Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Soup Club Cookbook

This is an interesting cookbook. It's about soup. It's about friendship, about sharing and being there for each other. I'm a big lover of soups and have soup no matter what sort of weather. Yes, even in 90+ degrees in summer we still enjoy soup for lunch many days.

There are many recipes in this book and not all of them are soups or stews. There are also side dishes and breads. The very cool thing about the recipes are the stories that accompany them. The back stories of these women and their families make it extra special. It started with four friends, women who didn't know each other before they moved to New York City. They became friends & eventually decided to start a soup club.

Each one makes a homemade soup and delivers it to the other three families once a month. The other three weeks are spread out among the three friends so, you're only cooking soup for a multitude once a month. The only con I can see about this book is the quantity and number of servings for each recipe. Since these ladies are making soup for four families you have recipes that will make more than you need. I guess. Maybe you have a very large family. For us it's just two people and I am a big fan of leftovers to spread the meals out but....I don't need 8 quarts of soup!

With so many intriguing recipes I am selecting a favorite of mine - lentil soup. The quantities of ingredients have been cut back tremendously and I am a "little bit of this, little bit of that" type measurer so....I will just include the recipe in it's original format.

Lentil Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
8 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
3 1/2 lbs brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
8 springs thyme, leaves only
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground pepper
6 quarts vegetable broth
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
4 lemons
4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat oil in stock pot. Add onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle with salt and sauté vegetables until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes.
Add garlic and cumin and saute another few minutes.

Add lentils, thyme, bay leaves, pepper and vegetable broth. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, loosely cover, for about 20 minutes.

Remove soup from heat and discard bay leaves. Add tamari or soy sauce. Using an immersion blender lightly puree the soup. This adds a creamy texture but still leaves most of the lentils intact.

Squeeze some lemon juice into each serving bowl before adding the heated soup. Rub more juice on the rim for those who sip soup out of the bowl.
Grate some cheese over the soup.

I will be joining Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series .


Weekend Cooking 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.

Monday, March 23, 2015

♥ Garden Plans and Seedling Progress ♥

The grow light is working well. We planted on March 7th and started seeing little seedlings not too long afterwards. Now the plants are growing so fast, eager to get into soil and proper sunshine I suppose.

The thing we did not consider was how fast the beans would grow, and how tall they would get in comparison to the other vegetables. The light is meant to be 2 inches from the plants so that’s problematic when the beans have gotten so much taller than tomatoes, peas, chard and squash.

Doug’s brother is brilliant with gardening (he works at Worm’s Way in Tampa )s o he gives us tips here and there. The solution to the lighting and different growth of plants is to adjust the light by tilting it with the draw string.

It’s difficult to see in this photo but the grow light is at an angle to accommodate the varying height of the veggies.

We are using different soil combos this time and will note which one works best for future considerations. We've bought the below and also need to get the Happy Frog soil from the local gardening supply place very soon, start mixing the soils up. The raised beds are now 12 inches deep instead of the 6 inches we used last year.

This past weekend we moved the pole beans and peas outside to adjust to the light before planted them in a bed. We’ll also need to prepare a net for the beans to climb on once they start vining upwards.

I know it’s not good gardening weather for everyone yet but if you have started a garden, what are you planting? What are your plans for this year? Let’s hope I can report some success from our little corner of the globe.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lemon Dijon roasted chicken and balsamic onions

Anyone who has been reading my scribbling, or knows me personally, will be familiar with my love of a roasted chicken dinner. There are so many ways to prepare a chicken for roasting, so many flavor combinations. Recently I thought of an old favorite which had not been served in a long time. It’s the Dijon lemon chicken with balsamic onions. How could I have forgotten that one?

Start with three lemons, a bit of dried tarragon, a few onions and a chicken. Place 2 tablespoons of tarragon inside the chicken cavity. Slice the lemons in half and place one half inside the chicken.

Peel a couple of onions and slice in half. Place those around the chicken. To start you’ll have the chicken breast side down.

In a small saucepan you’ll place a half stick of unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and the juice form the remaining lemons. Once this is all melted and flavors mingled, brush the chicken and the onions with a good portion of the mixture. Now roast for 30 minutes at 400 F.

Has 30 minutes passes? Good - Remove the roasting pan and turn the chicken breast side up. Brush the chicken and onions with lemony mixture again. At this point you’ll tip some good balsamic vinegar over the onion halves. About 2 tablespoons should do it. More if you like the taste of it.

Put the chicken back in the oven, turn the temperature down to 375 F, roast for another 30 minutes. You’ll have to gauge how much time it needs based on the weight of the chicken and how your oven works.

This has a great taste combination with the balsamic caramelized onions and lemon Dijon flavorings roasted into the meat. Be careful not to break the onions apart when you are removing them from the pan. The center of the onion is a treat, the frosting on the cake.

I am very open to any roasted chicken or vegetable recipes anyone wants to share with me. Comfort food at it’s best.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Starting up the garden with seeds and a Jump Start grow light

When I was growing up I remember my mother always had a garden in our small suburban yard. How I wish I had taken notes and asked questions way back then.

My father had a hand with the planning as he was out measuring, turning soil and staking out the area between the two apple trees. I was allowed a small patch where I could plant anything I wanted….but what I didn’t do was take an active role in the everyday planting, pest control and maintenance. I could really use that info now.

Last year our garden was not successful but this year I hope to report great progress. We are trying something different this year. Last year we planted straight into raised beds.


This year we are starting with seeds instead of plants and placing them under a grow light.

Every morning we turn the light on and turn it off before to retire to bed. The soil is sprayed once a day to keep it moist. We also plotted out which beds we would place the tomatoes, squash, peas, beans, chard and bell pepper.

FullSizeRender (4)

This year we are increasing the depth of the beds to 12 inches. That should help quite a bit.

Here are the seed trays under our new light. This light helps the seedlings come up strong and not wispy. As soon as danger of frost is gone we will plant in a raised bed.

More updates later - hopefully successful ones!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reader's Workout #4


Good day and welcome to my fourth link up with Joy at Joy's Book Blog for her Reader's Workouts series!

* Walking the dogs (not much exercise but at least I’m upright!)

* Walking the long driveway, back and forth, as much as we can with the dark mornings and some rainy afternoons – C’mon Spring!!

*At work: Climbing the stairs to use a bathroom on another floor; stretching exercises in my office, a short walk after lunch

The exercises I was “assigned” at physical therapy help some and I am hoping to pick up the speed on walking. This limited mobility business has to pass soon!

Plans to start up the garden will certainly be exercise as we turn soil in the beds and plant our little seedlings. This week I hope we get around to buying a new wheelbarrow as there is much raking to do, lots to be hauled away from the house.

That’s it for my week.

Since this is Reader’s Workout I thought I’d mention I am still reading The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. What is everyone else tucked into?How did your exercise plans go?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mini Update:
Eating, Reading, Exercising and Gardening Plans

Here is a mini blog update of what is going on here. The weather is improving so we are all a bit more cheerful.

Here's what I have been up to..............


Roasted chicken legs and thighs with pole beans and broth cooked rice - Delicious!

Grilled pork chops, roasted root vegetables and baked beans. We used sweet potato, carrots and parsnips for the roasted veggies.

Oatmeal has become a traditional breakfast meal. Low fat and low calorie.

Exercising: Still working on walking and had been experimenting with different yoga DVDs. I joined up with the Reader’s Workout series at Joy’s Book Blog.
Waiting to see what is happening with my leg and physical therapy before pouring it on too fast here.

Reading: I started Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton last week. I am also reading over a few cookbooks that arrived in the mail. Doug is deep into Persuader, a Jack Reacher book, I think #7 in the series.

Gardening: Ok, it’s actually too early to plant anything, I just know we’ll get another good frost here. But we are starting seedlings and using a grow light. More on that later.

Viewing: Let me do a roundup of what we have received from Netflix and the library. This is from a few weeks back to present.

We started and finished season one of Orange is the New Black. I liked the book (my review HERE) and was quite surprised at how different the show was, waaaay off from the book.

Season 7, part one, of Mad Men. Glad to see one character I don’t care for exiting the storyline and sad to see one character die. No spoilers from me here, in case you aren’t caught up.

We watched G.I. Joe, the second one, and it was so-so. Glad we didn’t buy it.

Eagerly awaiting season 4 of Game of Thrones from the library!! Also looking forward to the latest season of Walking Dead. One of our favorite shows!

That's it for a short update. Hope all is well in your world. What are you reading /watching / eating these days?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reader's Workout #3


Good day and welcome to my third link up with Joy at Joy's Book Blog for her Reader's Workouts series!

Since my last linkup with you all I have been to the doctor to get the injured leg fixed up. It wasn’t as easy as biting on a piece of leather and having the doctor pull hard on my leg and actually, she wasn’t amenable to that suggestion from me. Go figure. The leg only locks up every now and then so it's not as if I have been hobbling continuously for 2 weeks. So, in spite of the gimpy leg I have:

Kept walking with the dogs
Walked up and down the driveway (1/10 of a mile one way) for several laps on both Saturday and Sunday
Kept up with some stretching exercises.
Walk up the stairs at work for bathroom breaks. Every bit of movement counts, right?

Today I will be going to physical therapy and maybe they can twist my leg the way it needs to be. The stairs will be the death of me if it’s not back to normal soon!

How has your week of exercise been going?


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