A GIFT IN THE MAIL

In looking through the mail the other day I was thrilled to see a package, post marked from Orlando FL.  My girl lives in Orlando, and she sent me a mixed tape  CD she’d made.  I love it!  Yesterday I played a few songs of it while driving around and heard some of my favorites, Gene Kelly – “Singing in the Rain,” Andy Grammer, Adele, Bing Crosby, and even “Lovely Rita Meter Maid” by the Beatles.  What a great tape CD this is!

As I was driving home today I turned on the radio once more to see what other songs she had on the tape for me.

When I heard the first note on the guitar, I knew it was the home recording I helped put together 22 years ago, when my girl was 3.  She was singing with her daddy.  Good thing I was in the driveway by this time, it’s hard to drive when your eyes are filling up.

 

Thanks Sarah.  I have 5 more spots in my new fangled 6CD changer.  hint hint

Playing guitar and singing together.

Vegan, Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup

New Soup?  No, just reinvented soup.  I’m taking a look at my soup recipes and seeing if they will be just as delicious with a vegan or vegetarian twist.  Why you ask?

My daughter is a vegetarian.

That fact scared me a little.  It seems she has been a vegetarian for a long time and I didn’t know it.  How can this be, I’m her mother?  I know she didn’t eat much meat, how could I have not seen that she didn’t eat ANY meat??  True, she’s in her twenties, has her own place and comes home only once and a while.  But come on, how could I have missed this fact last Thanksgiving?  I feel like such a neglectful mom.  So now I’m trying to make it up to her with good, healthy, meatless meals.

How does someone stay healthy if they don’t eat meat?  Uggh, kids today!  (jk)

So here we go.  I make an old favorite to take to my son’s house for dinner.  Before adding the ham, I reserve 3 cups of soup for my girl who will be coming home soon.  I take the soup to my son’s house and we all enjoy the Black Bean Pumpkin soup and the sour cream garnish.  Yum.

My girl comes home the next day and I’m proud to tell her I have some vegetarian soup for her.  Ummm, but it is made with chicken stock.  oops.  And I sauteed onions in butter.  That’s not allowed in vegan world.  But she is my very good girl and eats it all up and tells me it’s delicious.  We moms love it when our kids clean their plate… or bowl.

I love her.  This is why I want to make soup she will want to eat.

So, I’ve already ditched the ham.  My girl suggests I add corn in place of the ham.  I ditch the butter for olive oil and I make a batch of   Vegetable Broth that daughter-in-law #1 told me about.  Poof!  I have vegan soup.  Here is the recipe if you’d like to try. It won’t make you a vegan, it will make you veganish.  That’s a term I learned on the Oprah show.  It’s what you call a person that eats vegan once in a while.  But if you are a vegan, this soup’s for you.

And the best part is – my girl loves it.  And as you might have already guessed, I love my girl.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup
——————————————————————————–

Recipe By: Rita Garvey
Serving Size: 12

Ingredients:

3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (~4 1/2 cups)
1 can tomato, chopped and drained (~15 oz) save juice, you may need it later
1 1/4 cups onions, chopped
1/2 cup shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup buter 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups broth, (beef, chicken or veg)
32 ounces pumpkin puree (make sure it’s puree and NOT pie mix – don’t ask me how I know this)
1/2 cup sherry, (or white wine) optional
1/2 pound cooked ham or turkey, diced 1 small bag of frozen corn (~2cups)
sour cream
pumpkin seeds — optional

Directions:

In a food processor or using a potato masher, loosely puree tomatoes and most of the beans.  Keep some out the mashing stage.  I think it makes for a better soup with combination of whole and mashed beans.
In a 6-quart heavy pot cook onion, shallot, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in butter olive oil over medium heat, stirring, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Stir in bean mixture and whole beans.  Stir in broth, pumpkin, and Sherry until combined and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10 – 15 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Just before serving, add ham/turkey frozen corn and simmer soup, stirring until heated through.

Check soup for proper seasoning.  More salt and pepper and cumin can be added at this point.  If you have used canned stock, it should be fine.  If you have made your own stock, more seasoning might be needed.  Taste it for yourself. If it is too thick, you may want to add in your reserved tomato juice.

Serve soup garnished with sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds.  (optional)

I have made soup with and without Sherry or wine.  Both are delicious.

I hope you all enjoy this and if anyone out there has any suggestions for great vegan meals, I’d love to hear from you!

So simple, why haven’t I made this before?

Vegetable broth that is!

I love to create soup.  I love the texture and flavors of great soup.  I love it even more when it comes from my kitchen.

If there was a chicken or turkey for dinner, you can be sure I was boiling up bones the next day.  Turkey vegetable is one of my family’s favorites.  My Mom taught me how to make soup right after I got married, and it’s a sweet memory for me every time I make some.  I have learned to make many of her soups and most of them, healthier than she did.  I think it’s because I use great kitchen tools that were not available then, and the nutrition of good eating is better now than back in 1975.  I often wish I could cook with her again.

Anyway…

The one stock I haven’t made, until now, is vegetable stock.  I really don’t know why.  I made some of this flavorful liquid the other day and was delighted with the outcome.

Here is the recipe, how easy does this look:

4 carrots, cut into chunks

2 medium or 1 large onion, unpeeled, quartered

2 potatoes, cut into chunks

3 celery stalks, roughly chopped

3 or 4 garlic cloves

20 or so stems parsley, with or without leaves

salt and pepper

Combine everything in a stockpot with 3 quarts water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a nice simmer.  A rolling boil makes for cloudy stock.  A simmer produces a clearer stock.  Both are delicious and quite the same in flavor.  It’s up to you.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  Cooking a little longer will improve the flavor, but if you’re in a hurry, 30 minutes is fine.  Strain, then taste and adjust the seasoning before using.  Cool before refrigerating or freezing.

This recipe comes from THE FOOD MATTERS COOK BOOK by Mark Bittman.  My daughter-in-law had this book on her “Wish List”.  After looking at it contents, I picked up one for myself too…. and one for my other daughter-in-law…. and one for my daughter.  This might give you an idea of how much I like this book — And I have a lot of cook books.  Mr. Bittman goes on to talk about adding other vegetables to the stock and which one you shouldn’t because they are bitter or overpowering.  He goes on to talk about making a “Roasted Vegetable Stock”. Sounds so good, doesn’t it?  I can’t wait to work my way through this cookbook.

What makes something precious?

As I begin the huge task of taking down decorations and getting the house back to its regular self, I keep looking at stuff and saying to myself, “This is just precious.”

What makes something precious?  It doesn’t start out to be precious … I’m finding out, it has to become precious.

I have added Christmas ornaments to my tree every year since Mark and I first put up a tree in the Little House on the River.  I started adding because I didn’t have many.  Then as I got a few more, I got picky about where my favorites would go on the tree.  Then the children came along and we bought ornaments for them to put on the tree.  Our decorations grew every year as our family grew.  Then they went to school and brought home decorations they made with their own two little hands!

Lord help me, we are talking about big time precious here.  I just put away a wreath.  It is made from a white paper plate with macaroni glued all over it and spray painted gold.  The green yarn hanger is getting a little thin so I made sure to wrap it in tissue paper.  It has my son’s name printed on the back.  That’s not all, I have lots of these types of precious treasures.

I found out something when these little children grew up and put up their own Christmas  trees.  This stuff is not precious to them.  Go figure!  I tried to give them their creations, their ornaments, their precious stuff that I have enjoyed all these years.  They don’t want it!

I realized, what is precious to me is not precious to them.  And that’s okay.  They are all on a journey of their own now — to discover their own kind of precious.

I like my trip down memory lane as I put away my decorations.  I can still see the excited little faces, and notes that said “Don’t Open Until Christmas”.  These little treasures received so long ago, are making me smile today.

And I realize, it’s not really the things that are precious, it’s the precious little ones that made them for me.  These treasures are just markers of a time when my children were young and life was a happy struggle.  Just like a photograph, these treasures show me the precious time when my children were little.

Happy New Year everyone.  I hope you all see the truly “precious” things in life.

Kids say the darndest things…

This past weekend I played with my grandchildren and took care of them while their parents had a little get-away-time.

Saturday night was BATH NIGHT.  All kids I know, love to take a tubby.  I made sure I had all the tub toys ready.  While I was running the bath, Sasha hopped up on my bathroom scale.  It’s one of those electronic things that needs to be tapped first then stepped on.  She looked so cute staring down at the scale.  I asked her what she was doing.

She looked up at me with an serious face and replied,  “I’m measuring my feet.”

When she hopped down and came over to the tub, I asked how big they were.  She told me they were, 8 units tall.

I did a lot of smiling and laughing that weekend.

Max

We have an African Grey parrot named Max.  Max lives in the kitchen.

He is quite the talker when he wants to be.  He has been talking so much more since our little Cecilia has been visiting and paying attention to him.  Most of his talking is babble.   Sometimes he screams her little baby scream.  It’s pretty funny.  I was doing my crossword this morning.  I hear him in the kitchen saying “Good Morning” over and over again.  I hear him do the Cecilia scream and then I hear him say, “Hello Mark.”

Mark was my husband.  He’s been in heaven now for 4 and half years.  Max was his bird and sounded just like Mark when he talked.  Because he doesn’t hear Mark’s voice anymore, he doesn’t talk like him very much.  But when he does, it makes me smile.

Thanksgiving

Awesome, awesome, awesome Thanksgiving dinner.  Somehow my turkey was done 2 hours ahead of time!  How does that happen??  Well, since I did lots of prep work the night before, we all went into high gear and got the sides ready in short order. Jake set the table and folded turkey napkins…

Then he went outside and deep fried a turkey while we were getting everything else put together for dinner.

Yeah, I didn’t take any more pictures because of the fact that I was creating the most fantastic meal on earth.  If you were here, you’d know what I was talking about.  Everything was great.  I must confess there were a few slip ups.  Yes, even when we’ve had our best holidays, there is bound to be slip ups.  I forgot to make bread pudding.  I made 5 pies, but forgot to make the bread pudding. DOH!  We didn’t make the Waldorf Salad either.  It’s okay on that one.  No one missed it.  Also, I forgot to put out the applesauce.  Not just any applesauce, it was homemade applesauce.  My homemade applesauce.  It is so amazing.  Even now, I’m closing my eyes thinking about how delicious this applesauce would have been on the table.  Well now that I think about this …… it is still delicious and I’ll have it with left overs.  Problem solved.

I am thankful that I have the time and the ability to cook a dinner, any dinner.  I am thankful that my family wants to gather to enjoy this meal and be thankful with me.  I am thankful for my amazing children and grandchildren.  I am thankful for my amazing husband who looked down from heaven on our gathering.  I miss him every day.

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