Sour cream ghost busting a move…

1 12 2011

I take credit for this (unintentionally humorous) garnishing on Michael’s latest soup creation. Don’t you think the dollop of sour cream looks like a ghost doing the Saturday Night Fever dance? Trust me, it wasn’t planned—I envisioned swirls of the white stuff but my garnishing skills obviously leave a bit to be desired.

Michael made this butternut and acorn squash soup as a starter for our Thanksgiving dinner with our friend Karen down at her  lakehouse. He found the recipe on allrecipes.com. Because the butternut squash he used was so large, he opted to add nearly a teaspoon of cinnamon (the recipe isn’t specific about how much) as well as a little extra onion. The recipe reviews had a common thread; many who tried it said it was way too sweet, which is why Michael opted to not add the brown sugar to his version. It was enough soup to completely fill a crock pot—and it was delicious!

And, are you sitting down? I did some cooking, too. I made my friend Barbara Kelley’s Baked Cranberry–Orange Sauce (check out her posting, the recipe, and my photography on her blog here). I do not profess to be an expert in the kitchen (by a country mile), but when I mixed the cranberries with 2 cups of sugar (really? no liquid to add?), I thought, “hmm…I’m no expert, but that just doesn’t look right without any liquid.” I cut out some of the sugar but followed the other directions that Barbara gave me. It’s obvious (to anyone but me) that the cranberries supply the liquid during the baking process. Clearly, I missed that Good Eats episode with Alton Brown. (Note to self: do not think you will ever be a contender for Chopped). I cut the sugar in half in my version because I knew I would be adding orange marmalade (which is already sickly sweet). It’s still a sweet dish and my dinner companions actually ate a good helping of it (out of pity, perhaps?) My other contribution to the day was crafting the tablescape (truly my favorite thing to do in the kitchen!).

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (Michael opted out on this ingredient due to the reviews)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ground cinnamon to taste (optional)
  • fresh parsley, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the squash halves cut side down in a baking dish. Bake 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Scoop the pulp from the skins. Discard skins.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion until tender.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend the squash pulp, onion, broth, brown sugar, cream cheese, pepper, and cinnamon until smooth. This may be done in several batches.
  4. Transfer the soup to a pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Garnish with parsley (we had home-grown chives in lieu of parsley), and serve warm.

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2 responses

2 12 2011
RedheadedWoman

Both dishes were yummy and beautiful to look at.

2 12 2011
thekingoftexas

Your ghost looks more like your father, http://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/, dancing to Saturday Night Fever tunes at your’s and Michael’s wedding. That’s just one wedding, not two, a wedding at which I demonstrated my dancing expertise.

I was a standout as a mixture of John Travolta and Fred Astaire, and my dancing partner was equally outstanding in her reincarnation of Ginger Rogers, a combination both monumental and memorable. I have heard that the small town of Seguin, Texas is still marveling over my performance—okay, our performance.

Guests came from far-flung states as well as local areas, and all were filled with a sense of awe. Of course, I am well aware that fame is fleeting, and that ultimately I will fade back to my former obscurity. However, although my performance only lasted a couple of minutes, I stubbornly claim my right to fifteen minutes of fame in accordance with Andy Warhol’s rule.

Casper appears to be drowning in Michael’s soup, a somewhat more ominous image than dancing, or perhaps playing Scrabble—the ghostly figure seems to be reaching for a Scrabble tile on its right—but perhaps not. Your ghost also resembles Casper the Friendly Ghost, a nebulous presence I encountered on the bridge that spans the Rio Grande River, a shallow and horribly polluted stream that divides the US from Mexico.

I met Casper the Friendly Ghost many years ago at a lonely Texas-Mexico border crossing. I was working the midnight shift—12 midnight until 8 AM, and I was one of only three people on duty. The others were an Immigration officer and the outbound toll collector, and both were sound asleep, trusting me to guard them and the United States of America from harm by applying my accumulated knowledge of outbound and inbound restrictions that were promulgated by the USA and Mexico. Mine was a Herculean task, but I usually managed to do it successfully over my two-hour shifts during the assigned eight hours until I was relieved by the Immigration officer.

En la madrugada—as freely translated from Spanish to English the term means “in the wee small hours of the morning“—I was standing at the computer we used to input vehicle license numbers, trying desperately to stay awake with very little success. However, every time I went to sleep my knees buckled and I awakened, or at least I became partially awake, not very alert but at least awake.

The bridge to Mexico began some 100 feet from my position, and there was a brilliant light erected on a tall pole beside the pedestrian walk. During one of the many times I awakened, I focused my gaze on the lighted area and I began seeing movement high up near the source of the light, something similar to a swarm of bees or scudding clouds or rising flights of birds or bats, forming shapes that would rapidly change, literally disappearing for a split second before forming a new shape.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear—no, no, not Santa Claus and his reindeer-drawn sleigh piled high with Christmas gifts for the world’s children. What appeared to my wondering eyes was Casper the Friendly Ghost of cartoon fame, dancing around in the bright light, appearing and disappearing while I watched. I rubbed my eyes roughly several times, but he continued capering under the hanging light, sometimes small and at other times larger. I imagine that by now you, the reader, are highly skeptical but this story is true—I should know because I was there.

As I walked slowly toward the bridge I continued trying to come fully awake, and I hitched up the weapon I was required to wear, a six-shot revolver with a six-inch barrel—the hitching-up was needed because the belt was too large for me. Mind you, I had no intention of shooting Casper—I could never do that—my children would never have forgiven me.

As an aside to this posting, after several months on duty at the bridge the pistol belt fit snugly because of the frequent meals delivered at a highly reduced price—not gratis, but close—from a Mexican restaurant on the other side of the bridge.

As I slowly drew closer to the lighted area, all the while keeping my gaze on the forms that were—-well, they were forming and re-forming, and the shapes suddenly devolved into untold thousands of swarming insects, appearing and disappearing as they circled under the light. Many more thousands were on the street and the sidewalk, some dead and others still moving. I was finally wide awake and feeling considerably better—Casper had disappeared.

The insects were willow-flies, creatures that were born under water in soapstone banks and rocks. At birth they rise to the surface and lie there until their wings dry enough for them to take off from the surface of the water. Willow-flies only make one flight because they can only take off from water, and once they land they are finished.

I have no doubt that, now that you know I met Casper the Friendly Ghost many years ago, you will pester me until I post that story on my blog.
Okay, okay! I’ll start on it!

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