Over two months later and I am finally posting. I won’t fib and tell you that I have been working constantly. In fact, I spent the entire month of August in Italy, enjoying the company of a certain lounge chair next to the pool as the cypress trees tattered the blue blanketing sky overhead. I couldn’t really have been expected to write a blog post amidst such restful recuperation. Right?
Now, I don’t know how this happened, but Autumn is here. All this talk of looking forward to the warmth of the summer, and in a blink of an eye, the air has begun to chill. That’s Montreal for you!
Now, I’m an autumnal girl, myself. Mont Royal, Montreal’s own little mountain stumped right in the middle of the city, is beginning to change in color. Still grasping at its green, it won’t be for a few weeks more until it begins to glow yellow – a thick, vegetated torch looming above the tallest of the town’s concrete towers. This time of year, the mountain is filled with all sorts of folk: joggers and yoga teams, tourist families, dreaming photographers and university students who are wonderfully up to no good.
Autumn foods are some of the most comforting and colorful meals you’ll ever eat. I am currently fixated on the pumpkin. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ravioli, even pumpkin bubble bath – I simply want to surround myself with this beautiful orange orb. If I keep myself together, I hope to post several pumpkin delights to my blog.
In fact, I love pumpkin soup so much that I have the desire to post more than one pumpkin soup recipe (!) I don’t know the “rules” of the cooking blogosphere, but I proclaim right here and now: Damn the rules that say it’s taboo to post 50 different pumpkin soup recipes! I am on a pumpkin quest, and am determined to give these North American gourds the proper homage they deserve. Who’s with me?
Now, for a music review.
So, anyone who knows me understands my reverence for Miss Joanna Newsom. My friends and I often dream up scenarios of living with her in a wood cabin in the forest, lying out in grass strewn with fairy dust and yellow flowers as she plucks us sweet tunes on her pedal harp. This sentence but skims the surface of our respect for this unusual songstress.
When I first began to listen in earnest to Newsom’s work, I, like most, had to gently and tentatively slide into the tub of her music – by this, I’m referring to her voice. Unlike her previous albums, notably Ys, she has tamed her vocals quite a bit in this album, but often you will hear the jarring (but wonderfully so) highs of her voice, which Newsom has meticulously constructed. Her work may not be your thing, but any with a true appreciation for the complexity of music can recognize the woman’s skill.
If I go on too long about this album, it is simply because there is an immense amount to say. Each song is a complex story, portrayed through earnest imagery and often with the accompaniment of a full orchestra.
Joanna alone with harp in “’81“
Joanna with brass in “You And Me, Bess“
Joanna with piano in “Soft As Chalk“
And finally, the longest song on the album, and holding the title for the album, Joanna with a culminating orchestra in “Have One On Me“.
Curried Pumpkin Soup
One 2-3 pound pumpkin
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, halved
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon yellow curry paste
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon paprika
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Wipe the outside of the pumpkin clean. Lop the stem cap off in a polygon pattern (as if you were going to carve the pumpkin). Cut the pumpkin in half, slicing parallel to the pumpkin’s grooves. Scoop out the innards and reserve. Cut the halves once more (again parallel) so that you have four slices. Put the slices on a baking sheet and brush generously with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the flesh is tender. Remove and let sit until cool enough to handle.
Take the reserved innards, pick out the pumpkin seeds, and place them in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix, then spread evenly along a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake these at 325°F for 20-25 minutes, flipping over halfway through (feel free to add more oil if the seeds become too dry). Use later for garnish.
In a stockpot with olive oil, sauté onion and garlic over medium-low heat until the onion has sweated and is translucent, about 10 minutes. Reserve a quarter cup of the vegetable broth, add the rest to the onion mixture, along with the ginger and the bay leaf. Scoop out pumpkin flesh and add to the pot.
In a small bowl, add reserved broth, curry paste, cumin, coriander, nutmeg and paprika. Stir until smooth, and then add to the pot and stir the mixture. This step ensures that the spices and curry paste are added uniformly to the soup.
Bring the covered pot to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and purée the soup until smooth. Pour back into the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the soup has thickened – watch out, it may splatter. Add cream. Pour into warm bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of olive oil, and some lightly fried matchstick potato slices.