Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Potato Soup

The first time I made this soup, I did not use a recipe, thus this culinary creation was born! I also sliced my knuckle while slicing potatoes. Don't worry, I was able to act quick enough to avoid getting any blood anywhere near the food! Feel free to adapt this recipe to your personal desires. I will actually be trying it with kale in it at some point! If you are going to add kale, do it as the very last thing you add to the soup.


Ingredients:

3 Tbsp butter

3 (or so) green onions

Diced garlic, roasted or fresh, as much or as little as you like

3 rounded Tbsp flour, or however much you need to achieve the thickness you like

Milk, cream, or half&half - I used about a cup

7 potatoes, peeled and diced

Shredded cheese for on top, optional


1. Put potatoes in a large pot of water, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring them to a boil and cook for roughly 10 minutes, or until tender but not falling apart. Drain and return to the large pot (turn the heat off).

2. While the potatoes are cooking, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the green onions and garlic, and cook them for a few minutes. Add the flour, stir constantly until dissolved. It will become a thick, paste looking mixture - this is good! Add the milk, cream, or half&half while stirring constantly. Keep stirring until the flour mixture has been completely broken up and absorbed into the liquid.

3. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and stir. If you don't have the consistency you like, you can always add more milk to thin it out. Season with salt and pepper. When you dish it up, you can add cheddar cheese on top.

Enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bread Adventures

Let me start by saying that I love bread! It's said that man cannot live by bread alone, but let me tell you that as a woman, I sure could make a go of it! I remember when my mom used to make bread in the bread machine and this delightful smell would waft through the house. I could hardly wait for it to cool enough to get a bite. Alas, I am my mother's daughter, and there came a day when I would have to try making bread myself. Bread seems like such a complicated and scientific food endeavor. I approached this feat by pulling up my bootstraps (figuratively, as I'm not wearing boots today), doning my cutest apron (from Anthropologie of course), and pulling out the step stool to look for the Bread Machine Cookbook.

Reading through the helpful tips, I started to get a little more freaked out, so I moved on to the actual recipes. The first used dry milk, something I don't have on hand. So I frantically kept flipping....and then I found one! Italian bread.

Simple.

Straight-forward.

No dry milk.

Perfect!

I stopped by the grocery store this morning knowing that I was going to be making bread this afternoon. I wasn't sure whether we had bread flour on hand, so I picked a bag up. The only sized bag they had was 5 lbs. I discovered while gathering my ingredients that we, in fact, had a partially used 5 lb. bag at home. My little slip up will lead to lots of doughy, yummy goodness in the weeks to come!

Armed with my ingredients, I called my mom at work. I knew I needed to put the liquid in first, and the yeast in last. I also found out that you have to make a little well into which you put the yeast. Fascinating! I am a woman with a plan. So I boldly declared I'd put the ingredients in and call my mom back. I measured them perfectly, put them in precisely, and dialed the phone.

No answer.

Dial again.

No answer.

Dial again.

Busy signal.

AAAAAAAAHHH! And then, incoming call. Sigh of relief. I shut the lid, plugged the machine in, and turned it on. Now, the bread is rising in the machine. Soon, I will take it out forming it into clover rolls, and bake it in my own oven. And I will be a happy happy camper.

Do Something

*****I've had this post as a draft for a while. I realize it is now after Christmas, so it may not make sense why I mention Christmas gifts. However, I decided the thoughts were still good enough to publish. Here it is...

Yesterday, my mom and I were driving during our Goodwill marathon, and I declared, "I've been thinking..." Very dangerous words sometimes, but it really was something I've been thinking a lot about. I went on to describe my hesitation with Christmas gifts this year, and the struggle I am having coming up with whether to ask for actual gifts or whether to ask that volunteering be done or a donation be made to an organization in lieu of a gift. I have recently been overwhelmingly struck by the notion that I am so incredibly blessed even in my "tough" times. My mom and I discussed that we have never been without food, clean water, shelter, or sanitation. Even now, I am typing this blog from a laptop personal computer, in the comfort of my own home, with electricity.



Today, my mom came home from church and was telling me about the message on the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:13-26, Mark 10:17-31, and Luke 18-23). The preacher then talked about how wealthy we are in the United States. If you have a mattress on your bed, you are wealthy. If you have clean water, you are wealthy. If you have food, then you are wealthy. Please don't misunderstand me, I believe there is so much more to the story than the fact that Jesus tells the young man to sell all his belongings. In fact, I will touch on that in a minute. But, that doesn't diminish that in today's society most of us are truly blessed and we may not realize how much so. Ok, so my side note about the depth of the story beyond material possessions. Jesus realized that the young man had made his money and possessions his idols. So truly for him to follow Jesus would mean that he needed to sell everything, in order for God to be his God, rather than money. My short interpretation and attempt at explanation pales in comparison to Praxis pastor Justin Anderson's sermon from October 11, 2009.



But I digress. My main point is to illustrate the disparity felt in much of the world. I understand that poor people exist in the United States as well, but even being poor in the United States means you are light years ahead of much of the rest of the world. So tonight, I saw this quote/prayer:



Grant us grace, O Father, not to pass by suffering or joy without eyes to see; give us understanding and sumpathy; and guard us from selfishness that we may enter into the joys and sufferings of others; use us to gladden and strengthen those who are weak and suffering; that by our lives we may help others who believe and serve you, and project your light which is the light of life.

- H.R.L. Sheppard


For me this was the perfect expression of my heart. I was struck by the fact that I can do something every day that will positively impact the lives of others, specifically those who have less. So, my encouragement to all of you, is to do something. In the words of Nike, "Just Do It." It can be large or small, but everyday try to do something that reaches out. Something very simple would be visiting The Hunger Site. If you are like me and have trouble remembering to visit a specific site other than your email, make it your homepage. That way when you access the internet you will have an automatic reminder! I want to be clear that I don't believe every single one of us is called to sacrifice to the extent the rich young man was for others. But I do believe that every one of us is called to do what we can.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My New Year's Resolutions

I, like my mom, enjoy making New Year's Resolutions. You can read her take on it here. However, I am a very driven person, so I tend to be very commited to them. I'm not overwhelming myself this year with a laundry list of to-do items. Rather, I am seeking ways to improve my life and do things I enjoy.

  1. Bake more. Seriously, I realized how much I love it! And there are so many sources of great inspiration, that I have no excuses! I got a cupcake book/decorating kit for Christmas and a book entitled Cakes Galore, which will provide plenty of recipes. This week, I'm planning to make my own rolls to serve with potato soup (taking to an event), an apple pie, and a loaf of bread for at home.
  2. Finish crafting/sewing/knitting/crocheting/upholstering projects in a timely matter. I did not define a timeline on purpose. Each project is different, so it will take a different amount of focus and work. For example, finishing a knitted scarf will take far less time than figuring out how to make my vintage record/radio cabinet work again. I have plenty of materials, which need to be organized, and plenty of ideas, so now I just need to get some projects done!
  3. Use my blog to chronicle my adventures in baking and crafting. Sometimes things turn out like I intend and sometimes they don't. Either way, it will make for an entertaining read for you all. And it will be a chance for me to laugh at myself! Maybe I will have to share my potato soup recipe or my pumpkin puff mini pies one of these days!
  4. Run a 5k. My mom and I did it a couple years ago, and it felt wonderful! I bought running shoes a couple months ago, and unfortunately, I have not taken them out of the box yet. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has a favorite cause that will be hosting a 5k run.
  5. Oh, and the obvious one: graduate!

Looking forward to a year of inspiration and doing things I love, meanwhile sharing it all!