Second Soup: Roasted Eggplant and Tomato

Roasted Eggplant And Tomato Soup

And we’re back for another episode of Try That Soup Recipe!

This week’s iteration is Smitten Kitchen’s Roasted Eggplant Soup. I actually managed to produce some eggplant in my own garden (or at least, on my balcony) this year, and I needed to use them up – voila, eggplant soup recipe! I call this Eggplant Tomato because the tomato flavour is pretty strong, but it’s also very garlicky and eggplanty and oniony, all with that richer flavour you get from roasting.

Anyway, onward!

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Zucchini Garlic Soup: First Soup of Many

Zucchini Garlic Soup

Guys, I have a lot of zucchini this year. A lot at lot. An absurd number. Solution: ONE MILLION POTS OF SOUP.

Okay, four. And then I will can them!

I used this recipe. And took pictures, since apparently I can’t help myself.

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I LIVE.

More or less.

So, some things that have changed since I last was posting regularly:

1. I finished school! Actually in May of 2011. But whatever! School! Done! Forever! Unless I someday lose my mind entirely and go back for a Masters.

2. I AM EMPLOYED! And I even like my job! And am surrounded by co-workers almost as strange as myself! IT’S A MIRACLE! Or so I am comfortable pronouncing it after seven months of un/under-employment. (Dear Bog, let me never work retail again, Amen.)

3. My mother turned 60, and I got to participate in an actual, successful, real-life, 30-person surprise party (organized by my little sister). Mum doesn’t look 60, so obviously I am going to age well! Huzzah!

But seriously, my mum. She is a bad-ass.

Mum's 60th Birthday

3. My baby sister got a degree!

4. My best friend graduated from university, also with a degree! (And got a job the day she graduated! With no long disheartening months of unemployment! I’m only a little bitter!)

5. Climate change is real, kids. Our weather has been bizarre and frustrating, or at least my garden thinks so.

6. Speaking of which, I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY GROWN EGGPLANTS!

7. Vancouver Pride happened! And I took six million pictures.

Okay, no, I exaggerate. But only a little.

This one is probably my favourite, though it was not a part of the parade:

Vancouver Pride 2012

It was 29 degrees on parade day, during which we walked, um, way too far, in the sun, to get back to transit, and then I came home and immediately fell asleep for three hours. Sunlight is exhausting, guys. (Especially if you, like me, are translucent.)

8. In July, I went to San Diego Comic-Con, which is like Geek Mecca, for the first time since 2008. It was as transcendentally amazing as I remembered, and approximately 37% more crowded. Many things happened, and there were a lot of Feelings (The Firefly Reunion panel where everyone cried! I saw 12.5 minutes of The Hobbit!), but the important thing is that I was physically present when this happened:

…yeah. RIGHT?

There are other things I could list, but that would make this post 100% lists, which is dull.

I have some further projects in the works, both of them YouTube creations of some variety. One is extraordinarily nerdy and, like everything else I do these days, taps into my unending fount of flail and squee over The Avengers. The other is an original project that… still involves geekery, but more in the abstract. More on that in future posts.

P.S. Writing dialogue that is supposed to not sound like written dialogue IS REALLY HARD, guys.

 

SOPA and PIPA: are you paying attention? Because you should be.

You may have noticed that as of a couple of hours ago, Bookslingers has gone dark in support of the anti-SOPA Internet strike being led by Wikipedia, Reddit, and other sites.

If you haven’t, then you should click here to read about it. Because it’s important.

From Bookslingers:

In solidarity with Reddit, Wikipedia and other sites, this site is blacked out today (January 18th, 2012) in protest against SOPA and PROTECT IP (PIPA) laws currently under discussion in the United States.

While we, the Bookslingers, are thoroughly Canadian, we host our site on American servers. SOPA and PIPA present a clear and present danger not only to American free speech, but to free expression and open access to the Internet for anyone who hosts content, registers a domain, or indeed uses any online service that is located or administered in the United States of America.

Any site whose content might be challenged as a violation of anyone’s copyright; even if the content is being used legally, within the boundaries of fair use. And the same forces behind SOPA and PIPA have been exerting pressure in Canada; the objectionable digital locks provisions in the proposed Canadian Bill C-11 are there largely due to American pressures.

So if you were wondering if this has anything to do with you, when you’ve probably never even considered violating anyone’s copyright: the answer is a resounding YES.

If you’re an American, please, please contact your congressional representative and tell them to vote ‘No’ on this law.

If you’re a Canadian, this is a good time to write to your Member of Parliament to register your objection to digital lock rules in Bill C-11.

If you’d like to learn more, this article by Michael Geist is a good place to start.

Sometimes procrastination is delicious

Okay. First: I’m not dead!

Second: Today was gardening day!

Well. Today was largely Reading on the Couch in My Pyjamas Because I’m Still Unemployed Day as well as Eating Ice Cream And Feeling Sorry for Myself Day, but apparently you’re supposed to focus on the positive stuff or something, so instead I will share with you my gardening exploits.

Also, the book I was reading: The Queen of Attolia. I don’t want to spoil anybody, but some pretty bad stuff happens in that book, to the extent that I put it down for five months and didn’t pick it up again until my friend Chantelle assured me it turns out all right. So, y’know. Things could be worse.

Garden in the rain

I went to the garden! It’s been raining for two days, because a) this is Vancouver and b) apparently we’re experiencing some kind of rather worrying climatic buggery right now that might have far-reaching repercussions, BUT WE’RE FOCUSING ON THE POSITIVE, RIGHT. I don’t mind rain. I rather like it. And my garden is mostly under cover of the SkyTrain bridge, so I don’t even get wet while mucking about in it despite the fact that it’s raining.

Anyway. Last month the first crop of spinach had gone to seed, and so it was ripped out and re-planted. Or, okay: I made my roommate re-plant it, because I tricked her into coming to the garden with me and otherwise she would probably just have stood around until I was done weeding. Getting said roommate to garden is roughly 200x more difficult and outlandish than getting my last roommate to garden, which is saying something. I kept trying to sell it to her as a (totally valid) important post-zombie-apocalypse skill, but I’m not sure she was convinced. I suspect she will be convinced when there is spinach and she can eat it, though.

Spinach II: The Re-Sowing (I’m calling the third crop The Reckoning, but we’re not there yet) has yet to sprout in the garden, but the two varieties I planted in containers on my balcony are doing famously despite being shaded rather heavily by the Tomato Jungle. At some point when it is light I will take a picture of the Tomato Jungle, because it is evidently a highly amusing sight to my friends and family. Whatever. It gives me tomatoes, and it hasn’t died yet, and so far the strata hasn’t come and yelled at me over it (they would first have to address Keeps Fake Flowers In Window Boxes on the floor below me – yeah, lady, WE ALL KNOW). As far as I’m concerned the tomatoes can grow as crazy as they want.

I did, however, pick another pot’s worth of gorgeous, ruby-red strawberries, so apparently all you really do have to do is wait a year for strawberry plants to be worthwhile. I have cut them up and sprinkled them with sugar and tomorrow morning they will be going on my breakfast.

The root vegetables are finally making a showing, as today I could see bright orange carrot shoulders (I swear, this is what they are actually called. I had no idea carrots had shoulders. You live, you learn.) peeking up through the dirt. I covered them up, because apparently otherwise they turn green? I don’t know. Same with the potatoes. Tomorrow (maybe) I will return and give the potatoes even more dirt, because the bigger the hill, the more the potatoes.

A peek of carrots!

(Potatoes are my favourite vegetable to garden. Not because they are the most delicious of all vegetables (yes, they are), but because planting potatoes are like a magic trick. You bury this weird-looking, creepy wrinkly brown thing, and a few months later you dig up dozens of beautiful, golden and delicious potatoes. MAGIC.)

Also finally making an appearance: the bloody zucchini. The first batch of seeds I planted didn’t even come up. I don’t know why. Maybe they were sulking about the late summer like the rest of us. But the new seeds are coming up in two of the four spots I planted them. I don’t even know, guys. Zucchini is not typically a problematic vegetable, but this year it’s just… I don’t know.

Also still alive: the pumpkin bush. I’m calling it a bush because only one plant came up and because it is a bushing variety (translation: It will not grow completely out of control and take over the rest of the plot and kill everything). The replacement eggplant plants (the ones I actually grew, painstakingly, from seed, died suddenly a few weeks ago and I had to buy new ones from the garden centre; I am still pissed about that, but next year I have decided to grow all my seeds in paranoid sterile conditions so that no wicked filthy disease can in any way affect them) in the garden are still alive, too, which is nice. The onions: probably will die soon, but I’m not that fussed about the onions. I bought them on a whim when I bought the eggplant so I’m not that attached to them.

And perhaps the most exciting outcome of today’s trip to the garden: Garlic! Apparently it grew properly, after all. I pulled up three bulbs, which are currently drying out on top of the microwave. I may pull up a few more this week, but I kind of want to leave it in the ground as long as possible, since garlic only lasts so long, and even I can only use it up so fast.

Garlic!

Back at home on my balcony, I finally got around to replacing the lightbulb and then picked a couple of cherry tomatoes (alas, not enough to do anything with, and as I don’t like tomatoes raw, I’m not sure what I’ll do with them; perhaps freeze them until I have more?).

Then I picked all the peas that were big enough to bother picking because the last time she was here my mother said I should do that before they became inedible. So I did! And then I shelled them.

Peas!

Peas!

I remember shelling peas being a lot easier when I was little and did it at my grandmother’s house. Like I’ve forgotten some magic trick to opening pea pods? Anyway I managed it in the end, and I have one person-sized serving of peas. Peas = better rate of return than cherry tomatoes. I’m going to have them with dinner tonight, I think.

The bigger tomatoes (Brandywines, which yes, I chose because it was a Lord of the Rings reference) are starting to look like tomatoes, even though there are only three of them so far. But look how pretty they are!

Brandywine tomato: still green.

And the most exciting news: I have an eggplant flower! Or nearly. I have an eggplant bud, which may in the near future blossom, and has thorns on it, apparently. I read that eggplants can have thorns, which is fascinating because they’re related to tomatoes and potatoes and neither one of those things makes you think of thorns.

Possibly an eggplant bud?

Anyway. Tonight’s agenda involves a) dinner (with peas!) and b) more job applications.

Tomorrow will probably involve more couch. But I guess at least I’m getting a lot of reading done?

Apparently I have become a housewife.

Still unemployed, my days have come down to a short list of activities.

1. Knitting

2. Writing fic or editing my book

3. Cleaning ALL THE THINGS at the slightest provocation (a trait I inherited from my mother – thanks, Mum)

4. Baking.

Yesterday I made a quiche. I’ve made mini-quiches before, but this was my first full-sized one. Full-sized quiche is actually a little trickier, because it’s harder to tell when the filling is fully cooked. Seems the experiment was a success, though. Today there is only one piece left, and I’m going to eat it as soon as I’ve finished this post.

My first (regular-sized) quiche.

Today I was inspired (randomly) to make Oreo cookies. Or rather, Oreo-esque chocolate sandwich cookies. I was a little worried about them, for surely Oreo cookies must be at least a little tricky to make, but I was actually totally wrong. They were super-easy. At least they were with the help of my electric hand mixer. I wouldn’t have wanted to make either the wafers or the filling without one.

AND THEN I MADE OREO COOKIES.

Anyway. I have managed to restrain myself and have only eaten two. There should still be plenty left tonight when Corene and Pekoe arrive. Tomorrow will be spent on the couch, watching all the TV Corene has been missing, sending out more job applications, and knitting some more.

This sounds like fun vacation time, but really? I want to be working already.

Ah, well. Soon. I hope.

It’s about bloody time!

Finally slogged out to the garden today after this morning’s rather surprising torrential downpour to make sure nobody had been battered to death. Found several latecomers finally poking their heads up!

The spinach, after I pulled a couple of handfuls of the biggest leaves.
Spinach!

The carrots, finally.
Look who finally showed up!

Proto-strawberries!
Strawberries!

The broccoli, which didn’t mind getting rained on at all.
Perfectly happy broccoli.

I’ve got about a dozen little potato-hillocks, this is just one.
Potatoes peeking their heads up!

The first rhubarb harvest, destined to become pie.
First crop of rhubarb!

The garlic. When will it be time to eat it? I want to eat it NOW.
Garlic!

Also in evidence was one wee pumpkin sprout, which I did not photograph.

After picking rhubarb and spinach I hacked down a metric tonne of dandelions, alien grass and some kind of purply mint relative invasive weed that grows about a foot a week. The pathways between my plot and my neighbours’ are now extremely tidy. (Someone else’s turn next time – my shoulders are all sore!)

An extremely tardy New Year’s resolution

I keep meaning to blog better about knitting, and I keep utterly failing at it. Strangely I have no trouble Tweeting or blogging in fandom. Anyway. KNITTING.

I’ve actually been pretty damned productive since January.

In February, I finished Mum’s Particular Cardigan, based on the Bergen Street Cardigan:
Mum's Cardigan - done!

This was actually the first sweater or actual garment I’ve ever made – and of course I made it for somebody else. But Mum was quite pleased. Pictured above are Mum and Robbie. Pictured below are the super-cool buttons I got for the cardigan at Button Button in Gastown:
Mum's Cardigan - done!

I had planned to start my own cardigan right after, but in the interests of procrastination I instead finished a handful of smaller projects. First my Hedera socks, which I’ve been working on for about two years without actually finishing:
Hedera socks!

Around the same time I finished my first cabled item, a Palindrome Reversible Scarf. Naturally I finished it right as it became too warm to wear thick scarves.
Reversible cable scarf: done!

I also whipped up a pair of rainbow socks from a ball of yarn I’ve had sitting in the to-use basket for about three years, simply because I don’t have any rainbow socks.
Rainbow socks!

I actually started the Arghigan somewhere in the midst of all of that, but I kept getting frustrated and putting it down. This is only partly the Arghigan’s fault – I’ve never made a cabled garment before and this is a pretty tricky one – not because of any one technique involved but because (for me) of the shaping of the front pieces. I kept dropping stitches or losing count or mucking up cables (which was why I did the Palindrome scarf first – I imagine it would have been even worse otherwise). Anyway, I’ve finally finished the Arghigan’s back piece, which barring screw-ups actually didn’t take me nearly as long as I expected. Unemployment does have its benefits, I suppose.
Arghigan back

I call it the Arghigan because I have found it a little aggravating – the pattern is actually based on the Blackberry Cabled Cardigan, and is a lovely, lovely piece. I am, however, making some slight alterations, mostly to the shaping on the front pieces. My poor brain was having enough trouble doing the curved front hems that I decided to knit them at a normal, straight right-angle. That way I don’t have to work out increasing within a cabled panel, and it will give the two front pieces a more traditional look (also, not leave my tummy hanging out when I wear the sweater). I think I will also make the ribbed band in two pieces – one for the neck and front sides and one for the bottom hem – and make the hem an inch or two longer to lengthen the whole sweater… though I’ll figure that out when I get to it, I suppose.

Bog knows I have plenty of time to knit for now, since the only other thing demanding my time is job applications and (hopefully) interviews. *crosses fingers*

Just in time for the season to become seasonal…

…I bring you more gardening pictures! I have been spending even more emotional energy on the babies than during finals, as I am still unemployed and frankly, don’t have much to do that is more productive – unless you count my frustrating progress on the Arghigan sweater.

The tomato plants are clearly becoming as impatient as me for the weather to warm up and settle down into seasonal 15-and-above – the Brandywines are about five feet tall and suddenly flowering like crazy! There are dozens of new buds, which I have been diligently pollinating using the buzz-pollinator method (read: with an electric toothbrush). This is a stopgap, of course, until it’s warm enough to put them outside. Hopefully that will be this week.
Just in time!
Just in time!
Just in time!

Also waiting for the weather to warm up: the eggplant seedlings, which aren’t really seedlings anymore. And yes, their pots are far too small – but I didn’t want to re-pot them when I was just going to put them in the ground. Hopefully it will be warm enough this week to do that, too.
Baby eggplant!

Spinach! Which evidently couldn’t care less about the container-versus-ground debate.
Balcony spinach

Peas! I always find peas both awesome and creepy – look at them reaching with their little green fingers!
Pea-fingers!

We seem to be reaching the proper seasonal temperatures for May now, which is good news as I’m not sure how much longer everybody was going to last in too-small pots waiting for spring to finally arrive. Now I get to switch over my anxieties to the garden-bound plants. Job-hunting sucks, guys.

Lotusland Smart Gloves

I designed this pattern for my friend Kim, who coveted a pair of gloves I bought from a shop a couple of years ago. Alas, they stopped making that particular pair, so I had to improvise.
Kim with fabulous Ari-made Smart Gloves
These are DK weight, and if I made them again I would probably use something lighter, closer to sock-weight. For a lighter yarn the pattern should be adjusted accordingly. You can download the pattern here.

This pattern is also available on Ravelry.