Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Karen was intrigued by this soup when she saw it in Family Circle magazine, and we all gave it a thumbs up after our maiden voyage.  You can find more information at, and while they garnish their version of the soup beautifully for their studio photo, we present here the ungarnished, photographed-in-the-dining-room, made-in-Illinois version.  As always, we made some modifications to the recipe, which are noted at the end of this post.  We found this soup to be very tasty, and unmistakably Thai, with just enough spicy heat to make your nose run.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 piece fresh ginger (1 to 2 inches), peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 can (14.5 ounces) coconut milk
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lime, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup sliced scallions
3 whole wheat pitas or flatbreads, halved

Heat oil in a large, lidded pot over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute.  Stir in curry paste and cook another minute.

Pour in coconut milk and chicken broth; stir well to break up the curry paste.  Add squash, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.  Cover partially and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth.  Stir in lime juice and salt.  Serve with peanuts, scallions, and bread.

Riggenbach alterations to the recipe: (1) Karen sauteed the onions in a dry pan without the olive oil; (2) she also omitted the lime juice, and (3) used a regular blender instead of an immersion blender for the puree step. (4) The peanuts and scallions are simply a garnish, so we omitted those, and (5) we substituted bread we had in the house for the pitas they list at the bottom of the ingredient list.

Thanks LauraLee for the motivation to try new recipes!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reformation Day Faire 2011

Although I didn't capture every aspect of our church's Reformation Day Faire with a photo, here's a sampling of the activities.  As you can see, we all enjoyed the beautiful, sunny, 70 degree weather this year, especially since we had our share of clouds and rain last year.

Greg Boyd was back again this year adding atmosphere with numerous tunes played on his bagpipe.

Knight Mathias and I spent several minutes contemplating all the ways one might slay a dragon.

Elder Price was busy sketching portraits again this year, and he seemed to never lack a subject.

 At the Town Square, the coloring table was popular with the young artist crowd.

Candle making was also as popular as ever in spite of the fact that there were two tables set up for this activity.

I'm not sure what Sarah Auer was trying to communicate at the bag sewing table, but Gretel assures me that that is simply the way Sarah communicates.

The chess and checker boards were as busy as ever, even though the elder Degenhart didn't compete this year.

Gretel and Hannah strolling the grounds in an attempt to have a private conversation.

A new caber made its appearance this year, and I happened to get a shot of the same dad I photographed last year.  His form is not as impressive in this photo as it was last year, but his kilt and matching socks are much more striking than his costume from last year.

Finally, a shot of Lily, Karen, and Tara amusing themselves during the Highland Games.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Basement bathroom project, part 2

The basement bathroom project has progressed enough that we are now using the facilities, and getting rather used to the addition to our home.  Instead of immediately showing you what the room looks like today, we can appreciate the progress by observing the stages through which the room has passed.

At this point the drywall was hung and finished, and the girls had covered it with white primer.

This view from the tub back to the door illustrates one of the challenges of this project.  The cabinet in the corner was too tall to get into the room after the drywall had been attached to the ceiling, so we had to move the cabinet in before the drywall went on, and work around it at every step of the way after that.  If anyone ever tries to remove that thing, they'll have to do a little bit of head scratching before they get it out!

After agonizing over dozens of paint chips, we committed to two bluish-greenish glazes sponged over a lighter shade of bluish-greenishness.

The view back to the south helps me confirm that the wall color coordinates well with the cabinet color.

This is the way the bathroom looks today.  An observant eye will notice several phases of the project not yet complete including mounting the shower head, and shower curtain and rod.

We're still looking for the right mirror to mount to the wall, and are making due in the meantime with the simple mirror shown.  The baseboard and door trim are also still undone, but their absence hasn't much stifled our enjoyment of this new room.

Finally, the part of the room that I find most enjoyable: the glass block window.  I derive great pleasure from natural light, and I think this room benefits greatly from the light that streams through this window.  Sometimes I stick my head in the room just to enjoy the ambiance.