21 April 2010

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

For once, I am going to cut my crap and get to the point. You know how I babble and babble before coming to the actual food recipe? Not today! Here’s a recipe that is:
-Literally hassle-free
-Quite different from the usual soups
-Kids-friendly? (my guess is 'yes' but you tell me)

I got the recipe from Jessica, our lovely nutritionist at work, who brought in a big pot of soup a couple months back. Jessica loves to come up with food (and non-food) ideas to help us become more active and manage weight. The soup she brought was a big hit so there was no chance on earth that I would miss it! I love how the squash and apple flavours blend to give way to a taste that’s totally different and superbly appetizing. The suprise flavour, though is the nutmeg- I was pretty amazed at how a little nutmeg can go a long way.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Original recipe: Bon Appétit, October 2003 by Antoinette Muto, Los Angeles, CA
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients (this is the original recipe; see my variations at the end):
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 1/4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 1/4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 Gala apple, peeled, cored, diced
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup low fat coconut milk
Light sour cream
Chopped fresh chives

- Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and nutmeg; sauté until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add squash, 4 1/4 cups broth, apple, and apple juice. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered until squash and apple are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth.
- Return soup to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more broth if desired.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with sour cream and chives, if you wish

My variations:
- For the vegetable broth, I used a Maggi vegetable soup bouillon cube along with 4 cups water; worked superbly
- I cut back to about 2 tbsp for the coconut milk
- I skipped on both the light sour cream and the fresh chives (since I didn’t have any on hand) and there was no big difference in taste

Per Serving: Calories -116 cal; Fat 6g, Protein 1g, Fibre 2g, Sodium 79 mg

A perfect weekday recipe, if you aks me. For those of you who think food can’t be tasty and nutritious at the same time, think again!


P.S. Anyone notice how I have a lonely coriander leaf sitting as garnish on most of my food photos? N keeps making fun of it; says I should give 'the poor solitary coriander leaf' some rest!

12 April 2010

A matter of perspective

I notice it first when I am brushing my teeth at night.

My heart skips a beat. I tell myself that it cannot possibly be true. Its these 'yellow' North American lights, I tell myself. They can cause you to see things that aren't really there! I blink. Then blink again. But it just wont go away! N stands behind me brushing his teeth. Maybe I should tell him what I see? I dread his reaction though. But then I have got to tell him (its inevitable- he'll notice it anyways, I tell myself).

So I cautiously ask him, 'Do you see what I see?'
Him: Huh? Whaad-doo-zoo-meeen?
Me: I see a gray hair!!!!!!!!!!!!
Him: Huh? Where??
Me: On my head, you gumbo!
So he peeps closer, inspects it for a moment and breaks into the weirdest, happiest dances I have ever seen (and trust me, I am used to N's dances- they can be quiet funny, if you are in the mood for funny. But this one didn't strike me one bit as 'funny).
Me: Do you see it too?? (am near tears now)
N is still oblivious to my grief- he's merrily dancing way...I notice some toothpaste droplets flying and hitting the wash room walls- now I am furious!!!
After about 45 seconds of weird-cum-happy dance, N finally stops. He tells me wisely, 'its just a sign of growing up, honey'. Exactly what I told him a few years back when I saw his first gray hair; but now that the joke's on me, the line no longer makes sense!

I go to bed thinking about my first gray hair. I am not even 30 yet and I already have one! Does this mean my body is aging already? I mean, who knows what else is prematurely aging? N tells me that this officially marks my entry into the 'Auntie' world.....ick ick!! That night, I dream in black-and-white-and-gray! In spite of the colour scheme in the dream, there is one hair on my head that looks gray..crazy dream, I tell myself.

Next morning, I wake up hoping that this was all a nightmare. But as I get ready for work, I see it again!ick ick ick!!

Thank goodness for work- it makes me forget about the first melanin-deficient hair on my head. I get back early from work and plop myself on the TV. Its Tyra Bank's show on one of the channels. I like Tyra- she is pretty, she is sweet and she is all about women empowerment; what's not to like? Today she is interviewing a woman called Mandy Sellars.

(Photo from: www.guardian.co.uk)

Mandy is from UK and suffers from Proteus Syndrome. It means that while her upper body is a petite Size 8 and weighs just 31 kgs, her legs weigh 61 kgs! And they are still growing, making her legs about 4 times that of an average person! The special shoes she needs cost her $3800, which means she can afford only pair at a time (thats not fair to any woman, I say!!!).

She tells Tyra that how the doctors had told her mum that she wouldnt probably survive 2 weeks past birth but she has proved them wrong by adding 34 years to that! What strikes me most is Mandy's spirit. She talks about her friends, her life, the dating scene and even a possible leg amputation, with so much ease and matter-of-factedness, I am bowled.

Suddenly one gray hair doesn't seem earth-shattering.

That night, I dream in technicolour again.

Its all about perspective I say,

11 April 2010

Poll verdict

After my rants in the last post, here's what my readers had to say about my blog:

- Everyone loves my writing (yooohoooo...shammi kapoor ishstyle!)

- Almost everyone would like to see me post once a week (fortunately, no one chose the option 'never ever' so that gives me a yooohooo!!!)

- As far as the preference for post topic, people seem to like all four categories (though there was a marginal preference for food posts)

- 75% have tried or plan to try my food recipes (I am guessing the remaining 25% didn't vote for the food posts)

- 75% love my book reviews- 25% consider them 'whatever'! Oui oui!

- Everyone, without any exceptions, loves my 'More' posts (looks like everyone enjoys reading about uselessness as I much as I do :))

- Finally, the average reader thinks my blog rates 7/10 (there were a few who gave it a 9 rating but I will be modest here)

With this, I accept the 'junta ka faisla'. I guess this means that, whether you like it or not, you will be seeing more of me in the future (hoping to write once a week).

Thanks to each and everyone of you for taking the time to fill out the survey and giving me an idea of what you think about my blog. There were more responses than I had hoped for and way-too-nice things about the blog there than I had expected.

And yes, if you have nicer things to say to me, remember no one's stopping you :)