Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's that cool crisp feeling?

Earlier this week Chicago was hot and sticky. The last drags of Summer hanging around like little temptations as what might be my last school year began. Tuesday night I was drunkenly skinny dipping in Lake Michigan, riding my bike home in damp shorts, and reveling in the heavy air. By Friday the air was cold, and I felt the need to put on gloves to bike home. (I didn't have gloves so I pussied out and popped my bike on the blue line so that I could ride home with a friend.) This morning, I woke up early to a bluebird day with muscles that feel sore in the best possible way. I jumped out of bed to seriously chilly air, made some tea, moved through some sun salutations to get my body moving and my blood warmed up, and hit the grocery store. (Last night's dinner consisted of a So Delicious yogurt, a slab of baked tofu and some chips...So, things were getting a little desperate.) Walking down Division at 8am on the first autumnal day of the year was like a little revelation. I may be a big fan of Summer, but my heart belongs to the Fall. The slight change in the angle of the sun, the feeling of being neatly contained in a sweater and jacket, the rustle of leaves...the smell. I just love it. I will be really sad to be boxed into a regular job (FINGERS CROSSED!) this time next year. 

Anyway, last night, after eating a totally unsatisfactory dinner and passing out watching the really, really terrible Benjamin Button with a friend, I woke up around midnight and set some beans to soak in order to avoid another day of irresponsible eating. (It's been a long, long week of picking at crudité platters at orientation events my friends...A long week of vats of not so tasty hummus and sad looking carrot sticks.) I've been craving Sweet Potatoes with alarming regularity and I was thinking all week about a brothy, miso-based sweet potato/adzuki/kale soup. But, this turn in the weather made me want something a little bit heartier. I cooked up batches of black beans, adzukis, and chick peas this morning and put together a little mixed bean salad and a really nice sweet potato and adzuki soup.

Quick Gingered Sweet Potato Soup with Adzuki Beans and Miso
1 T olive oil
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed (skin on)
1 sweet onion minced
1 bay leaf
2" of ginger minced
1/2 t fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2 t red miso
1/2 vegan bouillon cube
1/2 cup adzuki beans, cooked (I cook mine with just a 1" piece of kombu for flavor and add a little salt at the end)
1/2 t smoked paprika
cilantro for garnish

Sweat the onions in a large sauce pan with the olive oil. When the onions start to become fragrant (about 5 minutes) add the cubed sweet potato and continue to stir until the sweet potato becomes fragrant. Toss in the fennel seeds, ginger and bay leaf. Stir for a minute or two before adding the water, miso and bouillon. Simmer until the sweet potato starts to fall apart, then remove the bay leaf and buzz lightly with an immersion blender. The soup should be chunky rather than silky. Add the adzukis and the smoked paprika and remove from the heat. Serve garnished with cilantro. 

Just for fun, here's a shot of my bean salad. It's delicious, but doesn't really merit a recipe as its just beans, a little herbed vinaigrette, chopped bell pepper, dill and tarragon. 

As ready as I am for Fall, I'm really hoping for one last look at Summer this weekend, and maybe a Labor Day BBQ at the beach?! But, I'm glad for the cool weather today...I'm hoping it will be a good incentive to get some reading done (homework!) and I think dates always go better when the weather is cool...Oh, right...I'm going on a date, like a real date with a pre-appointed time and a meal involved. I'm not really sure about how this works. I thought dates were where two people who kind of know each other put some wine in a brown bag and sit in a park and talk until they accidentally-on purpose make out. 

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