Friday, November 10, 2017

When 29 degrees is the high for your day...

 You make soup. And you can soup. And since onions were 69 cents for a three pound bag and you bought 7 bags...well, you make French Onion Soup.  lol  7 quarts are in the canner as we speak.  That's plenty to have on the shelf. and then because I have more beef broth than onions, I am making more soup for supper (and a boule of bread) and may wind up canning beef broth. We'll see how much is left. I cut up about 6 onions to make a small batch for us.  We do love FOS...

  Yesterday I canned pork loin again. Got some beautiful meat on sale for 1.69/lb. I bought 2 whole loins--one smaller one bigger. The small one I made a Caribbean Stew and froze 3 packages of 6 each boneless pork chops. The other one was a perfect 7 quarts of chunks of canned pork in one and a half pint sized jars.  Winner winner chicken dinner.

  The weather turned cold fast and we had about a week of absolutely stunning tree action. Here are some pictures of that... just a couple, I promise..


Is Mother Nature crazy beautiful...or what ??

I have been kind of down for the count this past week, just recuperating from the wedding stuff and grieving  some over a friend of mine that died. Another friend has been given a year or less to live (cancer diagnosis).  Life is pressing down on me 
some days.  When that happens, my tendency is to hunker down at home and do the things that soothe my soul.  Stocking my pantry, cooking for my family, loving on my critters. For 3 days now I have been meaning (sort of) to get to the grocery store  and pick up a few things, but I still haven't done it. I will be in town tomorrow and it's nothing that can't wait til then. Not like we're gonna starve around here.   lol

I have some bread in the kitchen raising that should be about ready to make into rounds for the second rise.  It will be really good with the soup for supper. And I just found a recipe for Cherry Bars (I have cherry pie filling in the pantry)  that I'm going to make for desert. Himself comes home really hungry on these cold days as much of his work is outside.  The bars have a shortbread like base, with filling spread over it and extra dough dropped in spoonfuls on the top. Then a drizzle glaze, which I probably won't do. Sounds good though, and that boy does love cherry stuff.  

OK. It's about 20 minutes til the soup comes out of the canner. Then the dessert will bake and lastly the bread, so that it comes out of the oven and is warm, slathered with real butter to go with the soup. We usually eat around 6, so that gives me 3 hours to get these things done and hopefully get in the shower, since I didn't fit that into my busy morning schedule. lol   Weather is supposed to move back up into the 40's in the coming days, and stay in the high 40's and low 50's. That will be perfect fall weather. Warm enough to get some outside work done and cool enough to almost enjoy doing it. lol 

  I'm off to the kitchen...the bread awaits me....

Monday, November 6, 2017

It's Fall..Y'all

  At least, it is here, on Honeysuckle Hill.  lol  It started acting fall-ish once before, then temps zoomed back up into the high 70's. But now it looks like it might be here to stay. The last of the garden was tomato and pepper plants (bells and jalapenos) and now they are dead--frost ravaged.  The wisteria is limp, but still green and it seems like overnight the little red maple I brought from North Carolina when we moved here has turned it's brilliant red.  It feels like sweat pants weather out there again this morning, with just a little wispy fog hanging around here and there. Yesterday's high was 63 and rainy and today is predicted to be at least 15 degrees cooler than that. 

  I catered a wedding rehearsal meal on Friday night of appetizers and yummlies.  Had the big wedding on Saturday afternoon, and all I had to do for that was make the 5 gallons of fruit punch and the coffee. And help set up, keep things filed and clean up. lol  I was exhausted by the time it was all over. It was a beautiful to-do with 2 beautiful people who have found love in  middle part of their lives. She a young widower who has raised 4 beautiful kids and he a musician/IT guy/ nicest man you could ever hope to meet.  Both very important parts of my not by blood, but by choice. I got to make some lovely foods and meet his sister and brother and their family. His parents are gone, like mine, so I offered to provide the post-rehearsal food. I don't think they'll mind if I post my favorite of the wedding pictures  

  I was extremely honored to be part of it all.

  So... it's fall, y'all.  That means (generally) our methods and modes of cooking shift to more soups and stews. More comfort foods to get us through the cold weather. MUCH less outdoor grilling (at least where I live in the mid west)  and more crock pot meals (because they are easy and more energy efficient).  This time of year, I start easing back into baking my own bread. I usually quit in the summer, again due to our climate. It gets hot here and the AC is already taxed.  But it's a comfort to turn on the oven this time of year and fill the house with the smells of baking bread. No better air freshener in the world. lol   It simultaneously helps to warm the house, so there you go. In years gone by I used a wood cook stove, which is really a deal that makes you think twice about every single cooking thing you do, no matter what time of year it is. And once you develop certain habits, well...they go with you to the grave. 

  So, after all this photo fol der ol   (haha--get it ??  FAL de rol ??)  I wanted to post a recipe of some sort. Trying to figure out what.   Last night I canned baby carrots. 6 quarts. A 1.5 pint jar. And 5 pints. My pantry is over flowing  with stuff and needs to be cleaned and organized. I am enlisting the help of a friend.  I have cases of stuff like pickled okra, cowboy candy, plum jam, mushrooms...sitting everywhere and pushed under beds and under tables with long scarves on them to hide the goods. lol My shelves are pretty full. too. My spare room is a wreck, not fit for human habitation because the bed is full of stuff  (everything from wrapping paper to ricers to canners to canned butter) and the floor is stacked with everything from our emergency drinking water supply to empty jars and quarts of chicken stock.  Sigh...but getting it all straightened and cleaned up will be a WONDERFUL THING.  

   OK-- I think that the recipe I want to share with you today will be something a little light but comforting.  It's been on my mind since I was canning carrots anyway.  I was going to an after Thanksgiving potluck a few years ago where everyone was supposed to bring their leftovers from The Big Meal. I didn't have Thanksgiving at my house that year, but I thought I could go in my pantry and find out what I could find in there to make something reasonably Thanksgiving-y. lol  I found a couple of jars of canned carrots, a jar of pumpkin puree and thought--soup !  Everyone loved it. The color was gorgeous. The aroma was tantalizing.  I've made it numerous times since then and it's always a hit  (even when it's just the two of us).  Here it is:

  Creamy Carrot/Pumpkin Soup  
(Serves 4-6)

     2 quarts canned carrots and juice(from my pantry-you can cook and use raw carrots)
     4 cups pumpkin puree OR pureed butternut squash
     4 cups cooked white rice (I like basmati) 
     2 Tablespoons real butter 
     Dash of salt
     1/2 cup brown sugar (or your choice of sweetener)
     1 tsp. each nutmeg and cinnamon

**  Put these ingredients into a dutch oven and bring to a simmer. Add a little water if it needs it. Once it is hot and bubbly, take it off the burner and get out your stick blender (WHAT ? you don't have one of these ??-- Get thee to Target and get one. I have a Hamilton Beach one I've had for 6 years. They're under twenty dollars and will save you the hassle of transferring things like this back and forth to a blender and possibly scalding yourself silly). Puree it into silky creaminess. The rice will disappear. It will be beautiful.  

  Voila. That's really all there is to it. A beautiful vegetarian soup that you could make vegan but trading out the butter with coconut milk (full fat). 

  Serve it with a lovely warm baguette or with warmed pitas.  Or muffins.  Or whatever you like best with your soup. 
 This is an older picture and I think I started  blending all of the texture out of it later. lol  This one looks a little lumpy, but you get the picture.  

  Bon Apetit, babies !