Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Patience My Ass - I Need A Cold Front! (Recipe Included)

Where the hell is Fall? It's September 28th and the humidity is still omnipresent, the temperature at night is still around 70, and dammit, that shit has to go! Sure, sure, further north they get winter earlier and spring later, but right now they aren't sphitzing whilst trying to drink a cup of coffee, or having to crank the air conditioner to enjoy a bowl of butternut squash soup. Right now, the leaves are changing further north, and the apples and pumpkins are piled up at the roadside stands. We have apples and pumpkins piling up too, but the current state of humidity will cause our pumpkins to rot and mold by Halloween, and don't get me started on the soft mealy cardboard that passes for apples in this part of the world, or the Koolaid-sweet cider that's made from them.

I know where this is leading - I need a road trip to the north. I'm not going to get one though and it's making me very grumpy. I'm trying to hold out - I hear tell the great cold winds of Canadia are on their way, that by the weekend it will feel like fall, and I want to believe, but right now the air is still soupy and it seems a faint flickering light at the end of a long and miserably hot steam tunnel.

But in the meantime, because it is fall and because somewhere there is lovely crisp fall weather that warrants it, I'm making butternut squash soup. A friend on Facebook asked me to share my recipe for it, so I wrote it out, even though I never follow an actual recipe for it. I don't have recipes for anything but baked goods because, cooking in my opinion should be less regimented, and more open to variation. So take this recipe as a place to jump off from and do something wild with it to propititate the Autumnal God of the North Wind.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 large butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces (more or less)

1 large onion, chopped semi-fine

2-6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

half a stick of butter (see now, I used a whole stick last time, and some olive oil)

2 cups dry white wine

2-3 containers chicken stock or broth (8-12 cups, approx.)

In a large heavy bottomed stockpot melt butter and saute onion and garlic until tender, add cubed squash and saute until browning occurs on bottom of pot. Add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

Deglaze with 2 cups of white wine, let alcohol cook off a little, then add chicken stock/or broth to cover the squash. put on the lid and let boil for about 15-20 minutes. I also added a tablespoon of bacon fat, to add flavor and to tenderize the squash.

When squash is tender, mash up with potato masher, add more stock and cook at medium heat, stirring and mashing for about 30 minutes. The lid is off at this point, allowing condensation, so soup will become thicker. Squash will begin to have an "applesauce" consistency and get thick. Keep adding stock until you are ready to serve or until it is the thickness you desire. (when reheating, you will have to add more stock, as it thickens when it cools) I know that a lot of people prefer to use an immersion blender to speed things up, but I personally think the slow cooking approach breaks the squash down just as well, and allows more time to build flavor with your components.

If desired, add 2 Tablespoons of horseradish to soup and stir in well. The heat will mellow it, but it shouldn't be more than an earthy taste at the end of a spoonful, and a bit of a warm glow on your throat. The longer the horseradish cooks into the soup the less prevalent it will be as itself.

Serve in a wide, shallow bowl, garnished with crisp chopped bacon and green onion, or julienned rare roast beef and green onion. It is also very good with a creamy blue cheese and candied green apples (leave out the horseradish for this variation). Fresh crusty bread or buttermilk cheddar biscuits are a good accompaniment.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mission Statement For ME

It has been a dark vista for some time, here at the Edge of Reason. The mental weather has been overcast and drizzly for far too long and frankly, my feet are webbing from prolonged exposure to mud puddles of deepest despair. My raincoat of support is old and tattered - more misery gets in than is kept out anymore, and my umbrella of love has been turned inside out - I am drenched to the skin with profound sadness.

The obvious solution, in terms of metaphors, is to get a new umbrella and raincoat, isn't it? But I am used to my raincoat and fond of my umbrella, which makes it hard to know whether I should patch and repair or just replace them. And a metaphor cannot possibly illustrate the nature of the damage done to that raincoat or umbrella.

It's easy to tell someone to snap out of a dark funk - it is far more difficult to actually do the snapping. It's really more like a dragging of oneself out of the pit (of despair) and commencing to dredging the muddy misery out of your clothes, your hair, your soul, while the storm rages on all around, pelting you with more.

I know I can only change myself, I know I need to leave certain pieces of myself behind in order to do that. It is far easier to say it than it is to do it, however, if you consider that it might be necessary to cut out 20 years or more of your life and throw it away.

I wonder sometimes if I had amnesia, if it would make it easier for me to be who I really am. I would no longer bend under the negative opinions and influence of my family, because they would no longer exist. I could discover who I am without their prejudice of who they need me to be. I might actually believe I have some worth if I was out from under the thumb of misogyny and selfishness that is my familial inheritance. This is what I struggle against daily. This is what silences my words, my voice, my soul - people who say they care while they crush me underfoot, and seek to discredit what I say because it reflects badly upon them to have the truth put out there for the world to see. I have offered love and support to my family for as long as I have been alive, and I have received in return their apathy, and the lies they tell to take the weight of responsibility for their damaged lives off of themselves.

I am done. I am divorcing myself from these people, for the sake of ME. I think I have earned the right to not be involved, to not be held culpable for the poor choices of others. To finally live my life as I see fit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paranoid Reflections

Autumn blows in, sharp and cold,
and bitter is the remembered taste
of Autumns past, shrouded in mold.

I hide in my bed, I cannot face
a world turned grey by wind and rain-
sweet Summer's youth is laid to waste.

Wat'ry-eyed November, the days days trickle away,
I lie abed, smelling Winter's dank breath
and hear his knife-like fingers rattling my windowpane.

A torturous game the seasons play, on me and on the Earth,
I hear them now, outside my door, chuckling in their mirth.


Autumn blows in-
and bitter is the remembered taste
of Autumns past-
the sure knowledge of loss and sorrow.

How is it, I come to this season
always empty-handed
and purposeless?