What I didn't understand two and a half years ago became completely clear on June 2013, the day Selah was born. I used to have this nagging fear in the back of my mind. That I wouldn't be a loving parent despite the topic being painted in such a positive light by most experienced folks. Whether the parent was a successful nurse by night and a mom to three children by day, or whether she was a hairstylist struggling to find a place she could call home for her and her two kids, it didn't matter. They unequivocally loved their child unto death. And here I was, thinking I'd be the only one who'd be overlooked by that kind of blessing. "What if I don't know how--or worse yet--can't love my child unconditionally?" And as such, the deluge of worrisome thoughts completed by the perfect amount of pregnancy mood shifts, continued to nag until the very moment I heard Selah for the first time. The indignant cry coming from those itty bitty lungs put my uneasy heart at rest; it reassured me that I wasn't such a terrible person after all because I had finally understood motherhood--more or less.
My mother in law, on the other hand, who is now a grandma and definitely more experienced than me, tells me that there is no comparable feeling to that of being a grandparent. That children and grandchildren do not belong on the same caliber of comparison because a grand kid's dynamic is so very unique. I think it will be one of those "you never know until you're there" type of notion. It's perhaps the sweetest thing, to see her affection for Selah and that nothing can thwart her plans of coming to see her. Funny enough, just when my father in law was trying to plan a surprise party for their 40th anniversary last month, she vowed with a matter-of-fact tone that they would spend it nowhere else but with their "kids". And so we did just that. Thanks to the generous gift of a family friend, we were able to spend a few days at a time share in Oceanside, just a city away from San Diego. While we spent our afternoons walking the pier and even embraced the art of doing absolutely nothing, I also had the luxury to grab a quick lunch with just me, myself, and I.
As I strolled around Downtown Oceanside for a foodie adventure, the one eatery that grabbed my attention was Petite Madeline Bakery. Established on a serene corner of downtown, this sit-down cafe boasts of great lighting and an impressive display of what I've officially deemed to be in the top five pastries I've ever had. Just when I thought I was satisfied with the "all day buns" and flaky spinach feta croissants made with their signature dough, I discovered their butternut squash soup. It was, by far, the most memorable soup next to mom's yukgyejang (spicy beef) and good ol' oxtail soup.
This Kabocha version, obviously inspired by Petite Madeline, as well as the undying love and loyalty demonstrated through the chapters of our parents' 40 years together, comes close enough to Petite Madeline's original. I think I would need to try it a few more times to render the perfect recipe, but I assure you this one tastes almost just as good. The texture is thick, and the warming flavor of ginger stews it up into the sweetest smelling dish. I suggest using two roasted Kabochas if you prefer a thick consistency, which in my opinion, is essential for a toothsome bowl of soup. This new favorite of mine is the perfect precursor to a cozy Christmas dinner, so I hope you give it a try!
Cheers and blessings to you and yours. And many prayers for all the distraught families who are just over an hour away from LA, especially as we approach what should be the sweetest, most wonderful time of year.
Roasted Kabocha Squash and Parmigiano Soup
Makes 10 small servings or 6 large servings
Time: About 1.5 hours including time of roasting squash
Equipment: Large pot, cutting board, oven or toaster oven
2 Kabocha squash with skin intact
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp salt + sprinkle of pepper
3 cups vegetable stock (or other)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 F (232 celsius). Place Kabocha on a baking pan and roast for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until the flesh inside is tender when poked with a fork. Set aside to cool.
In a large pot over medium fire, cook onion in olive oil until slightly translucent. Then add garlic, ginger, salt and pepper, and saute for another 4 minutes. Turn off the stove. Peel the skin off the squash which is really easy to do as it comes right off, scrape off the seeds, and set seeds aside if you choose to roast them. You can use those as a topping later on if you like the extra crunch. Add the cooked squash into the pot, turn fire on low-medium, then pour vegetable stock, water, and cream. Simmer for about 10 minutes stirring often. Add grated Parmigiano and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with more cream (if desired) and chopped parsley leaves.