Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The best Tomato Soup you've never had

Whenever my four year old really loves something she said "this is the best I've never had" it's so cute - thus the title for this post.

My sister started a food blog - in her first two blog posts she gave some pointers for making a really great homemade broth which I found quite helpful and she shared the recipe for a kick-ass Leftover-Christmas-Turkey Noodle Soup. You should really head over and check it out! She is a really good from-scratch cook and has given me lots of pointers - most notably she shared a mouth-watering recipe for biscuits that I've been using for years - in fact I used just it again this morning!
Her recent posts inspired me to share a recipe that I've been using a lot this winter so here it is:

Cut 2 carrots and 1/4 of an onion - saute in soup pot (in about 2Tb of butter) until the carrots are starting to get soft and the onion is turning clear. Add about 5 lbs freshly chopped tomato (don't worry about the seeds or skin) (you can also use two big cans of diced tomato but fresh is SO much better) and a can of white kidney beans, then add two jeaping teaspoons of montreal seasoning (or another favorite seasoning mix). Let it sit on medium-high heat for about ten minutes until it's simmering nicely then add two cups of chicken broth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Blend the soup in a blender in batches till it's nice and smooth. Simmer lightly over low heat. Make a roux by heating 2 Tb of butter with 4Tb flour in a small pan stir constantly until the butter has completely melted and it's starting to get bubbly and thick. Add to blended soup and heat, sirring frequently. This will really improve the texture of the soup. Add salt or sugar or more seasoning to taste. You can do this whole thing from cans (canned carrots, tomato, beans & broth) but it is SO much better if you use fresh ingredients.

Make this into a "risotto" by adding cooked white rice (Jasmine Rice is one of my favorites -I'd prepare about 2 cups uncooked rice for this large of a pot of soup) or orzo. Add some small chunks of fish or sausage and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

I've made this soup every week this winter. I'm going to try to make a creamy tomato soup next week but this is my go-to recipe, adapted from a recipe a friend gave to me from the food network.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Two days down!

We've survived two days of Christmas Holiday so far and I think we are all more or less adjusted to our non-school schedule. Having all the kids home has allowed me to hear more of the adorable things my kids say. Like Emma, who has taken to calling all citrus that looks yummy to her "Bob". About a week ago we had some friends over, they brought us some limes. Emma "rescued" one from the drinks Daniel was fixing and named it Bob. She pretended to be heartbroken when she woke up the next morning to find out that Bob was no longer with us. I bought a bunch of Tangerines and she sorted through them looking for "Bob". She pulled one out, kissed it and said "Hi, Bob!"

Today I asked Beth to spend a little time cleaning up her room. She came to me a moment later and said "Mom, when my room is messy my mind is tricky, when my room is clean my mind is wacky. Tricky is better than wacky, for me."

I'm cleaning the house today, trying to get laundry washed and put away etc. so that Christmas Eve can be spent making Christmas cookies and preparing our Christmas Eve "feast". I'm roasting whole chickens, I have creamed corn, cranberry sauce, stuffing and sweet potatoes - which I have still not decided how I'll prepare. My mom always made one of those sweet potato casserole with the pecan & brown sugar strussel. However, Daniel (my husband) doesn't like nuts so that way is out. Got any ideas?

I thought that it might be fun to have an Italian Christmas feast. If I could choose my ethnicity it would be Italian. I think they have such an interesting, beautiful culture and amazing food. Then I looked up what a "traditional" Holiday feast would be and I lost heart for such an enormous undertaking!

Tonight I wrap presents all night. FUN! I'm thinking I'll rent a movie for Daniel & I to watch while I wrap. We did that once and it was fun.

I hope you're enjoying your Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One day down, fourteen more to go.

Right this moment I'm watching a bird pulling earth worms out of the yard outside my window. I've honestly never seen this before. I doubt that at this time of year she has little babies to feed. She doesn't seem to be too happy about the quality of earth woms in our yard because she seems to have left it flailing in the grass to tunnel back down into our dirt.

Anywho... the first day of our two weeks of Christmas break is behind me now. We survived. No one was sent to their beds for indefinite periods of time and my sanity (and love for my kids) is still intact. It was always hard for me to comprehend what other mothers meant when they talked about not enjoying the times when their kids were home for breaks. I understand it now. It disrupts the "norm" and my routine and our schedules. It's CRAZY busy and my kids are used to be given activities to complete, not entertain themselves all day, so they come to me saying that they are bored much more then when they were younger and stayed at home. We've already done just about all of the crafts that I had planned for the entire week! But I think we're starting to settle down into a new goove.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Food

I wrote at the begining of the week about how inspired I was by the movie Julie & Julia. Right now I have a from-scratch soup simmering on the stove and a batch of homemade rolls rising. Makig your own food is SO satisfying. Yesterday I made fish a different way and it was SO good! I put a medium sized pat of butter in the pan (about 1 1/2 Tablespoons) which I melted then I set two fresh filets of Talipa in the butter and sprinkled some garlic & herbs on top they were SO tasty! I can't wait to buy some more fish and try again.

from Saturday's trip to Mum & Papa's house

homemade cinnamon rolls

Sleep Deprivation and My Christmas Spirit

I meant to write this Tuesday night and Wednesday night was a Christmas party for the consignment shop that I work at every other weekend. Most of the people I work with also go to my church so it was a lot of fun!


I am SO sleep deprived. Josiah has been waking up around 3am for the last month he eventually goes back to sleep around 4am for an hour or two but it's completely exhausting. When I am sleep deprived even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming the mere thought of Christmas shopping has been enough to make me want to take a nap!

Yesterday I took the little kids out Christmas shopping for cousins and did some price checks on gifts I wanted to get for the big kids, three candy canes and a small package of graham crackers later I was driving home praying that Daniel wouldn't have any appointments so he could stay home and help me with my shopping.

Today we woke to drizzling rain and near-freezing temperatures. I bundled my big kids off to their last day of school and then prepared to muscle my way through the day. Then Daniel said he had absolutely nothing to do for work today and I asked if he'd at least hit one of the stores with me. Just a couple hours later (and under-budget I might add!) we came home. It feels so good to have that done. I know I would be a sopping, exhausted mess right now if it weren't for my wonderful husband's help.
I have to admit that my Christmas spirit has been significantly lacking this year. However when my kids came home today and I watched Emma distributing the contents of her goody bags to her sisters, leaving almost nothing for herself I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and the hope that this Christmas is going to be okay.


Since my kids don't read my blog yet I'll share with you what I bought them, in case you're looking for some Christmas inspiration for someone between the ages of 8 & 2 in your life!
Beth - 8 year old girl: LIV doll
Emma - 6 year old girl: Monopoly Jr Disney Channel edition ($5 @Wal-Mart)
Katie-Abigail - 4 year old girl: Moxie Girlz
Josiah - 2 year old boy:Toy Story Woody action figure and flashlight

Monday, December 14, 2009

thoughts on a Monday morning

oh Monday morning - how foreboding you are with your scowling list of things to do! But I am laughing at you today and dancing with my little ones to Christmas music. I'm eating cinnamon rolls and drinking coffee.
oh, I see you there. I see you kill-joy pressure and stress but you're not welcome here today. Okay, okay, I'll get something done, just not right now. These souls are little for a fleeting moment and need their mother's love and attention.
Love, I open my doors wide to You. Joy, come be my wing man. Today, together, this gray busy Monday morning will be transformed into a twinkling, laughing, blaze of glory... at least until naptime.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

home

The kids and I spent the weekend with my parents. The thing about driving to their house it have been there so many times I sort of drive on auto-pilot which gives me time to think.
Yesterday I was thinking about what it means to "abide". I just finished reading "Wide Open Spaces" by Jim Palmer, which I thoroughly enjoyed , and he wrote a lot about "the abiding way". I read a book back when I was pregnant with Beth, it was one of the first books that truly disturbed my idea of spirituality. It is called Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray, I read the book with huge question marks in my brain. I was like "what does this all mean?!!!!" I was thinking yesterday about what it is not- it's not just a fuzzy feeling. It's not something inelectual, but it can't be merely an issue of obedience and the choices we make. That was when I realized - like one of those lightbulb moments that is is all of those things... I feel like I just have a corner of this realization but living with more questions answers is something I am learning.
We had a fun time at my parent's house. Beth made a gingerbread house from a kit (the gingerbread tastes so bad it is practically inedible) Emma made sugar cookies, Katie-A made a Christmas refrigerator magnent with Mum and we helped Papa put up the Christmas tree. There is always an unusual experience to be had at my parent's house. I tried horseradish mustard for the first time and listened to a bit of midevil chant as we decorated the Christmas tree.
I am so glad to be home now. Even with the dirty dishes by the sink and the baskets of clothes in my bedroom. I'm really really happy to be back home!

Friday, December 11, 2009

hello again

I'm sorry. I've been such a terrible blog friend lately. Don't worry, it's not you. I've been a pretty crappy friend to everybody lately. It's been one personal crisis after another and I've totally lacked the time and motivation to blog about it.
However I watched Julie & Julia last night and it really made me want to get back on the blogging bandwagon. It is so nice to know that your life experiences are somehow, in someway lifting up someone else somewhere far away.
Watching that movie made me want to take cookie classes or cook my way through a cookbook! So this morning I made cinnamon rolls from scratch (with the assistance of my bread machine) which were heavenly. I wish I could make food that is that good all of the time! I can make a great grilled cheese sandwich, and wonderful rolls and pretty good fudge and that's about it. I'm not big into following recipes or trying to make the same non-staple food more than once. But there's something good for the soul in creating a masterpiece in the kitchen.
My husband and I talked about becoming vegetarian last night. When we married I was vegan and ate mostly raw fruits & vegetables. I have thought it would be cool to do one of those raw vegan diets for a limited period of time. It would expose your family to a lot of new things, for sure! We haven't made up our minds yet or anything, it just sounds like a fun thing to try - is that just a little bit crazy?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

a little inspiration for Christmas shots

I ran across this on Flickr in one of my contact's photostreams it's SO cool!! I can't wait to try it!
Shot #1
Shot #2

here is my first attempt:

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