The Christmas cookies, decadent leftovers, and frozen weather are gone. The tree, decorations and outside lights are back in their storage bins for another year at both the tasting room and home. As people recover from their holiday splurges they are staying away from the wineries; there is a chilly, quiet peace here in Walla Walla.
I had quite a hankering this week to get into the kitchen to cook!. It is time for hearty, satisfying meals. Some of my homemade broth was thawed as a base for squash soup. I love having a variety of soups during the cold months and try to make enough extra to freeze for a second meal. What is your favorite soup?
My latest grocery shopping was weighted heavily with winter squashes, beets, and any number of colorful vegetables. Since time was a ready commodity Monday and Tuesday we grated one butternut squash (the time consuming part) and I steamed the others. You know the grated zucchini patties of the summer? Well, we enjoyed grated butternut squash patties with quinoa and broccoli sides. I’m not a fan of the sweet squash recipes, my preferred seasoning is garlic powder, thyme, sage, and pepper (salt is added individually at the table). No leftovers that night! The steamed squash was made into ‘burgers’ and soup (recipe below). Each squash has a different flavor, you can stick with your favorite one or mix and match. Pumpkin, the tiny ones I grew last summer were so yummy, is in this category too, so plan ahead next Fall.
Hubby and I have decided to abstain from alcohol during the week, so no actual wine pairing to tell you about. Weekends and social occasions we truly enjoy our choice of beverage though and it makes every weekend a special occasion.
To compensate, I drink more tea along with the water I always drink, although if you know how much tea I drink you would roll your eyes at that. We finished enough of the loose teas in the cupboard to allow me to open a couple of the teas we brought back from Germany with us. (Oh, yes!) For the last eight years Hubby has gone over for business and purchased tea for me. This year I was able to go with him to the shop in Bremen’s train station: Tee Handelskontor. It was delightful to wander through the small shop and experience first hand the sights and smells, and taste a few of the available teas. My experience with the hotels in Germany showed how common tea consumption is there. The loose and bagged tea options, the extensive tea service in a prominent place within the buffet and the number of people drinking tea every morning made me feel right at home. There is coffee too, but not self serve. We ventured into a couple of other tea shops along our journey, but this is the one I wanted to ‘see’. Over the last few years my darling hubby has grown to love tea as much as the coffee he consumes; I am not a fan as coffee always gives me a headache. (Another time I hope to tell you about my conversation with an acquaintance that roasts his own coffee.) A good friend isn’t into hot beverages; she relies on particular sodas as her go-to. What say you: coffee or tea or something else?
Winter Squash Soup
3 cups steamed, mashed meat of your favorite winter squash (or a combination of them)
3 cups homemade (or low-sodium stock)
1 cup chopped celery
1 small onion finely chopped; sauce’ in butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, powdered sage, thyme
to taste pepper
*you can add crispy bacon or diced pieces of meat should you desire
Combine all in a crock or stock pot and cook on low for a couple of hours until combined and smelling wonderful. Salt and pepper to taste as served. I typically enjoy Barbera or a lighter red blend with this soup.