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Happy November everyone! How about some of last month’s greatest hits?

— Desperately want two (or ten!) of these darlings! They are so cute, and I’d be able to spin my own yarn! I just need a house where I can have a fenced yard…

Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep. Yes, that is actual, adult size!

— This recipe. Also, I just really love this blog. So funny, and sweet, and home-y. It’s a joy to read. And I love the dogs.

— Halloween was brilliant, as always. I made some awesome Star Trek costumes for The Boy and myself. Here’s a really terrible picture of me to prove it!

Looking into the stars! Apparently they are really funny.

— And speaking of Halloween, I want to throw this party next year!

— Also this. Hands down, the BEST family Halloween costumes in the history of EVER.

I think I can still recite most of Where the Wild Things Are. I want to be this family when I grow up :)

–The other exciting event of October what The Boy’s birthday! We had a lovely time. The celebration started as soon as he woke up with a scavenger hunt for his presents and ended with an awesome party and a rather sharp-looking cake!

Battlestar Galactica Crest Cake

Battlestar Galacticake!

— And I’ll leave you with a little bit of music: The Corries — Twa Corbies. A Scottish tune sung by some Scottish gents. Points if you know what the song is about without looking it up!

That’s what was important to me this month! How was your October?

<3
DH

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I was not feeling well yesterday.

There was a lot of laying about, Being Human on Netflix, and cuddles with The Cat and The Boy. The Boy was kind enough to take care of me — making tea and fetching crackers and things — and by the evening I was starting to feel better, but I was starving. I wanted real food. Comforting, home cooked, wholesome, healthy, delicious food.

I took stock of the ingredients available and my raging tastebuds and decided that since I had been sickly all day that I needed soup.

So I made soup. In the middle of summer. In ninety degree weather. Because I’m ridiculous.

Despite some conflicting feelings, I have decided to share the recipe with you today. The conflict arises from the fact that this is an art blog with a focus in photography. What business do I have posting recipes regardless of how delicious the dish turned out to be?

I’ve been justifying posting recipes because part of the purpose of this blog (see header) is exploring reality. I also tell myself it is okay because I photograph the recipes that I post. Also because it is something I care about.

But then I realized that I was being silly. Yes, those reasons are fine justification for including posts about cooking, but honestly, if I want to write a well rounded arts blog, what business do I have excluding recipes? Cooking is an art, without doubt. It is one of my favorite arts to practice. And when I cook I use the same level of creativity that I do with any other project I work on. I rarely use recipes, except as inspiration or for help with ratios, and so all of my cooking is as original as my images, my characters, or my prose. Since moving into my new home, I have been reunited with food and it feels just as wonderful as picking up a camera again after a long break.

That said, I have no intention of turning The First 10,000 into a food blog. I will probably post original recipes from time to time, but I will strive to keep the blog well rounded and informative about lots of art.

What are your opinions of cooking as art? I’d love your input. Comment below!

Now for the soup:

Spicy Feel Better Soup

I have decided to call this a chowder. It is not a cream based soup, but it is thickened with potatoes and has onions and corn. Also, the definitions of chowder I can find are vague enough that this soup fits just about perfectly!

I made up this recipe as I went along, so taste as you cook to tailor the balance of flavor to what you like. As it is, it made enough soup for two good sized meals for The Boy and me. I should probably mention, however, that The Boy ate three bowls of it in one sitting, so it probably makes more like six servings, depending on the size of your bowls and your appetite. It is also fairly spicy. It won’t burn your mouth off, but you can definitely feel the heat. A spoonful of sour cream on top would be lovely and balance some of the heat, if you’re concerned.

For vegetarian readers, this soup is vegan if you get rid of the chicken! Feel free to replace the chicken with tofu. Just saute small slices or chunks of extra firm tofu, well seasoned with salt and pepper, until very crispy and add the tofu to your bowl! Don’t put it in the soup pot or it wil get soggy. Unless you like that. Beans would also be a delicious protein replacement. Black beans would be good, but maybe consider a milder bean, like a garbanzo or great northern, to avoid overpowering the corn as it is already competing with a lot of spice. If you use beans, add one can, well rinsed and drained, or an equivalent amount of cooked dry beans at the point in the recipe where you would add the chicken.

Spicy Corn Chowder (original recipe)

Olive oil for sauteeing
1.5 c corn kernels
½ large onion, chopped
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Oregano
2 tsp cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Chicken breasts, Bite sized pieces
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
3 medium potatoes, cubed
Salt
Pepper

— Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in your soup pot. Add onion and corn and sauté until onion is soft and corn is beginning to brown. Don’t undercook at this step! The char on the corn makes a huge difference in the flavor. Add cayenne pepper, oregano, and cumin.

— Season chicken well with salt and pepper after cutting. Add chicken (or beans) and garlic to the pot. Cook until garlic begins to soften and chicken is at least seared on the outside. If using beans, feel free to allow them to brown a bit before moving to the next step.

— Add vegetable broth and water. I used part water because the broth was a very dark color and I didn’t want the soup to be that dark. Feel free to just use broth though.

— Add potatoes. Cover and allow to come to a slow boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender.

— Uncover, reduce heat to a simmer, and with your wooden spoon break up some of the potato chunks so that the potato helps thicken the broth. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. You should expect to need to salt the soup to season the potatoes. Add more of the other spices if desired. At this point, if you want the soup to be creamy, stir in some cream or milk. About half a cup should do, and than let it simmer a few minutes more for the flavors to meld.

Serve as is, or with a spoonful of sour cream, a sprinkling of grated jack cheese, or a slice of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Let me know how you like the soup and if you decide to make any creative changes!

Have a happy Wednesday!

-DH

It’s funny how the older I get the shorter a year feels. I’m sure it’s just a function of gaining perspective, but it strikes me as odd that when I look back on the past year it seems like it has gone by so fast. So much has happened, and although there have been some rough patches, I have been happier overall than I have been in a long time. I owe much of this happiness to my best friend of four years and partner in crime who, a year ago today, I decided had charmed me sufficiently to agree to be in a relationship with him. It took him asking and me putting him off three times, but it ended up being one of the best things I could have done for myself in 2011. That is what is important to me today, and maybe you will get a restaurant review out of it if the place we go for dinner tonight is any good.

Here’s to many more happy days!

You know what else is happy? Cupcakes.

Here’s the cupcake recipe that I mentioned in last week’s FPF. I created this recipe for another happy day — my roommate’s birthday — because when I asked him what sort of cake he would like, his response was, “Guinness. Duh.” And who am I to refuse the birthday boy? I was very pleased with the recipe and since the cake is vegan* it’s almost healthy if you don’t count the frosting. And if you are vegan, or want dessert without the added calories, this cake is delicious even without a topping. The beer gives the outside of the cake a nice bite in the crust with a tender crumb.

*Guinness is not actually vegan, I was surprised to discover. If you are vegan, you can use Guinness Extra Stout (the only vegan Guinness product) or some other stout/dark beer. You can also replace the beer with leftover brewed coffee! Also, in the interests of clarity, though I figure it is obvious from the name, the frosting is not vegan either :)

Vegan Stout Cake (Cake and Frosting recipes developed by me)
Makes 24 cupcakes / One 9×13 cake / Two 8 inch round layers

The dry:
2.5c flour
1.5c sugar
.5c Cocoa
2tsp baking soda
.5tsp salt

The wet:
2/3c oil
2tbs vinegar
2c Guinness (allow to settle after pouring to ensure accurate measurement before adding to batter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and mix until just combined. There will be a lot of bubbles from the beer and the reaction of the baking soda and vinegar, so it will look odd at first, but mix away! Do not, however use an electric mixer. Bad idea. Also don’t overmix. Once mixed, pour into greased and floured cake pans – either cupcake pans, a 9×13 cake pan, or two 8 inch round pans for a layer cake – and bake for 20 minutes (30-35 for 9×13). Frost with Whiskey-Guinness buttercream, if desired, and stuff your face.

Whiskey-Guinness Buttercream

1/3c butter
3c confectionary sugar
2/3c cocoa powder
1oz Whiskey
1/4c Guinness (enough to reach the proper consistency – not too liquidy)

Break out the electric mixer! Cream butter, cocoa, and whiskey. Add the sugar a little at a time, adding beer halfway through (once the mixture is too thick to beat), until all combined. The frosting should not be runny at all. If it is, add more cocoa powder. Too thick? Add more beer or whiskey. Only add about a teaspoon of extra liquid at a time, though, as it will thin out quickly. Have leftovers after frosting the cake? You can store it in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for a few months. Or just eat it with a spoon.

I know today’s post is a little out of the norm for The First 10,000, so thanks for reading, and I hope you get a chance to try these cupcakes. They would be perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration!

See you Friday with FPF!

-DH