Tonights’ dinner was WAY more trouble than it was worth. I followed a recipe from my Veganomic cookbook. It was good…a unique blend of acorn squash, pears, ginger, red pepper, shittake mushrooms and adzuki beans. But considering the beans needed to be started yesterday, and competing in a triathlon is easier AND faster than cutting up acorn squash, the end result didn’t reflect my efforts.

So I’m not going to give you the recipe. I’m going to tell you what I would do differently.

First, the adzuki beans were purchased dried and in bulk. After soaking for 24 hours, they had to cook stovetop for 1.5 hours on a low simmer with intermittent stirring, then drained and rinsed. Boring beans do not deserve this much attention. Go with canned if you can.

Next issue… the squash… and the innocently understated “chop and peel two acorn squash” instructions. As the name foreshadows, the acorn squash is as tough as an Oak tree. After a few unsuccessful attempts to even nick the surface with my Cutco, I dug deep for my “Psycho”. I climbed on top of the counter and put my full body weight into the effort. Predictably, the knife slipped and almost took out dog #3. I then turned to Google, which literally recommended a SAW for this task. I didn’t have gas and goggles for the chainsaw, but a handsaw got the damn thing open. I still had to peel the skin away and chop into small chunks, which was physically difficult and ridiculously time-consuming.

In my previous experience with squash, I thought it cheating to cook the squash unopened and then cut and peel. I now see that as sheer genius. COOK THE SQUASH UNOPENED BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO CUT AND PEEL. (Side note: take the sticker off or it will catch on fire. as I was reminded by the kind ADT security dispatcher when my smoke alarms overreacted.)

In a skillet, I sauteed a red pepper and a vidalia onion and two shallots in a dash of peanut oil. Then chopped cloves of garlic and fresh grated ginger. The recipe called for 2 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp of ginger, but if I’ve learned anything in my vegan experiment, it’s this: you can never get too much garlic, and a little ginger goes a long way. So I rebelliously added 8 cloves of garlic and cut the ginger to 2 tsp.

The base of the soup was vegetable stock. I used three vege bullion cubes and six cups of water.

I added the chopped squash and 2 chopped Bartlett pears to the boiling vege stock and cooked until soft,  adding Chinese 5-spice (easily found in the grocery spice rack), and sea salt.  I added the sauteed pepper/onion mixture, and used a potato masher to semi-puree.

Finally, I sauteed 2 pkgs of chopped shittake mushrooms in a bit of peanut oil and soy sauce, and served these as a garnish. This was fabulous, and put the flavor into WOW.

And even though it all came together, the kids only wanted the loaf of French Bread that I had tossed in the bread-maker as an after-thought.

In the end, I liked the soup. but now I need a vacation.