My evenings have started to take on a lovely pattern, recently. I step into my kitchen, and put on some music to cook too. Just a small thing, but it makes me happy. It is very unusual for me to be home after Carl - normally I have enough time to get home, throw open all the windows and cook dinner, with him arriving just before it is ready.
We have a little ipod dock in the kitchen, (technology!) and I have been stirring, chopping, simmering and baking to Peggy Lee and Etta James. The kitchen is filled with 'At Last' 'I'd Rather Go Blind' 'I Was Almost Persuaded' and my current favourite, 'I'm A Woman'. I find myself cooking in time to the music and humming along. I love cooking, but sometimes after a long day at work, and when it is an 'everyday' meal my enthusiasm can be a little dulled, and I have found this a great way to perk it all up a bit.
Last night I created another soup recipe - this time for Curried Cauliflower and Lentil Soup. I had bought a cauliflower to use in Monday's Thai Green Curry, but somehow forgot to put it in! So I decided to use it tonight instead. I started this, as I do so many of my soups, by throwing a chopped onion in a pan to soften while the kettle boiled. This time though, I saved about a quarter of the onion back, slicing it into half moons rather than chopping it, and threw it into a small pan on a low heat to caramelize. Then I took my cauliflower and grated it into the pan. Be warned, it is a messy job, and cauliflower seemed to scatter itself quite far and wide - but I didn't want to blend this soup, I wanted it to have texture, and grating seemed the perfect way to go. To the grated cauliflower and onion I added hot water from the kettle and a vegetable stock cube, a shake of cumin, a couple of teaspoons of mild curry powder, and a pinch of dried chillies for oomph. Then I stirred into the caramelizing onions a whisper of cumin and a tiny pinch of dried chillies, and stirred them round, turned the heat down low, and left them to infuse. While the soup bubbled away merrily, I rummaged in the cupboard for the dried red lentils, and put in about a handful. I then remembered the half a butternut squash I had, and decided to use that too. I microwaved it until soft, then threw it in the blender with several ladles of the soup, and whizzed until thick, smooth, and glossy. I tipped that into the soup and stirred it in - immediately the soup became thicker, and it seemed to bring it all together, somehow. I served the soup with a spoonful of the crispy spicy onions on top, which I think worked well. I will be thinking more about things to sprinkle on top/stir into our Wednesday evening soups in future! Annastasia brought with her the most amazing wholemeal seeded loaf - the seeds were in the crumb as well as the crust of the bread, and it had real bite to it - bliss.
I really do love Wednesday evenings - a pot of tea with a dear friend, sharing the soup, going to dance class, and coming home feeling good.