Friday, October 19, 2007

Big Boys & Their Big Toys

A month or so ago Roger took some pictures of the trees around the property. They are just loaded with acorns. LOADED! I think the Old Farmer's Almanac says something about that- a very cold winter to come. I hope they're wrong. Today it is a typical rainy fall day here except for the fact that it's too warm again. Mother Nature must be very pissed.....and confused.

I am puttering about trying to finish several things and not getting too far. A week ago we had all the windows open and the fall came blowing through with crisp air and a hint of something cold to come. Today it's back to 75 and a wet soggy mess and the air is on again. I don't want it to be frozen, but what happens around here is that it goes directly from this kind of day to winter in a week and we keep missing the best of the seasons. Makes me cranky.
Anyway, here are 2 pictures of James with his latest toy. I use the term toy with tongue in cheek- since the toy was a couple of hundred and the stuff to make it go and fix it is approaching the same general amount. It's a nitro-methane powered car. Problems arise when it hits curbs and such since it all but takes off like a rocket. It's pretty neat and so is James.
I have nothing major planned for the weekend except to try and finish something for a change. After all the day after Halloween will be Christmas. Doesn't it seem that way??? The music is already turning up here and there on commercials-I quickly change the channel and refuse to take part in the hype. It does creep into the psyche though!
Hope you all have a great weekend. Maybe I'll have something positive to show by Monday.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Continuing Soup Education

Since I received such warm comments about yesterday's soup let's try another all time favorite around here.

Again...please remember that I am from the some-of-this-some-of-that school. Soup is pretty basic stuff and if you have all the ingredients on hand it's a pretty fast fix-although-it does taste even better the day after as many of these soupy-stew-like things do.

4-6 hungry guy servings

6 cans Snow's minced clams (about 6 oz each can-we like a lot of clams in our chowder) or at least 36 oz clams from fishmonger-they sell clams for Chowder in large soup containers here. More is better here

6 bottles Snow's all natural Clam juice or about 48 oz of clam or fish stock.

3-4 hot Italian sausage-remove from casing and crumble and brown.

1- very large sweet onion chopped and about a tablespoon of chopped garlic

half a large carrot diced and a large rib of celery chopped

3-4 med. Yukon gold potatoes diced

1- 26 oz package of Pomi chopped tomatoes- any chopped tomatoes will do, I just happen to like these they are organic and have no salt.

Old Bay seasoning

This recipe is the opposite of yesterdays in terms of the salt factor-Do not add any salt until this has had a chance to meld the flavors at the end. The sausage is salty and the clams and juice tend to be also. Even with the potatoes you can sometimes easily overdo the salt thing.

Brown sausage and drain most of fat-leave enough to cook chopped onions and diced carrots & celery garlic in -add potatoes, veggies, old bay and enough juice to cover everything and simmer til potatoes are fork tender. Add tomatoes and rest of juice and all clams and simmer low for about a half hour. Truthfully-I make this early in the day and let it sit and meld flavors. I often add more liquid at that point because the potatoes soak up a lot. If you're out of fish or clam stock add some vegetable stock or just a bit of water.

Taste for seasoning and add whatever you think you need-or not-the sausage has a lot of Italian flavor but I sometimes add basil or oregano-just a teeeny bit.

Sprinkle the bacon in at the last moment give it a stir and serve.

We sometimes add a couple of tablespoons of a good fresh salsa just to punch up the flavor.

This soup is spicy so it needs some bready accompaniment. Our local grocery has started carrying wonderful Indian flat bread called Naan and it's wonderful soft buttery flavor would be a great thing to serve with this. Bagels are always great too. My family loves those Bisquick cheddar biscuits only instead of cheddar I use some kind of a fontina and Reggio parm since I just can't leave anything alone


Wow, I really have to do some quilty type thing soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Let's Make Soup!

Yesterday I made Chicken Corn Chowdahhh. Deb asked for a recipe and Dorothy said she made hers more of a potato version. Let me just say that I could eat soup everyday from now until April and be perfectly happy. I should also include that I like to make soup from scratch and as with so many of my recipes-they reside in my head and that's a shadowy place with cubbyholes. I almost never make the exact same thing twice-except for Pasta Bolognese and things like this....sort of. I should also say that if you're a fan of clear-consomme-type thin-little-dainty-soup-look away now. When it comes to soup I definitely follow the teachings of my Oma and cooks like Lydia Bastianich. More is better. Thicker trumps thin. and it's really a meal in a bowl and last but almost most important-I cook by the "little of this and some of that" school of culinary adventures. Are you still with me??? If so Let's Make Soup

Chicken Corn Chowdahh

You will need the following and please be adventurous because I'm estimating. This is soup you really can't go wrong with. Maybe you'll like it thinner-add half and half or stock-thicker..add less-you get my drift.

At least 2 large containers about 32 oz. each good chicken stock. I make my own so that's about what I figure will get you to your goal for a nice big pot with maybe leftovers(Heh)

Half package of good thick-cut bacon cut into dice and crisped, drained and set aside for the big finish

I very large sweet onion-chopped

2 large ribs celery diced

1 large carrot diced

3 large Yukon gold potatoes-about 2 cups or more-we like potatoes)

4 cups corn kernels-frozen is fine

3 scallions

picked meat from one 3lb chicken or 4 large cooked chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces (I like dark meat so I often use thighs. Breast meat is so dry) It's your call

2 cups half&half(fat free if you must..bah)

salt & pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

2 teaspoons Lawry's or some seasoned salt of that type.

2 tbsp fresh chopped thyme-optional but very tasty
1/4- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes-optional but we like the heat.

Saute bacon until crispy bits and set aside reserving 2 or 3 tablespoons bacon fat. Don't try to conserve with this-the bacon fat makes the great flavor.

Saute the sweet onions, celery, and carrots in bacon fat.

Dice potatoes- add salt pepper thyme and red pepper flakes to pan-saute a few minutes till translucent-
Then, add enough broth to cover potatoes and simmer about 7-10 min.

Add corn and at least one full container broth(sorry this is where you will have to guestimate)- simmer another 5 min until veg are all tender. Remove about a cup or more of potatoes and vegetables-set aside.

Start by adjusting seasonings-the potatoes will soak up salt so add more of whatever you need in seasoning-then add 1 cup half & half and stir-take an immersion blender and pulse in pot two or three times. DO NOT PUREE. JUST LUMP IT UP A LITTLE BIT -if it's not thick enough add a tablespoon or more of Wondra flour mixed with some of the broth.

Do not add chicken before this or it will just become a shreddy mess-still tastes good but looks....not so much good.

Add cooked chicken and vegetables you set aside-stir. and let the flavors settle. Keep very low heat after the half&half and finish with more of any of the ingredients you may desire. I find it thickens up about now and maybe needs a touch of stock, cream, or milk before serving. I also find that this soup needs a lot of salt and seasoning or it tastes wishy-washy. Put aside your salt caution for this one and I've also added fresh thyme and it tastes great

Ladle into bowls and top with bacon bits and scallions.

Serve with good crusty bread or biscuits


I hope you enjoy it. Just be adventurous and make it yours.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I just don't have anything worth showing in the area of quilting or sewing. Everything in in the works or you've already seen it. Yesterday I had to go and have some blood work done that I discussed the day before here. I am very fair and apparently I don't actually have any veins-so this makes a disaster for the person who has to take the blood and for me as the pin cushion. I took a chance yesterday and tried a new place not far from me. What an amazing visit it was. The woman who took my sample was the sweetest person with a kind of lilting, possibly Jamaican accent, who rubbed my arm and sang to me while waiting for the tube to fill. I apologized for the delay(slow filling)and she said to me. "I'm not in a hurry, Darling-not to worry" Sort of "Don't worry-be happy" feel to it. Well that's done for a long while anyway.

Today I am making Chicken corn chowdah! I love making Chowdah(or is it chow-derrrr-anyone else watch the Simpson's?) I digress....It's great weather for it and I had chicken, corn, bacon, onion, potatoes, and chicken broth-I'll be darned.

I made a trip to Target, Linens & Things, Pier 1 and the grocery store yesterday. A trip to Michaels was also in the plan but I just got pooped out by the time I could have done that. What I wanted was some fall dec stuff. I have a wreath that is nice and sturdy which I have covered over with Hydrangea in varying shades from plum to pale green. I saw something like it on Martha's site and it cost a bunch so I thought I'd just make my own. Right now it needs to be stripped and re-done with fall stuff. I really love the Hydrangea and if they have it in more fall like colors I may use a bunch of that again. It looks so rich and the colors stay true even though it's in the sun-filled door for months. The other thing I saw that I love is this. It's a wreath from Williams & Sonoma and expensive-maybe I can make my own??
Pomegranates are a favorite thing of mine for a long time. I know they are very popular in decoration but I have always loved the Greek Myth of Persephone and her return to the earth from the underground signals the return of spring and, essentially, beauty and the fruits of the earth. There are many versions of that story but I first fell in love with it when I read a book by Mary Taylor Simeti many years ago. She married a man whos family owns home in Sicily that had been in his family for hundreds of years. They have olives and vineyards and she went to live there and fell in love with the country and people and the way in which certain foods signal the advancement through the year. Her other books are wonderful as well. Pomp & Sustenance and Bitter Almonds are a beautiful read as well. My copies are so well loved that I may have to find new ones sometime as I only ever found these in soft cover. These are books that I cherish.
Anyway, I hope you are doing something fun and seasonal. It's really beautiful here. Everything that fall should be