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Posts Tagged ‘The Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts’

Butternut squash is an old staple crop here in the Valley, but in attempting to research it on the web, I couldn’t get a clear history (time to ply Farmer Dan for answers). Squash was part of a traditional Three Sisters garden. When my kids were each in 3rd Grade at their school, they planted a Three Sisters garden. Awesome.

You see field after field of butternut all along the Connecticut River. I know the pumpkin crop in New England was heavily damaged due to Hurricane Irene; I’m not as sure about the butternut squash. You see truckloads piled high traveling hither, thither, and yon on the roads around here. I haven’t really noticed this year.

It’s been damp and cloudy for days. I feel like I’m in Ohio except for those wild animals that were running around over there last week. Hubby and I discussed our memories, from about 20 years ago, of living in Kent and reading for weeks about someone in Rootstown who had a wild-animal farm where some little kid got attacked by a tiger. Claims of safety ensued, lawsuits and debates followed. At least I think it was Rootstown. Anybody else remember this?

In this week’s Thankful Thursday, I wrote about homemade veggie stock. I’m simply too lazy to write up a veggie stock prescription right now, but it would make logical sense to have your veggie stock ready before you cook this. Also, in keeping with being NON-CANDY-ASS, you’ll want to have soaked about a cup (or slightly less) of white beans the night before so they’re ready to go for adding to this soup.

Here comes a recipe for one of my favorite soups of all time. FAVORITE OF ALL TIME! That’s a bold statement:

Kale, Butternut Squash, and White Bean Soup                                                                                                                                     from Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin

1/3 C olive oil
2 large onions, diced
10 C vegetable stock
1 C finely diced canned tomatoes, with liquid
2 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced, appx 2 C
2 C cooked or canned white beans, well rinsed
1/2 lb. kale, shredded
grated parmagiano-reggiano

1. Heat oil in stockpot. Add onions and cook until tender.
2. Stir in stock, tomatoes, rosemary, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Add squash and simmer. Cook 30 minutes until squash is tender.
3. Add beans and kale, cook 15 minutes and serve with cheese.

NOTES: I make this soup in all manner of batches and sizes, usually doubling it or more. The quantities of ingredients are very forgiving. Sometimes I use fresh tomatoes to no detriment, or of course (NOT CANDY-ASS ALERT) the ones I’ve roasted and frozen from the summer crop. I also sometimes use spinach over kale. Just a softer texture, not so much for the flavor. It freezes well and is a great fall soup when the crops are all in. If I use fresh rosemary, I add it toward the end of cooking. I always use my own veggie stock which I highly recommend over store-bought or bouillon.

The recipe was given to me by an old Kent friend, Abby Greer. She made it at a Play Group Christmas Party in 1998. Warm memories and post-partum depression.

For musical accompaniment, you could play “Beautiful Soup” from some manifestation of Alice in Wonderland, the best one being Gene Wilder singing it from a somewhat charming 1990’s TV movie. Or you could listen to this which seems to fit my mood today and the weather we’ve had of late, even though the video was shot in the spring.

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It goes like this some days:

good luck/bad luck

I find good parking spaces, often; I have terrible luck with shopping carts, the wonky wheels

I kept passing the same man in the grocery store today, 5, maybe 6, times. A regular guy, maybe two or three years older than me, not too tall. For at least 20 minutes I saw him, passing me in this or that aisle. He never made eye contact with me. I tried to make eye contact with him. A little smile, an acknowledgement. I ended up looking at the ground and smiling to the floor after about 3 times. When he exited the store, I saw that he was empty-handed.

I went to a grocery store earlier in the day. A tall, dark-skinned African woman in a dress made of traditional African cloth (if I knew anything about Africa, maybe I could say what country the cloth was from) was walking in the beverage aisle (I came there to see if the Polar seltzer was on sale, but they never carry the black cherry) toward me. She walked slowly, but with a rhythm all her own, in her own world, and she wore large, Birkenstock-like slippers on her feet. They were incongruous. Maybe they were Crocs with furry linings?

Later, a few hours later, I saw the same woman behind a grocery cart outside another grocery store. I recognized her feet first, I must have been looking down. She never looked at me, neither time.

When I read blogs in which the words are written on a black background, I can’t read. I look away and all I see are lines lines lines. This is unfortunate, I think, and I wonder if other people have this problem. Sometimes I get ocular migraines and I think these blogs could trigger one, but come to think of it, none ever has.

Today was a shopping day, a catching-up-on-groceries-and-errands day. I went to FIVE different stores and to TWO different banks. I still haven’t gone to the post office to mail a package that I haven’t yet packed, sealed, or addressed.

On the road, on my way to the third grocery store, someone in a Suburu Outback wagon was following behind my car and although the driver was not actually allowing her car to tailgate mine, I had the sense that she was in a hurry or pissed off or needing something urgently. She passed me when she could and turned ahead of me, less than half-a-block ahead. I caught a glimpse of her silvery short hair and proper, politically-correct bumper sticker.

In the third grocery store, I passed 2 women talking and I recognized the woman with short silver hair as the driver of the almost-tailgating-me Suburu. She had all of the signs of someone who lives in the Pioneer Valley, just like I do. Right then and there, I decided she was full of shit and I wanted to ask her why she drove like an asshole.

In the Whole Foods Market in Hadley, Massachusetts, one enters directly into the produce department. When I walked into the store (my FIFTH and final store of the day), I heard a high-pitched screaming. A mother shopping with her 2 children, the youngest still in the realm of baby-hood (13 months, maybe?), was pushing the screecher in a cart, her other child walking beside. The sound of the screeching was jarring to my system and painful to my ears. I asked the cute produce man putting up local green peppers, of which I needed at least two, “how long have you had to listen to that?” at which he answered that he was glad his wife had a boy because “they don’t scream like that.” Now that I’m not sure about. I just thought the mother was a particularly indulgent mother who was raising a child who could have been told not to scream. I heard the mother try this once, maybe twice, all the while while the baby screamed and screamed, laughing and giggling and making cutesy faces after every scream. The baby screamed and screeched the entire half-hour that I was in the store. The employees, you can tell, are not allowed to say anything negative in conversation about anything like an obnoxious screaming baby. So everyone, shoppers and workers, just nodded our heads uncomfortably. Sometimes a shopper would hear the screeching baby for the first time, as the little family approached. I could tell it was the first time by the way the shopper would jolt and startle and jump a little in his shoes. I think I jumped a little almost every time until I got far enough away that I sort of forgot about it until now.

I look at the women a lot. The women shopping, in the parking lots, in their cars, in their yoga pants and sports tops. In their good flip flops. With bouncy long hair, with beautiful silver hair. Thinner than me. More fit than me. This one’s got runner’s legs, that one has cork heels too high for safety with her small daughter walking next to her. What if she has to run after her in the parking lot? I don’t notice the men as much and there aren’t as many of them anyway. I have good flip-flops, too, but not flip-flops with bling. When did flip-flops get to have supportive soles?

I love the women at my bank. One has smoked for too long, I can hear it in her voice. She wears a crucifix around her neck. She is beautiful and kind, a little older than me. She has a pretty face and I love her.

I never remember names any more. The cashier I always talk to at WF has 2 daughters, one a new baby, and I ask and ask and I can’t remember. I know where she lives, I see her walking her baby in a stroller on the sidewalk, I know that her grandfather is from Italy, Sicily to be exact, I know the grade her oldest daughter is going into, but I can’t remember the names. What happened to my memory?

It is almost one o’clock and I thought it was only almost midnight.

I went to sing Sacred Harp tonight, as I do almost every Tuesday night at Helen Hills Hills Chapel on the Smith College campus in Northampton, Mass, and my oldest daughter went with me. She looked really pretty tonight and was very happy, but I still got ticked off at her in the car on the way home.

I went to yoga before singing and it was GREAT and I thought that sometimes good yoga is like good sex and I know I’m not the first to say or think or write this, so why bother?

When I used to do a lot of massage, this was a regular thing, someone or another would say that a great massage was as good as great sex. My clients never said this to me, just friends or acquaintances.

When I come across a new blog and I see that the posts are all long or I see a long post, I don’t read usually. So I try not to have blog posts that are too long. But I am full of words, swimming in my head when I am in the car too much or in a certain manic state and now look where it’s got me. And this is AFTER yoga! But also after singing, which can wind me up sometimes.

At a local, annual food-tasting the other day, a guy giving out samples told me I had blueberry eyes and he asked me if I do have blueberry eyes: do you have blueberry eyes? I said I don’t really like blueberries, but I wish I did. That was a new one: blueberry eyes. I’ll take it.

What about the words lush and razz-ma-tazz and linger? Can you guess who I was listening to in the car? Here’s another hint: dame.

Well, I’m tired and wired, so you know that means it’s time for my crossword. If you got this far, you may a. be married to me or b. a really good friend or c. brave and patient, more than I probably am or d. the recipient of my gratitude. I love my readers.

I even have something in common with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Whaddaya know?

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