Archive for January, 2012

winter soup

I love the variety of winter vegetables.  Some only lust after the juicy summer ones, but my heart goes out to cauliflower, beets, kale, leeks, winter squash, and celery root. My approach as of late is cooking 2 soups a week in quantity to last for at least one other meal or several lunches.  In years past I was always trying to make something new and different, but now I am joyfully content with just a few basic recipes.  However, my winter soup repertoire has happily grown by one or two soups this year.  Thanks to my friend Crossley, farm box queen extraordinaire, for inspiring me with lovely vegetables, and for passing on this wonderful celery root soup recipe.  The celery root is an amazing vegetable, related to celery, but not the same.  It has a wonderful mellow, earthy parsley-like flavor when cooked – particularly with a little cream.  It reminds me in a good way of the cream of celery soup I ate as a kid (strictly from a can back then).

Fennel and Celery Root Soup           

2T butter

1⁄2 cup water

2 or 3 leek whites halved, rinsed, then sliced

1 fennel bulb quartered and sliced

1-2 celery roots, quartered and sliced

approx. 5-6 cups vegetable stock

salt and pepper to taste

1⁄2‐1 cup cream or milk

Melt butter and water together.  Add leeks, fennel, celery root and 1 tsp. salt.  Cover and cook slowly for 20 minutes.  Add the stock and simmer, covered, for an additional 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes, then blend or puree (with an immersion blender if you have one – one of my favorite kitchen tools).  It may get airy, but will get creamier as it sits.  Add the cream/milk and pepper.  If you are not serving immediately, the celery root will cause it to thicken so be prepared to add more cream, milk or stock when you reheat it.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

winter knitting

Sometime around October, when the days grow shorter, is usually when I like to delve into my knitting basket. I rediscover unfinished projects, typically left undone because of a need for more yarn or buttons or my difficulty with understanding some part of the pattern.  And I get new ideas for some family member, trying to find the right use of a wonderful ball of yarn or two.   I recently knitted up several remaining balls of Mission Falls cotton into a baby surprise jacket (from Elizabeth Zimmerman) for my nephew.  It is such an interesting pattern to knit; thus both the process and the results are wonderful.

Knitting is a wonderful way for me to slow down with the seasons and be more present, to snuggle on the couch with my kids (by the fire if I get lucky), or to keep me content while playing a game or attending a meeting.  I enjoy knitting most as a process and way to relax than as a means to complete a project.  I certain many knitters have already discovered this, but for me – one who seems so often project oriented with task or goal always directing me, this was truly a deep revelation.  So instead of getting frustrated when I started 3 projects at once, I realized this was the best way to enjoy it.  Being able to choose the right level of effort required; and usually the most basic one wins.


handmade home craft sale

Pumpkin House Studio hosted our first craft sale on December 10th.  It was lively and lovely, with wonderful local craftspersons and happy holiday customers.  And it was great to see the storefront being a store again.  The event really suited the place.  It was so successful and such fun, we will be hosting 4 more craft and/or food events here this year.  Stay tuned for the spring sale info………

welcome to the pumpkin house studio blog

Hi, I am Jennifer Cooper and the principal of Pumpkin House Studio.  I live and work in the Pumpkin House, and am a designer, mother, crafter, cook, gardener, maker, and tinkerer.  Pumpkin House blog chronicles my explorations and revelations in how design and homesteading, and home and work life intersect in my daily life and our urban neighborhood.

Pumpkin House Studio is located in Oakland, California on a streetcorner in the Rockridge neighborhood.  It is a converted storefront building, creatively redesigned and developed by Jennifer Cooper and her husband, architect Tom Dolan in 2000.  Our design office is located in our live-work building, along with our home.

Visit the Pumpkin House Studio website to learn more about my architectural design work.

Visit Soulful Pastimes to read more about my other pastimes that bring joy and happiness to me and my family.