Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Reflections

Hi there, friends. Long time, no see.  It's my fault.  I haven't been blogging.

Friday Tea Date, Saigon Spring, Clifton Park, NY

You see, I was (am) having a bit of an identity crisis with this blog.  So, I awkwardly avoided the situation. But now, it's a new year, and it's time to grab this bull by the horns.

Since this is the time of year for reflecting, I will explain.  The sitch is that I started this blog 4 years ago, during a time when I was newly exploring the Capital Region, just starting to feed myself like an adult (as in, no longer having beer for dinner), and working in the Land O' Farms.

Did someone say beer for dinner? (Brewery in Chicago)

Four years later, I've lived in every city in the Tri-City area, I've come a long way in the kitchen, and I work in an urban school district (i.e. my co-workers no longer deliver duck eggs or microgreens).  I moved 3 times (downsizing each time), gained a kitty, was laid off twice, dabbled in art, quit running three times, took up yoga, and started a blog.

Basically, I am in a different place than I was in 2009, and wasn't sure if this blog still fit.  I was learning how to eat healthier, but I was afraid I had started to veer away from the path too much. First of all, what do I know about food? I'm not the Fussy Professor: I don't have a depth of knowledge or an experienced palate. I'm not a trained chef who has real techniques to teach anyone.  And, I mean, sometimes, I just eat (delicious) BAD food.  And love it.  Can I still call this the Green Scene with that on my conscience?

Poutine, Montreal, Quebec. If you look up Sinfully Delicious Food in the dictionary, this is what you'll see.

But then, a wise little friend - we'll call her City Mouse - asked me some really important questions: Who cares?  and also: Why not?

City Mouse stopping to smell the flowers in Union Square Market.

Why not tell you about the cheese-tacular grits I had in New Orleans? Maybe you'll want to try them out for yourself when you visit?

Why not show you the buttery le beouf in Montreal that made me practically melt off my chair in ecstasy?

Who cares if your diet doesn't call for amazingly delicious and amazingly easy ginger cookies that I made for a friend's Christmas Cookie party?  At least they're VEGAN! (By the way, MAKE THESE NOW.)

I guess I'm not always totally green (although, I do recycle EVERYTHING).  And I'm not always that healthy (just ask my marathon-running, salad-eating boyfriend, who probably would be horrified to know how much cheese I just ate while writing this).  And hopefully, my friends who read this won't mind, and might still even ENJOY reading what I have to say.

I'm hoping that it's actually OKAY that I'm not an expert, because I'm just like the rest of you out there, trying my best, and learning as I go, which IS the frame of mind in which I began this blog.  I'm still learning new things, whether that's how to make a new healthy salad, or how much BBQ I can stuff myself with during one trip down south.

I just really love food.  Most of the time it's good for me, but sometimes... I like to say, When in Rome, eat like the Romans do. YOLO.

Since you've listened so patiently, you deserve another recipe. Besides the ginger cookies, you should also make this wicked easy butternut squash soup, that has become a staple around here this fall.  This great recipe was shared with me by the dear DC2Alb (we made it easy by skipping the garnish entirely), and it actually IS healthy.

Butternut Squash Soup with Fall Mushrooms
adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten and J&G Steakhouse

makes about 4 servings

for the soup
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups chicken stock
1 ¼ cup crème frâiche
2 tbsp butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the garnish
2 cups black trumpet mushrooms, washed (or use shiitakes if you can't find black trumpet )
1 shallot, chopped
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp chives, cut into small pieces

In a large pot, combine the squash and stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Working in batches, purée the mixture in a blender. Return the purée to the pot over medium-low heat, and add the crème frâiche and butter. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Meanwhile, to prepare the garnish, sauté shallots in butter for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for about 3-5 minutes, until the mushrooms start to brown slightly.

Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with the mushrooms and sprinkle with chives.

**** D's note: By the way, I made this VEGAN, too, by substituting in veggie stock and soy yogurt.  Couldn't even tell, I swear!

Thanks for reading.  And for sticking around through multiple quarter life crises.  

Happy New Year!

Awkward family photo --->