I have always been a very handy gal to have around. I can do a myriad of basic home repairs. I can fix a garbage disposal, use a drain auger, grease the coils of the garage door mechanism and install light fixtures. I’ve hung my own crown-molding, I own and know how to use both a stud finder (not a dating service) and an Ohm meter (not necessarily a convenient cooking tool).
My most helpful skill, though not always the most appreciated by my husband, is the auto level function I have in my brain that tells me when wall pictures are cock-eyed, and I shamelessly correct the offending frame. That, and I’m the master of packing the trunk of our car. My spatial relations are beyond compare.
I get my mechanical abilities from my grandfather who was an accomplished artist and an inventor. He was the only man I know who could take a perfectly good fan from Target, bring it home, add a transformer and turbo charge it. It was frightening.
He insisted I learn from him how to do basic household repairs. He was old school and there was little he felt he couldn't manage with some machine screws he saved from the 1930's and a little epoxy. Everything he repaired he declared, "was better than the original and how it should have been done in the first place."
I have a vague memory that one time he was able to hotwire a shortwave radio and boost its range so he could talk to someone in Guam while muttering things under his breath I didn't understand about a guy named Marconi. At 90, when he became dependent upon an electric scooter, I truly feared for his safety, and that of his dog, so I moved the power tools out of his reach. When he passed away, I inherited a jar with about 10,000 assorted bolts, screws and washers, "in case you need one." I still have that jar in my garage.
That being said, I am conceivably the only middle-aged housewife I know that has a “thing” for power tools. I own a Makita power drill, and I’m not afraid to use it. One year, I asked for a miter saw for the holidays (I didn’t get it). I’ve bought a Shop-Vac because it looked like fun and it beat the heck out of sweeping up the debris in the garage.
One of the things that makes cooking fun is getting to use cute little gadgets and gizmos that make the job easier. If it whirs, spins, grates and chops at the flick of a switch, then I’m your gal.
My most recent acquisition is a hand blender or an immersion blender and already I’m dreaming of all the fun things I can do with this culinary instrument of destruction. My brother talked me into it after excitedly telling me he had managed to recreate Zankou Chicken’s famous garlic sauce.
My recipe for the week is pumpkin soup, the last of my pumpkin recipes for October. In the stone age, before the invention of the aforementioned immersion blender, making a pureed soup was a daunting task. Its simple preparation was marred by the experience of transferring batches of soup (in my case hot, because I was impatient) to the blender, a guaranteed recipe for disaster.
And while I try not to court mayhem in the kitchen, there are folks who do. There is even someone out there in cyber space who seems to enjoy questionable uses for his blender and demonstrates his deep seeded hatred for the iPhone 4, Bic lighters and poor, sweet Justin Bieber (this happens to be one of the most amusing videos I've seen on Youtube).
So go and treat yourself to this little handy kitchen helper and have some fun whipping up an easy, tasty fall soup.
Easy Pumpkin Soup
- 1 32 ounce box of Trader Joe's Chicken Stock
- 2 15 ounce cans of Trader Joe's Organic Pumpkin
- 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped onion (or in lieu of chopped onions and the garlic below you can use a package of Trader Joe's Onion, Shallot, Garlic Mixture in the refrigerator section).
- 1 large clove garlic, diced
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.
In a large stock pot ,combine all ingredients (except for the heavy cream) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.
Using your handy dandy immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add additional stock if needed to desired consistency (remember you have yet to add the cream). Simmer an additional 25-30 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Ladle into wide bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onions, chives or fresh thyme.