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Soup and Sew

2011 November 16
by Thehousedaddy

This year they were owls.  Why owls? It started with a school art project. Noah was making an owl mask and decided he would complete the theme by being an owl for Halloween. And that meant so did Sasha. I make their costumes every year and try to help steer their decision towards what I think I can get done. But in the end it is their decision, and I always make what they want. I had hoped I would be able to hand down costumes like clothes from Noah to Sasha each year, but that didn’t last.  They now both want to be the same thing.

I love and hate Halloween.  Without a doubt it is the kids favorite holiday.  They love it as much as my father did.  For my dad, Halloween was the one time of year he could be the actor – an unfulfilled passion of his.  He would dress up every year in a different elaborate outfit.  Usually it had an international flavor, but a man in character always accompanied it.  Accent, dress and attitude fit the costume.  It was fun.

My kids somehow have developed that same love of the holiday.  Starting on the day after Halloween they start planning their outfits for the next year.  It always changes about 10 times, but it doesn’t matter since I can’t seem to get started making them until the last minute.  For whatever reason I decided to make Noah’s first costume.  It wasn’t very elaborate, but I did sew the entire thing by hand.  A simple pumpkin that was an orange sack with a matching hat that had a stem.  It wasn’t too hard and I could sew all night since he was always up feeding, and I could keep Virginia company as she fed him.

That started a tradition that has now morphed into a basic need; much like food and oxygen is for our children.  It isn’t an option for me not to make their costumes, and their level of appreciation doesn’t match the effort required to make two outfits by hand.  I have also come to realize that each inch of height they gain requires more stitches and more time.  I should have learned how to use a sewing machine.  My grandmother was a seamstress and made men’s suits in a sweatshop when she first came to this country.  She continued to work in an After Six Formal Wear factory in Philly until she retired at the age of 65.  She never stopped sewing and had a wonderful Singer sewing machine that used a foot pedal to operate.  My sister has it now, and I am sure it still works. 

In some way, I think my devotion to their costumes is really a tribute to the two people who loved kids, Halloween and sewing and sadly can’t see my kids enjoy this day as much as they would have.  Maybe that is why I feel like I have to do this.  Honor my dad, grandmother and try and compensate for the fact that my kids don’t have any grandparents.

So my method for whatever the costume is remains the same with a few exceptions.  I have done the glorified sack construction and added armholes, leg holes and this year sleeves.  With each step I add hours if not days.  I start by laying the kids on paper and outline their bodies.  If I have this I can do whatever I need to do without having a fitting.  I then need to have a vision of what I am doing which changes with the reality that I am not a skilled tailor.  I am getting better with each year, but I am still very slow.  While I am in the Halloween season I don’t do anything else.  Work, exercise and sleep suffer big time.  I don’t have much left in me after so our meals also suffer.

Quick and easy take over and there is nothing more quick or easy than soup.  I can always put a soup together without too much difficulty.  One of our all time favorites is the Asian Noodle soup.  Like everything we do, it is totally driven by what Twin Springs has, but we can also do something decent without the awesome freshness of the local stuff.

I usually first cook the noodles.  I love to use black rice noodles from the Asian market.  You can use any rice noodle, but we only had the potato, rice and soy spaghetti so we went with that.  Instead of straining them, I use the noodle water as the soup base.  The starch from the noodles adds to the soup structure and you feel good about not wasting water and fuel to double boil stock.  We sauté the onions from Twin Springs, which we can get most of the year.  If you sauté them first in a little grapeseed oil in a separate pan you get a real richness to the broth.  To the pasta water I add a little miso, soy sauce, sesame oil and mirin.  It is really important not to cover the pot when you put in the veggies.  You want to maintain their color, flavor and shape, which can’t be done if you cook the crap out of them.  I then add the things that take the longest to cook – broccoli, carrots, red peppers, bok choy and then some freshly frozen corn that we had taken off the cob a few weeks before.  I also a dice extra firm tofu or sometime I use frozen edamame.  You can put in almost anything and I use spinach, or other cabbages or whatever we got or can find.  Over a few noodles, we spoon the soup, add spice to taste, and we are good to go.  The whole process takes about 20 minutes max and there is always plenty of leftovers.  I have been know to start the day off with a bowl or two for breakfast when it is a cold morning and you just can’t get warm.

I have just been informed they want to be squirrels next year.  I think I will get a jump on that soon…..

2 Responses leave one →
  1. November 17, 2011

    the owls are fabulous–love the dangling yellow feet. And the soup looks great too!

  2. January 31, 2012

    Looks beautiful. I was thinking about you recently. On a trip to Monticello with Taylor, we learned that Jefferson was primarily a vegetarian.

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