Thursday, October 23, 2008

Soup Du Jour

I love soups. They are healthy, easy to make, and perfect for cold weather. Also, soup is cheap to make, and you can use almost anything you have as inspiration.

I made a delicious pumpkin soup last night for dinner--it was cold and rainy and I wanted something comforting--and thought I'd share the recipe. We had baked a pumpkin, so I had some leftover pulp, and I wanted to make it the base for a soup*. It's very rough since I made it up based on what I had in the house, so definitely tweak flavors and ingredients where you so desire!

Curried pumpkin soup

Saute an onion (chopped), one celery stalk (chopped), and some garlic in a little olive oil until the onion and celery are beginning to brown and smell really good. Add pumpkin pulp (maybe about 2 cups or so?) and a heaping tbsp of curry powder. After a minute or two, add one can of coconut milk + one can of water. (I also added maybe 3 cups of vegetable stock or so). Use an immersion blender and puree mixture until smooth. This is the pumpkin soup base. Add salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and other seasonings to taste.

After pureeing the base, I added 3 small potatoes, finely diced (you can leave the skins on!), 1/3 cup dried lentils, and 2 carrots, finely diced. Cook everything over low heat until vegetables and lentils are done.

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, or skip the yogurt to keep it vegan (personally, I like the tang of the yogurt with the deep spicy flavor of the curried soup). It was great for a cold and rainy day! Also, it's even tastier the next day--I really enjoyed it for lunch.

Do you all have some good soup recipes?

*I'm guessing not every household has leftover roast pumpkin lying around, so possibly--though I highly discourage it--it might be okay to substitute one can of pumpkin. The flavors won't be quite as good, though. Just go buy a small pumpkin, cut into quarters, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, coat lightly in oil, and roast in the oven until tender (at 375 degrees or so). Then you can puree it (the leftovers) and bake a pie or make some pumpkin muffins or something.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Verbing Nouns

English can be a strange language. Words that begin their lives as nouns can swiftly transform to verbs, and verbs suddenly are nouns. That's a fine thing for a language, since change means that it'll stick around a bit longer.

What I hate, however, is the use of nouns as verbs that doesn't quite work. Or the use of an intransitive verb--such as "grow" or "progress"-- as a transitive verb.

For those of you scratching your heads about my grammar terminology, an intransitive verb is one that does not take an object: "sleep" in the sentence "The cat sleeps on the bed" is an intransitive verb. "Scratch" in the sentence "The cat scratches the sleeping human" is a transitive verb, with "the sleeping human" being the object of the action. Saying "The mother sleeps the baby" doesn't make much sense, and "The cat sratches" elicits the question, "whom or what does the cat scratch?"

Words like "progress" and "grow" are intransitive. A plant grows. Time progresses. These verbs do not need objects. Yet in the debate last Thursday, Palin wrangled both of those intransitive verbs into transitive positions, and those sentences were a little puzzling. Maureen Dowd looked at Palin's word use in her recent op-ed column. I cheered a little when I encountered this paragraph:
She dangles gerunds, mangles prepositions, randomly exiles nouns and verbs and also — “also” is her favorite vamping word — uses verbs better left as nouns, as in, “If Americans so bless us and privilege us with the opportunity of serving them,” or how she tried to “progress the agenda.”
This is not me being picky about language; this is about using language in confusing and (perhaps purposely) incorrect ways. Palin is playing the language game, where by adopting a down-home feel of someone who is slightly clumsy with language, she can attempt to further shore up her claim that she stands for Main Street America. Examining language like this is important so that we can look past the appearance and find what's going on underneath.