Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Was It Something I Said? - Butternut Squash Bisque

The People Next Door are moving out.  Huh? Didn't they just move in? Yes, but even though they moved in - technically speaking - they were almost never there.  When their Hummer reappeared after a lengthy absence, my mind filed them under "Snowbirds" and I gave the matter little further thought (okay, I was curious - the house has been in one of Kissimmee's First Families for almost 100 years, and I am pretty sure at one time they owned the property my house sits upon.)

Then this morning, Two Men pulled up in their Truck, and headed into the house with stacks of boxes and bubble wrap. Listen, I can see everything from my kitchen window. Well. First, let me state off the bat (baseball reference - Go Mets!!) that I hope they are not leaving because of illness, reversal of fortune, or another Bad Thing. I also hope they are not leaving because they decided they hate living in Kissimmee, because that would be churlish of them.  What's not to love? The vrooming motorcycles, the emergency vehicles screaming down Clyde Street, the (really) odd folks talking to themselves (or maybe to their smartphones) walking to 7-11, grown men on bicycles (I'm not talking Lance Armstrong here), the lady in her wheelchair being walked by her dog, the slightly off neighbor growing okra in her side yard? Maybe it's the ghost with binoculars, peering out the windows of Judge Draper's chambers on the sixth floor of the courthouse at an hour I am certain she is home with her family.  Why does a ghost have to put the lights on at 2 AM?

Since the neighbors are not the talkative type, I guess I will never know.  I'm not the kind of intrusive neighbor who knows all of everyone else's business - actually, I'm a smiling waver, the kind of neighbor who can live in the same house for 12 years and never know the names of any of the other street residents - but the neighbor lady here didn't even wave, and she never smiled. No children or grandchildren, no visitors, no new landscaping. If they are indeed moving, I hope an urban farmer moves in. That could be fun. And heaven knows, I've got a lot of okra recipes ...

I've been thinking a bit about Trey Gowdy. The man got screwed by members of his own party and he didn't even get to enjoy it. Trey Gowdy, the Man with the Impossible Hair, Chairman of the Benghazi Witch Hunt, I mean Committee, made the same mistake Kenneth Starr did all those years ago, trying to bring down a Clinton on the taxpayer's dime. Apparently Trey became so vexed when several GOP congressman stated that Trey's precious Committee was formed for the purpose of tanking Hillary Clinton's poll numbers that he told them to "shut up." Oops. Very unprofessional. He might as well have tweeted them to STFU, like a kid might do. Makes him look foolish, and who knows how they will react? The one time I told my mother to shut up - I was 22 - she did exactly what I said, and then would not talk to me for a month.  It was only when she realized I had gotten a new job and was moving to my own apartment that she broke silence. Silence has fallen for Trey Gowdy and his Impossible Hair - can you say "Madam President?"

I've also been thinking about Donald Trump, another Man with Impossible Hair. I like the way he needles certain other Republican candidates until they lose their composure and snap back at him. He's just about sent Jeb Bush over the cliff with his attack on Jeb's brother, the man that stole the title of "Worst President Ever" from Jimmy Carter.

I've also been thinking about men's ties, sharks, gators and bears (oh my!), my fall garden, and Joe Biden. That's at least two, maybe more, other blog posts, but stay tuned and ask yourself this: what do Emeril Lagasse, Ina Garten and Guy Fieri have in common? I'll give you a clue - it's not Food Network.

Yes, roses. Soon.

Stay safe, stay warm, stay happy.

And now, from my weekend of cooking, Butternut Squash Bisque. This came out of my head (and I guess my heart) and I was very happy with the results.

Butternut Squash Bisque

4 tablespoons butter
1 very large sweet onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 very large clove garlic, minced
kosher salt
black pepper
light brown sugar
3 carrots, sliced very thin
1 butternut squash, about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds, seeded, peeled, cut into small cubes
ground sage
ground coriander
1 bay leaf
2 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes
6 cups of water
2 Russet potatoes, peeled, cut into small cubes
1 Gala apple, peeled and cubed
heavy cream

Melt the butter in a large, deep pot. Add the onion, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, and light brown sugar.  Cook on medium until the vegetables are getting soft. Add the carrot and continue to cook until the onions show sign of caramelization; take your time with this step.

Now add the butternut squash and stir with the other vegetables to cook for a few minutes.  Add the ground sage, coriander and bay leaf, and stir to distribute evenly.  Break up the bouillon cubes, and add to the pot.  Pour in the water. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then lower to simmer and cover the pot.  Cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and apple; bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover and cook another 15 -20 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf. With an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is smooth. Taste and adjust your seasoning; I needed more salt and ground sage but your mileage may vary. Now add the heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time, until the bisque is to your taste. Some people like a whole lot of cream in their soup, but I'm not one of them.  Also, too much cream will mask the delicate butternut flavor.  Use your judgment; choose wisely.

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