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July 2014
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September 2014

delicious tweaking

our garden is the gift that keeps on giving ... summer squash. it keeps giving summer squash. incessantly. which is good, we like summer squash. but ... there are only so many times you can eat it as a side dish.

so yesterday marc suggested making soup, and i got on the pinterest to find a recipe. i found this one and it sounded like a winner. a quick trip to the grocery later, and i was ready to go.

we cooked all the veggies, pureed them into golden soupiness, and ... it was okay. a little on the blah side, though. henry didn't even eat one bowl, and he's mr soup.

as we were cleaning up the kitchen and talking about the soup, i said, "so tomorrow, let's tweak it a bit." we had onions, a poblano pepper, leftover grilled chicken ... we figured we could make that pureed yellow stuff chunky and delicious.

oh, did we ever.


new recipe, if you feel so inclined to use up a plethora of summer squash, too:

tweaked summer squash & corn soup

(we doubled the initial recipe. however, after eating round one yesterday, there was probably only the original yield remaining. so those are the measurements i'll give you)

1 pound yellow summer squash
2 ears corn
3 large shallots
2 large garlic cloves
1 fresh jalapeƱo chile
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


slice the summer squash. shuck the corn and cut the kernels from cobs. once you've removed the kernels, break the cobs in half and set aside. chop the shallots, garlic, and jalapeno. (remove the seeds from the jalapeno if you want less heat.)

in a 5-quart heavy pot, combine all ingredients (including cobs) and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 mins. stir in 2.5 cups water and simmer mixture until squash is very tender, about 15 minutes. discard cobs. in a blender, puree mixture in batches until smooth (fill the blender only halfway, removed the center plug from the cap, and cover the hole loosely with a kitchen towl. start on low, then move up to puree.), transferring each batch to another bowl. season soup with salt and pepper.

you can stop here, or you can add the tweaks:


4-6 chicken tenders, grilled (we seasoned them with trader joe's south african smoke seasoning)

1 white onion

1 poblano pepper

1 zucchini

1 ear corn

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp smoked spanish paprika

dice the onion and poblano. (again, remove the seeds for less heat.) shuck the corn and cut off the kernals. chop the zucchini and chicken.
sautee the onion, poblano, and corn in a skillet under tender. add the zucchini and sautee three minutes longer. add the chicken, then add the pureed soup. add the cumin and paprika. let simmer for 20 mins.
spoon into a bowl, top with some shredded monterey jack cheese, some avocado chunks, and a spoonful of salsa (we used homemade ... because our garden is also giving us an overabundance of tomatoes.)
this soup? this is goooood.

yup. still here.

summer is, quite literally, flying by. we were crazy busy in june, and by the end of july - since the kids got out of school two weeks earlier than usual - we were all thinking, "how much more of this IS there?!" but now the middle of august is in sight, and it feels like we still haven't managed to do the things we planned to do over summer break.

since the last transmission from crazytown (and if we're facebook friends, sorry: there is nothing new here for you) ...

1. IMG_0559
henry swam in the long course regional finals. in regional finals, you advance to state if a) you make a state-cut time, and/or b) you win your event. well, henry earned a second-place finish in the 50m free ... lost by .02 seconds, which was heartbreaking. even worse, he missed the state-cut time by .19. gah. he also placed in the top eight in his other events. so he did an awesome job.


2. we were surprised with a lovely afternoon visit from the kids' cousins from michigan, along with marc's sister and her husband:


3. i managed to get away twice. first, with my friend tina to her family's cabin in wisconsin. we did nothing but read, antique, talk, antique, read, and talk for two days.


then i flew to indiana to meet up with two of my oldest and best friends, at the lake cabin where we grew up skiing and dancing on weekends throughout high school. it was just like old times, laughing and tubing all the hours away. what wasn't the same was how sore we were the next day. but it was still heavenly.


4. our garden is doing amazeballs.


5. this happened:


the five flawed windows were replaced ... painting happened ... it's all good now, but it was a mess for a few days. the kitchen window changes have yet to take place, though. we're replacing the sill with soapstone and tiling up the back wall so that there is no more wood trim behind the faucet. that turned out to be a very bad thing. problem: there is zero soapstone in the area like ours right now. so we're on perpetual hold to finish that.

6. harper has been playdating her brains out.



6.5: oh, and not to be outdone by her brother, harper completed the highest swim lesson level and is (according to her. right at this very moment in time. subject to change.) on to swim team in the fall. she's feeling pretty confident. why? their final test in lessons was to swim 500 yards. little miss lapped - and double lapped - the kids in her class, and she was the youngest.


she was exhausted but super duper proud of herself. as she should be.

7. remember back at #1, when i said henry didn't make state finals? well, i lied. he was invited to swim on the 200m free relay and the 400m free relay. result? 13-14 boys state champs in both.

champs, i say.


they did an amazing job. and i'm going to show you, because that's what proud mamas do.




200 free relay ... lane four. the lead-off swimmer is a nationally-ranked kiddo, andrew, the awesome duo of alex & axel in the middle, and henry is the anchor swimmer. it was a nail-biter:

IMG 7522 from michele skinner on Vimeo.

henry's time was a zone cut (which is a good thing), but didn't count because it was a relay. he missed out on getting the time again when he time trialed, but he was okay with that ... now he knows he can do it. even better? he cut nearly two seconds off his 50 time.

but wait! then there was the 400 relay. again, lane four. again, henry anchored (i recorded only his leg on this one):

IMG 7544 from michele skinner on Vimeo.

this time, the victory was more decisive. and henry dropped three seconds off his 100 time.


he was most curious how his long course times would convert to short course. going by the conversion times, he now has a high school letter time in both events, and is in pretty awesome position moving into his freshman year. if his coach swims him in the 50 and 100, he could earn his own spot at state by time.

that would be amazing.

and that's where we stand right now. hopefully the remainder of august will be filled with more fun things, and the kids will head back to school having no summer plans left undone.