Wednesday, June 15, 2011

curry it up! summer veggie soup

for those of you who follow me on facebook, it's no news to you the summer volunteering i've been doing at several of the local organic farms.

up... oh... 
just a moment here for a digression and a bit of background, an apology and a sure fire plan of action.

for those of you who do not follow me on facebook (fyi - no big deal, some do, some do not) my apologies, it seems i have for many months now replaced my blogging efforts with fb postings.  

i admittedly had fallen into (may still be in but i'm fighting it) a blogging rut.  i was seduced by the short bits of information here and there format rather than an all out narrative, recount, blather and/or whatever else you might call my style of knocking out computer keys at this particular site.  in addition, i was in a place where i did not feel that which i was inclined to say was all that interesting.  writers block?  bloggers block?  just needed some space for a while?  i'm not quite sure.  in truth, i think it's been a bit of each. 

regardless, i'm snapping out.  i do warn you, the writing may be clunky for the while it takes me to re-discover the groove.  but i snap back pretty quickly so hang on folks here we go!  for those who do follow my fb adventures,  (again, not important if you do or do not) never fear, i am still a fb addict and will be balancing my blather both here and there.  okey doke,  back to the blather blather and a forward march to the adventures of the curry it up summer veggie soup.

enough already!  get on with it!  (i warned you)

i figured since my travel plans for the summer were looking comparably light, i might explore options for additional farm training and/or lessons toward further sustainable growth outside of my own property line.  i wanted to learn more about farming on a bigger scale.  i also thought it a viable way to live the dream without all of the debt, responsibility and worry.  a good path toward exploring whether the idea of someday taking on the debt, responsibility and worry was a good idea, a possible option or a crazy, what are you thinking hallucination.  

anyway, i got in touch with two local austin farms - green gate farm and johnson's backyard garden to inquire about volunteering myself and my skills toward their ventures.  i called these two farms because they each had listed volunteering opportunities on their sites and so probably had some type of outsider integration system in play or at least they were thinking about it.  i was not interested in playing guinea pig.  i was not interested in labor without lesson. i was interested in a healthy dose of hard work for a healthy dose of experiential knowledge and maybe a few fresh veggies to take home at the end of the day.

both farms have proved welcoming and kind.  both farms offer up veggie goods to you at the end of the day.  their process varies but the rewards are equally sweet at each location.  the work varies from tough to easier and laid back to damn oh damn what the heck have i signed up for.  the latter driven primarily by the summer temperatures around these parts.  i'm talking our now daily regular three digit hellfire furnace sweat at eight o'clock in the morning days.  in addition to the heat, the often times lack of shade out in the fields can also prove tricky so you have to dress right and keep hydrated.  you hear that hippychick, you have to keep hydrated.  yeah, yeah.  

just this past week, i paid a very heavy price for not drinking more often than the brain triggered me to drink.  i suffered a nasty bout of heat exhaustion.  i was down for the count a good four days and i mean down for the count.  i was in bed, period.  i did not eat, i had a most upset stomach, horrible headaches, i felt bad.  don't do it!

another note - when i say dress right i mean dress to protect yourself from the sun.  wear a hat, cover your arms and back, wear shoes that will last you a bunch of hours in dirt and mud and if you're really smart, bring gardening gloves.  they prove most helpful when you're harvesting crops like okra and maters - itchy, itchy crops.  i've not been that smart yet, but i will be.  hey, it's all a learning process right?  oh yes indeed it is.  

so i've been volunteering on farms, bringing home some great organic veggies for the efforts and enjoying great meals at home with my sweetheart. 

there's much more to tell, but what you do say we get to the curry it up! summer veggie soup first?  ok, i thought you might like that.

what you see here are the fresh garden ingredients minus just a few.  some are from my own garden and others from the volunteering efforts.  everything is raised organic and you can't beat that!

ingredients:  a mix of your favorite summer veggies - the following is what i used today
  • summer squash - 4 itty ones in my case
  • eggplant - 3 slender medium sized
  • onion - 2 small
  • okra - 2 good hand fulls
  • sweet peppers - 2
  • mildly hot pepper - 1
  • tomatoes - fresh - 3 medium
  • basil - a good bunch
  • red lentils - 1.5 cup dry -they will cook in the process
  • white kidney beans - 1 cup dry
    • i soaked and cooked from dry before adding to the mix 
    • you could used canned beans
      • if so rinse and drain before added them to the mix
  • sweet white wine - 1 pint optional
  • broth - 1 quart veggie or chicken 
  • salt
  • pepper
  • curry powder - 2 tablespoons
    • less if you wish 
    • or cut all together and substitute as your taste prefers
  • water to thin the mix as it cooks as the beans, lentils and okra will thicken the batch up over time

  • get your big soup pot out
  • rough chop the veggies if you like them chunky like me
  • place your onions and peppers in the pot with a bit of butter and/or oil and slowly cook until just soft
  • add the sweet white wine
  • add the other veggies
  • add the broth
  • stir and bring to a simmer
  • once you reach a simmer, add the red lentils and the beans
  • simmer for 10 minutes
  • cover the pot
  • turn off the heat and let the pot sit until the lentils are tender
    • you've got enough heat in the pot to finish the cooking process
    • this will help to keep your veggies from going to mush
    • and you never know, they might be cooked through - if so, you're done! 
    • it also helps to save energy and cool your kitchen down faster - aha!
  •  note: if you find the mixture is thickening add water 1 pint at a time
  • once the lentils are cooked, enjoy!
you've got yourself a fine pot of curry it up! summer veggie soup.  serve the soup hot or cold.  if you're pot's big enough, you might call a friend over and give it a share.  i bet it's good with a nice cold glass of beer or a not so fine (cheep cheep) simple summer white wine.

in fact, i have got to tend my own pot now.  i will be back soon.  cheers!

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