Make a Plan and Break the Rules

Click to listen to “Jagged Edges” by Jessie Holladay

The link above will play the song that was the inspiration for this post. It is “Jagged Edges” written and sung by Jessie Holladay which is the stage name of my dear friend from 1st Grade, Holly Duane. To hear more of her songs, you can find her on iTunes or send me an email and I’ll get you her contact info.

I wrote the words of the title for this blog post in my chapter called, “Jagged Edges.” Life is full of them. But today I want to tell you how they bring pleasure to the way I cook.

I love cooking. I learned how as a child, assisting my mother on my parents’ sailboat. We often had forgotten some critical ingredient, such as milk and orange marmalade when making crepes. This was how we came to use buttermilk and substitute the marmalade for freshly made cranberry jelly. The mere mention of this makes my mouth water.

Yesterday, I was telling a friend how to make a delicious curried peanut and butternut squash soup. I took out the recipe I had used as a basis for it and began to recite the ingredients. The title of the recipe was “Sweet Pumpkin and Peanut Soup.” Right there, I had made a change. I don’t have pumpkin from my garden yet, but I do have butternut squashes in abundance. We went down the list and my description went something like this:

“It calls for vegetable oil, but I use olive oil. I didn’t have any curry paste but I used plain curry, and I don’t know what galangal is, so forget that along with the chestnut mushrooms and pumpkin seeds.”

I burst out laughing. Recipes are guides. The fun for me is in seeing what I like and finding my own way with whatever I have on hand. I liked what I created so much; I’m going to share it with you before I forget what I did:

Curried Peanut & Butternut Squash Soup


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and seeded
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 T curry powder, (or more if you like)
  • 1 T each: cumin, fennel seed
  • 1-2 T limejuice or Ponzu citrus seasoned dressing & sauce
  • (I don’t usually have this but a friend who stayed here left it in the fridge. Feel free to forget it!)
  • ¼ cup Thai peanut sauce
  • ¼ cup Hoisin Garlic sauce
  • 32 oz vegetable broth (depending on the size of the squash, double this amount. You can also add some water if too thick)
  • 1 can lite (or regular) coconut milk
  • 1 cup peanuts (I used salted so I didn’t have to add salt)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic, shallots and onion over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until softened and beginning to turn golden.
  2. Add the curry and sauces to the pan and stir-fry until over a medium heat for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  3. Add the butternut squash and vegetable broth and cook until soft.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stir well.
  5. Add the peanuts and take a stir.
  6. Take a hand blender if you have one (or use a blender) and blend until mostly smooth.

The flavors come together in a most magical way.

If you are allergic to peanuts, I recommend you try it with salted cashews instead.

Garnish with a prig of parsley or cilantro.


What’s your favorite recipe for food or for a life well lived?

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6 Responses to Make a Plan and Break the Rules

  1. John Eldridge says:

    It feels like the 3 R’s at NCS. I was at a friends’ rented condo recently. They were renting it for the 2nd year. One complaint was that the glass fireplace doors were black from soot and they could not be cleaned, so they thought. I had lived in a home where there was such glass and used warm water and ammonia but there was no ammonia. The nearest store was 10 miles round-trip. I thought, check Google – Make a paste of the fireplaces ashes and clean the glass with the paste. ‘Bingo” I said to myself, it worked. So I call that a recipe for life…think outside of the box….think I can find a way….be imaginative… inquisitive….

    • Eileen Rockefeller says:

      What a great story John! You rival the works of “Mary Ellen’s Best!” It’s refreshing to hear of a homemade remedy born of imagination. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us all.

  2. Susan Cobb says:

    Love the song !!! The Dobro instrument is one of my favorite. My dad made instruments for a hobby. Hate to cook, so I say Music. A great ingredient you need when you cook . Cooking is one thing you miss out on being motherless. So I cleaned and my older sisters cooked. But boy can I clean 🙂 Music even comes in handy while working my jigsaw puzzles that I really like to do and quit good.

  3. Eileen Rockefeller says:

    Hi Susan, I agree that music is a necessary, or at least very desirable ingredient when cooking. You said so much in such a short time. You must be a writer too. Wish I could do a jigsaw puzzle with you!

  4. Judith A. Meyncke says:

    I love to cook! Thank you for sharing the recipe and forwarding the song! Judith.

  5. Eileen Rockefeller says:

    You are welcome Judith! I hope you enjoy it.
    Happy cooking,

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