Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Cure for the Gray Winter Funk

Recently I left the beautiful bay area in order to go to this place:

to see this:

and this:
I had a lovely time snugging my delicious little niece and waiting on my sister hand and foot, the time went by so quickly and then I had to kiss them both goodbye.

When I arrived home I found the German P. (P.=physicist) half dead with the winter funks and a horrible cold. Since I know his eating habits (potato chips+beer+chocolate+wine=dinner) whenever I'm not around I knew that in order to nurse him back to health, I would have to make this on the double and order him to eat half a pot full:

What is that bowl full of deliciousness, you ask? It's my tasty Ginger Chicken Soup, guaranteed to lift that grayish-orange winter funk (or at the very least chip away a little bit of it, I promise).

Winter Funk Banisher Ginger Chicken Soup

the goods:

1 big soup pot worth of chicken or vegetable stock
2 chicken breasts (skinless)
2 small sweet potatoes (I like to mix it up using one white and one orange one), peeled and diced into small chunks
1 small parsnip, peeled and diced
1/2 white onion diced
1/4 head of Napa Cabbage, chopped (I like Napa, it is milder and cooks faster than white cabbage. Chinese cabbage is also okay for this recipe.)
2 good handfuls of spinach
1 carrot, diced
2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and diced into tiny pieces
1/2 tsp. dried cilantro
a bunch of red pepper flakes
a dash of soy sauce (or tamari)
a pinch of sugar
fresh pasta cooked al dente (or any dried pasta cooked and rinsed)

the deal:

1) Saute onion on medium low in a little bit of olive oil in a big soup pot. Add carrots and ginger, and cook for 2 or 3 more minutes.
2) Add stock, dried cilantro, pepper, soy sauce. Bring to a simmer.
3) Add diced sweet potatoes.
4) While soup is simmering, cook noodles. Set aside.
5) In a heavy pan (I like cast iron), heat a little bit of oil till it is pretty hot and brown chicken breasts on both sides, add a little bit of water to pan and cover with a lid. Simmer/steam until chicken is done all the way through. Remove from pan to plate or cutting board and shred with two forks.
6) Add parsnip to pot, simmer for 3-4 minutes.
7) Tear spinach into smaller pieces directly into the pot along with the cabbage, let simmer until cabbage is wilted.
8) Stir in chicken and noodles. Add salt and a tad of sugar to taste.

While you are cooking feel free to adjust the amount of liquid in the pot by adding more stock, or even water. I like to reserve a little bit of the water that I used to cook the pasta to thin the soup. I even added the liquid from the chicken pan when the chicken was done cooking. This would also be a good veggie soup! Just substitute the chicken for a can of white beans (drained and rinsed).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm Very Unhappy with Harbor Freight

Today I spent time in the car (....I've discovered that I don't really like to drive, in fact I despise it!) to get to Harbor Freight in order to buy the item that is pictured above. I am planning on using those pointy things to make these:

So I did some research looking for the nearest location, printed out my directions and with some trepidation set out to drive the 20 miles on 237E and 880N, take the Lowry exit, turn on a street that begins with C and try to find the destination in a crowded strip mall (always a joy!). But I made it, and I found the last box of those beautiful pointy babies in the whole store. I opened the badly battered box to discover that the 1/8 transfer punch was missing. I was disappointed but had come to terms and decided to buy it anyway. Ha ha! Fat chance! They wouldn't sell it to me. So I came away empty handed. Except for these things:

Thank you At&T rebate card!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

This One's for Auntie Kellie

What I Did All Last Week

(excuse the hair. no one but those under the age of 20 look good first thing in the morning.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Beautiful Bodi Baby with Beani! (an alliteration, with still life)

I'm an auntie! And my niece-ette is a deliciously scrumptious piece of babycake! Babycake! I could eat it all day. We are hoping she might have red hair, there isn't much of it but it seems sort of reddish...cross your fingers. My lovely (and also scrumptious) sister looks wonderful despite the sleepless nights, perhaps having a baby isn't so bad afterall....

Bodi-kins is such a little sweetie-peetie in the morning that sometimes Jonna brings her in to wake me up and we commune for a little bit. Is there anything sweeter than communing with a little being that is brand spanking new? I think not.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Black Bean Soup!

But I would just like to share a recipe of my own devising that has now made its way into my sister's kitchen as well as my own as a tasty and quick dinner staple (quick because most of it comes out of a can, fresh substitutes could also be used, of course. It's great to make your own beans from dried, but sooooo time consuming!). It's so nice to have come up with my own recipe and that someday my grandchildren will say: "Do you remember Nana-bean's black bean soup? It sure was tasty". Or something of that sort, hopefully. Of course it could be more like: "Hey Timmy, do you remember that awful sludge that Granny-bean made us eat? I sure am glad she's dead." Who knows?

Nana-bean's Black Bean Soup

the goods:
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 can sweet corn, drained
1/2 can black olives (if you so desire)
1 small can of fire roasted green chilies (if you want, they are not hot and readily available at the grocery store)
2 cups veg or chicken stock
1tsp. cumin (this is just an estimate, could be more, could be less)
1/2tsp. chili powder
1/2tsp dried coriander flakes (aka dried cilantro)
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2tsp. sugar
salt to taste
juice of one small lime (if in doubt, add a little at a time)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

the deal:

1. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large soup pot. Cook onion over medium heat until slightly translucent. Add chopped garlic and stir until fragrant.
2. Add beans, tomatoes, chilies, and stock to pot. Add spices now and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Feel free to add more stock or water if soup is looking a little too thick.
3. Add corn and olives and simmer to warm through.
4. Turn heat on low and add chopped cilantro and lime juice, season to taste with salt and a tad bit of sugar (trust me! just a little bit of sugar will make everything taste better. I would recommend no more than 1/2tsp.)
5. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and some extra cilantro on top. Great with corn chips or over rice.