September 2009

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2009.

I got stung by a wasp on Sunday afternoon.  The hubster and I were gardening, and I felt what I thought was a sequoia needle stabbing into me.  When I looked down to move my foot out of the way of said needle, I saw the wasp bouncing off my ankle, like a little basketball, over and over.  I yelped, both at the realization and because it really hurt.  I thought I came out of it relatively unscathed until yesterday afternoon, when my foot swelled up like a little balloon, nearly twenty-four hours after being stung.  To be honest, I think I brought this on myself, as the inflammation only occurred after a rather vigorous scratching.  My goodness friends, it itches!  So here I am, swollen footed, gimpy, writing about soup and fish, delicious velvety soup and fish.  George Costanza would eat it with pride.

Velvety Squash Soup

1 winter squash, about 2 1/2 pounds (I used a kabocha – it looks like a dark green pumpkin)

olive oil


1 medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 – 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup coconut milk

cayenne pepper (to taste, optional)

Cut the squash into large chunks.  If you have a hard time getting your blade through the hard flesh, try gently tapping the knife with a hammer.  I wish I could give proper credit for this discovery, because it works wonders!  Place on a baking pan and drizzle the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour, until soft.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

In a medium soup pot, saute the onion with the butter and salt until the onion is soft.  Add three cups of broth and the curry powder and simmer over low heat.  Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and add to the onion curry broth.  Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth.  (If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular one, adding the squash in batches.  Use very little broth as you blend, or you will have a hot mess splattered everywhere. This is the voice of experience talking and why I have the immersion variety.  Put it back in the pan as you go.)  Add the coconut milk and correct the seasoning and thickness of the soup.  It may need more broth, salt, or curry.  If you’d like it spicier, add the optional cayenne now.  Eat now or continue to simmer over low heat while you prepare the fish.

Floating Fish

2 fillets of firm white fish (neutral flavored cod or halibut are best)

curry powder


Place fish on a baking pan and sprinkle with curry and salt.  Place under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness.  Remove from oven, gently turn over, and season the second side.  Broil until the flesh is opaque, another 3-5 minutes.

Ladle soup into serving bowls and gently float the fillet on top.  It looks so pretty and tastes even better.


My sad foot.  I hope this doesn’t turn you off from the soup, but I had to share.  It’s what I do.


The ABC’s of Me

Available or single?

For friendship?  Absolutely!  Otherwise, I am reserved for my one and only, Gregory Cooper.

Best Friend?

The Hubster

Cake or Pie?

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake or Cherry Pie

Drink of choice?

If this refers to alcoholic beverages, I would say whiskey for everyday (plain or fancified), port for sipping on a quiet evening, and something fizzy for summer, like a vinho verde, yum.

Essential item for every day use?

A flexible personality.

Favorite color?

Red for handbags and shoes.  Pink for flowers.


Why not?


Arvada, Colorado


Heavens to mergatroid, do I ever have a sweet tooth!

January or February?

Why, I’ve never thought about it.  (Deliberating…)  February, for it is closer to March and the glories of Spring.

Kids and their names?

No kids for me, cats rule our roost.  Paris and Milo.

Life is incomplete without…?

Good health, good friends, and good food.

Marriage date?

May 29, 1993

Number of siblings?

One sister + two brothers = 3

Oranges or apples?

Definitely apples, a Pink Lady, to be sure.

Phobias and fears?

None worth writing home about.

Quote for the day?

“The essence of pleasure is spontaneity.”  Germaine Greer

Reason to smile?

I can’t find a reason not to smile.


The cusp of summer in the month of June – the best!

Tag 3 people?

They’ll do it if they want.

Unknown fact about me?

Now why would I want to tell?

Vegetable you hate?

Beets have the bitter taste of dirt and bad memories.

Worst habit?

Not believing I’m good enough.

Xrays you’ve had?

Dental, mostly.

Your fave food?

Oh jeez, give me a time, mood, and place, and I’ll tell you.  I’m a particular lady.

Zodiac sign?

Gemini, the Twins.  Boy is it ever true!

Greg made dinner the other night while I was tapping away like a fat little pigeon – thanks Buddy!  This isn’t it, but a fine substitute photo from an outing to Hood River a few weeks back.  Anyway, he roasted some chicken but lamented the fact that he always makes it the same way, sprinkled with fresh rosemary (the shrubs in our garden are HUGE), salt, and pepper.  Here’s my help to him (and you, if you like) in the future – a quick reference for the preparation, as well as myriad seasoning options for our dining pleasure.

Tasty Whole Chicken Legs (We’re not breast people)

To each of the seasoning combinations, add salt and as little or as much garlic as you like (fresh diced or dried ground)

Optional seasonings for each, depending on your tastes – ground pepper, red pepper flakes, and a light drizzle of olive oil rubbed on first

Use the following seasonings, alone or together, to your taste:

Asian: soy, sake, ginger, green onion, fish sauce, sweet hot sauce, peanut butter

French: sage, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, a splash of white wine in the pan

German: coarse sweet mustard, caraway seeds, a splash of apple cider vinegar in the pan (I’d probably skip the garlic on this one or maybe use just a little)

Indian: curry powder, cumin, garam masala, ginger, fenugreek

Italian: basil, oregano, marjoram, a splash of red wine or Marsala in the pan

Mexican: ground dried chipotle, cayenne, cumin, honey or agave

Spanish: smoked paprika, a dash of sherry in the pan

Classic: lemon pepper, onion, thyme, paprika, sage, brown mustard seeds

Preheat the oven to 450.  Place chicken in pan (ugly side up, with or without skin) and season your way.  Place in oven and roast for 5-10 minutes, or until it starts to crisp.  Turn the temperature to 325 and continue roasting for 15 minutes.  Flip the chicken over to the pretty side and season again.  Turn the temperature back to 450.  Roast until it is crispy and the juices run clear, usually about 5-10 minutes.



Knock on wood,  my previous stretch of disappointing reads has ceased, as I’ve enjoyed a few decent books in a row, all marvelous stories and worthy of finishing, which is so satisfying.   Many thanks to my tax dollars and the Multnomah County Library for keeping my bookish desires happy.

Here are two of my most recent and engaging reads, on quite opposite ends of the literary spectrum, which suits my tastes just fine (pun intended, you’ll see).  Though this novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction nine years before I was even a twinkle in either of my parents’ eyes (1962), it seemed, to me, at least, that it could have been written today, as it speaks to the quite contemporary issues of faith, family, friendship, and healing.

The Edge of Sadness follows Hugh Kennedy, a recovering alcoholic, as he returns to Boston and his damaged priesthood after a four year sojourn in the desert southwest.  The story centers around Father Hugh’s re-acquaintance with the Carmody family: the often charming and devilishly cruel patriarch Charlie, his son, Father John of the dazzlingly ideal parish, St. Raymond’s, his daughter, Helen, and a colorful host of  siblings, children, grandchildren, and friends.

Father Hugh, once a highly regarded priest in a fairly well-to-do parish, is now leading a rather rag tag flock at Old Saint Paul’s, a poor and crumbling parish just outside of his old neighborhood.  His one curate, Father Danowski, often to Father Hugh’s chagrin and sometimes his delight, is an eternal and energetic optimist, always trusting that new life will be breathed into Old Saint Paul’s, returning the parish to it’s glory days.

At 640 pages, the novel is a leisurely drive in the country, as Edwin O’Connor carefully unfolds the stories of the tricky relationships between the Carmody’s, the reasons for Father Hugh’s fall from grace and his assignment at Old Saint Paul’s, as well as the inner life of a priest.  Though it hardly painted an idyllic portrait of family, priesthood, or parish life, I found the story beautiful and magnetic in it’s honesty.  For isn’t it encouraging to imagine that even men of the cloth have the same struggles with prayer, envy, trust, and above all, faith, as the laity?  I had a hard time putting it down.

Okay, since this is a long post, I’ve included an intermission, so you can do exactly what I did in between writing these segments, eat.  Of course I wanted something quick, so I wouldn’t dawdle and not finish this post by my self-imposed deadline.  What I made is quintessentially Colleen and yummy to my tummy, though maybe not yours.  A bit of tuna, some sliced nacho style jalapenos, a drizzle of organic EVOO (as Rachel Ray would say), and a sprinkle of smoked sea salt.  It really hit the spot!

Onward to David Lebovitz and his The Sweet Life in Paris.  He describes it as delicious adventures in the world’s most glorious – and perplexing – city.  Though this is quite true, I would also add the word hilarious after delicious.  Indeed.  Mr. Lebovitz is a highly entertaining story teller.

Without spending any time with the delicious (and sometimes pretty, I’m sure) sounding recipes, the book is a quick and laughter-filled frolic through the charming, and sometimes infuriating, streets of Paris, especially when you step in dog poo, because you will, dear reader, I gua-ran-tee it.  I zipped through it over the course of an afternoon, easily laughing and commiserating with David on his adventures from the quotidian to the unusual.

However, where I throw up my hands in frustration and declare a moratorium on visits to Paris as a result of being chastised for not having exact change, failing to understand the delicacies of French plumbing, or being jockeyed out of my position in line, David joins the party and fully engages, eventually becoming one of those line jockeys himself.  C’est pas ma faute!

If you have any interest in learning about an honest Parisian life and some delicious sounding recipes, grab a copy.  It doesn’t disappoint!


“Unbosom yourself,” said Wimsey.  “Trouble shared is trouble halved.”

Dorothy Sayers

« Older entries