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Monday, December 31, 2001

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New Year's Eve

I made Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Soup today from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen and it was delicious:

    Makes 3 servings:
    1 large eggplants (about 1 pound each), quartered lenghthwise
    1 medium red bell peppers (about 6 ounces each), quartered lengthwise
    3 large cloves garlic, peeled
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 large onion, finely chopped
    1 small carrot, finely chopped
    2 small ripe tomatoes, peeled
    1 bay leaves
    1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
    1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
    Salt and freshly ground balck pepper, to taste
    4 cups vegetable broth
    pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
    1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

    Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside.

    Rub the cut sides of the eggplants, the skin sides of the bell peppers, and the garlic with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil. Arrange the eggplants and peppers, skin side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Add the garlic.

    Roast until the garlic is browned and softened, turning once, about 15 minutes; the peppers are blistered and beginning to char, about 20 minutes; and the eggplants are softened, slightly wrinkled, and beginning to char, about 30 minutes. Place the peppers in a paper bag, twist to close, and set aside for 20 minutes. Set the eggplant and garlic aside to cool.

    Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, heat the remaining oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf cumin seeds, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Stir in the roasted eggplant, bell peppers, garlic, and cayenne, if using. Bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

    Remove and discard the bay leaf. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor fitted with the metal blade or to a blender. Process or blend until smooth and pureed. Return to the stockpot and reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice, if using just before serving. Serve hot.

It was so good. Of course, it was for 6 people at first but I cut it in half and forgot the lemon juice and didn't have cilantro and didn't blend it totally smooth, but more a small chunky smooth, and it was delicious. Absolutely wonderful. A bit of sweetness in the flavor that is great.

I finished "The Floating Girl" by Sujata Massey features Rei Shimura, an american japanese lady who has moved to Japan and is trying to figure out how to fit into life in Japan. Between selling antiques, she is trying to do a story on anime comic books to earn extra money. She get's involved in the japanese comic book subculture and the yakuzi (gangsters) when member of one of the amateur comic book circles is found murdered. I enjoyed a look into japanese cultures and subcultures.

Then I read "Murder of a Sweet Old Lady" by Denise Swanson. Skye Denison find her grandmother dead and her companion missing when goes to visit her after a hard day as a school psychiatrist. Between trouble in her love life and realizing that her family, who, outside of her immediate family, she doesn't care much for, but still they're family, are the most likely suspects as they benefit from a trust, her days go from bad to worse. It's a good story but I always find it hard to imagine having such a horrible family as I read about in novels and mysteries. We aren't particularly close but we like each other when we are together. Anyway, it's a good story.

It's New Years Eve and I can't wait to start a new year. It's been a long year and not the best I've ever had. I've gotten some rest this break and started reading again. I always read but the last couple months it seems like most of the books I would start and never finish. I'm finishing books again, at least most of them.


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Rachel Aschmann 2001.
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