24 November 2010

soup du jour

It's drizzling outside, a bit chilly, and overcast. Don't you just love a good soup day? A nice hot pot of soup always hits the spot! Below are a couple of soups I've made in the last 2 weeks that were very successful as comfort food goes.

Simple Potato Soup 
(serves 8. I cut recipe in half and served 8 in mugs)

My husband's Grandma Bobbie used to make potato soup so he always finds it quite comforting. Lucky for me it's SO easy to make! I used red potatoes since they are nice and creamy, but you can use whatever you've got. I also added fresh garlic and then grated parmesan over the bowl instead of cheddar. Here is the recipe straight from the compilation my mom-in-law gave us.

Peel about 5 lbs of potatoes and place in a large pot and cover with water. Add to this 2 chopped onions and a cube of butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Boil until tender and drain a little of the liquid off. Mash the potatoes and onions slightly. Add milk to desired consistency. Heat through again. May be served with shredded cheddar cheese.
* * * * *
One day last week I was looking for something to make for lunch. The following recipe is what I ended up putting together with what I had available in my kitchen. Lo and behold, my finicky 3 year old gobbled up an entire bowl full.

Homemade Chicken Soup 
(serves 4)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
1/4 red onion
1 lb. chicken meat (I used breast but it can get dry)
chicken stock
pasta (I used farfalle)
salt & pepper to taste
fresh parsley (optional)

patent and the pantry
Chop up the carrots, celery, garlic and onion then sauté in large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat in olive oil. Season with salt and cook until tender and sweating, around 5-7 minutes. Cut the chicken into 2" pieces while your veggies cook. Turn up the heat a bit and add the chicken pieces, tossing every couple of minutes to brown all sides. Add chicken stock (and water if you don't want it too rich) to cover the ingredients and give your pasta a bit of room to swim. Bring to a boil then add a cup of pasta, cook until tender. Add spinach and cover for a couple of minutes. Serve with a sprig of fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper.

16 November 2010

Chihuly at night

One of the nice things about living in the Nashville area is the "small town, yet big city feel." We get to see musical talent and art exhibits without an overly crazy or impossible wait. Sometimes it's so easy to access world class cultural experiences, I can hardly tell I'm not living on either coast. Well, that might be a bit over the top...

A prime example of this Mid-South small town benefit was the installment of Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. Did I say easily accessible and not overly crazy? Well, that changed for us when we tried to have a dinner & art date night with some friends. The line of cars went down the block, around the bend and down another block...We had to try the following week, and a bit earlier in the evening. With better planning it was a success. Chihuly Nights at Cheekwood was so popular that the exhibit was extended a couple of weeks past its deadline!

The weather turned frigid on us but it was a surreal experience nonetheless. Not every piece or installation was cleverly lit, but each one was certainly unique and beautifully created. I did hear, however, that the exhibit was pretty spectacular during the daytime as well.

These photos were the best of the lot that I captured with my little digital doohickey. This post is so late because my doohickey decided to go all doodoo on me and not function properly. The last couple of posts have featured pictures taken with my phone (boo), and will continue as such until I save up moolah for another doodah (...doodah....).

I have been in awe of Chihuly since my first visit to the Bellagio Resort in Vegas. A-freakin-MAZING. There are also great documentary films of his installations that you can get at the library. It's mesmerizing, really.

07 November 2010

Sophia's Leg Warmers: Knitting In the Round

Now that Fall is in full swing and we've got freezing temperatures at night, it inspires me to knit and crochet for loved ones. Here is a great little project that is easy for an intermediate knitter (or even just slightly past beginner).

one complete leg warmer & one in the round
(I haven't done any blocking yet)
These leg warmers are for Baby Sophia, who was born in July. She is a precious baby, growing quickly just as she should. However, Auntie "Do that" is taking forever to knit her baby leg warmers! I started them in early July but kept putting it away... Hopefully she will not be too big to wear these by the time I ship them off to her parents. 

knitting in the round with 4 DPN
I put Sophia's pattern together by mixing a simple tube with my own little flair (you can find other patterns on knitting pattern central). I chose some organic cotton yarn in a natural "malted milk" color. Knit Picks has a wonderful selection of cotton, wool, cashmere and everything else, in terrific colors. Their prices are pretty good and they shipped promptly. Give them a try if you're looking for a place to buy organic yarn.

Have fun with the pattern! You can substitute the needle size to whatever you have, as long as you have 2 sizes apart. If you're using worsted weight, cast on as many as you think will make a diameter of a wrist of a glove (with a single stitch rib).

Sophia's Leg Warmers
by Nicelle Priebe

Knit Picks 100% Organic Cotton (Sport Weight)
#2 double pointed needles (DPN)
#4 double pointed needles (DPN)
Cable needle

CO 60. Divide evenly onto three #2 DPN, mark beginning of round.
K1, P1 (standard single rib) for 8 rounds.
Switch to #4 DPN and knit stockinette (K all st) for 6 rounds.
*[K27, cable 3 in front, K3, transfer cable stitches back onto DPN then K to end. K 5 rounds] then repeat from * 5 times. K stockinette until the tube is desired length (around 8" is standard for babies). Switch to #2 DPN, K1 P1 rib for 8 rounds. Bind off.

Note: I actually knitted the end cuff with the #4 needles for a looser cuff. That way the ends can lay over shoes in a bit more relaxed cuff.  You can see this in the first photo above.

04 November 2010

Saved by Imperfection

Sometimes being a perfectionist pays off. Well, many times in my book. In this particular instance, I'm speaking of benefiting from the imperfection, as a result of perfectionism. (head…spinning…and we begin our dramatic sequence)

[Opening song]

For the last two years we've been canning our tart red plums and giving them to loved ones for Christmas as a sweet-tart preserve or jam. Earlier this summer I mentioned the sad news about our plum tree being bare this year.

[bassoon dips into a dirge]

The grief was bearable, just barely. Why? Because it meant no plum preserves on our winter breakfasts, and no sweet jars shipped off or as parting gifts for visitors during the holiday season. 

[the flute and oboe begin to create a beautiful melody]

After dinner the other night, lo and behold, my husband found something in the pantry to put on his ice cream. 

[drums roll in...building with the tubas and cellos]

The Last of the Mohicans. 
The Remnant. 
The imperfect that became perfection.

[big drums, full orchestra]

We had saved one jar of plum jam because the jar had an imperfect lid. It was too ugly to give away, so it was rejected… Rejected last year, only to be savored with sheer delight, THIS year. 

[…aaaand scene. Curtain falls]

01 November 2010

Food finds... a taco at a pizza joint?

I was pleasantly surprised by the Korean BBQ Tacos at CPK. This was my second order, in lieu of dessert.

Tangy, spicy, goodness! The beef was tasty, with just enough cabbage, cilantro and sumptuous sauce. I didn't even use the lime (that's almost against the law with a "fo real taco").