Saturday, November 11, 2006

How To Ruin A Manicure in A Few Easy Steps

I took the day off! I only went into lab for a few minutes. I used the day to put my life back together – it’s remarkable how errands (and dirty clothes) pile up when you’re never home. One of my most important errands of the day? Oh yes, getting my nails done. This happens about every 6 months and is just about the greatest thing.

My manicures have a very limited life span – if the the gloves in lab don't do them in, cooking does. The kitchen is a varnished nail’s worst nightmare. Sharp knives wait around to take a chunk out, dirty dishes lay around the sink aiming to dull the shine, bits of food climb underneath to make me look (if not act) like a ten year old boy.

After along nap (manicures can be exhausting!) it was time to make dinner. I don’t know if y’all are aware of this, but Boston is cold. Really cold. Big, warm soup is all I can eat once November hits (it does feel like a punch most years). To honor this cold November Saturday, I made a squash and sweet potato soup. Roasting the vegetables helped to warm my kitchen… guess it made the soup taste better too, as a pleasant side effect.

My kitchen may have warmed up, but oh how my nails suffered in the process. I somehow managed to drop a piece of turnip into the oven, below the grate at the bottom. I would be lying if I said this was the first time I ever dropped anything in there. Bugger. I had to remove the bottom of the oven to get the turnip bit out and avoid a fire... or at least a nasty smell. This involved me not only locating, but using a screwdriver. Oven, screwdriver, manicure - not words that belong together in a sentence.

The roasting made the squash and sweet potatoes so sweet that the resulting soup scared me a little – it was almost dessert. Crème fraiche did the trick, muting the sweetness with a bit of sour; the thyme made the soup woodsy and rich. Combined with laundry (yet another activity to wreck my nails) and my 5,000th viewing of the first Harry Potter movie, it had a pretty good November Saturday. I am trying to pretend that my love for Oliver Wood is not wrong.

Well-Manicured Squash Soup

1 carnival squash (or any other would work)
2 small sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
5 large garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh thyme
pinch of cayenne pepper
~4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp crème fraiche

1) Rub halved squash, potatoes, and unpeeled garlic cloves with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400F for about 45 minutes, until all are soft (remove garlic early so it doesn’t burn).
2) Peel the roasted garlic cloves, scoop out the squash and potato, chop the flesh – a smart person would have waited for all to cool before attempting this. I did not. Ouch.
3) Sauté onion in olive oil until soft, add the roasted veg and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add thyme and cayenne. Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes till all the flavors combine.
4) Buzz with immersion blender (my most favorite of all kitchen toys, thanks to the most greatest aunt and uncle of all time) and thin with more chicken stock if you’d like – I prefer my soup on the thick side. Add crème fraiche and reheat.

P.S. To allay your fears, my nails made it through. They shall live to see another day.


JC said...

Bugger smell.

I hate when I ruin my manicure. OK, actually I've never had a manicure.

That soup sounds delicious! And now I actually know what you're talking about when you say creme fraiche!

Brilynn said...

That sounds like an excellent combination, I love winter warming soups.

Anna said...

JC - They don't call it a MANicure for nothing. You should absolutely try it :) Creme fraiche makes everything better.

Brilynn - I couldn't make it through the Boston winter without soup. Extra cayenne on extra cold days works miracles.

Ben said...

Interesting soup, where's the beef?

In my country they go wild for previous post, this one, not so much.

Borat rules!

Personally, I like the soup in a can (Campbell's Chunky) I have never made soup for myself...maybe I should give it a "whirl" hyuk!