Soup

In the winter, I could live entirely on soup. When I got up this morning it was 14f. The sun did finally come out yesterday and began the ice melt. Though the trees are still glistening and glowing, they aren’t totally coated and sagging, but this weekend is cold, bone numbing cold.

Son 1 sent me a photo a while back, to show off them using the rice bowls we gave them for Christmas, but it was what was in them that caught my eye. He had made an Asian inspired broth and filled it with fancy noodles, vegetables, and a boiled egg. We exchanged messages for me to get the gist of what he had produced. Many nights a week, I prepare Texas born DH the Texas staple foods of red meat and starch, but I don’t care for that, so I started experimenting with Son 1’s soup. Now I make potato soup, lentil soup, and vegetable soup that I can eat on Texas nights, but the broth soup full of healthy goodies really held an appeal and I started playing with it a few times a week. A good chicken or vegetable broth with sauteed onion, garlic, ginger, and a little crushed Szechuan pepper simmered for 10 or 15 minutes to meld the flavors, then the fun begins. I have a bag of super green mix (baby chard, baby spinach, baby kale, and mizuna), various noodles, quinoa, and left over cooked brown rice. A tub of red Miso, a quart jar of Daikon radish kimchee, and the hydroponic garden of fresh herbs all ready for my use. If I use quinoa, I put it in while the broth is simmering so it cooks. Noodles cook in under 5 minutes, and left over brown rice just needs to be warmed. Only one of those is added per batch, but a large handful of the super greens and another of fresh herb clippings are added just long enough to wilt them. A bit of the hot broth is pulled off and mixed with the Miso and added back at the last moment. Sometimes the boiled egg is added to the bowl if I have some made (I generally steam half a dozen or so at a time to add to the pup’s breakfast, so there are often some available for me too). To this can be added some Turmeric, with the ginger and garlic, fighting inflammation. Some kimchee at the last minute so it holds its fermented benefits with the fermented benefits of the Miso and two cups of quick delicious healthy soup is made in only about 15-20 minutes. Sliced mushrooms can be added during the saute phase too.

And who says soup is only for lunch or dinner. This morning to warm my chilly body, a couple of cups were made, full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and a good warming broth were enjoyed for breakfast.

Happy Thanksgiving

Determined to make this as normal as possible in these abnormal times, two of my kids and I began early with a group text on our prep of our meals for our individual families. Instead of one big meal for a gang, it is 3 big meals served in three separate homes. The first text of the morning was from daughter with “Vote of confidence from my kids this morning: ‘Uncle Todd always makes the turkey. Do you even know how mom?'” This got us going exchanging how and what we were doing. Son 1 and I spatchcock our turkey, he varied our usual and nearly butterflied his with the cleaver trying it to flatten it and added a step with coarse salt and chopped herbs rubbed in the inside yesterday to “brine” over night. Daughter stating she didn’t have the tools to spatchcock so she was making a traditional bird. Son 1 stating he used clean tin snips and a cleaver. I am used to doing an 18-22 pasture raised bird for the gang, so an under 12 pounder had me baffled as to time. I managed to cut the backbone out with poultry shears, but had to pop the breastbone with my cleaver to flatten mine. Son 1 responded with 3, maybe 4 minutes cooking time when I asked, LOL. I put a large sweet potato in the oven when the turkey went in and when I was ready to peel, slice, and season it for the casserole it wasn’t done, so I popped it in the microware, pushed potato and came upstairs. Then I started smelling smoke, the microwave didn’t shut off and the yam was totally cremated and smoke filling the house. Fortunately it is 65 degrees outside so all doors were opened, yam dumped in cold water and a new yam cooked in the microwave with me watching like hawk.

In spite of not having them all here, texting back and forth has been fun, lots of encouragement, laughs, photos, fun. I prepared a traditional Thanksgiving, made the pies from pumpkins I grew, homemade rolls, peas and potatoes from our garden, sweet potatoes from the Farmers Market, fresh cranberries, pickles I made. Olives were purchased, but they don’t grow here. We are stuffed, will be eating turkey until Christmas, have quarts of fresh turkey broth. Everything made in smaller quantities, but made with love.

Happy Thanksgiving from us to you. Maybe next year we can be with our families again.

Market Day and Repairs

Another week has drifted by in isolation with a few woods, pond, and rail cut walks. Another gray and drizzly market day. It was raining lightly when we left the house, but it hadn’t reached town when we got there. There was still some sunshine and a few broken clouds, but it was raining lightly by the time the market pick up was done and breakfast in the car eaten. There were more vendors at the market today and more people that were just browsing, too many people not respecting social distancing. Social distancing is difficult when you stand back 6 feet, then have someone “cut” in line in front of you because they don’t realize there is a line as happened to me today. I allowed it to happen instead of saying something to the two young women who shouldn’t have been there when I was as they hadn’t pre ordered, nor were they 55+ years old. Then a young man, also not meeting the prerequisites to shop that hour stepped right up next to my shoulder, again, no respect for distance. Everyone is masked and I know the young volunteers at the information table don’t want to challenge everyone with a question about whether they had pre orders or were old enough. Today made me somewhat uncomfortable in the crowd. I guess I need to go back to the beginning of the first hour and take my chances that everyone is set up. But this below is why I like our Farmer’s Market.

This is a sampling of the goodness that was brought home today, thanks to Riverstone Farm and Greenstar Farm for the veggies, Whitegate Farm for the butter and sausage, and Williamson Farm for a pound of grass finished ground beef. No bread this week since I baked during the week. As we were heading off to get breakfast, I was discussing with hubby how some of the issues could be handled, not that anyone asked me. There are three rows of vendors in an L shape. One row is under the shelter below, facing the green.

The second row backs up to them and the third row is across the lot from them, no cars are permitting on Saturday mornings except for the vendors to unload in the morning and reload in the afternoon. About where the roof changes heights, there is a two way opening to try to direct traffic that causes congestion and has people coming and going between the rows. My idea is to close in the first row with vendors filling that opening and the corner opening and making traffic one way. You enter at the first vendor in that row anyway. If they did that and shifted the last vendor in that row a couple of feet to open a path to the rear rows as the exit is currently in line with the entrance behind the first row. One way traffic would help alleviate some of the congestion.

Once the goodies were home, a basket to hold the potatoes on top of the refrigerator was sought from my supply. It needs to be away from the sunny window where the wire hanging tiered basket is that holds onions and garlic that isn’t in a braid. The one I was going to use was one of my earliest ones made and stained with Walnut stain. I used to be very good about hosing my baskets off about once a year to remove dust and dampen the reed to keep it from getting brittle, but I don’t think that most of my handmade baskets have been given that treatment since moving in to this house 15 years ago. I had noticed some broken reeds in the weave of several of the baskets, but that one was the worst. When in the basement to pull out ceramic pumpkins and the ghost to decorate with a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a plastic bin with a partially made basket and reed in it. That unfinished basket must be 18 to 20 years old. I remember the day I was teaching Son 1 and friends how to make baskets, in the back yard of the house we sold in Virginia Beach prior to building the house here. We spent a couple of years renting while plans were made, house was started, and finally completed.

The reed was checked for soundness and size. I needed narrower reed than what was there, so after soaking it and the most damaged basket, it was cut to width and the basket was repaired. That inspired me to inspect the other baskets and do more repair. There was some narrow chair caning reed that worked perfectly on the blue and natural apple basket that was made by my friend that took the class with me. The wider reed was right to repair the largest basket. The odd shaped unfinished basket was made into a very crude, misshapen basket that went on the top of the refrigerator for the potatoes and covered with a small tea towel.

Two baskets still need a rinse, but they are too large for the sink, so they will go out to the yard and get a quick hosing down. It would have bothered me when I started making baskets to not make the one on the right perfectly shaped and properly edged and the unstained reed on the stained basket would have stressed me, but it shows that repair and keep using is more important than perfection and I kind of like it.

The two winter squash with the last pumpkin from last year’s harvest were put in a wooden trencher that hubby gave me years ago from a craftsman at a fair. They will be used for meals in the next week or two and the pumpkin will make pies for our isolation holiday meals as we can’t have our kids here and since the garden did not produce pumpkins this year. The local pumpkin patches are open but they aren’t any fun without grandkids along.