The Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show is a big deal in equine circles and to the local economy in our part of Southern Vermont. Competitors come from all over bringing large families, horses, tack, grooms, dogs, trainers and more. They rent houses, shop, eat out and spend a ton of money. I have always adored horses and used to ride a lot so the whole shebang is an irresistible attraction.
The show lasts six weeks and is held at the huge Harold Bebee Farm in East Dorset, VT. Major events (read big prize money) happen on weekends but there’s always plenty of action. Yesterday was a picture-perfect day to be there. These are three observations of a non-serious horsey nature:
1. At a snack bar, nestled among the lemon pound cake squares and vitamin water are carrots—not those little baby carrots in a plastic bag (which, I’m told are whittled from larger carrots) but great big ones to be bought as a horse treat.
2. Admiring Chief, a handsome gray gelding, calmly awaiting his turn to carry his rider over a series of gigantic jumps, I noticed he had shortie shin boots above each hoof. Apparently these protect a horse should he knock into a jump (and add an all-important style note).
3. An elegant bay, Lipton, was decked out in something covering his ears with a decorative part on his forehead, giving him a vaguely Moorish look. I asked his rider what it was for. The answer: “fashion, mostly.” Now we have uber-chic horses. Interestingly (though not a surprise), in a booth selling these items, correctly termed “crocheted ear nets,” the vendor said they were to keep out bugs and noise. It can’t be very buggy when a horse is moving speedily around a course of jumps and the noise level was mild to non-existent (am thinking of getting something similar for use in certain New York City restaurants.) Figure it out…
Curried Carrot Soup (Rachel Ray)
1 T extra virgin olive oil (I always wonder why no recipe ever calls for plain old olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds carrots, chopped
6 cups chicken stock (feel free to make your own. I buy it.)
1 ½ T curry powder
1/4 to 1/2 t cayenne pepper
Garnish if you like:
1 c sour cream
Preheat medium pot over medium high heat. Add olive oil, butter, onion and carrots and sauté 5 minutes. Add 4 cups chicken stock, curry, cayenne and about 1 teaspoon salt.
Bring to a boil, cover and cook until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes. In food processor, blender(if you let soup cool a little) or with a hand-held immersion blender, process soup in 2 or 3 small batches until smooth and carrots are fully pureed. Return processed soup to pot and return to low heat. If soup is too thick, add remaining stock, up to 2 cups, to achieve desired consistency. Adjust seasonings.
If you want to be fancy, use a plastic squeeze bottle or medium food storage bag-if a bag, cut a small hole in a corner. Ladle soup into bowls and, unleashing your inner Picasso, draw lines, blobs, spider webs or whatever onto soup. Toss a few pieces of chive into the center and voila!