Dumped on

Archived | February 22, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. There was the whole storm warning coming at us left and right and since we were stocked up in the kitchen, I took some time in the calm to work on taxes while the radio played. No sign of snow, only that beautiful full moon and its blue light.
Had my doubts about a big snow. I felt spring last week when it was in the 50s and I vacuumed and washed the car and completely cleared the driveway. I took a walk with only a light jacket and craved strawberries and smelled grass and leaves on what felt like a warm wind.
Had doubts on Sunday morning when those few flakes fell, and then more, then clumps, and soon everything was white again. Dumped on. We were so dumped on it we started making jokes with the neighbors about where we might put the snow we were moving around. I heard, even, a few profanities as people were covered with snow as they shoveled. That snow fell up until Monday evening before it cleared.
It’s like that, you know. You feel as if you’re on the home stretch, and find you just rounded a corner and there’s still a ways to go. You think it’s all fine and good, and then BOOM. Back to square one. But the thing is not what comes your way, but how you meet it. You can stomp around and curse and put things off until it’s really deep and heavy, or you can bundle up and meet it and don’t let it get you down.
I choose the latter. The snow isn’t going anywhere. No sense fighting things. Shovel a path, and carry on, and one day you’ll have dandelions all the heck over your lawn. Your blessed green lawn. It’s out there even now, under all that white. Sure is.
To keep it going during a stretch of bad weather, I often stir up a batch of this soup to warm up from the inside out. Serve it with fruit, some good bread, and a gooey brownie at the last.
Three Cheese Onion Comfort Soup
3/4 stick butter
3 med. onions, sliced
3 14.5 oz cans broth
1 ½ broth cans of water
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Parmesan cheese
Swiss cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Melt butter in 2 ½ quart pot. Add sliced onions and cook for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Cook 30 more minutes, stirring now and then. Pour into individual soup bowls, top with croutons, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, slice of Swiss and slice of Mozzarella. Microwave until cheese is melted, or broil in oven on foil-covered cookie sheet.

Salt of the Month Club

Archived | February 16, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I missed some of the show because I was on the phone with a telemarketer who wanted me to sign up for the Salt of the Month Club. REALLY interesting. Seems you pay an amount and then every month for 12 months you get a box of salt in the mail. The list includes bath salt, garlic and herb salt, sidewalk salt and a variety of popcorn salts.
Sometimes I hear about a new business or venture and think, Now, what were they thinking? And hope to the Good Lord these people don’t have valid drivers’ licenses. And that’s what came up for me as I listened to the Salt Lady.
I have a tendency to share a bit much about my life with strangers. This is not a bad thing, but I suppose it gets annoying at times. The Salt Lady wasn’t annoyed, though. I was explaining how it was bursitis in my left knee, not arthritis, and how relieved I was and she told me about her bout of chicken pox and soon it was as if we were old friends. “Montana,” she said when I asked where she lives, and that put the kibosh on coffee sometime this week, but that’s no matter.
I ended up not buying salt, but did get put on a call back list. Who knows? Maybe by the time six months pass, I’ll have some extra cash or a medical need for salt and I’ll join the Club. If not, at least I can look forward to a call from Marlene, the Salt Lady.
Until then, I’ll stick with table salt. It works for me. Right up there with fresh bread, cool water, and a good warm blanket. Plain and simple.
Here’s a lovely red velvet cake recipe too good to not share. It does call for salt, but not much, and there’s vinegar included, which, for me, makes the cake.
Red Velvet Cake
Read more about it at www.cooks.com
Content Copyright © 2011 Cooks.com – All rights reserved.
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cocoa
2 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 T vinegar
Pour vinegar over baking soda and set aside. Cream shortening, sugar and eggs. Make a paste of coloring and cocoa; add to creamed mixture. Add buttermilk alternately with sifted dry ingredients. Add vanilla. Beat well. Fold in vinegar and baking soda. Bake in two 8 or 9-inch greased and floured pans at 350° for 30 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch.
Cool completely and cut horizontally to make 4 layers, or simply two if you wish.
Fill and frost with whipped cream or buttercream or cream cheese frosting.
Mrs. Sundberg’s Cream Cheese Frosting: Blend together 1 softened stick butter, 8 ounces cream cheese,
and 1 bag of powdered sugar. Spread over cake.

Valentine’s Day Kisses

Archived | February 9, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It’s brutally cold out there this week and I’m doing my best to keep things warm and cozy without cranking the heat. It is a luxury, I must say, to feel warm for a stretch of time, and I don’t take it for granted. The thermostat is a point of contention for Mr. Sundberg and I, so I keep it moderate, bake more, and light a lot of candles. Except once in a while when he’s out of town. Then I crank it and enjoy a good blast of heat.
Don’t get me wrong. We don’t argue much at all, and when we do, it’s arguing, not fighting. It’s good to have healthy conflict every now and then, and when it’s not a competition it can be almost enjoyable. Almost. Conflict clarifies one’s convictions, and when, at day’s end, you can lay it all aside and snuggle up to watch a movie or cook a good meal together, things feel complete. You’ve disagreed, made your points, and acknowledged a difference in opinion. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all agreed on everything? Dull, if you ask me, and lacking aliveness.
Someone once said that compatibility rests in sharing the same fundamental beliefs. I’m not sure what defines “fundamental beliefs”, but I’m thinking it has a lot to do with the kind of lives we want to live, common thoughts about a higher power, and general similarities in how each regards the world. Thing like that. If, together, you’ve got all of that in sync, things like socks on the floor, how the lawn is mowed, what kind of dishes you’re going to buy, how to spend vacation time, and the general temperature of the house aren’t such large issues.
It’s not easy being human. It’s even less easy being human with someone else. Takes a lot of patience and discernment and forgiveness and love. Energy. That’s why we have things like coffee and chocolate and flowers. To keep it all going, that energy of aliveness, don’t you know.
Here’s a sweet recipe I’m whipping up for Valentine’s Day. Pretty simple, and nothing like chocolate and cherries mingling on the palate.
Valentine’s Day Kisses
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. maraschino cherry juice
1 tsp. almond extract
a few drops of red food coloring
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
48 Hershey’s kisses
Heat oven to 350. Combine butter, powdered sugar, cherry juice, almond extract and food coloring. Blend and add flour, salt and cherries and mix well. Form dough into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 minutes. Remove. Press a Hershey’s Kiss into each cookie. Return to oven for 30-60 seconds. Makes 48.

A candle to light for someone you love, or for yourself, even.

Archived | February 3, 2011 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Well, it wasn’t so bad. Things are a bit rough lately, and Saturday was a humdinger. It was my neighbor, Jack. He’s been sick, and since he’s up there in years I’d been stopping by to drop off soup and check on him, and he’s been coughing and not getting better, but what do you do. He’s been to the doctor and took his meds as he should have, and sleeping a lot. So when I peeked in Saturday afternoon, the quiet seemed normal. And there he was, as still as a person can be, and no longer with us.
I called his daughter, whom I’ve gotten to know, thinking she might want some time with him before calling whom you call when someone dies. She arrived within an hour, and I let her know where to find me if she needed anything. An hour after that, there was an ambulance, and I lit a candle for Jack, and for his daughter, and for the people for whom grief is real.
There’s Rog, whose house was foreclosed on last week, who is looking for a place, and Jenny, who won’t give up her job search though she’s awfully worn out. And Tom, whose been putting in too many hours at the shop just to pay his mortgage with no break and no break in sight, and Carol, who lost her cat this morning and doesn’t much want to talk.
It’s so cold outside, and there seems to be more snow than ever, and signs of spring are few and far between. It’s easy to hole up and putter around; easier yet to do nothing, and nap away the day. Thing is, there’s another side, always, with light and laughter and comfort. There’s the coming home after a day of good work, the feeling of being in your own place, the sense of well-being, of what there is to look forward to. It’s all there, just not right now, not for everyone. But it’s there to think of, and there’s what’s next today, and a candle to light for someone you love, or for yourself, even.
Go buy yourself a candle. Buy seven. It’s still winter, but there’s warmth nearby, and light, and people laughing outside on the porch. Barefoot people. Imagine that.
My dearest friend brought this soup to me on a rather crappy January day, and everything got better, including my cold. Make a double batch and take some to your dearest friend. It’s as good as stew gets.
Winter Vegetable Stew
with the magical flavor of parsnips
6 to 8 servings
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 medium boiling or Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp onion powder
1/4 cup Guinness or other stout beer
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
4 T butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and thinly chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
small pinch of nutmeg
1 bay leaf
pinch of fresh or dried sage
pinch of fresh or dried rosemary
pinch of fresh or dried thyme
1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 cup milk
Boil parsnip and potato in a blend of water, soy sauce, onion powder, beer and Worcestershire sauce until barely tender; set aside.
Melt butter in a large stockpot and add onion, carrot, celery and leek. Saute until vegetables are tender. Add flour, yeast, salt, black pepper, dry mustard, nutmeg, and herbs and cook over gentle heat for 5 minutes. Increase heat and gradually stir in boiled parsnip and potato mixture. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes. Add corn and milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve immediately.