WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT
In my November post, I mentioned that I had submitted a few photos for an inaugural magazine publication. I received word in December that four of my photos have been selected for publication! I will include a link to the magazine when it is published in February.
WHAT I’M READING
Since I’m writing my own memoir on travel, I have been reading a lot of other memoirs. When I came across a memoir called Travels by Michael Chrichton, I couldn’t pass it up. The description of Chrichton’s book lured me into thinking I would be reading about his travels to far off lands that included Tahiti and Rwanda. I wanted to see how another author described these places to bring them to life, maybe learn a thing or two. But, the book turned out to be more of a personal journey for Chrichton. Sure, he traveled to far off lands and had a few incredible adventures, but he also did a lot of soul searching, which dominated the pages.
Before We Were Yours is based on a real-life scandal in which a Memphis-based adoption agency kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country. The book reads almost like a memoir and tells a heartbreaking story of family, sisters, and secrets. This is one book that kept me awake, wanting to know what happened next.
I hadn’t intended to pick up another Chrichton book so soon after reading his memoir, but I came across this one by a completely different path. For several years, I have had some trouble sleeping. To help shut down my brain, I listen to an audio book, which distracts my brain long enough to allow me to sleep. One of my favorite narrators is Scott Brick. It might seem strange to have a favorite narrator, but when you listen to hundreds of audio books, narrators start to stand out. I searched Audible for books narrated by Scott Brick and came across Sphere. For the past several nights, I have donned my headphones and listened as Scott’s modulated, smoky voice sings me to sleep.
WHAT I’M COOKING
A friend once told me that I should open a soup restaurant that serves nothing but hot soup and warm bread. Opening a restaurant is not on my list of things to do, but I have found that I really do love making soup. As I’ve said before, there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of soup to chase away the chill in the air and warm your insides. This week I decided to make a batch of homemade mushroom soup. I have always loved mushroom soup, but only discovered how easy it is to make recently. I picked up a copy of The Complete Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking at my local used book store and came across a recipe for mushroom soup, adapting it for my own tastes of course!
- 1 pound white mushrooms
- 1 T olive oil
- 4 T butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 T all-purpose flour
- 2 c. stock
- 2 c. whole milk
- 1 t. dried basil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 T heavy cream
- 1-2 T red wine vinegar (optional)*
- Separate the mushroom caps from the stalks, Rough chop the stalks and slice the caps.
- Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot and add the onion, mushroom stalks and half the sliced caps. Fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, and then cover and sweat over low heat for 6-7 minutes.
- Sir in the flour and cook for about 1 minute.
- Gradually add the stock and milk to make a smooth thin sauce.
- Add the basil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer, partly covered, for 15 minutes.
- Cool slightly and then pour the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. (I use an immersion blender right in the soup pot, skipping the cooling step.)
- Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan and fry the remaining mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, until just tender. (I fry on a higher temp and like to get a mushrooms a nice brown color, which I feel adds more flavor to the soup.)
- Add mushrooms to the soup and serve with a drizzle of cream and fresh basil leaves.
*If your soup needs a little umami, add one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, tasting before adding more.