October Requires Pumpkins, Right?

Happy autumn, y’all! We’ve made it through the marathon of the Jewish fall holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah all come tumbling one right after the other) and visits from both our families. The picture I have in my head for an ideal October involves space to breathe as the days grow shorter and the Florida heat and humidity approach marginally acceptable levels. Oh, and also a lot of soup.

We love soup and eat it even at the height of summer, but I have to admit there is a special joy in it when there is a chill in the air. I came up with the following recipe over the summer when Sampson was flying late and I was pawing through the pantry for something quick, easy, and just a little more sophisticated than ramen noodles. Random canned goods to the rescue!

Lazy Pumpkin Soup

1 can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 can diced tomato
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp (or so) of garam masala or your favorite curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Open cans and dump into pot. Add garam masala or curry powder. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then drop to a simmer for about fifteen minutes.

Remove from heat and wield your trusty immersion blender to whirr up a smooth, velvety soup. If you only have a regular blender, sigh wistfully, add one to your wish list, then proceed to work in batches to blend the soup.

If the soup has cooled down too much for you in the blending process, return it to the stovetop for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt, sour cream, goat cheese, or what-have-you. If you’re feeling sassy, go nuts with some hot sauce at the table. Enjoy.


September Snuck Up

September’s arrival brought with it a refreshing drop in temperature, a breath of autumn that puts me in mind of new school supplies and apple-picking with Hillel.  Alas, I neither have need of new school supplies, nor am I any longer a member of Hillel’s target demographic.  (For the goyim, Hillel is an organization for Jewish college students; I was heavily involved in my college’s chapter back in the day.)  The lifting of summer’s lethargy that comes with the cooler weather is welcome even in my post-academic life, though, and I’m getting excited about the coming fall.

Rosh Hashanah is coming up, with its promises of apples and honey in hopes of a sweet new year.  In fact, friend of mine from college just sent me a link to a delectable-sounding apple and honey challah that might have to find its way into my baking rotation for the holiday.  It would be more fun, of course, if I could look forward to the annual apple-picking trip with a Jewish community of my peers, but we haven’t found a group in our area that evokes the same sort of camaraderie.  Part of it is that we’re stuck between ages or phases of life that have strong support groups.   Having graduated years ago, we’re too old for Hillel.  We’re married, so Jewish singles groups are out.  We don’t have children yet, so we aren’t networking with parents taking their kids to Hebrew school, either.  I know some synagogues have “Young Professionals” groups that cater to those in our situation, but our shul isn’t one of them.

Oh well.  It’s not like we’re stationed someplace with no Jewish community whatsoever, which could easily become the case if we wind up in Japan.  I just get a little sad thinking that for as long as we’re moving at least every three, we will perpetually be “the new couple” at whatever synagogue we attend (let’s face it: there are some shuls where you can be “the new couple” for ten years or more).  It would be nice to meet some local folks our age with whom we could exchange Shabbat dinner invitations from time to time.  It’s tough–some would say impossible–to be a Jew in a vacuum, but we don’t have the luxury of putting down roots in one community and letting relationships develop slowly over many years.  Couple that with the fact that both my husband and I are inclined towards introversion, and we’ve got ourselves a problem for which we haven’t yet found a solution.  But who knows?  Maybe the upcoming year 5770 holds some fresh insights for us.

Ah well, social maunderings can’t detract too much from my overall anticipation of the new season.  My baby (!) brother is turning twenty-one, my college roommate is getting married to my husband’s college roommate (sounds like a sit-com, huh?), and we are lucky enough to be spending this autumn in a part of the country filled with deciduous trees that will soon be turning glorious colors.  Life is good.