I think I was hoping for a winter wonderland when I woke up this morning, but instead it is cold and wet, soggy and grey. So to combat the blahs that I feel lurking on the edges of my attitude, I am hunkering down in my brightly-lit kitchen and cooking up a storm of comfort food while sipping coffee and knitting on a hat I want to wear in the coming week if it does happen to get as cold as they say it might.
I’m in the early stages of things, and will update later with pictures and results.
After spending a big chunk of the day in the kitchen, I feel so much better. So far I’ve finished a huge pot of Hamburger Soup, a monster lasagna, and two pots of coffee. My hat is nearly finished, and later this afternoon I’ll make some brownies for the Captain’s lunches during the week.
I think nearly every family has their version of this recipe, don’t they? Sometimes it’s called “Stone Soup” after the children’s story, or Refrigerator Soup for the more literal among us.
When I plan to make this soup (which I typically do a few times each year), all I require are some hamburger and a can of tomatoes.
Everything else that goes in to the pot I consider “found” items, like a scavenger artist. Because of this, the soup is never really the same as any version that’s come before, which is also kind-of fun, because you never know when you’re going to make the best batch ever.
Today’s pot was a clean-out rampage: onion, carrot, garlic, and celery are du rigor and I think have always made it into my pot. Then I added broccoli, cauliflower (my favorite veg to put in this soup), and turnip – which I almost never include, but I had one that’s been in the fridge for months and I wanted to use it before it finally went bad. Then two 14-oz cans of diced tomatoes, three small Yukon gold potatoes, and an over-flowing cup of pearl barley finished off the list.
I let this simmer and cook down while I made the lasagna, which gave all the flavors time to mellow and mingle.
This is one of my favorite things to make for freezer-stocking. It takes a bit of work, but when I’m done, I have 12 or so servings all packaged and put away for nights when we’re busy or I’m away.
Today I used Isernio’s chicken Italian sausage, which I really like. I also included about ½ of a yellow onion and a handful of my dehydrated mushrooms (which I’d let soak in hot water for about 15 minutes before I added to the pot). I also added about half of the soaking liquid to increase the mushroom flavor, and then dumped the rest into the soup.
This time I used 8oz of mozzarella, and about 4oz of ricotta.
We like our lasagna pretty saucy, and over the years I’ve found the right combination of making sure the noodles are cooked very well and creating a reasonably thin sauce that can sneak into nooks crannies. Basically, though, we just don’t skimp on sauce… IMO it’s hard to get too much in there.
I typically get three sets of layers and finish with a generous amount of cheese on top to bubble and brown and make everything look yummy.
Although I stayed pretty busy between the different dishes and puppy oversight, I still had bits of time where I was waiting for something to finish (like the noodles). So, I’ve been trying to finish a hat I’m making to match one of my favorite scarves. I received this scarf several years ago; it is a wonderfully soft, warm, and lovely purple chenille. I wear it often, but would wear it even more if I had a matching hat. I’d been looking for yarn for a while… I didn’t expect to find matching chenille, but I’d hoped to find something similar enough that it would “go.” Then, a few weeks ago, I found this bamboo blend that was a nearly perfect size and color match, with a similar-enough sheen that I felt I could pull off.
The scarf is a big open stocking stitch, so I decided to use the Lacecap pattern from Knitty, which I’d knit before and liked because it was so quick and easy – and cute. The slippery bamboo and smooth Addi Turbo needles were a great fit, and the knitting has been fast, easy, and fun. I’m almost done, just a few more decrease rounds and the two ends to weave in. I should be able to finish it tonight and have a new matched set this coming week!
Later tonight I’ll make a double-batch of our favorite brownies, Ghirardelli Double Chocolate. If you have not tried this boxed mix, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. They are crazy-good, chewy and chocolate-y and pretty much the perfect brownie. I’m planning to get them all divided and down in the freezer so I can pull out sandwhich-bag-sized servings when I want them for the Captain’s lunch – because I can not have these things sitting around in the house. They are that good.
I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday, lazy or otherwise.