I have a history of having a rather short attention span. Regardless of all the potential distractions that exist in our daily lives, somehow I always end up feeling like I'm just a little more prone than the average person to having my attention dart to and fro from one interest to the next. So much so, that it's typically very difficult for me to read anything that isn't directly related to whatever my current obsession is. Sound familiar to anyone?
As a result, I've a house full of books, many of which have only seen my eyes for the first few pages, and maybe if they are lucky the first chapter. Sad, sorry books that may never be enjoyed because, for whatever reason, a lot of books just cannot seem to capture my attention: unless they are somehow related to self-help, or productivity, or food. My favourite activity is to read cookbooks, even those without pictures, to imagine the dishes and see if recipes can spark an idea or something new and fun I can make.
My myriad of cookbooks, and books by Paul Arden, Scott Belsky, Gretchen Rubin, Danielle Laporte, Seth Godin…. all are tried and true old (and some new) friends I've picked up guaranteed in the last year and thoroughly enjoyed reading. In fact, based on the looks of my nightside table, you'd think I didn't even know what fiction was. Until this Christmas when I had some time on my hands and felt like being whisked away to some place new. I decided it was time for something different, and I picked up my daughter's Christmas-gifted copy of the first Hunger Games book. I know, certainly nothing like my usual reading, but then One Direction isn't exactly my usual listening and I've developed a rather fond appreciation for those boys too. Just one of the many benefits of having school-aged girls I guess :)
Three books and two movies later, I've been delightfully re-awakened to the craft that is amazing writing and storytelling. The imagination and skill that exists in people is actually just totally mind-blowing, in fact. Regardless of genres, themes, or whether you agree with the premise of a story, I'm in awe of what a gift it is to be a truly great writer and reading the Hunger Games books was a pleasure from start to finish that I didn't expect in any way. I'd heard how great they were, but given that I'm 'just not generally a fiction person', I really didn't realize what I was missing. With that, I'm in search of the next piece of fiction that might just inspire me --- in ways that non-fiction just can't sometimes. Fiction is back in my books. So friends: I'd love your suggestions! What are you reading or have read in the last year or two that has stayed with you? Send an email or leave it in the comments…I'd love to hear from you!
Here is a delicious winter veggie soup that will warm your bones and nourish your body. Creamy from blended cashews and hearty with potatoes and touch of deliciously roasted parsnip and garlic, you'll be pleased with the texture and taste of this easy, soothing blended soup. Perfect for enjoying with your latest favourite reading material.
Creamy Roasted Parsnip & Potato Soup:
- (1) large sweet onion, chopped
- (3-4) large whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
- (2-3) tbsp olive oil
- (1) tbsp ground cumin
- (1) tsp salt
- (1) pound parsnips, about 6 small parsnips, washed and chopped
- (4) cups chopped red potatoes, about 3 large potatoes
- (4) cups veggie stock, about one litre
- (1/2) cup cashews
- (2) cups water
- (1) tbsp salt, or to taste
- (2) tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- Fresh pepper, parsley & minced red pepper to garnish
Start by heating the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and chop the parsnip, and combine it with the onion, and the whole unpeeled garlic cloves in a mixing bowl. Toss the veggies with the olive oil, cumin, and salt, and place in a large rimmed baking pan. Toss the pan in the oven and roast the veggies until fragrant and browning , about 30 minutes.
While the veggies roast in the oven, combine the vegetable stock and chopped potatoes in a soup pot. Heat to a gentle boil and cook gently until the potatoes are nice and soft, about 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off once the potatoes are soft and leave the pot until the rest of the ingredients are ready. Once the roasted veggies are done, remove them from the oven and carefully free the garlic cloves from the skins. When cool enough to handle, combine the roasted veggies and potato stock mixture in batches and blend each batch until smooth. Combine the blended batches into another large pot as you go. Keep going until all of the soup is pureed to a smooth consistency.
To add the cashews, start by combining the cashews in the blender with 2 cups of the blended soup mixture with 2 cups of cold water. Blend all on high until nice and creamy. Pour into the rest of the soup and stir well. Just before serving, heat the soup gently on low with the lid on, and add additional salt to taste, as well as the apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Serve garnished with chopped fresh parsley and minced red pepper, and perhaps some extra olive oil and lots of fresh black pepper.
Kept in the fridge, this soup will keep well for up to a week. Enjoy!