Tag Archives: Soup

bring to a boil

Worries go down better with soup.
~ Jewish proverb

Since the election, I’ve been attending our nearby UU church more regularly. (It’s helping.) The Girl also has been getting more involved with the teen youth group. For both of us, being among people who believe in the principles of acceptance, love, justice, equality, dignity and peace is providing some much needed sustenance during this tumultuous time.

On Sunday, The Girl and I helped out with a soup sale to raise money to support the youth group’s activities. That’s a picture of their efforts above: nearly a dozen slow cookers and stock pots simmering with Moroccan Chickpea Spinach soup, Potato Corn Chowder, a lentil soup and (our contribution) a gluten-free vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli.

The symbolism of many single ingredients commingled together to make this selection of delicious soups–ones based on ethnic flavors that are centuries old and that have been consumed by people throughout history and generations and under tyrants and dictators of their own–resonated with me on a weekend when the Celebrity President extinguished the lamp and slammed our country’s once-golden but now tarnished door on innocent people who had gone through the arduous legal process to come to America. Not to mention people living here legally and who happened to have the misfortune to be traveling home from visiting family or burying loved ones when they learned they were no longer welcome in the place they call home.

As I ate a nourishing bowl of vegetable soup and watched the teens serving the congregants steaming bowls of pasta, broth, chicken and beans, I thought of the analogy of the United States being a melting pot.  The teens are a composite of different life experiences and personal histories, of genders and of ethnic backgrounds. They themselves are a collective melting pot.

Barbara Mikulski, the former Senator from Maryland, once said that America isn’t a melting pot but a sizzling cauldron. She said those words in a speech about immigration in 1970. Almost half a century later, her words seem especially apt.

The funds the teens raised from their soup sale will support their participation in several activities–events for them to understand others’ stories and perspectives and to participate in social justice volunteer efforts to make our community stronger. Ingredients for a sizzling cauldron of a society at its boiling point and one where these kids are among our best hope and sustenance for the years ahead.

 

 

Weekend Cooking: Slow-Cooker Vegetable Broth

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Autumn arrived this week, welcoming in another season of delicious soup. Starting on Labor Day weekend and continuing into the fall, winter, and early spring, I usually make a pot of soup every Sunday.  To me, nothing says fall like having football on TV (which we do, all day on Sundays from 9 a.m. until the end of the night game) with soup simmering in the kitchen — preferably in my Crock-Pot.

Soups can be hit-or-miss with the kids (The Girl is definitely not a fan), but served with some kind of sandwich/burger and perhaps a salad, it’s an easy meal with something everyone in this family likes.

(If not, they can make a bowl of cereal.)

I decided to kick off this year’s soup season by making slow-cooked vegetable broth, which I tried for the first time last winter. (Like most of us, I kept telling myself I really needed to do this.).  I keep a gallon-sized bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer. Whenever I’m chopping vegetables, I place the bag in the sink next to me and toss in the tops of bell peppers, slivers of onion, tips of garlic cloves, stems of mushrooms, stalks of broccoli, even gnawed cobs from summer corn. Same with wilted vegetables or ones nearing (or just past) their prime.  It all goes right into the bag and makes for easier clean up.

When the bag gets full, I simply dump everything into the Crock-Pot, cover with water, season with salt, pepper, a bay leaf or two, and some basil, oregano, parsley, etc.  (This is a good way to use up a bit of dried herbs lingering in the jar.)

It usually looks something like this (there’s more spinach than usual since I happened to have a decent amount in the fridge that we hadn’t used during the week):

vegetable-broth-crockpot

In addition to the spinach, this contained zucchini, yellow squash, red bell peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, green beans, riced cauliflower, a broccoli stalk, onions, garlic and corn on the cob.

I set the Crock-Pot on low for about 9 hours and left it alone.  Then, I lined a colander with paper towels, set it over a medium-sized bowl, and strained the broth into the bowl, discarding the vegetables. (I suppose those of you who garden could use the vegetable scraps for compost.)

The result? About 6 cups of broth, more than you get in the ready-to-use boxes found in the grocery store. Although they’re not that expensive, making your own is a simple way to save a few dollars and with less sodium, etc.

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I kept several cups in the fridge for a minestrone that I made the next day and the rest was frozen in ice cube trays. I’ll use a cube or two in place of oil when sauteeing vegetables or in recipes that require a small amount of broth.

Do you make — or have you tried making — your own vegetable broth?  (Also, if you’re curious about the difference between broth and stock, as I was when titling this post, the latter is usually made with bones. I guess it’s possible, then, to have vegetable stock but not vegetarian stock.) 

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page.

 

feeding the mother of all adrenaline crashes

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Holy mother of all adrenaline crashes.

When I tell you that I am in a nearly comatose-like zonked out state from my Listen to Your Mother experience this weekend, I am not exaggerating.

Well, okay, maybe a little. But Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, am I exhausted. I feel like I could sleep for the rest of the week. The month.

Hell, make that the rest of this year.

I don’t know how you people who do things like run marathons or perform for thousands are able to function after this kind of rush. I really don’t. I took today as a vacation day from work and after doing some errands, I spent most of the afternoon in bed.

I know this is the aftermath of an intense week, which included heightened stress — some good (pre-show prep) and some that I could have done without, thank you very much. I’ve had a jackhammer of a headache since Thursday.  I haven’t been sleeping more than a few hours per night nor eating very well. It’s Mercury retrograde. And this weather — steel-gray sky, colder than usual even for Pittsburgh — ain’t helping matters.

No wonder I want to retreat to my bed.

Time to recharge the batteries, starting with tonight’s dinner.

I wanted soup, something hearty and healthy and fast. Enter this bowl of deliciousness, right here.

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Tortilla Soup from Cook the Pantry: Vegan Pantry-to-Plate Recipes in 20 Minutes (or Less!) by Robin Robertson.  (Note that the addition of shredded cheddar is my doing.)  I really like Robin Robertson’s recipes for their simplicity and speed.

I couldn’t find the exact recipe online and since I noticed that other bloggers include a publishers’ permission when posting Cook the Pantry recipes, I’ll refrain from posting it here because I’m not interested in being sued. It’s pretty basic; you probably have something similar in your culinary repertoire.

All these ingredients are staples in our house — olive oil; garlic; chili powder; salsa; diced tomatoes; frozen corn (I used canned because our frozen corn has been recalled); vegetable broth (I used homemade stock); and black beans.  I didn’t have scallions and we didn’t miss them.  I did have an avocado and vegetarian chicken strips, which I substituted for the Soy Curls listed as optional in the recipe.

Tortilla Soup and Salad - 5-9-2016It came together quickly, as promised.  I served the soup with a simple green salad (lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, with a slight drizzle of olive oil for dressing) which was last night’s leftovers.

The Husband and I liked the Tortilla Soup. The kids, as expected, didn’t want anything to do with this.  Whatever. Their loss. They opted for leftover rotisserie chicken and nothing else. They’re 14 and perfectly capable of making their own dinner if they didn’t like what was offered.

Simple, convenient and fast. Can’t ever get tired of recipes like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Salon/Currently: Jan 10, 2016

Sunday Salon banner

Happy Sunday, loves. Today was a blustery and cold Sunday here in Pittsburgh, the kind of day that started with temperatures in the 50s and quickly plummeted throughout the afternoon. Rain, snow flurries, wind — all perfect migraine/sinus headache weather. I feel one starting so I’m taking my usual precautions to try and manage this as best as I can.

Reading

Boys in the TreesI’m still reading my second first book of the year, Carly Simon’s memoir, Boys in the Trees. I’ve been a fan of Carly’s since I was too young to fully understand and appreciate her lyrics. This highly-personal, eye-opening memoir really provides a lot of context to her songs. She’s always been somewhat of a private person, but in this book, she opens up quite a bit about her issues with stuttering as a child, her parents’ marriage and growing up as the daughter of publishing magnate Richard Simon, and her earliest relationships. Anyone who thinks they know Carly Simon through just her music probably doesn’t.

Listening
My audiobook this week has been The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.  It’s not my favorite of hers, to be honest, and I’m actually getting a little bored with it.  I’m not connecting with the characters and I don’t really care what happens to them. I should probably consider it a DNF and move on.

This weekend, I’ve been listening to a great deal of music on Spotify. You see, when Spotify was first introduced, I eagerly signed up. For whatever reason, I abandoned the service awhile ago. With Sirius XM in the car, I was doing most of my music either with the radio or my CDs and I haven’t logged on for years. (Really, it has been a long, long time.)  I didn’t really see a need for more music.  Plus, recently there was a little glitch with my laptop and The Husband’s Spotify account (he’s a Premium user and loves it).

Finally, this weekend I determined to try and figure out the issue — and I did! Now I’m back on Spotify and downloading ALL. THE. SONGS and creating a bunch of playlists. I tend to listen to the same artists and judging from my friends’ feed, there is a lot of good music I’ve been missing out on. I’m having fun with this.

Watching
I stayed up much later than usual last night watching the Steelers-Bengals game last night. Even though I kept it on after The Husband went to bed, I really wasn’t paying much attention until the end. What a game that was, with the disgraceful behavior of the Cincinnati players and their fans: throwing things on the field, hurling beer cans at people in the stands, cheering when Big Ben was injured. Such an embarrassment to their city.

And I’m from Philly, so I’m rather well acquainted with the whole unfair phenomenon of how a few drunken Neanderthals (who every rational person knows don’t represent an entire metropolitan area or fan base) can manage to tarnish a city’s sports reputation for decades. But what we witnessed last night seemed beyond the pale, more than a handful of idiots. It’s a wonder someone didn’t wind up dead.

Cooking
It was perfect soup weather today, so I decided to use up some odds and ends for a minestrone. Some frozen corn, peas, carrots. I added tortellini and leftover garlic bread from last night’s dinner to every else’s bowls except mine. The Husband and I liked it, but of course the kids hated it. I’ve gotten to the point where if they don’t like what’s for dinner, they can make a sandwich or have cereal or learn how to cook for themselves. I’m so frustrated with their ridiculous picky eating.  They’re 14 years old and I’m done playing restaurant.

Blogging
Next Saturday and Sunday is the Winter 2016 Mini-Bloggiesta — with a bonus day of Monday if you happen to have the day off. I will definitely be participating. Not sure for how long or what my specific to-do’s will be, but this is a good opportunity for me (and you, too?) to focus on a few blog tasks that tend to be put on the back burner.

Hope your weekend has been a good one!

Weekend Cooking: Homemade Gluten-Free, Tofu-Free, Mock “Chicken” Noodle Soup

Melissa's Gluten-Free Vegetarian No Tofu Mock Chicken Noodle Soup

Just in time for a holiday weekend, I’ve caught a nasty case of (what I am fairly certain is) bronchitis. We didn’t have any plans for this Memorial Day, but I was hoping to do a few things around the house other than cough my way nonstop through the weekend. Instead, I sound and feel miserable (“Mom, you sound like you’re coughing up a hairball,” The Boy told me last night. “Or maybe two cats.”)  He has a way with words, that kid. And he’s right.

Last night, I wanted a bowl of chicken noodle soup in the worst way possible. This is easier said than done when you’re gluten-free and vegetarian. Fortunately, after finding some recipes on Pinterest and taking scraps from here and there, I was able to throw together a steamy, soothing bowl of what I’m calling my Homemade Gluten-Free, Tofu-Free Mock “Chicken” Noodle Soup. I made this up as I went along, so forgive the imprecise measurements. I also have no affiliation with the products mentioned; I’m just a happy customer.

Homemade Gluten-Free, Tofu-Free Mock “Chicken” Noodle Soup

2 tbsps. olive oil

onion and garlic (I used about 2 or 3 cups of Birds Eye Recipe Ready Chopped Onions and Garlic, as I wanted a lot of both)

a few dashes of dried thyme

a few dashes of dried parsley

8 cups hot water

4 cubes Not Chick’n boullion (I like Edward & Sons)

about 2 cups small-shaped gluten-free pasta (I had a choice between elbow macaroni and medium shells; I went with the macaroni)

I had about 1/3 of a package of Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned chicken strips remaining in the freezer, so I decided to add them

Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in pot.
Add onion and garlic blend along with the dried thyme.
Saute for a few minutes till it is nice and sizzling.
Add 8 cups hot water, then the Not Chick’n boullion cubes.
Stir and bring to a boil. Sprinkle in the parsley.
Add pasta and continue to boil for the package directions (mine was 7 minutes)
Microwave the Beyond Meat chicken strips and toss in the pot.
Add salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t add salt, as it didn’t seem to need it.

This seems flexible enough to add carrots, celery, or peas if you choose. I hate celery and didn’t have carrots or peas, otherwise I would have probably added those.

The result was exactly what I’d hoped for – a very soothing, comforting bowl of a classic favorite.

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Weekend Cooking: A Potluck Sort of a Post

Weekend Cooking - New

I’ve missed participating in Weekend Cooking for the past several … um, months (my last such post was in July – which, okay, maybe that’s not so bad).  I thought I’d jump back in with a random, odds-and-ends-filled sort of post this week. Potluck, if you will, because who knows what this will be by the time I’m finished with it.

Soup’s On!
Today’s the kind of Pittsburgh day – rainy, blustery, a sudden drop in temperatures from a gorgeous not-to-be-believed stretch of high 70s  – that gives you all the foreshadowing you need that winter’s woes are upon us whether we like it or not. I dreamed about driving in snow last night (down a steep flight of steps, no less) so that probably means that tomorrow will be a blizzard here in the ‘Burgh.

When the weather’s less than perfect, it’s the perfect day for soup. I’ve got a hodgepodge of end-of-summer vegetables simmering in the crockpot as I type. A zucchini and yellow squash were nearing the end of their days in our fridge; I chopped them up and dumped them into the crockpot along with a 32 oz can of crushed tomatoes in puree, 4 cups of vegetarian beef broth, some carrots, a handful of frozen corn and onions, some garlic, and a sprinkling of basil and oregano. We’ll have this for dinner tonight along with grilled cheese sandwiches. Simple.

With this soup, I’ve started a new bag of trimmings for vegetable stock. I keep a bag of scraps in the freezer, intending to make stock, but I never have. Every cookbook seems to have a recipe for stock and I’m thinking this is the year I make my own.

Cookbook Binge
Speaking of cookbooks, I’ve been on a vegetarian (and vegan) cookbook binge at the library. I have a bunch of them checked out that look amazing, and I’ve even made a recipe or two from several of them. They include:

Vedge

Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking, by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby

Mayim's Vegan Table

Mayim’s Vegan Table: More Than 100 Great Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours, by Mayim Bialik

Meatless All Day

Meatless All Day: Recipes for Inspired Vegetarian Meals, by Dina Cheney

I’ll give my thoughts on them here, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I’ve also been cooking a lot from The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out by blogger Angela Liddon.  I love, love, love everything I’ve made from this cookbook (it was an impulse buy at Costco in May and I declared it my Mother’s Day gift from The Husband and kids).  Oh She GlowsHere are two of my favorites from Oh She Glows: Portabello Mushroom “Steak” Fajitas and Strawberry-Mango Avocado Salsa.

Portobello Mushroom Steak Fajitas and Strawberry Mango Avocado Salsa

Taste of summer, indeed.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

 

The Sunday Salon: Friendships. in Books and in Real-Life

We are incredibly lucky to have some of the best friends imaginable. Two out of three of them just drove 350 miles today so they could spend the day hangin’ with The Husband at the Pittsburgh Pirates game this afternoon. They’re the type of guys – friends since elementary school, all of them – who think nothing of doing  crazy things like this, and they’ve done this twice now, since The Cancer struck last fall.

Friends like these are the kind who get us through some of the most difficult times of our lives. Kelle Hampton knows this, too, and it’s her memoir Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected that I’ll be trying to finish up today while the boys are at the game.

When her daughter Nella was born with Down syndrome, it was Kelle’s close-knit network of friends and family that got her through the emotional rollercoaster of the first few days which she chronicles through words and gorgeous photographs in Bloom. I’m on the TLC Book Tour for this one on Wednesday, so be sure to check back then for my full review.

After Bloom, I have two books on deck for my freelance reviewing gig with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Not sure if I’m at liberty to mention what they are just yet, but one is a contemporary novel that I’ve seen mention on several blogs and the other is a memoir that is quite new to me and looks rather intriguing.)

I also owe a poetry post about Pittsburgh Memoranda by Haniel Long. I was supposed to be part of Savvy Verse and Wit‘s National Poetry Month Blog Tour, but I waited too long to write my post and was sidelined by a migraine yesterday. (For those who expressed concern, it’s a little better today, thanks to a batch of Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup I made last night. This soup was AMAZING. I made it vegan by using no-egg noodles and it held up really well for lunch today, too.)

I’m also still making my way through Little Women on my Kindle for March’s read-along (it might be next March by the time I finish this) and in the car, Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor and I are still Traveling with Pomegranates. 

Hope your travels – either in book form or real – are good ones this Sunday, with a good friend or two by your side.

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