All day long I have been prowling around a painting, looking and wandering and fiddling and colouring. And all day I have been thinking about soup, because my very good friend, Claire Carlile asked on facebook for a recipe for squash soup. So, this posting is dedicated to Claire.
Ever since I first met her I liked her. She is fierce, fit, hardworking and wonderful, fragile and beautiful and faithful. She has also given me so much advice and help on how to make myself more visible in the very cluttered and untidy world of the internet, on social networking etc. It was Claire who first advised me to start a blog so in some ways she is the Cat's Mother, or mother of the cat blog anyway. And now she speaks a whole new language of SEO that boggles my mind, because she is a freelance search engine optimisation and marketing consultant and has her own website at SEO Wales.
So, tonight I too am making butternut squash soup and decided to write about it, or as the kids say 'exploit our supper on your blog'.
My day has been a day of colour, with saffron flowers, bright beads of fresh beetroot pulled from the garden, cheetahs inside, on sunbleached savannah, green grass outside with sheep in the rain.
Get some butternut squash, about 3 lbs of it and being careful of fingers cut the squash into pieces. Baste and paint these with olive oil and put in the oven to roast for about half an hour. They need to be peppered, and ever since I forgot once and then took the hot slices of golden squash out of the oven to grate fresh black pepper on and found that the perfume of the pepper falling on the flesh is so beautiful I always put the squash in for five minutes and then add the pepper. While you wait you can slice an onion into thin strips and begin to stew it in some butter, stirring, to melt the onion.
Next , after about 20 mins, add 850 ml of veg or chicken stock to the onion and about 425 of milk. Then scrape the soft peppered flesh away from the tough skin and add the golden glow to the onion and stock. Grate in some nutmeg and add salt. My nutmeg grater is the one and only thing I have that belonged to my grandmother. So far to my knowledge it has passed through three generations of my family. Stir the stuff around, making sure you breathe in the scents and then bring up to simmer and leave for 20-25mins while you read a book, or drink a glass of wine, or both.
Then liquidize and heat back through. The soup should be glorious orange bright. With a dollop of creme freche, some chopped chives and some small cubes of gruyere or other cheese it should be wonderful, rich, golden and just right for autumn or winter.
Meanwhile the cheetah painting began pale gold this morning, but lacked something, so I added more red. Still didn't look right, but neither did it look too wrong and sometimes it is time to stop before you spoil it, but I decided that it wasn't right so added blue. And the blue makes the atmoshpere more heavy dark, and the red more red.
Still prowling, but need to put it away now and work on the pieces that go either side of it in the book, to make the balance work.
In this very dificult time for books, for the economic life of the country, and in a very competitive world my sales are 'bucking the trend' and increasing, month on month. One of the reasons for this is all the hard work the sales team at my publishers put in, but I am sure that another reason is the advice and guidance from Claire. So, Ms Carlile, I hope you like your soup.