Monday, September 26, 2016

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Today's recipe is a rich mushroom soup that's perfect for wet fall evenings.  When we made this soup last the rain came down in sheets and the air was biting cold because it was actually snowing on the high mountains outside our window.  I'm still in shock that we got eleven inches of fresh snow in September - yikes!  I shudder to think what kind of winter we will get this year.  Luckily soup always tastes best when the weather is quite nasty... and I love soup.   

This soup is perfect for foul weather days or for a Sunday supper.  It also pairs nicely with a crust of warm bread.

This recipe makes two servings with some leftovers.

  •  5 Tbsp. Vegan butter 
  • 1/4 cup Celery;  finely minced
  • 3 Tbsp. Flour
  • 6 cups of warm Water
  • 10 sprigs of Parsley;  leave 5 whole and mince the rest
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/4 tsp fresh Thyme;  removed from the stem
  • 1 pound fresh Mushrooms;  stems removed and slice the caps
  • 2 Tbsp. Mushroom Seasoning
  • 1 cup unsweetened Coconut Milk (I recommend making your own)
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon juice;  freshly pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • fresh ground Pepper;  to taste

  1. Wash and clean the produce and cut them as described above to prepare your mise en place before you start cooking.  This seems annoying when you are quite hungry, but it will make for a much nicer cooking experience.  With all the ingredients gathered and prepped you will not dig frantically in the fridge or cupboard for ingredients or rush to mince the celery before the butter starts burning.
  2. In a large soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons of butter on medium heat.  Once the pan and the butter is hot, add the celery, reduce the heat and slowly cook for 10 minutes until the pieces are tender but not browned.  To make a roux, add 3 tablespoons of flour into the the pot and constantly stir with a wooden spoon for about three minutes until it forms a thick paste.  Be sure that this paste does not start turning a brownish color.  This can happen when the pan is too hot. 
  3. Next, take the pot off the burner and add the warm water gradually into the pot.  All the while, using the spoon to thoroughly blend the water with the flour mixture.  When all the water is added, return the pot to the burner and add the mushroom stems, 5 whole sprigs of parsley, thyme and the bay leaf into the pot, cover it and let the liquid simmer for 30 minutes.  After that, strain the pieces out of the broth and return the soup and the bay leaf to the pan.  Use a blender to puree the mushroom stems and the herbs and then add them back into the soup.
  4. At medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and when the butter starts foaming, toss in the mushrooms, half a teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.  After turning the mushrooms once, cover the pan with a lid and cook the mushrooms at reduced heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Once the mushrooms are done, add them and their cooking juices into the soup base and let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes. 
  6. Gradually mix into the soup 1 cup of coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of mushroom seasoning.  The soup should now have a creamy and slightly thick consistency.  At this point, turn the heat off and adjust the seasoning with some more salt and lemon juice.  This final seasoning will depend on your personal preference.  
  7. To serve the soup, ladle a portion into a soup cup and decorate it with some fresh parsley.  If you make this dish for one or two people there will be a few leftover portions in the pot.  I love this about this recipe because the mushroom flavour of this soup deepens with time so that it will be even better a few hours after making it.  So, if you have the patience to wait then it might be a good idea to prepare the soup a ahead of time.  And for the hungry cook, please know that it is delicious to eat right away as well.

HUNGRY FOR MORE VEGAN SOUP?  Here are my other recipes: Watermelon GazpachoGrilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup, Creamy Asparagus SoupMiso SoupSummer Vegetable Chili and Roasted Pepper Soup.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fall 2016 Wardrobe - One Year of Capsule Dressing

Recently, I decided to personalize the schedule of my capsule seasons ever so slightly.  I shifted the start of each seasonal capsule one month earlier then the typical capsule schedule.

My new schedules will run as follows:
Fall - September, October, November
Winter - December, January, February
Spring - March, April, May
Summer - June, July, August

I'm making this change because the new time frame throughout the year will work better for me as it reflects the feeling of the season more truly.  Below is a close up of some key pieces from this capsule.

I have been continuously dressing with Project 333 for one year now and I love it.

I already discovered that there are a lot of merits to doing a minimalist wardrobe challenge that I can benefit from and I'm sure I will grow into this lifestyle more and I will continue to learn from doing the challenge.

The phrase, “You have a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear.” certainly is no longer true.  I no longer feel like I have nothing to wear.  There is always something that I could put on.  There is something that I feel conformable wearing.  And these same pieces will also make me look presentable. 

But there is more to it and I will try to sum up how else I benefitted from capsule dressing this past year.

5 Merits of Project 333:

1) Eliminates negativity and self-criticism.
Creating your very first capsule wardrobe might take some time and even planning subsequent might be tricky, but overall having a capsule wardrobe help with time management and stress.  At least this is what it did for me.  The reason why I'm saying this is because the planning process of getting dressed will take place 4 times a year and not 365 days in a year.  While it might take a whole afternoon to plan a capsule along with planning the outfits you can wear in the season, this time will eliminate the daily struggles over dress options.  Eliminating this "struggle" will also eliminate the chance for negative inner monologue over clothes and body image.  So in a way the curated selection of clothes can boost ones confidence.

2) Capsule dressing opens possibilities.
Having a capsule truly does open possibilities because the above mentioned aspects are eliminated.  In addition, since getting dressed was no longer a lengthy process, it also left me with some extra time to focus on different matters.  With the extra minutes in the morning I was able to develop and maintain a simple morning routine: making coffee, 5 minutes in the bathroom to get ready, getting dressed and finally sitting down at at table for 30 minutes, sipping a glass of water and quietly doing whatever I feel like (watching the sunrise, making a to do list, reading or journaling).  This half hour of quite piece has made such a difference on my overall emotional well being.  Regular quiet mornings taught me to be calm, observe my thoughts without reacting or stressing.  This new habit has been the biggest gift I have giving myself this year and made the start of each day much more enjoyable.

3) Keeping a small capsule helps develop and define personal style.  
This much smaller selection of clothing allowed me to be more creativity with my style.  Piecing together an outfit from the capsule of all favourite pieces no longer takes forever.  I can just grab things, throw them on an go and combine things I did not wear together before.  And because my closet is nice and neat, I'm able to select an outfit that I might not have chosen if the closet was crammed with clothes and clutter.  Overall, I have become much faster, braver and confident in my style choices.

4) Fewer belongings means that the closet is tidy as well.
I much prefer the aesthetics and the feel of tidy spaces and having a capsule automatically transforms the look of the closet.  It no longer looks stuffed or like an explosion went off.  And when you can see exactly what you have it is certainly easier to keep the closet tidy and it is also easier to take better care of your belongings.  This is probably true because there are just much fewer items to take care of.  Less chores, who doesn't like this?

5) The reasons to continue dressing minimal become clear.
Hint, if you're like me then you know that capsule dressing is not so much about clothes or stuff, but about mental and emotional health, environmentalism, minimizing compulsory consumer behavior and examining what ownership means.  When doing a minimalist fashion challenge, removing stuff is not just about stuff, but about the benefits one can experience while or after decluttering.  And while I thought about my fashion choices, I also started to consider other questions.  
What does it mean to me to make something mine?  
What are the things I would like to hold on to and why?  
How can I live my life more intentionally and make thoughtful choices each day?  
Do I know what's important to me?  
Doing a minimal fashion challenge like Project 333 has stuff as the focus in the beginning, but at some point it will be clear that it's just about stuff.

What are your thoughts? 

But now, let's have a look at the things in my closet this season.  The capsule is entirely made up from clothes I already owned with the exception of a new skirt and a new black belt.  (As usual, I will mark all new items with a * in the list below.)

Here is my selection for Fall 2016:

1 - flowy green camisole
2 - white camisole
3 - embellished blue/white striped t-shirt
4 - white/blue striped t-shirt
5 - grey short sleeve lace shirt

6 - black turtleneck sweater
7 - white long sleeve button down
8 - olive green v-neck sweater
9 - cream knit sweater
10 - navy blue cardigan
11 - navy blue sweater
12 - navy blue/white striped knit sweater
13 - dark blue and white patterned cardigan sweater

14 - blue patterned wrap dress
15 - red, white and blue striped dress
16 - dark denim dress

17 - jean jacket
18 - black peacoat

19 - light blue jeans
20 - black slacks
21 - navy blue / navy blue with white polka-dots reversible midi skirt*

22- black chunky heel boots
23 - black chunky heel sandal
24 - black hiking sandals
25 - white tennis shoes

26 - grey camera/work bag
27 - black crossbody bag
28 - black adjustable belt*
29 - sunglasses
30 - black beanie
31 - everyday jewelry: wedding ring/band, watch, pandora bracelet and 1 pair of stud earrings
32 - long statement necklace
33 - ???

I’d love to hear about your capsule if you care to share.  For more information on the concept of capsule dressing, I recommend visiting Courtney Carver's website (linked here). 

Happy Labor Day!
   ♡ Nina