Sunday, December 30, 2012

Soup Sundays

In my post of last Friday, I rambled on a bit about how January seems to be a good month to try out some new soup recipes.  In the comment section, Tami (500 Dollar Tomato) suggested all of us who are interested share a soup recipe on the weekend so we'd all have the opportunity to try it in our own kitchens.  (Okay, so maybe that wasn't exactly what she said.  I admit I'm kinda putting words in her mouth.)

What say we try to post a soup recipe (one of our own favorites or something new we've stumbled upon) every Sunday for the month of January?  Just imagine all the new, yummy soups that could end up as keepers in our recipe boxes!

I know it's not January yet (however, watch out, 'cause it's approaching on waxed sleigh runners!), but I'll kick off Soup Sundays by posting this soup I made yesterday.  It's adapted from the More-with-Less Cookbook, Suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources.  I tried the recipe once before but wanted to tweak it a bit before giving it another go.  And lo and behold, I actually took the time to write in the book the changes I wanted to make so throwing it together was fairly simple.

Guess I'll deem the revised recipe a resounding success because even Mr. I-Need-Meat-to-Stay-Strong (aka Papa Pea) said more than once how hearty and flavorful his bowlful of soup was.

I used homemade turkey broth (thanks to that big, ol' turkey carcass at Thanksgiving time) and I'm sure that added part of the good, rich taste.

Don't tell my hubby (we wouldn't want him to get overly excited) but I'm going to add some chunks of turkey meat to the ample amount of soup we have left.  Ham or crumbled bacon would also be very good.

So here's my recipe for Vegetable-Rice Chowder.

* * * * * * * *


1/2 cup rice, uncooked (I used white Basmati)
5 cups broth
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 cup cubed potatoes (I just used a medium-sized potato)
1 medium chopped onion
3/4 cup sliced celery
1 cup canned tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt*
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill weed

1 cup milk

* * * * * * * *

Put all ingredients (EXCEPT milk) in large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.

Before serving, add 1 cup milk and heat until very warm, but don't boil.

Serves 6.

*Note regarding the 2 teaspoons of salt.  My homemade broth is never very salty so the 2 teaspoons of salt in the recipe was just right.  If you use commercial broth, which is usually on the salty side, you might want to reduce the amount.

I served the soup with (fake) Boston Brown Bread and slices of dill pickles.

Without meat, this is a very inexpensive soup to make.  And as I said, even my hubby didn't object to the lack of meat in it.  But it would also be a great soup in which to use up that last half cup (or so) of ham chunks getting chilblains in the freezer.

If you have a hankering to join in on Soup Sundays, get your recipe ready for posting next Sunday.  This will be fun.  And tasty!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


We did get some snow over night.

Even our back door (the only door we use for coming and going) wreath which is in a semi-protected spot got some snow on it.

There's not much more than 4" of very light, fluffy snow but it's enough to make things look clean and winter-y.


Friday, December 28, 2012

He-e-e-e-ere's Grumpy-Dump!

My mood has been matching our landscape.  DREARY.  Ugly and monochromatic.

Fortunately, the weather forecast is calling for a few measurable inches of snow to fall on us this afternoon and over night so if it happens, that should spruce things up outside.

I commented to my hubby this morning that I sure hope I snap out of my grouchy, lethargic mood soon.  He seconded the motion without hesitation.

* * * * * * * *

It's time to think about going through all my garden seeds.  The latest garden catalogs are forming a formidable pile on my desk so it's time to fill out my orders.  I don't feel really secure about each upcoming gardening season until I have all my needed seeds squirreled away.

I know I need to hire someone to hold me back from planting so much Red Kuri squash this coming year.

Although they are keeping well on a shelf in my pantry, we're not going through nearly as many of them as I still have.  The darn things grew so big this year (pint jar in picture for comparison), one of them serves four or five meals for us.  I cooked and froze many of them last year but didn't care for the texture (a bit on the watery side) or taste as much.  Although they are a great substitute for pumpkin, how many pumpkin pies or pumpkin muffins can you eat?

* * * * * * * *

Once the holidays are past, I start thinking about hearty, healthy food.

Just picked up a cook book at the library dedicated to using quinoa.  Quinoa is touted as a really nutritious grain and I should use it more than I do.  If I come across any super-doo recipes in the book, I'll be sure to share them.  (Take note, Susan . . . 100% gluten-free!)

My freezer needs to be restocked with soups.  And what better time to try out some new bread recipes than in January?  Yup, soup and bread will taste good in the upcoming weeks.  (Months?)  It seems that especially some members of the male sex don't care for soup, but my husband loves it.  I'm fortunate in that because soup is such an easy, all-in-one meal.

* * * * * * * *

I'll leave you today with this quote I came across last night:

"Year by year the complexities of this spinning world
grow more bewildering and so each year we need
all the more to seek peace and comfort
in the joyful simplicities."

- Women's Home Companion, December, 1935

Food for thought.  Both in the words . . . and the date. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Unexpected Day At Home

Well, our game today (trip to Swamp River Ridge and back with a load) was called because of icy roads and high wind.  We were all suited up, packed and 'bout ready to go out the door when Chicken Mama called from the road (she had left 20 minutes before us) saying conditions were not good and she didn't want us to chance it today.

Papa Pea and I stood in the kitchen looking at each other and I said, "We really should do something outside since we're both dressed for it."  

He decided to go work on our hiking/snowmobiling/snowshoeing loop on the back of our property.  It suffered a lot of blow down damage over the summer (always does) and we never got around to cleaning it up this past fall.  So off he went and I went back to the wood shed and spent an hour or so chopping kindling in an effort to (start to) fill the kindling bin which I never got around to doing this past fall.  (We must have both really sloughed off this fall, eh?)

Then I came in and made a batch of Coco-Mint Cookies (Christmas-type thingies) that I haven't made in years.  By then hubby was back and walked out to get the mail since we probably aren't going out or needing to start a vehicle today.

I had made a big batch of potato soup day before yesterday and we had a lot left over.  I've gotten into the habit of adding veggies to the potato soup the second (or third) time around which I did for lunch today.  I added (frozen from the garden) broccoli and peas.  Frozen turkey meat from Thanksgiving and corn went into the pot, too.  Tasted pretty darn good!

But that isn't the soup I wanted to blog about today.  In answer to the request for the Cheddar-Cauliflower Soup recipe from my Unknown Nephew (I still don't know which nephew.  In California?  Or Illinois?  Or Florida?  Come on, fess up, Fella!), here it is.  (Dang, I know I wrote this recipe in a blog post before, but I sure can't find it in the archives.)


1 head cauliflower
1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4-1 cup)
1 teaspoon dried parsley (fresh, if you have it, of course is better!)
2 cups chicken broth (about one can if you don't have homemade)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon  flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch each of nutmeg and white pepper
2 cups 1/2 & 1/2 (I've used whole milk and/or half cream and half milk)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Wash cauliflower and cut into bite-sized chunks.  In large saucepan, combine cauliflower, onion, parsley and chicken broth.  Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer til cauliflower is tender.

In a smaller saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour, salt, nutmeg and pepper.  Cook stirring until bubbly.  Remove from heat and gradually blend in 1/2 & 1/2.  Return to heat and cook, stirring frequently, until very hot (but don't boil).  

Stir in the shredded cheese until melted.

Add cheese sauce to cauliflower mixture.  Makes about 6 cups.

The above picture isn't a fair depiction of the soup because it's the batch I was going to take out for our work day today, so it's cold and has been patiently waiting in the refrigerator right now.

The flavor of this soup improves the second day and it also thickens a little overnight so you may want to add a little water or milk when reheating it.

I use the same recipe substituting broccoli for the cauliflower.  Good stuff!

Okay, back I go out to my kindling project.  I love splitting kindling.  It's kinda mindless work, but provides good thinking time.  (For me, it's mostly thinking about not whacking my fingers with the hatchet!)     

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Somebody's Stealing My Hours

Okay, so I realize we're coming up on the shortest day of the year.  Dawn these mornings seems to take for-EVER to arrive while 4:30 p.m. and complete darkness arrives . . . right after lunch it seems.

So daylight is definitely in short supply.  But come on, folks, we have electricity and a lot of lights and lamps in our house so there's no reason I should feel as if these days are super-short and going by at warp speed.  But I do.

Once again I'd like to issue a public apology to those of you whose e-mails have been languishing in my In Box waiting for a reply. It WILL happen.  It's just that the herd of turtles (that is propelling me along these days) is not moving very fast.

Each day I promise myself I'm going to get caught up reading all of your blog posts and get back to regular posting myself, but one thing or another keeps pulling me away from doing so.  (Ha!  Right now it's the timer telling me to go take bread out of the ovenBack in two shakes . . . )

* * * * * * * *

We're still involved with moving Chicken Mama out of Swamp River Ridge and the Oatmeal Bread (cooling on the counter) and Cheddar-Cauliflower soup I made earlier is to be lunch for the crew of five we'll have working there tomorrow.  It's scheduled to be another big push day and we're hoping the 50% chance of snow doesn't fall on our parade.

Our wonderful neighbor to the east told us a week or so ago that he was offered an 8' x 12' solidly constructed wooden shed if he would move it off a client's property.  D said he'd be glad to set it up on his property and let Chicken Mama use it for storage.

We simply couldn't ask for better neighbors and friends than these folks.  We feel so blessed to have them in our lives.

So D and Papa Pea spent part of yesterday and a couple of hours this morning getting it up on  our flat bed trailer and moving it (very slowly and carefully) the 15 or so miles to D's property where it is ready for some of Chicken Mama's packed away things.  (I think she's moving some boxes in there as we speak.)

* * * * * * * *

I finally got some Almond Spritz cookies baked today to round out the Christmas cookie selection.  I swear spritz cookies are so temperamental that each year I should just plan on eating (quickly before anyone sees them) the first batch (or tossing it into the compost heap maybe even) because they come out so misshapen.  It takes me the whole batch of dough to get the "feel" of the press and be able to turn out something that actually is recognizable as a wreath or Christmas tree.  My spritz cookies are never pretty.

* * * * * * * *

Yessir, 'tis busy enough around here and I'm not finding adequate time in each waking day to do half of what I want to do.  The only explanation is that somebody is stealing my hours.  And I want it to stop!     

Sunday, December 16, 2012

From Decoration to Deer Food

I grew large pumpkins in the garden this past year to use as fall decorations.  'Twas a good pumpkin year and we had some real whoppers.

They added gorgeous autumnal color at the base of trees, by the garage door, our main entry door, on the deck, etc.

We had some cold, freezing weather early on and the orange pumpkins kept their color but turned into rock-hard, ceramic-like globes.

Then, drat and darn, there followed some unusually warm weather, the pumpkins thawed but could no longer maintain their lovely, round shapes.  Old age quickly set in and they started to sag and bag.  We decided they'd have to go to the compost pile soon.

One particular pumpkin that was at the base of a tree started showing signs of being gnawed upon.  At first we wondered what critter was helping himself to an animal version of pumpkin pie, but soon realized since the pumpkin was near a path the deer often use (and noticing deer prints all around the spot . . . well, duh), it was our deer population consuming the pumpkin.

So we gathered up all the rest of the pumpkins and took some out to our small hay field, and placed others by different deer trails.  (The chickens got a couple of them, too, which they seemed to enjoy.)

The ones placed out and about for the deer disappeared faster than we would have ever imagined.  There was quickly no evidence at all of the ones left out in the field.  Even the coarse stems were gone.

This picture of not much more than a little pumpkin pulp was taken late in the day.  It had been a nearly whole pumpkin that morning.

So my pumpkins served us well this year . . . decorations that we enjoyed for well over a month and then food for the wildlife.

Neat fact:  Did you know that pumpkins are a natural vermifuge?  That means they contain a substance that expels or destroys intestinal worms.  Works the same for humans, especially the pumpkin seeds.  (Sorry, hope you weren't eating while reading this.)     

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Will It End?

We don't watch much TV.  It's infrequently on during the day.  Yesterday morning I was home alone so popped on the little set in the kitchen to check out a couple of shows I haven't seen in a long time.

As with others hearing the horrible news, I was at first stunned, then felt physically ill, then plunged into a well of depression.

Not again.  Please, not again. 

 I watched the TV screen transfixed, tears streaming down my face while I became sadder and madder.

When will this end?

It's not about gun control.  Anyone who thinks it is, is refusing to look at reality.  It's about our sick, sick, sick society.

Fellow blogger Ruth Dixon over at Hope, Faith and Joy Farm wrote a post that says it better than I can.  You can read it here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Not to Worry . . .

Many thanks to all of you who have inquired as to my health.  I totally understand why you might question it.  (Oh.  Were you speaking of physical health?)  I mean I haven't put up a blog post in over a week which is an unusual rarity for me.  ("Unusual rarity" . . . my mom was fond of saying this because she had a friend who used the phrase frequently and didn't understand why it caused people to do a mental shake of their head.)

Admittedly, I've been in a no-post rut.  Not only haven't I been posting, but I haven't even been reading (gasp!) or commenting on favored blogs.

* * * * * * * *

We're still involved in The Great Moving Adventure with Chicken Mama, although I have nothing to complain about because she's the one carrying the big burden on that.  (I'm just carrying boxes.  Hahahahaha!)

The above is an old snowmobile trailer that Chicken Mama wanted to keep.  Papa Pea pulled it home on his last trip out to get a load.  It made it the whole way . . . before one of the old, cracked and dilapidated tires went flat as a pancake.  What luck on that one.

* * * * * * * *

My temporary lack of blog enthusiasm may have a lot to do with the time of year.  I do know I'm feeling emotionally and physically exhausted.  Just plain TAH-red and lacking the oompf to do what needs to be done.  I have the urge to fill the wood box, lock the door and hibernate for a couple (or three) months.

It seems that so many people are going through tough times right now.  When someone says, "Did you hear what happened to (fill in the name)?" I want to cover my ears and run the other way.  Too much sadness, stress and down-in-the-dump-difficulties for people to have to deal with.

* * * * * * * *

Well.  Not good to dwell on the negative.  I think if those unreliable, wayward Christmas elves would just show up and get going on baking some Christmas cookies, things might start to look up around here.  Yeah, that's what we need.  Christmas music on the stereo, and some holiday baking with a little sugar-sprinkle crunch on the floor.  (I so remember that sound from when I had a little helper exuberantly shaking sprinkles on the cookies.)

* * * * * * * *

On the weather front, we didn't get the big dump of snow that was forecast for northern Minnesota this past weekend.  It went south of us where some areas got as much as 17".  Seems storms going to the south of us is happening a lot these past several winters.  What's with that?  We did get about 3" though which helps to brighten the landscape and give a boost to holiday spirit.

* * * * * * * *

Again, thanks to those of you who wondered why I disappeared.  Rest assured that other than having a case of blog block, I'm just hunky-dory.  And if all goes as planned, I will get some Christmas cookies baked today.  With or without the assistance of elves.    

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Didja Ever . . .

Didja ever spend a couple of days in a row away from home thinking all the while of what you were going to do when you could be back at home and actually do all the things you were mentally listing?

But then when that day at home arrives, you walk aimlessly around and around the house with absolutely no direction and seemingly lacking the ability to do what you know you have been planning on doing?


Fine then!  I'll suit up, go to town and get a few errands done.  Maybe when I return, my head will be screwed on tight, the cobwebs will be gone, and I'll be able to function.

Here's hoping!