Friday, November 18, 2011

French Friday with Dorie: Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

Catching up on Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

It’s been a crazy month and getting crazier.  I suppose that it will be Run-Run-Run until the end of January.

The economy in AZ is horrible, as I suppose it is in much of the country and even the world, but for the past couple of years the Phoenix area has ranked in the bottom...pretty consistently ranked the 2nd worst state in the nation for unemployment, home foreclosures, rising medical care, etc.  And right now our public schools are ranked in the bottom 5.  We all struggle to keep going, but thankful we are still hanging on.  But another year like this one and we are finished.  Not complaining, just the facts.

But some indicators show that we are on the mend in some areas.  The Mexican economy, in the better areas, is now stronger than Arizona, so many of the illegals are going home leaving more jobs for us.  Even though home prices  continue to decline, people are once again moving to AZ because they can find good deals, and businesses are coming in due to a great employer market.

But it means we must work harder and longer to survive.  We are in the commercial real estate appraisal business and that market is dead right now, so we do what we can, but it is hard.

We have a house down the street that we purchased as an investment about 10 years ago when the market was great.  We used it as a place for our older children to live while in college and  in early marriage years, and now we rent it out.  But our last tenants trashed the house...$30,000+ in damages, so I’ve been working hard to get repairs done and get it rent-ready.  So many have lost their homes in this bad economy that I have many requests from families who want to live in the house, so my goal is to have it ready by the end of the month.

And, I dropped by camera last longer works, but I found an old point-and-shoot down at the office that I’m trying to figure out...just need a couple of photos for my posts.
This week our main business computer got a bad virus which split into 8 more viruses, so business was shut down for a few days while restoring files, etc.  Thank goodness for No. 1 Son who can fix these problems and who was willing to stay up for a couple of days/niights with no sleep, working non-stop to get the computer up and running.  The back up system was also affected meaning that the past 2 years of work would have been lost.  Our computer guy wanted to restore the hard drive, meaning wiping it clean and starting over...losing all our files which we are required by law to keep for 7-10 years.  Not good.

I know this all sounds like a downer...and I’ll add that our roof leaks as of the last rain and that fix estimate is $25,000...but I want to remember some of these things because these things cause me to feel so much gratitude, and this is a giving thanks time of year.

I’m thankful that we are healthy and have lots of energy to work hard.  I’m thankful that we still have our home and a wonderful big family who continues to fill it up almost every day even though only Hubby and I live here.  I’m thankful for great friends and neighbors.  I’m thankful for my Frolicking Night Owl daughter who homeschools her children...and her oldest, Penguin, at the age of 8 is finishing 5th grade, and is the top student in her cyber-school it does not matter to these treasured children that the AZ schools are so bad.   

I’m thankful that next week 10-12 of us will travel to Great Grandma and Grandpa’s home for Thanksgiving ...they live near Salt Lake City, are in their mid-80's, and we expect to spend the holiday with about 40 extended family members.   And my North-Eastern Idaho university daughter and family will be with us. 

I’m thankful that Stephy-Wephy lets me have her precious Honey every Wednesday and together we have turned this day into our cooking/baking day.  I’m thankful that all my citrus will begin to ripen this month; I love that Hubby makes fresh squeezed OJ every morning for 6-7 months of every year.  I’m thankful for the AZ heat!  I’m addicted.

And my list goes on and on and on.

And right now, as I type up this post, I’m thankful for the fun food experiences I’ve had over the past year plus with the FFwD group.  I look forward to reading your posts, to learning new things from you, and for enjoying your cyber friendships, which are real to me.   I feel badly and feel like I’m missing out whenever I skip a week...and this month has been my worst yet. I think that I’ve only missed 2 projects before this November...and I’ll most likely miss next week too.

But Honey and I did enjoy making the Squash Soup.  We went shopping and found all the needed ingredients, made the recipe as written except for adding a couple of sweet potatoes.  We found  ripe-enough oranges out in the back yard...the first we’ve used of the new crop which will become sweeter and more juicy as the nights get colder.  (The new favorite food on Honey’s list is Pumpkin she was excited we put those on our soup.)

And for munching while the soup cooked, we decided to make “green’ salsa to use up fridge items...gotta get ready to leave town for a week...and Honey loves Mexican foods.

Our salsa is delicious and’s what we did.

Tomatillos...enough to make a quart of puree
1 large onion
1-2 jalapenos
juice from 2 limes
1/4 C agave as a sweetener (can use honey or sugar)
1-2 T salt—to taste

We put all the above in a blender and after making our puree we  added  12 thinly sliced scallions...wanted a bit of chunky texture.
And it is great!  We don’t cook our tomatillos, as recommended in many recipes.

This salsa would also be great added to black beans, as a topping spooned over roasting chicken or pork or enchiladas, added to rice, etc....or added to ranch dressing to use with a salad.

Most likely, I’ll not have computer access over the next week, but I’ll “see” you all at the beginning of December.



  1. Sorry to hear that things have been so frustrating. I am sure it is all a bit overwhelming.
    I loved reading your summary of things to be thankful for - it sounds like you are surrounded by an amazing family (I am sure it has a lot to do with great parental influence :-) )
    Hope you have a wonderful holiday & get to enjoy all those grand-babies & kids (and their parents too).

  2. I am sorry things have sucked. I hope they get better for you! You have an awesome attitude, so that's a lot of the battle right there. 9And I love that salasa, mmm)

  3. Impressed that you tried it. I didn't have the stomach for fennel. Btw, what would you recommend as a gift for someone moving to Arizona in the very near future? Any "must haves" for the dessert air/temps?

  4. Thanks for the encouraging homeschooling words. Almost daily I have doubts about my decision to homeschool and it probably isn't what I love doing, but for the time being I feel it is right and I appreciate the support. :)

  5. Kris, I am thankful for having cyber friends like you. I know if we lived close to one another we would definitely enjoy a cup of tea together often! Your soup looks delicious! Wishing you and your family a truly blessed Thanksgiving and a better year for your economy!

  6. I wondered why you didn't post like week, Kris. It is so unlike you and I couldn't imagine you not being in the kitchen! My goodness you have a lot going on, but when things happen you do have to look at your blessings and you have so very many. Your family gathering sounds wonderful and will be so good for your soul to be around so much family and support. I hope you have a safe trip and a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Oh, I almost forgot about your soup! It looks beautiful and tomatillo salsa is our favorite here. It looks great!

  7. One of the things I like about Thanksgiving is the opportunity for reflection. I admire your positive attitude in the midst of a rough patch. I sounds like you have a lot to be thankful for. I've enjoyed getting to know you through FFwD this year. I particularly love hearing how you share your love of cooking with your adorable grandchildren. I'm impressed by what they will eat, especially Honey. Happy Thanksgiving to your and youru family!

  8. Kris, what a great post! I'm so glad you are able to focus on the good when you've had a few are an inspiration. Have a fabulous time with your family this Thanksgiving! happy to have met you via FFwD. Both your dishes look DELISH!

  9. You have a wonderful perspective. It's easy to look only at the negative, but to really appreciate all the blessing you have can only make things better. Good luck with your houses, and have a safe and wonderful trip to Utah.

  10. I hope things turn around in the areas that are hard right now. You really have a wonderful outlook and you've built a strong and loving family. Have a wonderful holiday weekend.