2014 in pictures & squash ginger soup.

i’ve never been one to be all that short-winded, so if a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s probably fitting that the pictures below are what i could “cut down” to as a summary of 2014. the majority showed up along the social media path, so they aren’t new, but here, together, in chronological order they remind me of the story of our year. a little year in review is after the recipe, if you’d like.

2014 in pictures

:: squash ginger soup ::

squash ginger soup

per usual, this recipe is highly adaptable. if you don’t have a leek, you can throw in another ¼ cup of diced onion. we didn’t have a full 4 cups of butternut squash, so i used buttercup squash, too. for the ginger & curry, i recommend starting on the lower side of the measurements, unless you have strong feelings about either ingredient. use more or less depending on your preference. for example, we do 3 teaspoons of ginger because we like the kicked-up flavor it offers, and we do about 1 ½ teaspoons of curry. the orange juice may seem to be an unusual addition, but it blends all of the flavors really well.

ingredients

2 thick cut slices of bacon, optional (if not, 1 tablespoon olive oil)
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 medium leek, sliced
½ cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2-3 teaspoons ginger, peeled & minced
4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, & cubed (1 – 1½” is good)
1 medium celeriac, peeled, trimmed, & cubed (1 – 1½” cubes is good; approx 1½ cups)
1 medium apple, cored & diced (you can keep the peel on)
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (not powder)
4-6 cups stock (vegetable or chicken) or water
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
½ cup orange juice
½ cup milk, milk alternative, or cream, optional
salt & pepper, to taste

instructions

  1. in a large stock pot over medium heat:
    if you’re using bacon, cook it until crispy. place on a paper towel to drain until cool, then crumble into small pieces. if there is more than a tablespoon of bacon fat, pour it off & discard.
    if you’re not using bacon, heat one tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. add carrots, leek, onion, garlic, & ginger to pan. sauté 2-3 minutes (your kitchen will smell dreamy!).
  3. add squash, celeriac, apple, & thyme to pan; stir to combine.
  4. add stock to cover vegetables, depending on how you want your soup: 4 cups will result in a thicker soup; 6 cups will be less thick. even 6 cups will not result in a runny soup, though.
  5. increase heat to medium high & bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. simmer until squash & celeriac are fork tender – 15-20 minutes.
  6. remove pot from heat & stir in curry powder & orange juice. if you have an immersion blender, you can purée the soup until smooth in the pot. if not, wait until the soup is cool & blend it in batches in a blender or food processor.
  7. serve warm; we love it in any number of ways – plain, with a dollop of plain yogurt, bacon, & croutons, or with a little hunk of crusty bread.

yield: approximately 10 cups (depending on amount of liquid used)

– – – – – – –

2014 was a pretty quiet year. i struggled for the first few weeks of last january to settle on a word to focus on for the year and was actually just fine with not having one. the point of having one was if something came to mind & felt fitting, so there was no need to force one…and then one day it hit me: abide. if it’s even possible, i think my soul sighed in sweet relief – “abide” felt perfect looking ahead to 2014.

i am the vine; you are the branches. if you remain in me and i in you,
you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
john 15:5  

this year has been one of deep, deep thankfulness for my incredible husband &, fittingly, having wonderful things to celebrate him for throughout the year. we’ve tried new things [knitting socks (me), calligraphy (both), homemade bitters (him), a fantastic class at the kitchen window (both), & lots of new recipes (both)], explored our city, traveled well-worn paths at our favorite farmer’s markets, & got outta dodge for a week-long, wonderful road trip to see friends (in chicago) & family (in ann arbor) this summer. the cherry on top of our summer was a visit  from nieces cuter than you could fathom, full of adventures & fun.

i got a few more stamps in my passport, soaked up encouraging words & quotes that resonated truth, and was attuned to growth all around me. part of that was in the patio garden we had – i was mildly obsessed with having my hands in the dirt & watching everything sprout & blossom. the rest seemed to purely be nature’s gift. our house plants grew like crazy, our wedding lemon tree continued to be a rockstar, & even our christmas tree sprouted! have you ever heard of that?! it’s for sure a first for us! they were the simplest, often tiniest little things, but seeing the sprouts & buds kept reminding me in quiet, consistent ways of the new things always waiting just around the corner.

the unrivaled highlight of this year, however, was celebrating our first wedding anniversary. we looked back on our first year full of deep love, true heartache, & the sweetest comfort in knowing that we are richly blessed to do this life together. in the same way, looking back on 2014, we see a year full of those very same things. i cannot imagine going through this past year with anyone other than dustin by my side. this year was filled with more joy & more laughter-until-i-cried thanks to him.

here’s to deep, abiding love, hope, & the new things in store for 2015!

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gratitude, day 28.

gratitude_xsgratitude is a miraculous, wonderful thing. it really does turn what we have into enough. sometimes – often, even – it reminds us that what we have is even more than we need. although it’s kind of a “thing” for people to list something they are grateful for each day in november, this isn’t really that. it’s sort of my mash-up of a daily writing exercise i see people do every day in october paired with practicing gratitude. it won’t be the same every day. sometimes it will be a short, quick post, and other times it will be a reflection or recipe. but most importantly, every day there will be gratitude.

today, i am grateful for a relaxed week.

thanksgiving week 2014i am super grateful that this week i was able to work remotely before thanksgiving and the long weekend. we had plans monday in minneapolis, so my office away from the office was spyhouse NE. i settled in early in the morning at a cozy table towards the back of the main room. a warm caramella, computer, notebook, and a view out the windows as the snow flakes fell. tuesday and wednesday i worked from home which was a wonderful thing.

as you might imagine, the more relaxed week has allowed for great kitchen time. there was a lot of pumpkin going on, cooking, baking, curry, pie, donuts, soup…lots of bases covered. the first recipe i want to share, though, is for shauna niequist’s pumpkin curry. laura made it a few weeks ago, and after all but licking my plate, i had been craving it in a major way. it is a simple recipe that comes together pretty quickly. i halved shauna’s recipe and improvised on a few things which i’ve noted below.

:: pumpkin curry ::
adapted from shauna niequist

pumpkin curry lgwith more people learning about food allergies, i am so thankful to have a growing collection of recipes that i can pull from that are diet and/or allergy friendly. this one is gluten free & can be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken & chicken broth. we had canned tomatoes & dried cranberries on hand, so we used those in place of the roma tomatoes and raisins. we loved both so much that we’ll probably always use them. as shauna notes, this is another dish that is even better the next day.

also – i know it’s not the most photogenic dish, but i promise it makes up for it in flavor!

ingredients

olive oil
1-1½ lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp curry powder (use what you like best, and adjust to your liking)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to your liking)
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup yellow onion, cut into strips or diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled & minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 bell pepper, cut into 1” strips
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup plain yogurt, optional
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped, optional

instructions

  1. in a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. add chicken, curry powder, cayenne pepper, & salt, stirring to coat. cook chicken until browned, about 5-7 minutes. remove the chicken from the pan & set aside.
  2. heat another 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan and add onions. cook 3-5 mins, stirring occasionally until onions soften & become translucent. stir in the garlic & ginger, cooking an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. reduce heat to medium low and add cooked chicken, broth, pumpkin puree, tomatoes, bell pepper, & dried cranberries to pan. stir to combine & taste for seasoning. adjust to your liking with additional salt, pepper, or curry if needed.
  4. allow curry to simmer until bell peppers & cranberries are soft and tender – approximately 20-30 minutes.
  5. we served the curry over rice & with a dollop of plain yogurt to cut the heat a little.

yield: 4 servings

gratitude, day 1.  ::  gratitude, day 2.  ::  gratitude, day 3.  ::  gratitude, day 4.  ::  gratitude, day 5.
gratitude, day 6.  ::  gratitude, day 7.  ::  gratitude, day 8.  ::  gratitude, day 9.  ::  gratitude, day 10.
gratitude, day 11. :: gratitude, day 12. :: gratitude, day 13. :: gratitude, day 14. :: gratitude, day 15.
gratitude, day 16. :: gratitude, day 17. :: gratitude, day 18. :: gratitude, day 19. :: gratitude, day 20.
gratitude, day 21. :: gratitude, day 22. :: gratitude, day 23. :: gratitude, day 24. :: gratitude, day 25.
gratitude, day 26. :: gratitude, day 27.