Today was going to be a return to campus, a literary magazine meeting, and an end-of-the-year party for the MFAs. But someone's cold has descended upon me, giving rise to mucus I would prefer not to share (or give witness to the long drive to the cities and back). Instead, I choose to hibernate, but also to consider the art of being home: preparing packages for the mail, writing up holiday cards, baking bread, cleaning off the table of book stacks, finishing novels (reading, not writing, of coursre), boiling cloves on the stove.
The photo above is from my daily to-campus drive: these are the cornfields of Minnesota, now covered in white, and the winter sky in Minnesota. I wanted to share what I'd mentioned before, the way the horizon sometimes has no clear line, a bit like the ocean. Endless gray-white.
I also think I will make that butternut squash bisque. Here is the recipe:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more for garnish (optional)
- Coarse salt
- 1 large butternut squash (about 4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Sour cream, for serving
- In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add onion, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and cayenne. Season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add squash, broth, half-and-half, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree in a blender until smooth. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt. Serve bisque with sour cream, garnished with cayenne, if desired.
- To Freeze: Ladle cooled bisque (without sour cream) into airtight containers, leaving 1 inch of space; freeze up to 3 months.
- To Reheat: Run container under hot water to release bisque. Heat with a bit of water, stirring occasionally.
Also, since it's been a while, I thought I'd give you a "currently" list:
- Listening: Just finished a mediocre Maeve Bincy novel on my drive to and from campus. Now that I'm home for a month, I don't need a book on CD, so I'll listen to The Current on my shorter adventures. I also finally heard Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. I had been feeling a little disappointed after reading the distant The Audacity of Hope, but listening, I see what a wonderous speaker he is. I got tingly.
- Listening, at home: Gatsby pressed up against my hand as I type this, his purr dominating all other sound. That, and boiling water on the stove, the hiss of scented steam rising above it.
- Reading: I'm just finishing up When the Elephants Dance, a novel about the Japanese occupation of the Phillipines during World War II. It shifts points-of-view and there are stories within stories, giving us a richer sense of the culture of the Phillipines.
- Watching: Just started The Wire. Two more discs came from Netflix today, so I'll delve deeper into the first season this weekend.
- Also, have you seen this YouTube video? I'm impressed with the technology and amused with the subject:
I hope you are all staying warm this Thursday. I no longer have that night class I taught, so I turn instead to grading final portfolios, hoping to submit grades by the end of the weekend. I'd like to have a clean break from the semester and face all the other procrastinations hidden beneath the surface of things.