A Fall Pumpkin Soup Recipe From Our Home To Yours

A guest chef does my blog today.  But first a quick introduction.

Today was the final outdoor Dane County Farmers’ Market of the season.  Sunshine galore, but chilly winds made me think of hot soup. 

It is that time of year when hearty foods again appear so tantalizing as the seasons change.   One recipe that continues to provide fantastic aromas in the kitchen, plenty of carbs for energy, and loads of flavor when freshly made or placed in the freezer, is the soup that James makes many times every year. Give it a try…..you will be in love.

Now lets head to the kitchen.


Savory Pumpkin Soup
From the Kitchen of James

I visited Naples, Italy in 1996 and came home ready to recreate several of the dishes that I had tasted there.  This is a hearty Italian soup that is great for any time of year.  It is full of vitamins and minerals, great for building healthy hearts and bones-pumpkin is low calorie, excellent source of beta-carotene and zinc for a healthy immune system and youthful glow.  It only takes about an hour (maybe ninety minutes) to make, roughly 30 minutes on each of two days.  This soup is well-worth the effort!

Going Shopping:

*2 pounds Mild Italian Sausage meat:  (You can buy it in the casing as links or without the casing these days.  Often, the meat in casings is ground more finely and tends to be more tender in the soup, but you do have to cut the casing and remove the meat first, adding an extra step.  To be honest, I generally avoid the step and buy the meat without the casing-just let it gently simmer instead of boiling and it will be just fine!)

*3 large Apples:  Select a nice apple that holds its texture after cooking.  I like a nice Granny Smith apple, but a Gala, Braeburn, or Cortland would also be nice.  A Macintosh will fall apart and is not the most flavorful.

*2 quarts Soup Stock:  You can buy in cans now a vegetable stock or chicken stock which are very good.  Some versions are even low sodium (good for the heart healthy).  Or, you can cheat and use a couple of bouillon cubes of your choice.

Preparation Day One:
Soup Base Ingredients:
2 pounds Mild Italian Sausage Meat
2 Quarts soup stock

*Warm the 2 quarts of soup stock over medium high heat.
*Add to the stock as it heats, the mild Italian sausage meat bit by bit (taking the raw meat, chunk it up in little bite sized pieces by hand, dropping the pieces in the water as you go; this will prevent it from sticking together and making a patty at the bottom).
*Stir occasionally; simmer gently and avoid a rolling boil, which will just make the meat tough, for about 15 minutes (start timing after the last chunk of meat is in the water) or until the meat is cooked thoroughly.
*Let cool in the refrigerator over night.  

Preparation Day Two:
Remaining Ingredients:
2 large or 3 medium Apples, peeled, cored, chopped
3 large Carrots, chopped
2 stalks Celery, chopped finely (even better with some celery leaves)
1 pie-sized Pumpkin
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

*Begin by removing the meat and soup stock combination from the refrigerator.  With a spoon, scoop out the layer of rendered pork fat that has congealed on the top.  You will be left with the start to a great soup and there will be very little saturated fat in it.
*Reheat in stock pot over medium high heat this soup base.
*Peel, core and chop the apples; peel carrots and chop; wash and chop celery stalks.  Add to soup base.
*Cut open pumpkin; remove seeds (can be toasted in oven by themselves for yummy snack); peel pumpkin and cut into small bite-sized bits.  Add to soup base.
*Add water if necessary-soup should be liquid, and not so thick as a stew.
*Simmer for about 15 minutes or until carrots and pumpkin pieces are no longer hard-the pumpkin will fall apart a bit when pricked with a fork, while the carrots will remain more consistent.
*Add salt and pepper to taste; garnish with some freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro.
*Serve piping hot and enjoy!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Classic Car Show Coming To State Street For Saturday’s Farmers Market

Cars On State is just plain fun.  You do not need to be a ‘car buff’ to enjoy this free event.  Over 100 classic cars will be lined up and down State Street.  Last year was the first time that we took time to look at the show, and talk with a few of the proud owners.  It was fantastic! 

This years event will run from 10:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M., and I am sure the splash of colors and old styles will make you yearn for these models to again be for sale at the local dealerships.  So get your donuts from the market, a cup of java, and meander down State Street.

Bring your camera to share some pics with an older person that may not be able to attend, but who will still enjoy seeing a classic car from the past.  If your dad is like mine he can recite every car he owned, where he bought it, what he paid for it, and if it used a lot of oil or not, and what trips he took with it.  These types of shows bring back fond memories for many.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,  

Book Mooch A Great Place For Readers and Book Lovers

If you are a book lover and enjoy searching for and finding that hard to locate gem of a read then Book Mooch might be the place for you.

With Book Mooch you can list the books you want to get rid of for free, and conversely you can also get books for free. The only catch is initially you have to list 10 books to even “mooch” a book, but  once you get going and accumulate points you can get a few books at a time.

  • Give & receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish.  
  • No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others.  
  • Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every three you receive.
  • Technorati Tags: ,

    Vinyl LP Recordings Coming Back! Elvis Costello Ignores CD Format (And Where To Buy Vinyl)

    The trend by some recording artists to use vinyl again is wonderful for folks like myself who have long known that the warm rounded sound that is found on an LP never has existed on a CD.  One understands there is a big difference in sound if you grew up in the vinyl era like I did.  While I love change in the tech world, I also admit to having very warm and sentimental feelings about things such as the ‘pop’ on an LP.   The vast majority of music I listen to at our home is on albums.  (James being 10 years younger listens more to CD’s)  Now over the past many months I have become more aware that I am not alone in my thinking.  (Regardless of what James thinks.) (Smile)

    I heard the news this past Christmas that makers of record players were having a grand season with sales as more music lovers aged 18-35 were buying the machines to play vinyl on.  Now there is news that Elvis Costello will ignore the CD format and record his newest album since 2004 on vinyl.   While small name bands have done the same thing for years, Costello is a powerhouse performer who is making a clear statement.

    Costello has a unique marketing plan for his new release. Costello’s nontraditional release strategy for Momofuku. At least at first, it will come out only on vinyl, with a digital download code inside the package.

    I recall with fondness browsing among albums as a teenager on Saturday afternoons in Stevens Point.  From the music store on Main Street (Graham’s?) to Woolworths there was something special about looking at albums.  The colorful covers and liner notes were easy to read and just pure fun.  Buying vinyl today is more difficult, but not impossible with sites such as LPNow.com.      I heard Barry Mayer, owner of the site, interviewed last night and his love for vinyl is genuine.  He has an amazing selection! Even the real Elvis!  (Smile)

    Technorati Tags: , , , ,  

    “Good Morning Baltimore” From Hairspray

    We all get a tune that gets stuck in our head and will not stop repeating.  Last year when I first saw “Hairspray” I was very taken by the great writing of the songs, solid singing, and magnificent dancing in each of the musical numbers. I recall reading about the play in the early 1980’s while it played in New York,  a campier version of the movie.  The review some 20-plus years ago made me really want to see it.  A couple decades later were well worth the wait.  It was a splendid film, and one that makes movie-going a pure pleasure.  Who did not fall in love with the style and charm of Nikki Blonsky?  So last week we watched the DVD of the film at home, and the music just will not stop playing in my head.  Getting a copy of the soundtrack is now only feeding the endless loop in my brain.  So while the world has many issues I could write about…….all I can think of is “Good Morning Baltimore”!

    Technorati Tags: , , ,



    Walking Out Of The Theatre Due To “No Country For Old Men”

    I love good films.  To sit back in a dark theater and eat up the dialogue and visual images that are created for enjoyment and entertainment by filmmakers has long been a favorite of mine.   I enjoy films that are textured and rich with evolving characters that draw me into the plot. The types of films that grab me are those that resemble “The English Patient”,  “Hairspray”, and “The Last King Of Scotland”.  Mindless and sophomoric films that are generated for teenagers and some young adults bore me silly.

    And violence that seems to be the driving force for a film makes me leave a theatre.

    I have never been so disappointed by the critical acclaim for any film as I was for the one voted Best Picture at the 80th Academy Awards several weeks ago.  “No Country For Old Men” has some wonderful visual and cinematic aspects that made it at times very enjoyable.  The large Texas scenery and low toned conversations made for a very interesting feel to the film.  But the violence that started and never seemed to end, and feeling most times to exist only to ‘shock and bleed’ proved too much for my sensibilities. 

    At about an hour into the film I turned to James in the theatre, and was amused that he was about to ask the same question I was going to pose to him.  “Should we just leave the theatre?’  It was interesting that my thoughts were echoed as we walked to the car and discussed the movie.

    While the Coen brothers are highly rated in our home for “Fargo”, the amount of anger and senseless violence in “No Country For Old Men” made for a most unpleasant movie experience.  While I want films to provoke and be edgy on the one hand, I do not want my intelligence insulted with the use of the basest ways to make a film only to insure a full house of ticket buyers.  Dead and bloating bodies of humans and animals with flies swarming around…..and I am supposed to pay for this sight?!  Senseless and ruthless killings one after the other, and I should praise Hollywood for making such a ‘fine’ film?

    I am sure many will say I just did not ‘understand’ the film.  Clearly I did not.  And I am OK with that.

    This experience proves again why foreign films are a better choice.

    Technorati Tags: , , , ,

    Traveler IQ Challenge Perfect For News Junkies And Geography Buffs

    This is for news junkies who love foreign news reports and exotic locations, and geography buffs who love a bit of fun and a challenge.  If you think you can not become addicted to a computer game…think again!  I heard about this site on late night radio as the hosts of the show played it on air, while describing it to their listeners.  And I was surprised to discover how many people did not have a geography class while in school!

    This is just a great site.

    Give Traveler IQ Challenge a try.

    Technorati Tags: ,

    Sad Note For Train Buffs And Great Circus Parade Fans

    Your Blogger With The Famed Train In Madison in 2001


    This is sad.  While the Milwaukee parade is slated for this summer, the Great Circus Train will run no more. Every kid (regardless of age) should be able to experience the joy of the circus train rumbling along the tracks.

    The parade, in past years, was always preceded by the circus train meandering through southern Wisconsin, including Madison, a week before the big day. The journeys began at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, where the equipment has a permanent home, and ended with the parade and a display of the circus wagons on Milwaukee’s lakefront.

    Circus World Executive Director Steve Freese told The Capital Times today that the train would not be assembled next year to haul the wagons and equipment to Milwaukee because the flatbed train cars used to haul the 60 circus wagons and other equipment are too old and not up to modern safety standards to be permitted on railroad tracks anymore.

    The circus wagons will instead by hauled by flatbed trucks, eight at a time, starting July 1, 2009. It has not been determined if there will be a designated route for the flatbed trucks to take so circus fans can see the colorful wagons roll by.

    “The train is not possible,” Freese said. “The rail cars are so old they would need to be updated. Even our newest flatbed train cars are over 20 years old. It would cost at least $1 million to get new cars.”

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,