Friday, October 28, 2011

Roasted Carrot Soup

I've been absent for so long! Alice is doing well in our house, though at times she has more energy than she knows what to do with. I continue to enjoy my job, and it keeps me very busy! I just spent three days in Yakima for AmeriCorps SERVES, the annual conference for AmeriCorps members to get essential training and network with eachother. I won't have a work-free weekend until November 19, and hopefully I'll be able to take full advantage of finally having two consecutive days off!

I spent some real time in the kitchen tonight, for the first time in what seems like months. Until just recently I had a huge dislike for soup--couldn't handle the texture. I'm not sure what caused a change, but now I'm all about soup! Frozen french onion soup from Safeway has been our go-to Friday night dinner for a few weeks now, and it got me thinking. I had a bit more energy than normal after work today so set to making the roasted carrot soup that I'd been thinking about.

Turning a few simple ingredients into a fantastic soup does take a little bit of time, but it was definitely worth it!

Roasted Carrot Soup-Ingredients:
2 pounds carrots cut into pieces for roasting
1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
3 cloves garlic
olive oil as needed to coat vegetables
4 cups vegetable stock

And here's how to!
Preheat oven to 450. Toss the carrots and onion with olive oil, then spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on garlic cloves (leave the peel on!), wrap in aluminum foil, and put on top rack in warm oven.

Roast vegetables for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Stir once or twice to make sure roasting is even. The garlic cloves will probably finish much sooner, so keep an eye on them and remove the foil packet when they're done. 

After removing vegetables from the oven, put in a sauce pot on the stove. Squeeze garlic from peels into the onion carrot mixture. Add enough vegetable broth to cover the vegetables--I used about 3 cups.

Bring vegetables to a simmer and make sure the carrots are nice and tender! When the carrots are sufficiently cooked transfer the vegetable mixture to a blender. Do this in small batches so your blender isn't more than half full at a time. Add more vegetable broth as needed to make sure that carrots can move in the blender. I added at least an additional cup during the blending process.

When completely blended the soup can be transferred back to a saucepan to re heat, but I went straight to serving alongside my oven-fresh bread.

I was very impressed by how creamy this soup was, even though it contains no dairy! It has a great mouth feel, and I highly recommend you make this roasted carrot soup!

The bread I whipped up was pretty easy--
2 cups very warm water
1 packet yeast
2 Tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3-4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 425 and place an oven-safe dish in the bottom of the oven.
Mix the water, sugar, and yeast and let proof for 10 minutes.
Stir in salt.
Mix in flour. I had a very soupy dough, so probably used more than 4 cups of flour. Add until your dough is smooth and not sticky then knead until elastic.
Next, cut the dough ball into 4 sections. Roll each into a rope (mine were 12 inches long, you could go longer). Twist two ropes together to make a loaf. Do the same with the final 2 ropes.
Now you can put straight in the oven, or let rise for another 15 minutes.
At the same time you put the bread in the oven, pour 2 cups of water in the dish in the bottom of the oven.
Bake 15-18 minutes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Introducing Alice!

What has four petite little paws, a curly tail that wags like crazy, cute little tan eyebrow spots, a love for walks, and what seems to be a complete inability to sit still for photos? Alice!!!

I spent a lot of time this summer prowling the internet for dogs, even meeting a few prospects. On Saturday, September 24, Mom, Mel and I drove to the Kitsap County Humane Society to look at some dachshunds that were up for adoption, thinking we would stick with our current breed. Well, they were cute, but walking through the kennels a little dog sleeping on her bed at the back of the kennel caught my eye. She was curled up on the bed, not showing much interest in the people or dogs walking by, but when she looked at me she stole my heart. I bent down to get on her level, and she slowly got out of bed and walked to the front of the kennel. She looked fearful--slinking over, tail and head low. A few treats helped to bring her out of her shell, and I was sure I needed to meet this dog. Unfortunately, she was on a stray hold until Sunday the 25th, so she couldn't be taken out of the kennel and introduced to us on Saturday. 

Saturday night saw a lot of thought, and I emailed the humane society to ask for more information about the dog in kennel 45, going by the name of Albion. They couldn't tell me much, since she'd come in as a stray, but the main fact that was communicated was that she would not be spayed until someone wanted to adopt her, so my hopes of waiting to drive back to Silverdale after she was spayed were dashed. After church on Sunday Mom and I drove back to the humane society. Silverdale is no short journey! It takes at least an hour and a half to get there, so this dog hunt took up most of my weekend!

With the stray hold off one of the humane society counselors brought Alice into an outdoor run to meet us. There was never any doubt in my mind that she would be my dog. She showed interest in people and happily rolled over on her back for Mom to rub her belly--more personality than other dogs we'd me there!
Once I had committed to adopting her they were able to schedule her spay, but that meant she couldn't come home on Sunday. Monday (Sept. 26) morning I got a call from the shelter that she was out of surgery and would be ready to go by 2, so guess where I was Monday afternoon! Mel and I hopped in the car and headed, for the third time, to Silverdale.

Alice was still coming out of the surgery anesthesia and we had to carry her out to the car. She rode on Mel's lap the whole way home. Because the weather was so bad on Monday and we didn't want to sit in traffic through Tacoma, we elected to take the ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle, so Alice got quite a few new experiences at once. And she handled it great!

She and Sammy (our other dog) are getting along relatively well. While she tends to ignore him, he barks a lot when she approaches any of his people or his space (he doesn't share too well). In just the past few days Alice has figured out how to play with Sammy, so they're getting along better and better.

Alice weighs about 25 pounds and is estimated to be 7 months old. She was found as a stray somewhere in the Tri Cities in Eastern Washington, and for some reason was transferred to the Kitsap Humane Society, in far Western Washington. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I found her! She's such a mixed breed that the shelter wouldn't even try to identify what she is; her paperwork says "shelter mix," though best guess places her as some sort of beagle miniature pinscher mix. She was obviously loved by someone before, as she knows very well that she should be able to hop into our beds, and she settled very quickly into her own dog bed. She's a fast learner--we've already got sit down pretty well, and it only took one lesson for her to figure out the heel command. So far I haven't heard her bark, which is just fine with me!