn, heart to hearts in a room full of hand drawn horses, a 5 year old little girl digging up weeds on the side of the road to plant in our yard, home made pie cooling on the counter next to a bouquet of old-fashioned cottage garden flowers.  And sometimes it’s laying awake at night staring at the ceiling worrying that no one else will remember the trick to taking away the pain of a bee sting or what to do when someone wakes with a leg cramp in the night.  Agonizing over where to leave a letter for my husband, so that he’ll see it when he needs it, but not before and what to even say?  What will he need to hear in that moment?  Wondering how long it would take a baby who’s never known anything other then nursing to sleep in her mama’s arms to give up and accept that mama’s not coming back.  Our life is all of those things.

I haven’t been posting much here lately.  We’ve been busy.  I’ve been tired.  Sometimes it’s just too much effort to write and sometimes I don’t want to waste my good day or good hour in front of a computer.  But I also think that part of it is that I’ve been afraid.  Afraid that if I started typing all of this might come pouring out and what then?  When I realized that, I decided I should just own up to it and move on.  I created this blog during a rough patch when I needed to stop and see the good in life.  Posting here helps me.  It’s like a narrowing of focus, a meditation on all of the many things I have to be grateful for.  I don’t know how often I’m going to find the time and space to post in the future, but I want to be sure I have the option to do so unfettered.

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30/52

A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week.

Seraphina Violet Juliette…

is four months old.

got to visit with many different people this week. (that’s my mom above)

has ticklish shoulder blades.

thinks her daddy hung the moon. (I tend to agree)

 

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