September, October…November. Where did October go? How did I miss an entire month of blogging?
The upside of my writing absence is that writing missed me. These past few weeks have made clear how important writing is to me, and that I *hopefully* won’t let more than 30 days go by without checking in here; and without checking in with myself. Life is never too busy to share thoughts, right?
It has been honestly unsettling at times, though also literally life-changing to have these months off at the end of the year – to reconnect with my family and friends, plan for the future, and rest. As a borderline “perfectionist” and very hard worker I am used to doing something all the time, whether working multiple jobs and internships during full-time school or working and studying part-time. I am still in a long and somewhat arduous interview process for jobs, though with much less pressure. At the same time I am working on publishing an article. A fin de cuentas, I don’t deny it ~ I needed these months of time off.
In the spirit of this category of posts, this thread is inspired by cooking and family. [For me] three very important things in Caribbean culture are faith, family, and food. I have the blessing now to spend time each week with my maternal grandmother; lots of time spent in the kitchen, a fall/winter walk here and there, and listening. Listening to her stories…the fondest memories that she has of her father. Very true to her country, Grama’s stories will often highlight food.
Earlier this week I made a riff on “Classic Tomato Soup” from The Kitchn. The tomatoes that I used were yellow tomatoes and red baby tomatoes from my family garden at home in Pennsylvania. I also decided to throw in some steamed and pureed carrots ( ~ “waste not, want not” ~). Grama reminisces of her father and how he would work in the fields. He was an expert cultivator and farmer. A phenomenal person; he enjoyed his coffee. Porridge of different kinds were important to breakfast, e.g. porridge made from mashed green (mild) or yellow (sweet) plantains. Gardening, cooking, recording family recipes, and enjoying food all help me feel closer to my heritage and to my family’s customs. I simply would not be me without this history.
So, in honor of my three essentials or personal takeaways to the heart of Caribbean life (faith, family, food), here is an improvised recipe for “Tomato & Carrot Soup.” It is a creative riff on Meghan Splawn’s recipe above from The Kitchn. Thanks, Meghan!
SERVINGS: 1-3 (double to serve more).
- 2-3 tbsps. unsalted butter (melted)
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 2-3 tbsps. finely minced garlic blended with cooking oil (olive, canola, vegetable)
- several pinches of salt to taste
- 1-2 tbsps flour to thicken
- three fresh, medium sized tomatoes (use baby tomatoes if you run out of bigger ones like I did!) -> Get them from your garden if you can 😉
- three large, organic orange carrots
- blend of seasonings/aromatic spices: cayenne, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, tarragon, turmeric.
USE medium/large sauce pot to sauté the onions and garlic/oil blend with the melted butter. Add a pinch of salt. Slowly add the flour while stirring until completely combined with the sautéed mixture. Set the pot aside, no heat. Wait to wash this pot until very end.
CHOP AND STEAM/BOIL: Carrots should be cut in small (1/2-inch) pieces for fast cooking. Place them in a pot of boiling water and boil for up to 20 minutes until very soft (but not mushy).
DICE AND BLEND fresh tomatoes with the onion and garlic/oil/flour blend from your original sauce pot. Use a large blender, approx. 40 oz. capacity. Puree the mixture until it reaches a smooth consistency based on preference.
DRAIN carrots once boiled, and leave about 1/2 cup of the carrot broth in the pot. Carefully add this to the blender (hot!) and puree combined tomato and carrots mixture until perfectly smooth. *If you have time, let the carrots cool before pureeing.
POUR combined mixture from the blender into your original sauce pot to reheat. Simmer under medium heat, 15 minutes. Add your choice of seasonings/aromatic spices or use; cayenne, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, tarragon, turmeric, pinch of salt to taste. Top with a bit of plain yogurt, or sprinkle some cheese over top for flavor and texture. I used feta. From my creative kitchen to yours ~ 🌞🌻