Rustic Tomato Butternut Squash Soup

Sometimes I’ll throw a few ingredients in a pot, taste it, and say “damn, I am a fine cook.” That happened today for lunch (although it doesn’t always happen, and sometimes the “damn” goes the other way, as in “damn, this is truly horrid, and must not ever be spoken of.”).

So I thought I’d share. I suspect this soup would be as good cool as it was warm.


  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 t. ground sage
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 butternut squashed, peeled and steamed until soft (I used a pressure cooker)
  • 1 pint tomato sauce (I used a jar of our own heirloom tomato sauce from the garden, but any kind of plain sauce would be fine, you know, if you don’t have that sort of thing lying around)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • (optional) chopped fresh basil, for garnish


  1. Heat olive oil in medium soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute garlic for 1 minute.
  3. Add sage and thyme and stir for 1 minute more.
  4. Add tomato sauce and butternut squash. Mash squash a bit with a potato masher or slotted spoon. Simmer 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in soymilk.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you like your soups smooth, puree the soup in batches before serving (makes it no longer ‘rustic’–ed.).
  7. Garnish with basil, if using.
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Friday Happy Hour Ride

Gearing up for another Happy Hour Ride today.  Last week featured homemade ice cream. Could anything top that? (Probably not this week’s pumpkin oatmeal cookies, although they’re quite good.)

Inspired to make your own ice cream after last week’s ride? Get yourself an ice cream maker and the following (organic, local, etc.) ingredients:

  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Throw everything into your pre-frozen ice cream maker’s canister, and you’re ready to go in 20 minutes!

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Friday Happy Hour Ride

I attended the “Friday Happy Hour Ride” 2 weeks ago for the first time, and immediately became enchanted by the relaxed, casual vibe, which I attempted to capture on video. Note to non-attendees: this week’s lemon coconut bundt cake was a real delight. You can make one of your own from my favorite cookbook, Veganomicon, here:


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Putting a Face on the Singlespeed

Didn’t seem fair to write a post about being inspired by my bike without giving it a post of its own, so here it is (my, what big wheels you have!):


  • Spot Brand Longboard frame: Steel, with a split dropout to run belt drive if you want. Rides GREAT, and it’s one of the very few 29ers I fit on. I believe the Longboard was an experiment by Spot in mass producing frames overseas (their frames are made in the U.S.), and was only made in 2009. However, I simply peeled off the “Made in Taiwan” sticker, and now it was made in Colorado.
  • Black Sheep titanium fork: Actually a suspension-corrected 26er fork to reduce the standover height of the bike. It is springy and plush, but precise. Turning is quick but never floppy, and I feel like it offers all the great benefits of a 29er, with the agility and spunk of a 26er.
  • Awesome handbuilt wheels by George: Stan’s Crest 29er rims with Paul hubs and DT Revolution spokes, for an unbelievably supple ride.
  • Thomson Masterpiece seatpost: It’s like a fine piece of bicycle jewelry. Handmade in Macon, Georgia. I’m mentioning it because it was a lovely Christmas present from someone who refuses to appear in my blog. So there you go.
  • White Industries Dos freewheel: I ride my singlespeed everywhere, and this freewheel gives me a reasonable gear for the road, with a comfortable gear for the woods. I can switch gearing in a manner of seconds, although I’ve never done it mid-ride, because that defeats the purpose and purity of singlespeed. Don’t argue with me about this, and don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense to you.
  • Vintage Ritchey WCS titanium clipless pedals. Yeah, they’re awesome, and if you’re patient, you can score a set on eBay. Nothing says “The Rhetorical Purpose” like a pair of pedals from 1995.
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Forward Momentum: The Only Kind that Matters

I’m continually surprised by how much riding a singlespeed mountain bike has made me a better person. Sure, there’s the formidable increase in the size and strength of my leg and butt muscles since I started singlespeeding last October, but I’m talking about something deeper (and arguably more significant).

On a singlespeed, there is no downshifting to make it up a hill–you must instead build up speed before the crux of the climb in order to make it to the top. On a long climb, you have to meter your energy and power output at a minute level, to preserve as much momentum as you can, and rest anytime you’re able, so that you’re always ready  to explode with power when the going gets tough. (Really some great life lessons in there, right?)

This post is not about singlespeeding, however. It’s about the summer screenwriting workshop I applied for through UCLA.

You may recall that over the winter, I received the news that I’d been rejected from Temple University’s PhD program in Mass Media and Communication. After some reflection, my biggest disappointment was that I wouldn’t be able to take an elective screenwriting class in the Fall. (I know….really? Like shouldn’t I have been crying my eyes out about not being to conduct a staggering amount of research about media and interpersonal communication issues?)  Sounds like I need to take a screenwriting course, right?

This is where the singlespeed comes back in. Just like I’m trained to preserve forward momentum at any cost on the trail, I wasted no time, once my teaching was done for the summer, to find a summer screenwriting course and sign up. The UCLA program is a 10-week online, non-credit, master’s-level course for people like me, who already have a degree but want to explore the craft of screenwriting. I had to submit a statement of purpose, a writing sample, and my transcript.

The beginning of my 1-page statement of purpose? “Last autumn, I applied to the PhD program in Communication at Temple University and was rejected. Strangely, I was not particularly upset; in fact, the only real disappointment I felt was not being able to take a screenwriting class as an elective in the program. This realization made me reconsider my goals, and has led me to your door.”

Then I talk about my writing experience and what I want out of the program, etc. I seriously hope UCLA doesn’t write me off after reading the first sentence. I had to go for a dramatic opening, though…after all, it’s a screenwriting course! Nobody wants a boring story.

So take a lesson from my singlespeed: use your forward momentum to pounce on something you want to do, right now.

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Road Trip Wrapup

The Rhetorical Purpose has been getting numerous requests for some reflection on the whole Graceland Vegan Road Trip Odyssey. Really, a snippet of “Ol’ 55” by Tom Waits does a fine job of summing up a great deal of it:

Now the sun’s coming up
and I’m riding with Lady Luck
Freeways, cars, and trucks 

That doesn’t mean there isn’t one final impeccably produced video, though!

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Downtown Nashville

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