Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
You can also find Monica's writing here:
« Photo of the Week | Main | Your Eyes Were Closed In That One. Here We Go Again! Now, Smile Dammit! »

Curried Butternut Squash Soup And Crock Pot Giveaway!

**note: this is NOT some sort of sponsored giveaway. Boring, long story short: I have an extra, unopened, still-in-the-box crock pot that I want to give to you for always being so kind as to visit me here!

I've not yet waxed poetic about my new love affair with my crock pot. Perhaps it's my very Mormon background. Crock potting seems but one step removed from casserole baking. Whatever the reason, oh my, but it's a thing of beauty. Especially for the working mother or the family on a budget. Seriously, people. I work full-time and can also cook up a fantastic meal and it's no extra hassle! I'm whipping up chicken & dumplings, roast & potatoes, two different varieties of curry, a sausage, tomato and green pepper dinner and my personal favorite; curried butternut squash soup.

I've loved butternut squash soup ever since my college boyfriend took me to a work dinner at some ritzy joint and I had the soup as an appetizer. Fancy doins. It's just so goddamn autumnal, what with the squash harvest, hot soup. There's nothing better than soup when fall tap dances into season and the nights turn on you and begin to nip at your toes or any other bareskinned item that braves the cooler air outside your bed covers.

The following recipe is something I've culled from several recipes and then added a few of my own touches. It takes about fifteen minutes to slap everything into the crock pot and five to six hours later you're good to go. Most crock pot meals are that way. Chop up a few veggies, throw in some broth or stock or Campbells Cream of Chicken/Mushroom/Celery and a few hours later you're eatin' fancy. I generally whip everything together right before I leave for work and by six o'clock Serge is eating a hot, tasty meal while he reads fly fishing porn. The slimy fish moved heavily over his tense hand. Skin to skin, man and fish rubbed...

Listen folks, if I can manage this it should be a walk in the park for y'all. And! Because I want to spread the love I've decided to take you along as I whip up my latest batch of Curried Butternut Squash Soup. And then? It's free crock pot time! Join me, won't you?


2 pounds butternut squash, rinsed, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 firm crisp apples, peeled, seeded and chopped
5 cups chicken stock/broth
1 tablespoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped dried cranberries (unless your husband decides to eat the entire bag in one sitting and then? You're hosed on cranberry garnish. But, onward!)

Cut skins off two average-sized butternut squash, cut seeds out and chop and into cubes then throw in crock pot.

Peel and dice one medium-sized yellow onion and add to crock pot.

Peel apples, chop into small cubes and add to crock pot. I've been using Fuji but I think experimenting with different kinds of apples could change this soup in interesting, tasty ways.

In separate bowl pour 5 cups of chicken broth or stock (I've yet to figure out the major difference) add spices then pour over crock pot ingredients.

**Note: Spices can be expensive. You probably already have cinnamon and nutmeg. Curry powder is fairly cheap. As far as cloves go, shop around. If you live near a Wal-Mart (and I mean, really, who doesn't?) the ethnic foods aisle (particularly the Mexican aisle) often sells packets of many different spices for less than a dollar. I bought my cloves there for something like 99 cents and crushed them myself. Otherwise I'd pick one spice a week to buy and before you know it you'll be stocked up for a while.

Pour the liquid mixture into the crock pot and turn it on low.

Cook on low for around five hours, until vegetables are soft.

At this point I smash the ingredients a bit with a potato masher, you don't have to, but I do. Just stick it right in the crock pot and mash around. Just to get things started. Then you pour as much as you can into a blender or food processor and puree for maybe ten seconds or so. There's quite a lot in the crock pot so you may have to puree three different batches.

If your husband didn't eat them all LIKE MINE DID garnish each bowl of soup with dried cranberries and the tiniest pinch of cinnamon and you're good to go! This time around I made do with a cinnamon stick and whole cloves for garnish.

DeLISH! This recipe makes tons so you can freeze some or put some in tupperware for fridgerator leftovers. It usually lasts me almost a week. It's good for lunch with a sandwich or dinner with garlic bread and sometimes I even heat some up in the morning in lieu of tea or coffee. Forget your Pumpkin Starbucks Latte or whatever in hell puts you in the pre-winter spirit. This is one of the best, spicy autumnal soups for minimal effort and cost! Depending on which spices you already have this warm, flavorful meal can cost around five bucks and last several days!

Now, if you'd like the free crock pot, one just like mine, go ahead and leave a comment about your favorite Halloween costume you ever wore. You've got all weekend. On Monday I'll have Serge draw a number out of a hat and that commenter gets the crock pot!

Reader Comments (74)

I adore Halloween. I embrace it the way most people embrace Christmas. I dress up every year and have always dressed up. So there's a lot to choose from.

Probably my favorite costume of all time would have to be when I was in third grade and I went as a half girl-half boy. My mom sewed my costume so that it was a skirt on the left side and slacks on the right side. I always had super short hair, but somehow we attached a braid to the left side of my head and just mussed up the right side. I was dusty and grubby on the right side and all princessy on the left side. I even had a beard made out of coffee grinds and petroleum jelly.

We went to the Moose lodge Halloween party that year and the old judges had no idea what to do with my costume. I totally stood out in a sea of Cabbage Patch Dolls and Star Wars characters. One mother even filed a complaint about my costume being inappropriate! It was so awesome!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeneria

In my family growing up, we were all abou the homemade costumes. When I was a kid (6 or 7 I think), my parents had the ingenious idea of dressing me up like a bag of jelly beans. Now you may ask how??? Well, take 1 large clear, heavy duty plastic bag (like the kind they use for bottle machine recycling) and cut out leg & arm holes. Have your child wear long sleeve shirt and leggings- put them in the bag. Around your child toss in balloons (not helium) and attach the bag at your child's shoulders and there ya go......

Bonus for the parents are the snickers and laughs you have to hold back as the balloons pop from the friction..... I think it was one of my favorites eventhough it got a touch painful- I liked it enough to re-do the costume in my teens- with the same results!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCathy M

One year when I was really little my mom dressed me as a scarecrow which was adorable but I think my favorite outfit was the year she made me a full statue of liberty from scratch. I'm patriotic but I'm not "that" patrotic but it was a great costume, kept me warm and I could use bits and pieces of it for years afterwards. Oh there was a year when I was strawberry mom made me a yarn wig from scratch too.

I have to say I always had a homemade costume as a kid which I think is my best memory of dressing up more than individual costumes.

Thanks for the great giveaway!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

Soup looks awesome!
this was an impromptu Halloween costume I made for a party:
I bought a bunch of individual cereal boxes, emptied them and hot glued them to an oversized white shirt. Each box had a plastic knife stuck in the box and fake blood dripping all over the white shirt. I was a cereal killer.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRitaBooke

Awesome! I definitely would appreciate owning a crock pot in the coming winter.
My favorite Halloween costume was the year I dressed up as Margot Tenenbaum. I didn't have a wooden finger, but I had ripped a nail off(damn acrylic nails. damn them.) that finger recently and so I had a large bandage on it. I wore stripes and eyeliner and talked in a monotone. It was great.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraubriane

This one is more my most memorable, rather than a favorite, but when I was small my mother dressed me as a sort of cartoon opera-style Valkyrie, complete with hugely stuffed dress front, long yellow yarn braids, horned helmet, and cardboard bladed weapon. I must have looked incredibly weird, being a somber, puny, dark-skinned child, but she got an enormous kick out of it.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRochelle

We have one just like yours and we love it.

I try to just cook in ours once or twice a week. So I don't need one but your soup sounds yummy and I think we might have to try it.

And I wanted to tell you the pictures of V in the fall leaves are AWESOME! Man I miss fall :(

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

Oh my GOSH! I just found your site 3 days ago and I'm completely, madly, crazy in LOVE with you! I have posted you on my FB and sent you to ALL of my friends and now? NOW?? YOU DO THIS? Forget it. I am just about one Google click away from stalker status. Seriously.
Okay, not really But cripes! First of all, Halloween is my favorite ever. I have a party every year where we invite our friends and their kids over. I live in the burbs so it's sugar heaven for the chitlins. We have a gory dinner of manloaf, bloody mashed potatoes etc... you get the idea. We feed the kids the real food and then (here comes the great part) we SEND THEM OUT WITH THE DADS! Dads take them T or Ting and the moms? We stay home and drink the spooky cocktail of the year and feed all the little ghosties that come to the door the candy that we hate because we ate all the GOOD stuff! It is SO awesome.
I am headed to Vail this week with some of those friends and I was JUST putting my grocery list together and needed a Girl Who fix and LOOK! I can NOT wait to try this recipe!
I am making that soup on Sunday. I can't wait! I'll be sure to come back and give you a full report! w00t!
P.S. I'm not in the running for the h'ween contest, but what a fun idea!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie P

well it's actually my halloween costume THIS year that's my fav ever. It's for my work costume contest (yes it's ridiculous but they just closed down a whole branch in another city and they're trying to distract us from that awful news with goofy things like halloween costumes, but hey I'm not complaining, I'm just goofy enough to eat that shit up) and I'm going to be the Psycho victim (like from the movie) and wear a shower curtain suspended around my shoulders ( I still have to rig that up) and slice holes in it and pour fake blood on it.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ

My costume last year was a hit, I dressed up as Boy George.

I love soup!! and crock pots.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenters'dizzle

This soup looks super fab :) Very NON-mormon if I do say myself. I associate a crock roast with mo'ism. Not a very cool soup with curry powder -- hey, could we add a splash of wine just to make it even less LDS appealing?????

I remember when the church used to go all out for Halloween in the cultural hall. Bobbing for apples, haunted houses, there's just this stupid trunk or treat thing.


I was raised mormon too...finally mustered up the courage and mailed my letter the other day.

I'm so out. Effing cult.

OOOO -- there's some kisses for ya, girl :)

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

I was a witch one year and even painted my face green with an oatmeal and caro syrup mixture. It didn't work out so great, though, for the apple bobbing. . . And it was a bitch to get off!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErica

Pippi Longstocking. I looked just like her already, redhaired, freckled, and skinny. My mom braided my hairaround a wire coathanger bent over the top of my head so my pigtails flipped up just like hers. I did this once in about 3rd grade and again a few years ago for work.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWyndi

My favorite costume that I made was Jack Skellington & Sally Ragdoll. It was homemade and it rocked! But the one I will share was dressing up as a cow when I worked at the bank. This required longjohn's, cowbell, headband with sewed on ears, sewed on tail and patches. But the best part was the surgical glove that I blew up and pinned in the front for the utter. Well...the looks I got from the clients... you would have sworn I was naked! I must say I was super comfortable wearing that & warm.

This year I am going to wear a white t-shirt with a red cross on it and have some fake blood splattered down the front. I got really good fangs & make up to boot! I think it will freak the kids out when I innocently request blood for the Red Cross and then smile nicely with the fangs. Now before you start on me about being a vampire...I was a fan back in the day with Anne Rice...way before Twilight! But now that Anne has gone all righteous on us heathens I gave all my Anne Rice books away including the Witching Hour series (which kicked butt over the vampire series...I am just saying)! Anne Rice can suck it! I digress. I've always been a vampire fan and I plan on scary the c-rap out of the little kiddies in my neighbourhood. Between the fangs and fog should be good.

Btw, never had a crock pot before but I hear that it's worth having. I wasn't sure if this contest applied to Canadians. I did look for small print that stated that I have to be a resident of the States...didn't see that so I thought I would try.

Last point...I am new to your blog. Found you through Dooce. I know I like you already as I too am a heavy swearer and I am sure you can notice my grammer/spelling bites. I find swearing really emphasizes a point that one is making. So Fuck Yeah...bring on the costumes & crock pots!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCrawforn

Mmm, butternut squash! I think my favorite halloween costume is the little witch costume my mom made me when I was 5. It had a hat with felt letters that spelled out "witchy-poo". Too cute.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Marie

I don't usually do this, but as my crockpot met an untimely fate at the hands of a coffee mug (don't ask) I'm delurking to tell you that once, when I was 18, I work a pretty black formal, curled my hair, put on crown, made myself a sash that said "Ms. New Mexico" and volunteered at a D.A.R.E carnival. And everyone was saying how nice it was of me to travel all that way to volunteer:)
It was a fun costume:)

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAriel


Can't wait to make it in my new Crockpot ;)

My favorite Halloween costume would be the "nudists on strike" year; picket signs and all ("we won't bare, until you care"). I liked it because it was simple, but clever; and I didn't have to figure out how to have a great costume that would also keep me warm when it's 20 degrees outside!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRusticPrincess

My mom made me a CareBear costume one year, complete with a huge head where my face would peep out where the mouth was. One of my guy friends put on the CareBear head when we were in high school and almost got stuck!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterandria

I was 9 years old the year my mom decided to hand sew a costume for me. Being a single mom with a full time job and a part-time drinking habit, time was not on her side but she pressed ahead anyway. I decided that year I wanted to be a shark, I took great pride in my 9year old self going through the McCalls catalog at the Walmart sewing center, finding the pattern and picking out the material all by my self. The cardboard fin on the back wouldn't do for me, NO SIR, I was going to have a full on costume.
The day of Halloween rolls around and I race home from school to find my mom frantically still sewing on my costume, the teeth in the open mouth, not there, the all important dorsal fin, safety pinned on, the batting that was supposed to give the costume some shape, no where to be seen. "It's going to look great" she says. "I'm almost done." She puts the final stitches in the side fins, pulls the costume off the machine and pulls the thing over my head, because of the lack of batting, it didn't fill out the way it was supposed to and hung a little wrinkled over my body, the fins lay limp and elongated at my sides, and the head part that was supposed to stand about 4 inches above my own head instead fell over my face like a monk's hood. My mom proudly marched me out into the living room to show off her handy work to her boyfriend. He looks at me for a solid 5 minutes, looks at her, looks at me again, shakes his head and says "She looks like a huge, limp, penis." Me being 9 and not all that familiar with the world was not so sure what he was talking about, but new it wasn't good. My mom rips the costume over my head and says "It just needs a little tweaking, give me 20 mins."
After she's gone the boyfriend grabs his keys, tells my mom we'll be back in a minute and drives me up the street to the Walmart, "Pick out whatever you want" he says to me at the thoroughly picked over costume isle. My little 9 year old tom-boy self finds the holy grail of super cool kick ass costumes, a Ninja, complete with plastic throwing stars, nunchucks, and a sword, and that's the best costume I ever had. It was only later when I learned what I penis was that I became truly emotionally scarred.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen I

The one Halloween costume I always wanted but never got was a clown. I know, pretty boring, but I just always longed to wear the read nose, ruffly collar and big shoes. Finally, after I had four children of my own, I decided it was time. I got myself an adult sized clown costume, made up my face, plopped on the red nose and off we went!

I had a blast!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

I heart fall! (...and I just moved across coasts and haven't purchased a cockpot yet so... fingers crossed)

My favorite halloween costume had to be when I was tinkerbell - outfitted from a shiny green shower curtain and some sparkly shoe laces and plastic high heels. this was in my punk rock days so my mom was happy to see me 'dressed up' and my platinum buzzed hair w/ a side swept tuft of bangs actually worked. (i shiver at the thought now).

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenel

I was always famous women from history. Anne Bradstreet (when I was 5), Sacagawea, the goddess Diana, Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton, the goddess Persephone, Queen Mab, etc. Only when I was very little was I a generic princess and clown. Of course, I was all these women plus longjohns. Traditional Shoshone dress--plus longjohns. Traditional Puritan dress--plus longjohns. Greek toga --plus longjohns.The nineteenth-century ones were warm to start off, except that as it turns out, petticoats and rainy, slushy, puddles and snow do not mix. That dress weighed a ton when I got home!

I can't pick a favorite but always had fun and learned a lot! And I would love a new Crock-Pot!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSallie Ellis

all throughout our childhood, my best friend and i would dress up as a theme or in identical outfits. one year it was witches, the next year clowns and so on. one year we bought those little heart best friend necklaces where one friend wears the "be fri" and the other "st ends" and you put the two halves together to read best friends and form a heart. apparantly we wanted to annouce our friendship status to the world because we decided to construct a giant, wearable version of the heart. we got huge pieces of card board and cut out the shape, tied the pieces together to form a sandwhich board sign type thing, spray painted them red and then wrote out the was FANTASTIC and got quite the reaction and justified us hanging out the whole night...
p.s. us Manhattanites don't have a wal-mart!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpeach

Thank you for thinking of us! The weather is just starting to turn in Sacramento which for us means instead of 100+ days we are down to 80+ days. I miss fall! But with the "cold" snap coming soup is starting to sound fantastic!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZoe Right

Favorite costume...when me and the hubby went as Sonny and Cher! I am taller...he looked HILARIOUS!!! Good times...

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjazzylove

I have two favorite Halloween costumes, one from childhood and one from adult. When I was in kindergarten, I was obsessed with Pippi Longstocking so that's what I was. My Mom took a mop (the old string type) and dyed it red and then used wire to make the braids stick straight out. I had one brown sock and one black sock from my Dad's wardrobe and I wore my sister's shoes so I had shoes that were way too big and then a blue smock dress that my Mom sewed patches on. She painted freckles on my face. I loved it.

I'm a hockey addict so as an adult I borrowed hockey gear from one of my friends who plays in an adult league and put it all on complete with hockey jersey and then my roller blades and wore it to work. It was so much fun skating around the office all day until they said I had to take the skates off because it would be a liability. Those hockey pads get really hot after an hour or so!

Love the look of the soup, I gotta try it. I love to make soup in autumn. This one looks so good.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermcatgirl

OOOH! I just love a contest! Well, my favorite costume would definitely be the year I was 13. A classmate was having a Halloween party and I dressed as a pirate but then came home as "A Lady of the Night." I don't think I knew at the time what exactly that was but my mom was not at all pleased.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLyndsey

I already have a crock pot, so don't count this toward the contest. I just wanted to share.

First, love the recipe! Just recently started RSSing your blog and am really enjoying it.

Secondly, I adore Halloween. My absolute favorite holiday. Most of my costumes as a kid were pretty crazy. We didn't have any money so My sis and I took turns wearing my mom's old dance costumes from the early 60's. One was a poodle another was a yellow chicken. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. I've been Princess Leia twice (age 3 and age 16, the second one I made myself and had hair long enough to wear in buns). Been a Lost Boy (peter pan, not vampires) and was a Greek goddess once with one of my mom's old prom dresses (very drapey). Dressed up as the Heidi-Ann Swiss Cheese girl for work one year when I worked in a Deli. (Think a blond Pippy Longstocking crossed with the Heineken girl).

My FAVORITE costume ever, though, has got to be from my Senior Year of high school. I lived in a farmhouse on 8 acres of woodland reserve and decided to throw a Brian Froud inspired "Demons and Faeries Costume Ball" in a clearing deep in the woods complete with bonfire and Stokowski's arrangement of "Night on Bald Mountain". So I made myself a blood red satin ball gown skirt with black netting underneath. It was massive. I wore a fluffy charcoal grey angora mid-riff sweater (I was much thinner then), with black faerie wings. Then I used the red satin and black netting to make a dual-horned headdress with trailing black veil a la Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Had a few random touches of jewelry and make-up plus realistic vampire teeth (not as easy to find then). To this day I have yet to create anything quite so awesome. It made for a great party and really helped set the mood for the night when my Satyr co-Host arrived too. Wish I could find the pictures...*le sigh*

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarissa

looks so simple even a mormon housewife like myself could do it... if i had a crockpot!!!!!!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermax calise

When I was young, my aunts used to take my cousins and me to the drive-in, where we saw Grease about a million times. (That's only a slight exaggeration.) The year my three cousins and I dressed up as pink ladies was by far my favorite Halloween memory. My grandma sewed us all the pink satin jackets and we thought we had the coolest Halloween costumes ever. We loved it, and wore those dumb satin jackets until the threads practically came apart. (I was Rizzo. Totally not a surprise to anyone who knows me now.)

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndria

My favorite Halloween costume was in 4th grade. Because i'm a (young) thirty-something, my costume would have looked like some retro transfomer to someone born in the 90's.

I was a boom box. We took a refrigerator box and turned it on its side, spray-painted the whole thing silver and put speakers, a tuning dial and volume knob and an opening/closing tape deck (at this point, the young'uns are scratching their heads) in the middle to put the candy in. It was awesome. But i couldn't get through anyone's doors, and it was a bit awkward to walk around with my arms sticking out the sides all night long.

Happy autumn cooking!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDasha

My favorite costume was when I was about 8 or 9 years old and I dressed as a witch. I went trick or treating with a girl who came from a fundamentalist Christian home, and her parents wouldn't let me in their house because I was "evil." I loved that feeling.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTawny

Hands down, fave costume, that no one but my mother and I "got"

I dressed up in normal clothes with Lay's potato chip bags all over my body because "No one can eat just one"

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwindylou

In 2007, during a trip to Puerto Vallarta, I bought a luchador mask and decided I'd to be Nacho Libre for Halloween. To complete the outfit I put red shoelaces in a pair of old combat boots, donned a pair of black cycling tights, pulled on a red Speedo over the tights, and tied on a red cape. I was shirtless under the cape, and I'm what some might call "festively plump." Needless to say my wife was a little less than thrilled about walking around with me and the kids as we hit the neighborhood on Halloween night, but I had a blast.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff

My favorite Halloween costume was probably the year that my friend Jody and I dressed in drag and went as the Blues Brithers. So much fun!

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnabelle

the best halloween costume i ever wore was the year i was a mormon missionary who had been hit by a car. i wore a white short sleave dress shirt, a skinny black tie, black slacks, carried a book of mormon and covered myself in tire marks and road rash gore makeup.

October 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjulianna

my mom made me an awesome jack-o-lantern costume when i was in kindergarten. too bad i fell over and couldn't get up. i had to roll around on the floor while my mom and sister laughed at me.

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterariana

First of all - that looks Deeeelish.

Secondly, I totally need a crockpot !

You are super cute to give it away to the numbered responder. Here's to some hopeful crockpot karma! Mmmkay, that is a weird thing to say.

My cute hubs once gave me cow pajamas. Oh man are they cute, you know the Nick n Nora kind that are soft and flannel-ee? So yes, these have a cow print too, stoopid cute. That year I got too close to Halloween without the correct thought and planning and did the 11th hour 'Oh crap what can I turn into a costume around here' thing. So my pajamas and I teamed up and I did a DIY halo for over my head (think Saint - not Angel) and carried an incense burner. So what was I?

A holy cow!

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJane

My absolute favorite Halloween costume, in the history of myself, was when I was around eight. I decided that I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking due to a little gorge I had with her books and various televised renditions. I picked out my most mis-matched clothes (I believe including an old bright blue velvet dress, assorted socks, and a red apron) and my father enthusiastically bend a coat hanger to weave through my braids... I am pretty sure I insisted on putting in that wire beyond Halloween day.

Anyways, here's to a crock pot. I am really enjoying your blog, so thanks!

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWysket

These might be my favorite comments ever, people. "Festively plump". Killing me.

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who...

Happy fall coincidence! My husband just picked out a curried butternut squash and apple soup to make for our dinner party tonight, and I picked up the ingredients last night.

Thanks for the garnish suggestion of dried cranberries and cinnamon.

yet another ex-mo

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam-I-am

The year after my mom died (this is shaping up to be a horribly depressing comment but I promise it really isn't) I was 11 and I tried my hand at homemade Halloween-costume-making, because she had made our costumes for as long as I remembered so how hard could it really be, right? For whatever reason - I had a really weird sense of humor as a sixth-grader - I decided to go as Brunhilde, i.e. the Wagnerian "it's not over 'til the fat lady sings" opera Viking lady. My dad and I managed to stitch together a long plain dress out of red jersey material without too many problems, and then for a breastplate I cut some shiny silver fabric and glued it to the dress. The best part, though, were the boobs - at a newly-pubescent 11, I didn't have anything like what I needed to pull off a convincing portly Valkyrie - so we made broad cones out of posterboard, covered them with the silver fabric, and glued them to the front of the breastplate. (We did something similar for a hat with horns.)

So on the day of the school Halloween parade, when all the students dressed up in their costumes and marched laps through the school hallways, I secluded myself in a bathroom stall, wrapped myself in cotton batting, pulled the dress down over it, bobby-pinned the hat to my hair, and strode back to my classroom to join my other costumed classmates, readying myself for their gasps of approval and admiration.

That was when I realized that all the other sixth graders were waaay too cool to dress up for Halloween, that was apparently little kid stuff. Ah well. I adjusted my cotton flab, pointed my shiny conical boobs, and - as the oldest student in the parade - led the little kids around the hallways, like a Viking princess with her minions. It was pretty awesome.

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterabi

I am newly addicted to your blog and I have to say it sort of freaks me out that there is ANOTHER person out there who sees life along the same lines - thank GOD! Love your stories, love your perspective.......let us know when the book comes out so we can add you to the "people who kick ASS" shelf.

My favorite costume was the year that my mom fixed me up as a Hershey Kiss. Picture looooong skinny legs clad in brown tights, a chicken wire Kiss shape covered in, oh I dunno, FIFTY rolls of aluminum foil (If I get Alzheimer's I'll know who to blame), a small pale head sticking out the top with a foil covered beanie (can anyone say ITCHY?) perched on top with a white flag sticking out the top. I looked pretty good, all things considered, but it was a wee bit uncomfy.

And, just because you shared a recipe that had my tummy growling, here's one in return. Even though this isn't technically a recipe (because I never measure when I make it) this makes some seriously deliciously French Onion Soup. Cut up a metric crap-ton of sweet onions (I use one and a half of those big bags) into slices; chuck into the crockpot. Cut up one or two shallots; chuck 'em in. Add one plop of butter (probably only two tablespoons) and a TB or two of olive oil. Throw in a TB of thyme, a TB of marjoram and a couple of twists of black pepper. Cover and cook overnight on low. BE WARNED - when you wake up you will fall over at how good it smells! You will have a sticky, rich, brown and HEAVENLY onion jam in the bottom of your crockpot! Add enough beef broth/stock (I don't really get the whole difference, either) to make as much soup as you want. Cook for the rest of the day on low.

Get some good, crusty bread and cut some nice thick slices about 1/2 an hour before you are going to start preparing dinner (you want it to sit out and get slightly stale). When you are ready to start serving, place one of those slices of bread in an ovenproof bowl and ladle the soup over the top, almost to the brim (it helps to have your bowls on a rimmed cookie sheet). Top the whole caboodle with some shredded cheese; I use a mixture of gruyere, fontina, sharp cheddar and a little parm. Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and crusty.

Serve. Pick yourself up off the floor and have another bowl. Repeat as necessary. There is something about that low cooking overnight that makes the onions better than anything else I have tried.

Enjoy and thanks!

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

As it turns out I have very swiss cheese-like memory of my childhood. I can remember a tonne of details but have no idea what grade I was in, what school I was at, or who it all happened with. Like I remember the words to a song I sang as a witch in a school play, and the fact that I talked my dad into not making me wash my hair the night before (because a witch is dirty, right? Mum was ma-a-ad) but not the year, the play itself, or who else was in it. SO I depend heavily on my longtime bff for answers to questions like "Who was our grade two teacher?" "Did I play violin or clarinet?" and "What's my dad's phone number?" However,she now has a 1 year old and is still suffering from baby brain, which I have begun to fear is permanent. Crap! Both our childhoods are lost!

The upshot is I remember wrecking a grey sweatshirt by writing "alcatraz" on it, and a gypsy skirt made out of ties by my grandma that I threw on last minute when my friends trick-or-treated at my house and I was home all sad because no one had asked me, and they were all, "Why aren't you ready?" I do remember the best halloween ever, when it was a huge blizard and my dad took me down one street, and everyone gave me ALL their candy because no one else was out.

The upshot is this: I only really remember this. One year (5 years ago?) i wore a velour track suit (zipped way low), wedge heels, huge hoop earrings, high ponytail and a lot of shimmer make up to a party and was Jennifer Lopez. HOWEVER while there was a chick there in an early 90's wedding dress, not everyone was in costume, and I spent the whole night wondering if people thought I was just a somewhat slutty girl who was a bit too chubby for a velour track suit.

SIGH! A lot of digression and a spotty halloween past, but I would love a crock pot, and have been lving your blog since I discovered it last week...your archives may be the death of me and getting any work done!

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterms.mildred

Thanks for just a beautiful/descriptive post!
LOVE this recipe, will be trying it very soon!

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Elizabeth

oh yes, forgot about k-mart, occassionally i'll stop by the one by penn station, but usually i have to stick to the lovely Food Town...uck...makes me long for the parking lots and malls of oregon sometimes

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpeach

The best costume I have ever had is a gypsy that my mom made for me when I was a kid. Home made ones are the best!! Too bad I'm not so crafty for my kids....

Crock pot looks great! So does the soup.

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

Halloween is always exciting for favorite costume was when I was Billy Joel in college...Piano tie and all.

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPhil

I was once an owl, but everyone thought I was maybe a raccoon with feathers.

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshley Gill

Monica! Thanks for being such a cool chick & always keeping it real. I've been a fan of your blog for quite some time now, but this is my first ever comment. The chance to win a free crockpot got me, haha. Loving the step by step picture guide. The soup looks quite tasty.

So my best Halloween costume was a few years back when I went as the Morton Salt Girl. I found the perfect little yellow dress at a local thrift store, wore a bright yellow bob style wig, a pair of maryjane heels that I spray painted bright yellow, and I carried an umbrella that I hot glued silver tinsel to so it looked like the rain streaming down. To top it all off I found the Morton Salt label online, made a color printout and glued it around an empty oatmeal container and carried that under one arm. It was AWESOME!! Everyone loved it!

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura C

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>