I haven’t been playing in the kitchen as much lately. Not that I don’t want to, I just haven’t really gotten around to doing much other than the usual dishes for a few weeks. I am, however, making up for lost time this weekend.

Beer bread has to be the simplest bread to make. Three cups of flour, sifted, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons baking powder and one bottle of beer. I also tend to add a tablespoon of melted butter to the top right before baking. It takes two minutes to put together and an hour (at 375) to bake. I’ve experimented with versions of beer bread – yeast varieties, non yeast varieties, different beers – and I keep coming back to the same recipe. And the same beer.

A white wheat beer is also good, but Yuengling always comes out the best. It has a really nice nutty character that I haven’t gotten with other lagers. It’s also subtle, unlike a stout. And for pairing with cheese, it’s pretty perfect.

Speaking of cheese, yes, we are still getting our cheese boxes each month, I just keep forgetting to post them. This week we did a cheese tasting – Europe vs. America.

Six pairs of cheese, each pair in the same style but one from Europe and one American. This was a blind tasting in a sense because we did not know which was which when we tasted. I can’t say I found any pattern, and I definitely could not easily tell which was American and which was European, but it was fun. And we picked up some cheese to go with the beer bread for a nice, light dinner.

We also picked up a new kitchen toy this weekend.

That is all the pieces of a new blender/food processor. I’ve been contemplating one for soups and curry and Bob has been wanting the smoothies Val got him craving last time we were out there. I didn’t really want the expense (and storage issue) of another kitchen appliance, but we went ahead and got it. It’s a behemoth, but it works great. So far I’ve made smoothies. (banana peanut butter for Bob and pineapple-strawberry-ginger for me)

I may have forgotten to take a picture until I was half way done my smoothie this morning. Oh well.

I also made soup. A roasted butternut squash and parsnip soup. I took inspiration from a recipe I found but I didn’t have an apple and really love the flavor of roasted root vegetables so, I went for it. One small butternut squash, two good size parsnips, half a large onion and about four cloves of garlic.

I cut everything into medium cubes, tossed in oil salt and pepper and roasted at 375 for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. I could have roasted at 400, but my oven runs hot, so 375 works well. After they were cooked and cooled, I blended them with three cups of vegetable broth. After blended I added cumin, coriander and more salt and pepper. The result?

Soup. Flavorful, bright, sweet-ish butternut squash soup. And I was amazed at how smooth the soup is – thirty seconds in the blender did what a strainer and food processor could not do in thirty minutes.

I also tried one more fish today – eggplant tahini. In its simplest form, this is a dip or sauce, but I added tomato and cucumber to make it a salad. It doesn’t look pretty, but holy cow the flavor!

Hopefully I will have a few more experiments soon. You can bet there will be soup involved. Or curry. Still need to figure out the curry.

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