Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Best butternut squash soup

Yes, I know it was 80 degrees today, which hardly constitutes soup weather... but this squash had been sitting around for over a week, just waiting to become soup.  And what a soup it was!  So when this Indian summer finally turns to winter, give this one a go.

This recipe is quick, simple, and delicious, and even more so if you bake the squash with maple syrup before adding it to the soup like I did.


Butternut Squash Soup
Total time:  30 minutes
Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
kosher salt and pepper
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 medium butternut squash (about 1.5lb), cut into 1/4" pieces
6 cups water or chicken broth (I used 4 cups chicken broth and got a nice thick consistency)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook, covered, for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add carrots and squash and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add liquid and rosemary and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer about 12 to 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Remove and discard rosemary.  Puree the soup and serve with good bread.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book: How to Read Bridges

Looking for a holiday gift for that special engineer in your life?  Check out this book.

How to Read Bridges: A Crash Course In Engineering and Architecture was recently reviewed in Structure magazine, and sounds like a worthy addition to bookshelves of engineers, educators, and bridge aficionados alike.  It covers bridge materials, types, uses, and the famous engineers (Roebling, Maillart, Calatrava, Eiffel...) who have designed them.  Also included are case studies of various bridge types such as beam, arch, truss, opening & moving, cantilever, suspension, and cable-stayed.  A combination of historic photographs and sketches, as well as an engineering terminology glossary and recommended book/website list add to the mix.

While looking for this book on Amazon, my search also turned up How to Read Buildings: A Crash Course in Architectural Styles.  In case you have a special architect in your life too...

Monday, October 8, 2012

USGBC v. AHBC: a hazy future for LEED?

Modern Steel Construction magazine ran an article this month entitled "Green Mudslinging" describing the tensions between US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC).  The ACC is driving the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition (AHBC), which represents building product manufacturers, many of whom are being edged out of the green building game by LEED's discouragement of certain chemicals' use in building materials.

The issue is this:  should green building rating systems be determined by the green community or by building product manufacturers?

AHBC includes US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Southern Forest Products Association, and many chemical / plastic / vinyl groups.  Their strategy appears to be to pressure the General Services Administration (USGBC's largest client) to drop LEED on the basis that it was not developed in accordance with an ANSI-based consensus process.

The article's author (a Vice President of the American Institute of Steel Construction, which publishes this magazine) suggests that the steel industry has decreased its environmental footprint by 60% while increasing its market share by 10 points by focusing on a triple bottom line approach similar to the one espoused by the USGBC.  He makes a good case for collaboration and consensus between all members of the building construction community, suggesting that since LEED is not going to go away, the rating system would be strengthened - not diminished - by adopting a consensus ANSI process.

May all involved heed this voice of reason!