where it all began… on a frozen pond or lake… kids getting kicked out of the house because their parents were losing their minds in the winter…

and it continues on in many homes in Canada around Christmas time the tradition of everyone skating and playing shinny together…

this is the only time of year that my kids have ever been on an outdoor skating rink… it was Sienna’s first time…  as well as mine…

thank you to the fine residents of Hamptons area of Calgary for having such a lovely outdoor skating rink…

the boys say it sounds different to skate outside… the way their blades hit the ice and the noise it makes is different… crisper… sharper…

fresh air that they are breathing is colder and more invigorating than what they experience in rinks…

and then they all toss their sticks into the middle of the ice…  one by one sticks are pulled out and teams are chosen… rules are you have to hit a post to score… and then this is when you find out what someone is really made of…

a few types of shinny players out there…

the farmer…  who is at a ‘city outdoor rink’ because his wife’s family are city people…  and he has never seen adults (other than his lovely aforementioned wife) who can’t skate…  it is like nothing he has seen before… everyone half-walking, half-stumbling around almost in perfect unison…  slap-shots followed by wipe-outs… and he decides he is not going to go 110%…  he tells himself this has nothing to do with laziness and more to do with compassion for those around him…  we all justify actions in our lives… and the lasagne lunch he’d just attacked like it was his last meal didn’t affect his desire to curl up in a ball and sleep at all… or the fact that he has had his front four teeth replaced a few times and is now uninsured for two of them…

then comes the Asian guy wearing a Datsyuk jersey… he loves hockey and is here every moment he is not watching hockey…  he knows he is out of control and accepts it… and when he toe drags the farmer for the second time he is in his glory… oblivious to the fact that the farmer was still digesting 4 pieces of lasagne that he ate with 4 fake teeth…

then there is Uncle who played hockey until grade 7 and has a bone to pick… unfinished business… and this is the perfect opportunity for him to finish his career well… trash talking and ‘mixing it up’… so ahead of the play there was no need to pass…

your gaze wanders over to Grandpa…  whose helmet and skates are still right out of the early 60’s and you are hoping this isn’t a trip to the emergency room when it is all done…

scoring his eighth goal is the over-competitive 13 year old that is not racking up the points in his regular hockey season and is taking this opportunity to for-go the pleasantries and pocket a few…

one young couple that is newly in love decided to come for a skate and have taken about 7 selfies while on their second lap of the rink… narrowly dodging Datsyuk toe dragging someone… oh wait.. that was me and the farmer… 

the eleven year old hits the cross-bar with a shot that sends the puck flying out of the playing area into a snow bank… everyone stares at each other and it is silently decided upon that the guy still rocking ‘Movember’ with the Forsberg Nordiques jersey on is going to walk across the cement in his skates to retrieve the puck out of the snowbank…

there are at least two guys with beards skating around with the freedom and ease that warm facial hair brings to someone on a cold day…

one girl that is better than most of the boys and still can’t get a pass from anyone…

the Nordiques jersey guy came back after his trek on the cement and proceeded to crash into the boards and then take out a kid…  but that did not slow him down…  he was able to bounce back after every stumble with more resolve to skate harder…

one of the best parts of any outdoor adventure… whether it be skating, tobogganing, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing… is getting back to a house where someone has taken the time to make soup…  preferably with some sort of bread to dip in it…

and this is what we came back to… wonderful squash and peanut soup made by my lovely sister-in-law and the kids all received hot chocolate as well…

this is what makes Christmas so good…

butternut squash and peanut soup

  • Servings: one large pot
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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp minced ginger (or 2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 14 oz (398 mL) can pineapple chunks and juice
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped (or 1 14 oz (398 mL) can tomatoes, diced)
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (or 2 tsp dried cilantro)
  • juice of 2 limes

Directions:

  • in a soup pan, heat oil on medium-high heat and add onions and salt and sauté for a few minutes
  • next, add ginger, garlic and spices
  • lower the heat and sauté until golden
  • add red bell pepper and butternut squash
  • pour in pineapple juice
  • add vegetable broth and cook until squash is tender
  • add pineapples, tomatoes, peanut butter and simmer for 30 minutes
  • add cilantro and lime juice and serve