The holidays are over *sigh* and the Great Scot has returned to work...we had snow several days in the past 2 weeks and they are predicting a huge, possibly three day ice storm, for mid-month. Since an ice storm is a virtual guarantee of power loss this seems like a really good time to make sure we are stocked up on things like kerosene, (check!) candles, (half-checked) lamp oil (check!) and easily-heated or re-heated foods (half-checked). With two kerosene heaters and three kerosene lamps we should be quite cosy but I am terrible for not being able to leave a candle unburned and as far as canned soups, etc... which are easy to reheat and don't need freezer space. Well, um, yuck? I know, I know, we're spoiled but yuck. Can you tell I'm reluctant to buy those things? Ah well, needs must.
Before I get to the recipe, etc.... I really must take a moment to thank everyone for their sweet holiday wishes and cheerful comments; I always look forward to them! (The pictures of, and recipe for, the chocolate and raspberry mousse will have to be postponed since I'm having trouble uploading pictures from the camera just now; hopefully that will be resolved soon.)
A couple of funny things happened over the holidays....first our golden girl, Abby the dainty pit bull....
Yup, that would be her. See that poochy belly? Well let me tell you how she got it: I'd baked a big batch of ravioli with marinara sauce and provolone (in a nearly new pyrex casserole dish) and after we finished eating I left it to cool whilst I took a nap. Then Jess decided to take a nap...and, later, 3M came to wake me, leaving the ravioli unguarded; do you see where this is going? Awakening from a glorious nap I heard an ominous-sounding KATHUNK!!! to which 3M said: "oh that's just the pooches having a bugtussle". I relaxed since 3M always knows what's what. Uh huh. A few minutes later we headed downstairs and I spotted what looked like ice scattered across the kitchen floor and no baked ravioli in sight........ Our darling Abby, who very fortunately had not ingested any of the glass, had eaten half a large pan of baked ravioli and tried to skulk away but her belly rather slowed her down. Oi!
Oh, and then there would be the glare of doom at the grocery store! 3M and I had gone to stock up before Christmas when we heard another couple having a 'discussion'. The woman wanted to make something different for Christmas dinner and decided on the exotic dish of scalloped potatoes. Had this been the whole of the conversation it would have been instantly forgettable but the man began to berate her, loudly and with an abundance of...shall we say...non-courteous language, talking about how he wasn't going to eat her stupid, weird, sh-t. The woman was trying to keep her voice down, looking horribly embarassed, and talking about compromise but the Mr. was having none of it, stating in profane terms exactly what he thought of compromise. At that point I'd had quite enough and turned around so I was facing him (they had passed us and stopped during this discussion) and just stood there and stared at him a moment. 3M (bless my Great Scot's heart) turned around and stood with me and said loudmouth closed his mouth abruptly, remaining blessedly quiet for at least the time we were in the store. Perhaps it didn't solve anything but if it gave everyone who'd had to listen to him...as well as the very humiliated woman with him, a moment's peace, well, it was worth it. Just bearing witness can be powerful.
Okay, now to get down to business, remember this photo from last week?
Italian Potato Soup
Note: Don't let the steps put you off, this is a very easy soup to make.
1 lb. bulk mild Italian sausage
6 red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 c. kale, washed and torn
2 c. chicken broth
1 pint half and half
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped OR 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half moons
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tsp. Each: dried basil and oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Please keep in mind that when I make this soup I tend to add a bit of this or that as the mood strikes so feel free to play around with the recipe, I don't really measure things when I make it either, hehe...whatever I add to it, it remains my family's all-time favourite soup and the one thing my daughter is always guaranteed to request when she visits. Besides cheesecake that is.
First step: In large soup pot place potatoes, carrots, and celery along with 2 c. chicken broth and enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, add kale, and immediately reduce heat so you have a low simmer. Stir occasionally.
Second step: (If you already know how to make sausage gravy this step will be easypeasy for you.) Place sausage and onion in a skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is thoroughly browned. Do Not Drain. Reduce heat to low and add flour by the handful until pan juices are absorbed and you have a fine paste. Stir constantly and don't add flour too quickly. Slowly add half and half, stirring well between each addition. You want a very thick gravy. After half and half is incorporated turn off heat under the skillet.
Third step: Check your simmering veggies, by now they should be barely fork tender. Slowly pour your gravy mixture into the pot and stir thoroughly. Add garlic, parsley, herbs and salt and pepper to taste...if you happen to have a hard rind of Parmesan laying around the refrigerator pop it into your soup, it will taste heavenly! Allow to simmer 20 minutes more and serve with some crusty bread.
Makes 6 generous servings with leftovers for taking in lunch.
So I promised some cheapskating tips and here they are (don't you just love cheapskatery???)
1. Homemade, pest-repelling, carpet deoderiser.
I love scented products but some of them contain chemicals that make it difficult for me to breathe and that I really don't want Lily, Abby, and Buddha rolling around in. (Or us when we're playing with them!) So...putting my thinking cap on...this is what I came up with:
Mix 2 cups baking soda with 1 cup borax and 1/4 c. ground cinnamon. Place in an empty shaker bottle (you know you have empty Parmesan bottles or those big things of Parsley) and sprinkle over carpets generously before vacuuming. Leave on for a few minutes then run your sweeper with abandon...not only will your house smell fresher, the borax repels fleas (and desiccates their eggs) and the cinnamon repels ants.
2. Clean yer pipes!
This is so simple, but so effective, that I had to re-post it...not only that, it's safe for septic and water systems! Once a month pour half a cup of baking soda followed by one cup of vinegar into all your drains and toilets. Cover for a few moments, then flush toilets or run hot water down the drain. If you have trouble with 'waterbugs' coming up the pipes then add a few teaspoons of lemon juice to the vinegar and it will help repel them.
Both of these are cheaper and safer than most alternatives you can purchase; not to mention how effective they are!
Good thing for the day: It's not in the single digits tonight; yay!