Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Songs

Today The Musician (okay, I just decided to call Nathan the musician even though there are many other musicians because he doesn't have a nickname and the rest do) and The Irish One played Christmas carols on guitars for the early arrivals. It was really lovely. The Southerner, who was in dire need of either a nap or coffee (settled for coffee since he really doesn't think he can get away with a nap during SS...not that he's not willing to try!), reclined on the couch while they played, enjoying hearing someone else play for a change. It was a really nice beginning to a great SS.

I made a seed bread, which is basically a white bread with fennel, poppy, and sesame seeds with some other thing...I forget. Anyway, I subbed a few things and mine had fennel, poppy, hemp seed (probably illegal down South!), and sunflower seeds. The fennel seed was the prominent flavour and it was lovely. It went well with the roasted vegetable soup.

The soup was super easy...just roast a bunch of vegetables in olive oil, salt & pepper, then add to veggie stock, puree and season. The seasonings I used were celery salt, regular salt, and garlic paste with a hint of cayenne and some aleppo peppers. Yummm! Not spicy at all, but with a tiny kick.

We had a crowd...Us, The Irish One, The Musician, The Brits, The Neighbour, The Newcomer (hi Debbie) and Hawk Owl (she doesn't need a nickname because she's got such a cool real name).

Everyone's gone home now and it's time to move onto the entree...Mmmm...I can smell the pizza must be time for me to go. Oh, if you want to make the best ever pizza crust, sub 1/2 cup of cornmeal for 1/2 cup of the flour. You can make it very thin then and it will be super crispy. The Southerner doesn't like marinara, so we use bruschetta topping. If you're not having soup, I highly recommend homemade pizza. Or as in the case of The Southerner...soup, bread AND pizza with salad (plus brownies, tea, cookies...etc.). Yep...they're ready! See you next week.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cabin Fever

I think that after 16 days of snow, I have a bit of cabin fever. I know I am suffering from it because The Southerner was helping me chop vegetables for the soup and I snapped at him. Granted, he was tossing carrots around the kitchen (missing his targets, by the way), but usually his antics make me laugh. Today was the warmest it's been in a long time and did I take advantage of that and go out for a walk? No...and The Poor Southerner had to pay for my laziness.

I guess that means I'll have to be extra nice to him...maybe make something really yummy for dinner.

One thing I've been doing while I've been snowed in is read a lot of cookbooks. I got some soup ones and some specifically vegetarian ones from the library and there is some good stuff in those books. I've started reading cookbooks like people read magazines (no, not in the bathroom! Ew!); browsing, flagging pages for follow-up, gazing at the pictures.

Here are a few that I like:

Tomorrow's soup is based on one from 1001 Delicious S&S. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Soup Conference Call

The snow is deep. The fire is warm and the food is good, but again...the snow is deep. The only one to brave the snowbanks was The Neighbour. I guess technically SS goes for another 49 minutes, so someone else could show up.

About 5:30 we got a call from The Handyman to say their road hadn't been ploughed and they couldn't get out so The Fleece Lady (Handyman's wife... so nicknamed because she makes the best fleece socks ever) was making soup for the two of them in honour of Sunday Soup. The hilarious part was that The Handyman had called not to tell me they weren't coming, but to find out what the soup was and who was here. When I told him White Bean with Spinach and Sundried Tomatoes and he repeated it to The Fleece Lady, there were big sighs of disappointment in the background. Then they heard there was cornbread and they started wondering if maybe they could hike out to the main road and hitchhike the rest of the way. When the Handyman started asking what The Southerner and The Neighbour were talking about I put him on speaker phone so he could join in, which he did. He even sang us a jazzy rendition of Joy To The World. In the end, I had to promise to put away a bit of soup and cornbread for them both.

Someone on The Southerner's photo blog was asking for a good winter soup recipe, so here is the one I made today. It is an original recipe that just popped into my head yesterday when I was trying to think of a holiday coloured soup. All measurements are approximate.

2 cups small white beans*
water to cover
2-2 1/2 quarts of vegetable stock
1 package frozen leaf spinach
3/4 cup sliced sundried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup milk or plain Silk (soymilk)

Cover white beans with water and bring to a boil in a 5-6 quart heavy pan (do not salt or beans will get tough). After they've reached a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender (2-3 hours).

In a separate pot, make vegetable stock (or used canned, but really, it's so much easier and practically free to make it out of vegetable scraps...). Add to beans about an hour into simmering them. Note: If you want your soup to be white, use water and skip the stock, but the stock adds a lot of flavour.

When beans are tender, remove about half of them to another bowl and puree the beans and stock. Add the beans back in along with the tomatoes, spinach and milk or Silk. Salt and pepper to taste. That's it!

*Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to pre-soak beans. If you cook them long enough, they get tender. I never bother anymore and it always works out fine.

Oh, wait! There were two other guests who dropped in too! But they just wanted apples.

P.S. Since we moved to Canada, I have tried to adopt Canadian spellings. The Southerner just called me on "plough" so I looked it up. Apparently you can use either here in Canada, but plow is used most often. However, this is a word I have ALWAYS spelled as plough and I didn't even realize a tonne of people spell it plow until a year or so ago. I guess it's all the British books I read. Doughnut is another word that I just realized that a lot of people spell donut. Dialogue is another (dialog...blah). So while I don't seem to know if I'm a Brit, American, or Canadian, as my father always says, "You know what I meant."

We have water!

Thanks to Ken, super-handyman and fabulous friend, we have water after all. No frozen pipes, just a tripped switch on the well pump. The Southerner braved the snow late last night and went under the house, following careful instructions from The Handyman, reset the pump and voila! Water. You're all now free to use our washroom when you get here after all.

See you this afternoon! It's worth the effort in spite of the weather. The soup is yummy, The Southerner made cornbread, and there might just be a treat or two for those brave enough to tramp through the snow!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Through rain, through sleet, through snow...SS continues!

It looks like we're expecting up to 20cm of snow overnight and all day tomorrow. Just a quick note to say that we will still be having Sunday Soup, so feel free to tramp on over. And if the power is out, we'll heat it on the woodstove. I am THRILLED the power is on again after a 17 hour outage, but it would've been kind of cool to actually make the soup on the woodstove this evening. The Neighbour says I just thought it would be fun to blog about and that's why I wanted to cook it there...maybe so! Stay warm everyone!

Oh, yeah...on the downside, our pipes are frozen and we don't have any water that we didn't haul back on foot from the store...okay, okay...we ran into Laura and she drove the backpacks full of gallons of water almost to our house while we walked back light hearted and fancy free...but we would've carried all that water and that's what counts. Anyway, due to the water situation, if you're coming to SS, listen to your mother and if you need to go, go before you leave the house!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cozy Evening

This picture is my pot of fresh herbs that I use for Sunday Soup. Ummm...I guess I'll be using dried for a while now.

The Brits, The Irish One, The Neighbour (Carol), The hmmm...what should I call Nathan? The Musician? That could get confusing because of The Southerner being a musician, and The Irish One is too...Oh, well, maybe I'll think of something over the next week. Either way, we had a lovely and cozy SS with a roaring fire and lots of tea before dipping into the soup.

The Brits are our new friends Rachel and Oli (and actually, there are so many Brits here on the island, I probably can't call them that either as a regular nickname) from last week...the surprise guests who we thought read about us on the internet and then just showed up (see post from last week for a better explanation). Anyway, they brought my flashlight back so I let them in and let them have soup. I'm really glad they're part of the group because they're very nice and I'm trying not to let it bug me that they are younger than me and that means I'm no longer the youngest in the group! I can live with that. Truly. Especially since according to The Southerner I'm already Middle Aged so you know...being "young" is over for me anyway. He didn't tell me this when I turned forty, nope...he told me this whenI turned thirty-five!!! And yes, I still married him!

Anyway, we had a lovely time. We didn't have cornbread tonight after all because The Southerner had to go off to work (by work, I mean do a play) so he could earn money to put the tofu on the table this week. Apparently the roads are only slightly trecherous and the worst part is actually our driveway, which we navigated earlier (and I only gasped in fear twice when it seemed like we were going to turn over our our side....). We had left the truck at the very end, near the road and all he had to do tonight was walk down to it.

I'd been kind of hoping the power would go out so that I wouldn't have to make dinner tonight, but so far no luck (obviously since I'm posting this). There's still time though...If I can just put it off a little longer we might have to just eat more soup! Maybe if I just turn out all the lights and unplug the stove The Southerner will be faked out by the dark and the fire and a few candles. Probably even he would notice that all the neighbours had electricity!

Sunday Snow

They predicted 1-2 centimeters of snow. I don't know about everyone else, but we got about 17-20 centimeters! And wind is coming after it stops snowing...which means POWER OUTAGES for sure. Just a note to say, if you're reading this before the power goes out, SS is still on! We can heat the soup on the woodstove...the cornbread will have to take a "snowcheck" though if the power is out. Bundle on up, trudge on over!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Red Lentil...err...make that yellow

So I bought red lentils at the store today (they cost twice as much as brown..) to make Cream of Red Lentil Soup. Within minutes of cooking them up, they turned a lovely shade of yellow. Go figure. I am assuming that the red peppers in the soup are actually what give it the red colour that the recipe title suggests, but I'm not that excited by red peppers, so I only put one in (instead of 6!) and so Yellow Soup it is. It tastes delicious, by the way.

To keep the theme going, I think I'll ask The Southerner to make cornbread. When I mentioned that to Carol she said, "YES! Do you think he'll make me my own round if I bring my own pan over?" I don't know about that, but Carol, if you've been a good girl this year, maybe Santy will bring you cornbread in your stocking!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Too Funny!

So an odd thing happened. The Southerner came across a blog that one of our neighbours has up and they had linked to both The Southerner's photo blog and this one. It is an anonymous blog, so we don't know who runs it, but they refer to things right here on our street as being their neighbourhood too. What was odd was that they linked to Sunday Soup, but had a whole post on their site about The Southerner's upcoming gig and how they didn't know who he was, but had seen his posters all around the island. We've been speculating for two days now, wondering who could know about SS, but not know who The Southerner is since he's one of the hosts. We still haven't figured it out. Don't get me wrong, I love that they've linked to this and I hope more people read it and get inspired to try their own Sunday Soup, but we were suddenly a bit worried that we might have a bunch of strangers show up!

While I do hand out cards to friends and people we meet with the SS info, here on the blog, I don't really mention our names or our island (it's easy enough to figure out, but I don't make it blatantly obvious). So we started thinking...hmmm...if other people on the island find this blog through that one, does that mean many, many people might just start dropping in for soup? We figured that wasn't likely. And then....

At four o'clock today, I saw Grinder shoot across the porch in a panic. That can mean only one thing...strangers! I looked out the window and saw a young (and lovely) couple approaching. I said to The Southerner, "I hope you know them because I don't have a clue who they are!" But he didn't! We were both thinking, OMG...everyone saw the blog and now we're getting strangers. Personally, we were okay with welcoming two strangers, as long as we didn't get fifty, so I opened the door and the man asked, "Is this Sunday Soup?" Panic rose higher in me. They had seen the blog. I just knew it! And any second people would be streaming up the driveway! I stammered, "Ummm...yes..." Then they introduced themselves and came into the kitchen. We were such gracious hosts, saying things like, "Welcome" and "Come in. Take your coat off." all the time wondering who they were. Finally, the man said, "Carol said we could come."

Whew! Carol had invited them so they were not random readers of this blog who had figured out where we live, after all! We got a good laugh out of that when Carol arrived. The thing is, we're very excited about meeting new people, but you know, we can't feed the whole island, so we do have to limit it to friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends. Oh, and of course, the random hitchhiker. Just two weeks ago, Cheryl and Ken brought a lovely teenage girl who was traveling the world after finishing high school in Germany. When they found out she was visiting the island, they just brought her along to Sunday Soup! She was very sweet and seemed to have a good time, but I do wonder what she told her family back home. Hopefully she said the soup was good!

Speaking of good soup, I think this was one of the more successful ones, which was a relief after last week's fiasco. The Southerner did finally empty last week's mess into the compost bin after I told him that I needed my pot if he wanted any supper on Friday! Yes, Friday! It like ta kill him to dump out all that food, even if he wouldn't eat it himself! I don't like to waste food either, but sometimes you just have to cut your losses.

Anyway, we all had a nice time and the young couple is new to the island and lives nearby so we hope to see them again. The Southerner said, "I hope they come back next week." and I said, "They better. I gave them my flashlight to get home!" Hehe!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

That's better...

This week I made minestrone. The main reason I've never made it before is because there are so many recipes, literally ten in one cookbook, that I just never knew which recipe to follow. In the end, I simply read four or five of them and then just made it up. The Southerner had two bowls already and says it's very good. He's hoping no one comes tomorrow now. Just kidding! There's lots and lots.

I have made soup in the past with pasta in it and it just never keeps very well. It's okay when you serve it, but the next day the pasta balloons to twice its size or melts into the stock and makes it all starchy and gross. So today I cooked up the elbow macaroni separately in vegetable stock (so it would have the same flavour as the soup) and then after I drained it, I buttered it well. I will serve it on the know, add a scoop of macaroni to the soup when you dish up. This will be good for our friend who can't have gluten too. Now she can eat the soup without having to fish out the pasta.

I haven't the slightest idea what the bread will be tomorrow, but I think I'll do most of the house clean-up tonight so that I can make a yeast bread tomorrow without having much else to do. Having to both clean and concentrate on a yeast bread is too much stress. The Southerner is happy to eat the soup with hillbilly crackers (Saltines) but I do advertise Sunday Soup as "soup and bread" so I think I'll save crackers for an emergency.

Oh! Speaking of bread I just realized I have a bowl of dough waiting for me to turn out for the next rising and then bake. I probably should've done that about two hours ago, but luckily it's the no-knead bread and is very, very forgiving. In fact, except for the time I let it rise in a metal bowl, it has turned out well every single time. Just an FYI, never let bread rise in a metal bowl because it doesn't work right. Metal apparently can get too warm and then too cold and really mess with the yeast, which is what happened when I tried it. It baked up as a hard little ball of dough. I just came across that info by chance long after I'd made the failed bread.

Ohhhh...maybe I'll make breadsticks again. They go with minestrone and are super, super easy. And everyone LOVED them last time. Whew...they're so simple I can take the evening off after all and clean tomorrow.

I'll let you know how it goes! Have a great Sunday and eat some soup.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And now for The Worst Soup You Never Had...

When I typed the title for yesterday's post, little did I know that today's post would mirror it, but not in a good way! But that's the way of mirrors sometimes.

So the soup no one had was the rice-squash-apple soup. When it was done yesterday I told The Southerner, "'s okay, but not that good. Maybe if it sits overnight it will be better. Otherwise I'll spice it up tomorrow."

Today, I heated it up and added more stock because it had become the consistency of rice pudding. And get this...I had 8 quarts of it! After last week's sell-out crowd I wanted to be ready. So I added some spice...but basically it still was not good. So then I decided to really kick it up a notch and I sauteed a bunch of garlic in peanut oil with some curry, turmeric, and various other spices. After I added them, I tasted it 3:32pm, just 18 minutes before SS officially started, I jumped in the truck, raced down to the Village (by "race" I mean at a nice slow-safe speed because people here on the island are still quoting my letter to the editor about how everyone drives like maniacs around here, scaring the pedestrians, cyclists, and deer nearly to death), bought four white potatoes and two leeks and hurried home. By 3:48pm I had a pot of water boiling with diced potatoes and leeks. By 4:20pm I had soup. This Potato Leek soup (Julia Child's recipe) is by far the fastest, and one of the least expensive soups, I can make. It's also a big hit. It's also a repeat.

Here's the deal, when we started SS, my goal was to make a different soup every week for the first year. So far I have done that...and I did it's just that the new soup was hidden in the laundry room instead of on the stove when people got here! Julia always gave the same advice, "Serve your food and don't admit it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to." I think that's good advice if the food is still good, just not exactly how you intended. Sometimes though, you have to cut your losses.

So why am I admitting this here on the blog? Because there was a time in my life when a soup not working out like this would've been horrible, devastating, and I would've considered myself a terrible failure. I guess that part of the "take things as they come" philosophy is simply getting older and realizing it doesn't matter, but another part of it is the cook in me. You see, everyone has failures in cooking. And I've made approximately 30 successful soups this year. Some better than others, but all good enough to serve to guests. So what if one pot gets hidden in the laundry room? As long as we remember to compost it at some point, it's just a fact of Sunday Soup.

The cats are curled up on the furniture, giving themselves baths to wash off all that attention from the guests, The Southerner and The Irish One played guitar tunes for an hour and a half, and at one point I nearly teared up because I can't believe this is my wonderful life. I hope you are living a wonderful life too. And now I have to go save my knitting from The Orange Menace (Grinder) who is pretending he doesn't see it, but is inching towards it nonetheless. Have a great week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Best Soup You Never Had

After a week of vacation, last week's soup seems so far away. I had to think hard to remember what it was. Maybe that's because there weren't any leftovers! Not only did 9 people manage to polish off 6 quarts of Seven Bean Soup and a loaf of Cheese & Onion bread, but I had to thaw 3 servings of the Spicy Split Pea from the week before so later arrivals, Roger & Steve O. got something to eat at all! That is the first time we've finished off the soup. We got awfully close with the Tomato Orange, but that's a very thin soup. The Seven Bean Soup was a hearty soup! I'm glad everyone enjoyed it though.

As for the Best Soup You Never Had, I'm referring to the soup I made for me and The Southerner while I was on my writing hiatus (I did a tonne of cooking and way too much knitting...I now have knitting-elbow and am hoping to avoid Tommy John Surgery). The soup is called Vermont Cheddar and Apple Soup. It is mostly apples (I used organic Jonagold), along with a bit of celery, potato, and onion. You saute all that in butter, then de-glaze with some white wine, add vegetable stock and simmer it for a while. Then you puree it and add 3 cups of sharp (Canadian, not Vermont) white cheddar, and half a cup of cream, salt, and pepper.

The first bite was just strange. The second bite was a bit better. And by the third bite we were both saying, "Hey, this is pretty good." However, what we discovered is it was almost a totally different soup the second day and it was SO MUCH BETTER! We can't exactly pinpoint why that is, but trust us.

The reason you all at Sunday Soup will never have this (unless you make it yourself) is because a 3 quart pan of it cost more than $10 to make. If I were to make enough for Sunday Soup, I'd have to shell out around $50. That, my friends, I cannot do. So sorry! One reason I came up with the idea of soup, as opposed to say...Sunday Sandwiches, is because soup can feed many people for a very reasonable amount and sad to say, I am on a budget. I mean, we all are, for the most part, right? Anyway, I think the least expensive soup I've ever made would be one where The Southerner and fellow gardeners supplied all the vegetables and the most expensive is probably the Tomato Orange, coming in around $30 for nearly 9 quarts. Ironically, I splurged on the Tomato Orange soup because it was Carol's birthday and it wasn't until months later that I found out that she can't eat tomatoes! There was cake though.

As for this week, I made a veggie rice soup with apple and butternut squash. It's pretty good, but I think that tomorrow I might have to adjust the seasonings a bit. We'll see how much it thickens up as it sits. It has abborio rice to make it creamy, but I have extra stock in case it gets too thick. I think it would be nice with crackers, but I'm not sure what everyone else would think if I cheated them out of bread. We'll see!

Have a great weekend and I'll fill you in again soon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Break

I finished writing my new book yesterday. Because of that, I am taking a full week off the computer (sheer exhaustion!). I will recap this Sunday Soup when I post next week. Have a great week! Feel free to leave me veggie soup recipes or bread recipes in the comment section!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Memory of Calvin - November 18, 2008

Those of you who have either come to Sunday Soup, or are regular followers of this blog, know that our neighbour, Carol, was accompanied by her wonderful cat Calvin to almost every Sunday Soup, rain or shine. He came for the company, the catnip, and the food (no, not the soup...our cats' food!). He was loved by all, a sweetie beyond words...but this week he had to move on to his tenth life. We will all miss him at Sunday Soup. As will this deer who used to love to give Calvin a bath.

I am pleased to say that I was able to harvest the last five or six leaves of catnip and give them to Calvin before he moved on, and while he wasn't really eating any longer, he did nibble the leaves and rub my hand. Blessings to Calvin's family: Carol, Tigre, Hobbes, and Biscuit. Calvin, you will be missed, but always remembered at Sunday Soup.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More Spicy Soup

I made a split pea with (faux) sausage. I used a recipe. It was really yummy. Except for using Tofurky Sausage, I actually followed this recipe to the letter. I don't know why except that it sounded good and I couldn't think of anything that needed changing. It was tasty, but it was pretty spicy from the cayenne (and I put the least amount recommended).

We had a nice evening with a fire and some good cornmeal honey bread (I've made it before) and Steve brought there was tea and brownies. And Cheryl brought dip in that cool bowl she has that I always hope she'll accidentally leave here and forget where it is (she did leave it here, but she knows it). Some of the regulars were there and a newbie from Vancouver Island...a friend and storyteller named John. He didn't tell any stories, but he brought fancy cheese and crackers and it was great to see him!

We closed up shop a half hour early so we could go to a music gig of The Southerner's. Just in case, we left Roger a note on the door telling him the soup was still on the stove and he should help himself (he often comes late because he has to close his cafe), but when I was being CD Girl in the lobby, I saw him there, so my clever note went unread.

All in all, a very nice evening!

Oh, and I did think of one way to help PHC (see previous post) through Sunday Soup. Since we always tell people they don't have to bring anything, but some of them insist, we're going to tell them to bring canned goods for PHC instead!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hot Water

I slept late this morning, but I'm glad I did because I was having an interesting dream. I was dreaming about Sunday Soup. In the dream, The Southerner had agreed to do a benefit concert for the food bank here on the island (aka People For a Healthy Community or PHC) at the last minute and it happened to be on a Sunday afternoon. I had not made any soup, and we had to go to the gig, and there wasn't time to cancel. Instead of making soup, I filled the crockpot with hot water. Then we put signs all over the kitchen explaining to our soon-to-appear guests where we'd gone and why. We told them that the hot water was all some people on the island had, instead of soup, and that's why we thought it was important to abandon Sunday Soup that day and go do the concert. We also put out a jar for our guests to leave money for PHC.

Of course, because it was a dream, I'm leaving out all the weird bits that are always in dreams, like I put out tea bags so our guests wouldn't feel totally cheated, and I was hunting around for bags of chips to leave too. And some of the signs didn't actually make any sense.

But anyway, when I woke up, I called The Southerner into the bedroom and recounted my dream. I am sure that I had this dream for a couple of reasons. First off, I just read that PHC is serving 14% more people this year, which means they'll have to do more fundraising and get more donations. The other reason I think I connected it to soup is because one of the restaurants on the island makes soup once a week and PHC hosts a Soup Social. Interestingly enough, one of the comments in the article I read was about how important the social part of the program is and how many people would love to have that every day because food and companionship go hand in hand. Isn't that the big idea behind Sunday Soup? I think so.

The Southerner and I decided that we should do some sort of fundraiser at Sunday Soup for PHC. It has to be a special Sunday because often we'll only have a few people and while $10 will help PHC, $100 would be better, right? I've already been planning a Sunday Soup Swap on the one year anniversary where everyone brings a pot of soup and containers and we all take soup home. Maybe that would be a good day to do a fundraiser too. I'm also considering writing an article for the newspaper about Sunday Soup and maybe asking others to host their own SS as a fundraiser for PHC. Or if any of you readers have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spicy Sunday

I did indeed make chocolate bread to offset the spicy soup. Actually, I made chocolate muffins with mint chocolate chunks in them. While I was baking, I contemplated the difference between a muffin and cupcake. I came up with two conclusions. The first is that a muffin is more like bread and less like cake because it doesn't have as many eggs or as much sugar. And the other difference is if you call it a muffin, you can eat it for breakfast, even if twelve of them have an entire bar of chocolate and almost a stick of butter in them. Whoever started calling these muffins is a genius!

It was a very quiet Sunday Soup and for once we gathered in the living room near the fire, instead of crowding around our tiny table in our small kitchen. It was nice and cozy. Both Steve O. and Ken are big time spicy food fans, so they were thrilled with the soup. Actually, even Carol who doesn't like spice that much, and me and the The Southerner who like it but have a moderate level of tolerance (compared to Steve and Ken) thought the soup was one of the best ones yet. Of course, I say that most weeks...maybe I'm getting better and better at this soup thing!

Just in case you want to add a little warmth to your winter evening...
This makes a lot of soup...about 6 quarts. Here's the recipe :
Spicy Cream of Corn Soup - original recipe
10 cups homemade vegetable stock
10 cups frozen corn (divided 8 cups & 2 cups)
2 large onions, chopped
2 TBS corn oil
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you can find these in most Mexican food section)
2 tsp of adobo sauce
2 8oz bricks of cream cheese, cut into one inch squares
2 cups soy milk (or regular milk, if you like)
salt to taste

Saute the onions in corn oil until soft. Add 8 cups of corn, diced peppers (seeded!) and adobo sauce. Saute 2 more minutes. Add vegetable stock. Let simmer for 20 minutes or so. Puree with a hand blender (or a regular blender, but cool slightly before doing that). Pour soup through a sieve to remove all the corn skins (?) and return to stock pot. Add soy milk and cream cheese. The cream cheese will soften but you'll probably have to hit it with the hand blender or whisk it by hand to make it smooth. Add remaining two cups of corn. Heat through. Season with salt as needed.

Just a can freeze the rest of the peppers (there are usually about 5-6 per can and about 1/8 cup of sauce) in their sauce for a long time.

So anyway, I hope you all like the new blog. I'm really happy with the way it looks! And thanks for stopping by!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Looks Can Be Deceiving

I had a knitting workshop today...all day...I learned a lot, but boy am I beat! Luckily, I made the soup last night. It is one pretty soup. It's a sweet corn soup with cream cheese to thicken it and it's very deceiving. It's all golden and velvety and looks exactly like something you might share with a baby. If you HATED the baby, that is, because lurking in the creaminess, pureed so that you can't see it, are chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Now I didn't mean to make it so hot, but I did want to add a little kick, so I chopped up a couple of the peppers but I did seed them...I mean, everyone knows it's the seeds that are the hot part, right? So I was thinking of y'all when I did that! But then two little peppers in that big pot of soup just seemed so I added a couple of teaspoons of the adobo sauce from the can and WOWIE! That soup's got some zing, now! Yeehaw!

I've decided to serve it with red tortilla chips. I just like the colour combo and I highly doubt anyone except Ken is going to want me to add red peppers as garnish, so I think it makes for a great presentation. The Southerner hasn't tasted it yet because he was gone last night when I made it, so he's in for a surprise, although he was warned. All y'all are warned! Maybe I better make something chocolate for afters. Heck, chocolate is good even if you don't eat anything hot first! Maybe I'll try and find a recipe for chocolate bread!

P.S. I'm slowly moving posts over here from the other journal, so if you haven't read the old posts, they'll be easier to find now in the archives!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday 2 November

I'm really happy to be over here on blogspot since it's so much easier to use. I'm going to customize it and make it all cool and even repost some of the old posts, but for today, all I'm going to do is this update.

Yesterday was a very nice Sunday Soup. I made a roasted potato and mushroom soup. Does that sound weird? It was actually delicious. I got the idea from baked potato soup. I've been wanting to make baked potato soup (minus the bacon bits) for a while, but you need baking potatoes. It was too hard to convince myself to go buy baking potatoes when I still have ten pounds (or more) of The Southerner's home grown potatoes (red, white, Yukon gold). So I thought to myself, well, I could roast these potatoes and see what I get.

I roasted about eight cups of potatoes tossed with olive oil, garlic, and two roughly cut onions. When they were all golden brown, I added them to vegetable stock and let them simmer for a while. Then I used the hand blender to puree them and thickened it a bit with a white sauce made with Silk (soy milk) and butter and flour. After seasoning it, I was pleased with it, but it looked kind of like mushroom soup without the mushrooms so I sent The Southerner to the store on his bike (a task he loves!) to get some shrooms. I sliced brown mushrooms paper thin and added them to the soup with green onions and simmered it until they were tender. It was really good! I got the idea for slicing them so thin from a soup I had in Victoria last Friday when we went for the day.

The "event" was very nice. We had five guests overall, and The Irish One went back to her generous way, bringing fruit salad that everyone enjoyed. The soup was good, but the challah bread was the real hit. It's pretty amazing bread. I braided it and put it in pans this time, rather than on a cookie sheet and it puffed up and was really large and gorgeous. I tried to take the first loaf out too early though and it fell apart. Part of the reason it stuck was because last week my pastry brush died (fell apart) after making bread sticks. I sent The Southerner to get a pastry brush and he came back with the only thing they had, a rubber, high temp, basting brush. We're so not going to be roasting a chicken or basting a turkey so when I said, "No worries. We'll take it back next time we're at the store." he was out the door and on his bike like a flash! Anything to ride that bike makes him happy! He's a double star!

Anyway, yesterday I had to brush the egg wash on the loaves with a spoon and some of it leaked down around the edges and glued the bread loaf to the pan. I waited a bit longer with the second loaf and used a knife to loosen it and it came out beautifully. I'm eating some of that right now as cinammon toast. Yummm.... Ken liked it so much that he stopped by this morning and when I let him inside he said, "Got any more of that bread?"

Some neighbours are getting me a slab of stone for kneading bread on and so I'll be making them a couple of loaves of this as a thank you.

Anyway, that's about it here at Anthony Sunday Soup. I hope you like the new blog, and sorry to those of you who have RSS feed and have to change it, but I think this will be better!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Welcome to the New Sunday Soup Blog

Hi Everyone. I couldn't get the "Sunday Soup" domain here originally, so I went with Live Journal, but they added advertising banners recently and it was really driving me crazy. Plus this is easier to use. so welcome! So now we're going with AnthonySundaySoup. That works!

More soon!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Books and Soup

I've been contemplating what soup to make all day. I've mostly done this in front of the woodstove while I read. I know...not much contemplation going on when I'm reading, but I'm reading a Diane Mott Davidson mystery and she's a caterer and her books have you never know.

I went to the farm gate today (once the summer season ends, instead of letting everyone into the farm where they have a big shed for produce, they just bring a bit out to the gate) to stock up on veggies. I got some lovely spinach, a butternut squash, some leeks, onions, and bok choy. I'm not sure that any of them will end up in the soup except maybe the onions. I've been craving a potato soup of some sort..which is good since we still have a lot of lovely potatoes that The Southerner grew. I make a killer potato leek soup (Julia Child's recipe), but I've already made that for SS and my goal is 52 different soups. I've already made 26 soups (including the one week that The Southerner made the soup), so I'm exactly half way there. I'm thinking tomorrow's soup should be special in some way. I guess I better get a cup of tea and sit in front of the stove and read some more! I wouldn't want to rush my decision. And then once I've done that I can ponder bread possibilities!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Laid Back Sunday Soup

Sunday Soup is getting mighty relaxed around here. Not the event, but the preparation! I didn''t make the soup until last night, didn't blog at all, and didn't clean the house until 3:10 this afternoon. Luckily, our house is pretty tidy these days and we totally atribute this to SS. We got tired of the mad dash to uncover flat surfaces and dust them every Sunday and now we're keeping a tidier house all week long. I'm still hoping for a maid to do the floors though!

Last night I roasted some pumpkin and butternut squash (yes...The Southerner did grow it, but you knew that, didn't you?) and then about nine o'clock I made the soup. It was a totally made up recipe and I'm sorry to say, I'm way too lazy to type it up now. However, The Southerner is going to hand write it down while I chill and sip a nice cup of tea. Then I think I'll get him to type it up because I've been teaching him to use Microsoft Word and he can use the practice. Haha! So if you really want the recipe, I should have it sometime soon. It had the aforementioned pumpkin and squash along with leeks, apple, apple cider...and a few other yummy things. Okay...yeah, butter. It had butter and brown sugar. So sue me!

We had a nice gathering of about eight people besides us today and they came in shifts so we all pretty much crowded into the kitchen for the most part. There were lots of goodies too. Steve O. brought Halloween candy and Roger brought cookies! And it looks like we've finally made the Irish One realize that she really truly can drop in without bringing anything and we're all still thrilled to see her! That's quite an accomplishment as the Irish are like The Southerner and they can't just drop in without some sort of gifty thing.

I made garlic and parmesan bread sticks using pizza dough and they were a big hit. In fact, I caught Steve O. stuffing his pockets with them before he left, but as he'd brought quite a large handful of my favorite Cadbury Crunch Bars, I did not tackle him and make him give them back, and instead sent him on his way with some soup to go with the pilfered bread sticks.

The casserole is in the oven, the dishwasher is running and soon I will have my last meal of the day on the table. If I can get The Southerner to go to bed within an hour of eating, we might even be able to fall asleep before his stomach starts growling for the night!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One post, but with a recipe

I did make the soup yesterday, but I didn't post. I've been taking weekends off from writing and so I don't even heat my office or go in there much. I'm calling the soup this week Harvest Vegetable because it was made with all kinds of yummy fall veggies. It was a very simple soup that I made up and turned out pretty darn good.

I sauteed leeks and garlic in oil and butter and then added diced parsnips, pumpkin, the white parts of bok choy, and carrots. Then I added a bunch of homemade veggie stock, chopped fresh spinach, the green parts of the bok choy, and white beans (drained, but that I'd cooked myself, not from a can) and some roasted tomatoes that I had on hand from The Southerners garden. I'd roasted them in olive oil with garlic and salt and pepper and before I added them to the soup, I removed the skins and chopped them roughly.

The soup was very tasty today, but it was really beautiful and bright yesterday, and it lost some of that vibrancy. I'm not sure if it's worth giving up the colour for flavour by making a day ahead or tasted pretty good yesterday too.

We had a nice turnout today even though there was a lot going on here on the island. The people from the Senior Garden at The Commons threw a special thank you lunch for all the volunteers and since The Southerner spent many long hours down there, lifting heavy things (mostly shoveling dirt and alpaca poop) for the Senior Garden (also known as the Dragon Garden) we were both invited. I was pretty much the only person there who hadn't helped in any way whatsoever, but I was told, "You feed The Southerner so he's able to come here and do all the work, so you've contributed." True enough! Some of the people there, also went to another event this afternoon, and then came to Sunday Soup! Despite being fed all day, they were more than willing and able to dig into the soup. And the muffins I made were quite popular too. We had a couple of new guests and sent them home with a few muffins in hopes that they had a good time and will come back again!

Today I made up a muffin recipe, based very loosely on one I found on the internet. Here are the ingredients and instructions. It is doubled, so if you don't want so many, cut it in half.

1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup corn oil
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
Mix together

3 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
Mix all ingredients together

Add 1 cup chopped fresh spinach, a handful of dried chives, and 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese to the egg mixture, then add the dry a little at a time. Stir just to incorporate, don't overmix. Bake in non-stick or greased muffin tins at 400 for 18-20 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

The original recipe is here: You can see I changed it quite a bit.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Sunday

Unlike in the US where Thanksgiving is a specific day, here in Canada, you're free to have your big meal whichever of the three days of the holiday weekend that suits you best. Although, I guess, legally, today, Monday, is the actual holiday. Most people we know had their big dinner yesterday.

We still had a nice turnout for Sunday Soup. Steve O. brought two friends from across the pond (as The Southerner likes to refer to Vancouver Island since you have to take a ferry to get there) and Carol was here. Calvin even came inside after getting his catnip fix (it was a cool day and we had a fire and sat inside). The Southerner made two rounds of his famous cornbread and our new guests brought a pie! favorite.

The Southerner did two (excellent) performances of Tuesdays With Morrie at the Theatre Centre with the fabulous Antony Holland this weekend, so he had to leave early to go do his show. A few more people showed up after he left, too stuffed from turkey to eat, but it was nice to see them and visit. And then Steve and his friends scurried off to see the play (Carol and I saw it the night before, but Calvin had stayed home because he heard they only had scones and no catnip).

I've discovered that the easiest way to feed The Southerner supper after Sunday Soup (because soup is just an appetizer) is to make a casserole ahead of time. I didn't have time yesterday because we'd gone for a long walk, so while he was doing his play, I cleaned up and made the casserole. The second benefit to the casserole is that I can often talk him into eating leftovers on Monday, so I don't have to cook then! He's hard to's how it usually goes...

TS - What's to eat for supper?
Me - Leftover soup and casserole and bread.
TS - Let's eat.

Haha! And if I'm really lucky, sometimes I can do that again on Tuesday. And then on Wednesday, he has Boys Night Out, so I can go all the way to Thursday without having to cook. And then I can say, "Well, I'm kind of tired from writing...will you make omelettes if I fry the potatoes?" and another meal is taken care of! In case you haven't figured it out The Southerner is an easy man to live with.

And for that, and my many, many blessings...I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Soup on the fly (but no fly in the soup!)

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian pals! We're grateful to be here and to be celebrating with you!

The reason I didn't update yesterday is because I didn't even make the soup until this morning. I usually make it the day before for two soup is just generally better for sitting 24 hours or so, and the other reason is you know...just in case it doesn't turn out, then I'll have time to make something new!

I had planned to make a pumpkin soup using pumpkins that The Southerner grew, but I had a long (and productive) writing week and just didn't feel like tackling anything that time consuming. I ended up making a soup today that is an original recipe, for the most part, and is very simple, fresh, and delicious (if I do say so myself). I was inspired by a recipe in The Soup Bible, but this is quite a bit different, so I'm claiming it as original! I'm even going to share with y'all because I think it turned out pretty darn good. Plus, I went to all the trouble of typing it up for my records, so I might as well post it here:

Spinach and Bok Choy Soup – Joëlle’s original recipe 12 October 08

2 large bunches of fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped

1 large bunch of bok choy, rinsed and chopped

4 TBS butter

1 large onion, diced

1 can of coconut milk

10-11 cups of vegetable stock

2 ½ cups half & half (warmed)




Melt butter in a large skillet and add onion and bok choy (including leaves). Cook until translucent, move vegetables to food processor, leaving liquid in pan. Then add spinach to pan and cook until wilted. While the spinach is cooking, process the bok choy and onions with a little stock in the food processor, then add the vegetables to the remaining stock (in large soup pot). When the spinach is wilted, put it with its liquid in the food processor and process and then add it to the stock and other vegetables. Add the can of coconut milk. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add warm cream. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Makes 4.5-5 quarts

Monday, October 6, 2008


It rained. You know what that means...only a few guests. I'm starting to think that maybe it has to do with our tiny kitchen. When we can spill out onto the porch, it is more accommodating. It's kind of funny because we have a nice large window in the wall between the kitchen and the living room, so you could sit on the couch and practically be in the kitchen, but no one does. Instead we all crowd around the kitchen table...and you know, I like it. It's cozy.

Anyway, Steve O., Carol, and Rick joined me and The Southerner yesterday and we had Yellow Broth and Irish Soda Bread, and pie. Yellow Broth is basically a very simple soup of vegetable stock, onions, carrots, celery, and spinach, thickened with a roux first and then a bit more at the end with oatmeal. I heard tell that after SS, Rick ran into some of our friends and told them they missed a really good soup! I thought it was good, but you know...that's just me. Glad everyone else liked it too.

Steve brought a pie called "summer harvest" so I was kind of wondering if when I cut into it I would find things like new potatoes, peas, carrots...lettuce...but no. It was raspberries, cherries, strawberries...yummy!

If you're interested in soda bread, you might want to visit this site: It's a little trickier than you might realize and so I was glad to read all the tips on this page. I made one plain loaf and one with an extra teaspoon of sugar and currants. I had to add quite a bit more buttermilk than the recipe stated, but I was using all-purpose flour, which might've been why. I took the dutch oven idea from the site, but instead of cooking it in the coals, I pre-heated it in my oven for thirty minutes at 450 degrees, added the dough, put the lid back on, cooked it at 450 for 10 minutes, turned the heat down to 400 and cooked another 30 minutes and it came out PERFECT! If I do say so myself.

And that's about it until next week. Eat well and prosper.

P.S. About those Cubbies...I don't wanna talk about it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Soup Bible

Quite a few years ago, The Southerner and I were visiting Victoria and we were having tea at my favorite tea shop, Murchie's. If you've never been there, well, it's worth going to Victoria just for Murchie's! Anyway, we were sitting at a small table eating scones with clotted cream and drinking tea (well, I was eating scones...The Southerner always gets a an English tea shop!). Anyway, there was a young woman sitting next to us, having tea with her mother. The tables are small and close together, so it's really quite easy to hear other people's conversations, especially if you're a talented evesdropper writer who needs to listen to other conversations so that you can write good dialogue. Anyway, they were going over a pile of books that they'd scored next door at Munro's Book Store (the second best reason to go to Victoria). One of the books the woman had bought was called The Soup Bible. As they flipped through the book I was practically falling out of my chair trying to see the pictures and read the recipes. I whispered to The Southerner (in case any other writers were around evesdropping) that I HAD to have that book. I slurped down my tea and dragged him out and over to Munro's.

"There it is!" I said, when I spotted it in the window.
"Yeah, okay," he said, still licking the Danish off his fingers.

I hurried inside only to discover that I couldn't find the book anywhere! I finally asked for help and it turned out that the one in the window was the last one, so I made the helpful salesclerk climb into the window and get it out. And get this! It was 30% off!!!

So I took my new Soup Bible all the way back down south where it sat, unopened, for...I don't know...a couple of years, maybe. You see, this was pre-recipes. After I learned the basics of cooking, I made everything up. The food was good, but after a couple of years of this, I started to run out of ideas and so I turned to recipes. I usually alter them some, but lately I've been following them more and more and it's all pretty exciting. In fact, last night I made buerre blanc and served it over a faux chicken breast served on a pile of sauteed mushrooms. The Southerner is still salivating over that. Anyway, short story long, I have finally cracked The Soup Bible and it is as magnificent as I knew it was way back in Murchie's. So there you go.

Tomorrow is an Irish themed day. I'll tell you more about it afterwards.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SS Brought to you by fresh produce

It was brought to my attention today (by Carol), that I am a total slacker and forgot to update SS yesterday. I believe I have now forgotten two Mondays in a row! Bad hostess!!!

Last week I had an excuse (my deadline), this week...not so much. But anyway, here's the scoop.

The font is red in honour of tomatoes! While there weren't any tomatoes in my Red Beans & Rice, I did cut up several tomatoes that The Southerner grew and put them on a plate with salt and pepper. Also, all our windowsills are lined with tomatoes he grew. And there's more coming! Also, nearly every dish, except the desserts, included fresh, homegrown tomatoes. It's that time of year. Some of the fabulous salads were packed with island grown produce and everything looked as good as it tasted! We had about twenty-five or so people, which breaks our record for SS (Carol's birthday held the previous record) and we also broke the "I brought pie" record, but believe one here, least of all The Southerner, is complaining about an abundance of pie. Yummmy!

The Red Beans & Rice was a hit, although there were a few funny looks as people bit into the sausage, but that was because they thought it was real sausage and didn't realize it was fake (or faux if you want to get fancy). I pretty much made RB&R the way our friend Ross had taught me, except I used Frank's Red Hot Sauce instead of tobasco because I like it better. It still forces you to open all the windows and doors once you add it to the sausage pan though...the vapours are pretty toxic and we were both coughing for a while (not on the food though). I'm sure some chemist or chef could explain it, but all I know is that if everyone around starts choking while you're making it, you're doing it right.

Only one person said they were disappointed that I didn't make an actual "soup", but the beans were somewhat soupy, so I think it counts. For the first time since I started SS, I actually made soup just for us on Monday night. Guess what kind? Yep...Creamy Roasted Tomato.

Until next week...or whenever I manage to remember to update... Everybody eat some soup!

P.S. The Southerner did not make cornbread because our kitchen was too packed with people. We now have a quart of buttermilk that needs to be used up, so I am just guessing that next week might be a cornbread weekend.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Southern Sunday

Hello y'all! Tomorrow we're having a Southern Sunday Soup...well, okay, it's only sorta southern (my part of it). I'm making red beans and rice, which is not really soup either, but sort of soupy so I guess it counts. My good friend Ross from Louisiana taught me how to make it last year before we left Tennessee. The thing is, a true southerner would cringe at my dish because, and this nearly killed Ross to do it, we made a vegetarian version of it using Tofurky sausage! In my opinion it was great! And even Ross admitted, albeit grudgingly that "it's not as bad as I was afraid it would be". Also, there are a lot of hippie-dippie Sunday Soup goers here, so it's likely to get a pass tomorrow too.

Tomorrow is our one year anniversary of moving to Canada, so we're having a special Sunday Soup potluck. I haven't decided what bread to make, but I might see if The Southerner (who is back from his trip down south, where he ate the vegetarian special every time he went out to eat - a grilled cheese sandwich) could be coerced into making a few rounds of cornbread. I think he loves the oohs and ahhs and attention he gets when he does this, so I doubt it will be too hard to convince him!

Our good friend, and occasional Sunday Soup attendee, Steve Elder, is doing a gig with his band in the evening, so I think that most everyone will clear out quickly around 7pm so they can hurry over to hear him play. The Southerner is probably going to go, but if we have people here who aren't going, I can hardly kick them out (even though Carol says I can) so I might end up giving it a miss. Of course that means I will have to do all the cleaning up eat all the leftover dessert.

Hope to see y'all here!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quiet Sunday

It rained. Rain can do one of two things. It either brings everyone out and over for soup, or they all stay in. This time they all stayed in. Except Carol, her friend, and Calvin. Even The Southerner was gone.

I barely got the soup done, and it tasted good, but my brain was so fried from doing all my edits (7 1/2 hours on Saturday and 3 1/2 before making the soup), that at a quarter to three, I said to myself, "today we're having crackers". And that's what I served with the soup. When only two people showed up, I was really glad I hadn't forced myself to make two dozen muffins!

We had a nice chat, sat under the eaves and watched the rain, and by 5:30, they'd gone home and I was back to work.

Next week is our big one-year-anniversary-in-our-new-country potluck, so I expect things won't be quite so quiet then!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First Time For Everything

For the first time, I had to make the soup ON Sunday instead of yesterday. I am on a very tight deadline with my new book, but this of course, makes me very happy because it means that MY AGENT SOLD MY BOOK!!! Oh, wait, we covered that last week. Anyway, I ended up working all day yesterday and all morning today, so I just made the soup at noon. It's pretty much done now, and it's tasty, considering I mostly made it up! Yes, I like to live dangerously.

The soup is a cream cheese broccoli soup with egg noodles. Yummm! I have to take my lactose pills in order to eat it, but I think it's worth it. The Southerner is away today, so it's just me and the cats hosting today. Sophie got ready for her hostess duties by rolling around in the dirt, so she's not really white anymore. But she's still cute. I have two hours to come up with some sort of bread. I'm thinking...muffins? Yeah, muffins.

Oh, and by the way, here's another thing that makes me very happy, besides the fact that MY AGENT SOLD MY BOOK! The Cubs have clinched their division and we're going to the playoffs! Wahooo!!!

More later....probably tomorrow as I have several hours of work left to do tonight in order to meet my deadline tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I totally forgot to update SS this week. I have plenty of excuses, like I did two performances of a play on Sunday and I'm on a very tight deadline for my book edits. Cool reasons, eh?

But this was a special Sunday Soup so it must be blogged about! Not only did The Southerner make a most excellent barley vegetable soup, but we had a Guest Hostess! Carol stepped in to welcome the multitudes of guests in our absence. Okay, it's true, we came home from the matinee performance to find her sitting in the sun, reading...alone...but the soup was hot, the spoons had been retrieved from the dishwasher, and she was READY. We feel confident that should we ever actually have to leave town and put her completely in charge, she is ready. Carol can handle Sunday Soup on her own. Yay, Carol!

Calvin did not come. We're still not sure why, but I guess he just needed a little time to himself. Just because he is usually a social butterfly-cat does not mean he is obligated to come to SS every week. Although, he really missed out because I forgot to hide Miss Sophie and Grinder's cat food! We did send home a dire warning with Carol...The catnip is not long for this world. You see, if I leave it outside...the frost will probably get it sometime soon. And if I take it inside, Grinder will definitely get it, or die trying. It will become his reason for living. There will be no safe place for it within the house. As it is, I've had to hang it from the eaves, almost unreachable by us, just to keep it safe outside. In the house, the catnip should be afraid, very afraid.

By the way, The Southerner's soup was delish and everyone thought so. There were quite a few people sitting on the porch, enjoying the veggies of his labour by the time we had to go back to the theatre for the evening performance. He better be careful or I might start asking him to make the soup once a month! Nah...he's really good about cleaning the house when I cook. If he cooks, he might actually expect me to do the cleaning!

For those of you in the area, don't forget that on Sunday, 28 September, we're having a special Sunday Soup Potluck to celebrate our one year anniversary of living here in Canada! From 4pm on. Here's your chance to bring something (you always ask!). Except Roger...I still have your pie and ice cream in the freezer so you don't have to bring anything. Of course, Roger is the one person I know who doesn't have a computer, so he won't even know I said he's off the hook. Hmmm....I wonder what he'll bring?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Southerner in the Spotlight!

Due to the fact that MY AGENT SOLD MY FIRST NOVEL last week, I am suddenly very, very busy with edits! What a wonderful thing to be busy with! Because I am so busy, The Southerner is making the soup this week! He's making a lovely vegetable and barley soup and I'm shouting instructions from my writing room. I expect it will be most excellent as he has proved to be a very good sous chef and is perfectly capable in the kitchen.

Tomorrow's SS will be a little different in that we won't be here. Well, we'll drop in, but for the most part, Carol is the hostess tomorrow (so if you bring a hostess gift, make sure the card is addressed to Carol). The reason she is doing this is because The Southerner and I are acting in plays! Really. I used to be an actress, once upon a time, and he has been an actor for a while now. There is a lovely theatre here, run by the fabulous Antony Holland, and he asked us to do some one-act plays with him. The Southerner is doing The Duck Variations with Antony, and I'm doing a one-woman play called Waking Up. Anyway, we have a matinee at two o'clock and an evening show at seven o'clock, so we'll be running back to the house for soup in between.

One of the other reasons I have been so busy is because I was trying my hand at Little Susie Homemaker and I entered three categories in the Fall Fair today? My bread got third place, my cookies, while delicious to us, did not place, but my Walla Walla Sweet Onion and Cherry Chutney won FIRST Place! That's a blue ribbon! Not bad for my first time out, eh? And thanks to C-----, both the bread and chutney will be at SS tomorrow because she stole it from the table! She was terribly afraid it would go to waste, so I took my ribbons off and looked the other way while she made a run for it with the bread tucked under her arm. The next time I saw her, she looked as innocent as I guess no one saw her.

All in all, a very satisfying week!

P.S. You'll have to wait a bit longer for photos of the Ugly Mug Club mugs as we haven't had time to photograph them. And if you want to read more about my book and the sale, drop by my website:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kale, Kale, Everywhere!

We're still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen and then all our gardener friends and The Southerner are going to provide me with a enough to make a gazpacho. Until then, I assumed I was on my own, but then our friend, Rick, offered us lots of kale from his garden. I was going to cook it up and then freeze it for later since we can't eat it all and then I thought, why not soup? So I dug around on the internet and found a recipe that looked pretty good, but one that I could alter some too. So tomorrow the soup should be a lovely pale green and very, very healthy! We better thaw out the pie Roger brought last week. We don't want to get a bad reputation for serving health food at Sunday Soup!

If I had a loonie for every person who told me yesterday, "I don't really like kale, but this soup is fantastic," I'd have...well, about two or three loonies (for the Americans reading this, loonies are Canadian dollar coins). The soup really was a big hit, and the cheese and onion bread disappeared fast. Luckily, Antony Holland (yes, THE Antony Holland, the famous Canadian actor who lives here but locally is almost more renowned for his baking) brought four lovely loaves of bread which everyone also enjoyed.

We had, and below is a picture, taken by The Southerner, of the nutter Ken who made this crazy instrument. And yes, that is a garbage can!

At first he just played it like a regular bass, with his fingers, but here, he is using The Southerner's fiddle bow some jazz. If that's not wacky enough for you, The Southerner has decided they should start a jug band. I'm not sure who's going to play the jug, but I know they're looking for a washboard player who can keep time. If you're interested in chasing cats from your yard, this instrument will do it. Every time the cats would come around, basking in the weak fall sunshine and getting pats (and catnip), Ken would pick it up and they would scatter fast! Of course, I'm just teasing Ken because I know he reads this occasionally. We enjoy both his ecentricities and his music!

Oh, one more Sunday Soup note. After reading Anne's comment last week about her SS and the possibility of using mugs, I totally stole the idea. Of course, my inclination was to go to Williams Sonoma and buy the two handle soup bowls with saucers that go with my dishes, but The Southerner thought we should try GIRO (the recycle center/thrift shop here). I was not too excited about that because...while I don't like to think of myself as a grown-up, I do like some grown-up things and matching dishes is one of those things. Anyway, I gave in because I was sorely lacking in funds. Boy did they have some ugly mugs. And thus the Ugly Mug Club was born. I now have seven ugly mugs, and I encourage anyone who comes to Sunday Soup, to bring their own ugly mugs. We might even have prizes for the ugliest one someday. Watch for pictures next week. Oh, and instead of $150 for WS soup bowls, we spent two loonies.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bread, Bread, and More Bread!

I didn't update yesterday because I was busy cooking. And it was my fourth wedding anniversary! The soup is a Lebonese inspired lentil, and quite possibly the easiest soup I've ever made. It's rich with cinnamon and tastes yummy. There's not much to say about it now though, so instead, I'll leave you with this little piece of wedding cake humor. Enjoy!

As I was drifting off to sleep last night I suddenly remembered that I'd forgotten to update Sunday Soup. It was probably total exhaustion due to having cooked for three days straight. Usually, I cook on Saturday and Sunday, but last Friday I was feeling like cooking, so I made a bunch of stuff then too.

I made practice rolls on Saturday and they were supposed to come out like sandwich rolls, but ended up more like hotdog buns. I might be a vegetarian, but I LOVE Morning Star faux hotdogs (all other ones are TERRIBLE), so I am planning to split and freeze Saturday's bread and use them with hotdogs. Yesterday, I made more of the same dough (a sort of light whole wheat/all purpose bun) and played around with them, making crescents and other shapes and then sprinkling them with poppy seeds, Italian seasonings, and Parmesan. The Southerner took this photo:


We had an out-of-town guest, some of the Regulars, and a few of the Occasionals for Sunday Soup, and while I wasn't that excited about the soup this week, it seemed to go down pretty well. It was a Lebonese inspired lentil soup seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and lemon. It looked totally different than it actually tasted because it had the appearance of any lentil soup you've ever had, but then had this sort of fragrant and almost smoky or exotic taste. This is not a soup I would make again, just because I was sort of lukewarm about it, but The Southerner thought it was pretty all right, so he can eat the leftovers.

We really cashed in on the desserts this week too! I made a carrot cake, as is my tradition for our anniversary, to share yesterday and Carol and Calvin brought chocolate chip cookies. After everyone had left, I discovered Roger had brought an apple pie (unopened) and then found a quart of ice cream in the freezer! I am going to freeze the pie and serve it next week.

Two last of my cyber pals and reader of this blog, had her own Sunday Soup yesterday! She promised to post in the comments (and is probably just waiting for me to get my act together and post this) all about it and tell us how it went! And the other thing is just a teaser...we have a very special Sunday Soup coming up at the end of this month...more details soon!

Quick update: Anne has left a long comment in the comment section all about her first Sunday Soup! Make sure you read it, it's great. And I might be stealing her idea of using mugs instead of bowls, because it makes all kinds of sense! Thanks Anne!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Here's Mud in Your Eye

I don't really know what that means, "here's mud in yer eye", but it's some sort of toast or something, right? Anyway, I took Julia's advice (and The Southerner, who agrees with her) and didn't mention to any of the guests that I thought the soup looked...well...less than appetizing, and they all dished it up and many of them had seconds and I think you could call it a success. I ended up making a peach and onion chutney to go on the homemade bread that I toasted on the panini grill. That was VERY popular. And two of our guests brought these nifty crackers - pumpkin seed and cranberry - along with a round of Brie. And Carol donated truffles to the cause, so all in all, it was a very lovely Sunday Soup.

Nathan brought his friends from Dawson (Yukon) and a bouquet of beans from his garden. Later we examined the map and marveled over how far north Dawson is and that anyone can survive in minus forty degree weather, but there they were, living proof that it can be done. There were a few Sunday Soup virgins too, and the "regulars", although Calvin missed since it was raining and we were all inside. He'll be wondering about his catnip fix. I should've sent some home with Carol.

I spent most of yesterday and a lot of today in the kitchen. Besides the soup, I cooked a lot of other things, put up ten pounds of peaches (I sliced them for the freezer, but "put up" makes me sound like Suzie Homemaker and there's something appealing about that!) and a whole bunch of zucchini too, and did a lot of cleaning to boot. You'd think I would've earned a well-needed rest by now, being that it's nine-thirty pm, but alas...there's still a hungry Southerner in the house. Soup is just an appetizer after all. Luckily, I planned ahead and turned some of that squash into a cheesy-mushroomy-squashy- pasta casserole. It should be done just about...NOW!

Today was joyfully loud, the conversation fun, and the food good. All in all, a very pleasing, rainy afternoon. See y'all next week.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Got Great Personality

Truth be told, I'm a little worried about Sunday Soup tomorrow. I made the soup today and well...has anyone ever tried to set you up on a blind date and when you asked what the guy (girl) looked like your friend said, "He has a nice personality"? The Southerner would say, "I'll tell you what's the truth." Tomorrow's soup tastes great, but it ain't pretty.

It was super labour intensive too. And ironically, it was one of the labour intensive steps that turned it the colour of mud. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you might remember when they made polyjuice potion to make themselves look like Crabbe & Goyle? Well, that's about what my soup looks like. But it tastes great, I swear! Maybe we can have a theme day about Blindfold Sunday? Or Eat With Your Eyes Closed Cuisine. Oh, I know! I'll have The Southerner get the first big bowl and once they see him eating, they'll know it's okay. No...that won't work. Everyone knows he'll eat anything. After all, his other nickname is No Dog.

Julia Child would be so disappointed in me if she were reading this. She would say that I should just serve it and never admit that it doesn't look exactly the way I meant for it to look. And I suppose she's right. But she has the advantage that instead of calling it Black Bean Soup with Roasted Vegetable Stock, it would have the fancy name:
Soupe aux fèves noir avec les actions végétales rôties. That sounds so much better! Even if they do both look like le dirt.

I'm going to go for humour (here) and distraction (tomorrow - bruschetta with spicy peach topping) to complement it. And if all else fails...maybe I'll break out the biscotti I made tonight too.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cheesy Chowder

Today I made a cheesy potato chowder. It was distantly related to a recipe my mother uses to make a cheese and sausage soup, but by now there are so many degrees of separation, not even Kevin Bacon could connect it back to the original recipe. Okay...I know...lame joke, degrees of separation, sausage, sue me.

Anyway, I used a very sharp cheddar and there were red potatoes, carrots from one of The Southerner's gardening pals, onions from The Southerner himself, and a few other secret ingredients. It was a big hit, despite the fact that it was a pretty warm day today.

Nary a Steve to be seen this week, but the crowd that was here is beginning to resemble "regulars" which is kind of neat. And there was plenty of soup with just a little left over for me and The Southerner to have for lunch tomorrow. We had a moment of panic when it looked like Calvin's perfect record had come to an end. It was way after six before he showed up for his dose of catnip, although Carol showed up on time, keeping her flawless attendance record intact.

The bread was an Irish Whole Wheat Herb Soda bread, made from a recipe; one I was a bit wary of following, actually, because it had herbs like basil, thyme, and sage, but also a bit of brown sugar and dried currants. It was like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be sweet or savoury. In the end, it was just delicious and everyone agreed it was a hit.

The only problem with the bread is the name. I'm still having trouble with the word "herb" because when I lived in England after college, one of my friends teased me relentlessly about pronouncing it the American way with a silent "h". So, being the conformist that I am, I quickly started pronouncing it the British way. And then, years later, I married The Southerner and he would not STOP harassing me about being all hoity-toity and fake British, so I switched back to the American silent "h". And now, here we are in Canada, and they say it the British way! I cannot win! I am going with the voiced "h". When in B.C., do as the British Columbians do, I say. Don't even get me started on the word "scone".

It's actually raining now that everyone's gone home. In the four months that we've done Sunday Soup, we've only ever had to eat it inside once, so if you run into any locals, don't let them fool you into thinking it rains here all the time. The clouds are way too high for that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

August 16th

Yesterday I took Miss Southerner down to the ferry in Victoria so she could head back home. We had a fabulous visit and I will miss her loads (and not just because she did the dishes so willingly...although I do feel spoilt!). Anyway, while I was there, I dropped in on one of my favorite restaurants, Soup Etc. on Douglas Street. I was in a big hurry to catch my bus back home, so I was not able to enjoy any of their fabulous soups, but instead had to grab one of their fantastic paninis (the "etc." in their name). While I was waiting, I perused the soup menu longingly and saw a butternut squash with green apple. That piqued my interest immediately, because, as you know, The Southerner is growing squash, squash, and more squash!

I asked the man working the counter if it was his own recipe and he said that they have a chef who makes up the soup recipes for them. I was so intrigued though that as I hurried to the bus depot with my lovely fresh mozz sandwich, I started wondering if maybe I should just go back for the soup and take a later bus, but I was hot and tired and so I kept going. However...

When I got home, I put "butternut squash and green apple soup recipe" into google and found a bunch of recipes! Yowza! I may not have gotten to try it yesterday, but I will in the future. And no, it is not this week's soup because while zucchini and yellow squash are showing up in every corner of the kitchen like hard boiled eggs the day after Easter, we're still waiting on the butternut squash. Stay tuned for more when its ripe though because we will be trying this soup for sure! And if you're in Victoria, do stop by Soup Etc. for a bowl of soup or an outstanding panini. Tell the guy behind the counter that the crazy lady who made him take her Sunday Soup business card sent you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Plethora of Steves

Yesterday all the men at Sunday Soup, except for The Southerner, were named Steve. No kidding! That wold be four guys named Steve packed onto our tiny deck (one Steve was missing or we would've had five). While it was somewhat confusing for them, it did make it very easy for Miss Southerner to keep track of her new acquaintances.

The soup was most excellent. Again, I can say that without being all "ain't I hot stuff" because I generally followed the recipe, so it was more my ability to follow directions than my culinary expertise. The zucchini and basil muffins were a big hit too. I took a risk and made a double batch, even though I hadn't tried them before, but it paid off because everyone had plenty and there is still a lot left over. I might've added a little extra basil, but for the most part I followed
this recipe. Oh, and I added some fresh ground black pepper too.

One of the Steves brought an apple pie, and two of the Steves were too late for it because we'd already cut it into eight pieces and were eating it when they arrived. SS may go from 4pm - 7pm, but if you want pie, you better come early. Or bring your own!

For a while, it seemed that everyone working at our library was named Susan. I would've liked to invite them all and see if they could outnumber the Steves, but alas, I've waited too long and most of them have moved on. We're down to one Susan and a Suzanne there now. They could've come and taken on the Steves in a soup eating contest!

Oh, well...even without all the Susans, it was a very nice Sunday Soup and it didn't rain, but it was cool enough that my white bean soup was warming and soothing, just as it should be. Have a great week!

Y'all come back, ya hear?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rainy Day Soup

After a nice, warm week, we did get some rain today. Okay...not rain, but a few drops. As my friend Ralph the farmer says when they get some rain, but not enough, "one drop per acre". It wasn't a lot more than that, but it was enough rain for me to make a white bean and garlic soup for Sunday Soup even though all the recipe comments said, "a wonderful soup for a cold winter evening". It's kind of light though, flavoured with sage and a little bit of cream. Velvety smooth! I think it's just fine for summer. At least around here where mild is the best way to describe what the locals call "hot weather".

The Southerner still has this weird phobia about rain. I think it's probably because in the South, dangerous weather often accompanies rain. Like tornadoes, thunder storms with ground lightning, trees and small animals flying through the air sideways. That sort of thing. It doesn't just rain down south, it RAINS! Here you can tell the tourists...they're the ones with the umbrellas and rain gear. The rest of us west coasters just muddle on through the puddles. The Southerner wants to be one of us, but he also thinks his rain gear is way cool, and since he never got to actually wear it in Tennessee because it was always too dangerous to go outside in the rain, he breaks it out at every opportunity. Actually, what he does is carry it in his backpack "just in case". I find it very endearing, but frankly I'd rather he carried food in his backpack as I'm much more likely to want that if we get lost on a hike!

Anyway, along with our rainy day soup, we are having zucchini and basil muffins (we have a LOT of zucchini, surprise, surprise! See the Squash co-op post further down if you don't know WHY we've got so much) We're having the muffins assuming they turn out. I usually like to make a test batch of anything I've never tried beforehand, but Miss Southerner is still here visiting us and so I've been sort of slacking off in the kitchen (despite the fact that she does the dishes! Did I mention we're trying to figure out how to adopt her?).
Just in case the muffins turn out "only fit for No Dog", we're making a loaf of our usual bread tonight as back up.

And because you should never really have a nice dinner without a little music, check out
this link to see The Southerner and Miss Southerner sing for their supper last night.

Monday, August 4, 2008

August 4th

After a week of much needed rain, the sun came back out, proving to the locals that summer was not over yet despite their certainty that "fall was in the air". In fact, it's supposed to be 30 degrees this week (mid-eighties). Wahoo! When I started Sunday Soup, I thought that on the really hot summer days I might make salad instead of soup, but that was before I spent a summer in our new locale (western Canada). Down south, I can see why this idea might've made sense, but even with the warm and sunny weather yesterday, by 6pm, we were lending our guests fleece shirts to keep them warm in the shade on the porch. So the soup pot is still on and I expect it will continue through the summer.

One of the many Steves that we know came yesterday (we know a lot of them, but they're all special in their own way) and brought his entire family. We've had some of his family here at different times, but never all four of them here at the same time. That was a very nice surprise!

One of the nice things about living here is that people don't bring you hostess gifts like flowers (not that I'm opposed to flowers)...they bring you produce! Brenda brought The Southerner some beets! I'm not sure if they read my post last week and knew that because I had come around to zucchini (I'm eating zucchini bread as I type this) that The Southerner was going to try beets now, or if it was just coincidence, but either way, we have a beautiful bunch of beets with the greens, which is like getting two veggies for the price of one because the greens are delicious too! I expect we'll eat them before the weekend, so no borscht in The Southerner's immediate future. I think that might be too much to ask of him this early in his introduction to beets!

Oh, and just so you know, our house guest, Miss Southerner, who he brought with him from Tennessee is fantastic to have around the kitchen. If you're not careful, she'll do ALL the prep work and the dishes too. Gosh, hate that... :-) In fact, she's making French toast now out of leftover bread.

The Southerner, our friend Kathy (who was also here yesterday), and Miss Southerner are going to do a gig this weekend at Steve's theatre (along with another pal who was absent yesterday), so at the end of SS, they broke out the guitar and did some rehearsing. Oh, boy! This is going to be one good show! I can hardly wait! All I do is listen (and provide pre-show food, and after-show food, and rehearsal snacks, and...well, you get the idea...I'm the caterer), but I am a really good listener, and I'm looking forward to this week of music in our kitchen.

And speaking of music, we know about a zillion musicians and we've told them all that next week is going to be a music oriented Sunday Soup in honor of Miss Southerner's visit, so I'm expecting a lot of people next week (you know...offer a musician a free meal and the soup pot better be deep!). Not sure what the soup will be, but I have a whole week to think on it. Send your suggestions and remember, it's got to feed a lot of hungry musicians, so cheesy & creamy soups are out unless I want to take a loan out to buy the ingredients. I guess I could leave The Southerner's guitar case open in the kitchen and see if anyone throws in money!
The late great Mr. Fatboy and Elizabeth the guitar!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

August 2nd

Sunday Scoop - 2 August 2008

Photo copyright Victor Anthony 2008

I know I generally try to go for an aura of suspense on Saturdays...keep you coming back for more on Sunday, but The Southerner is about to return home after ten days away, and he's bringing a Miss Southerner with him to visit, so I'm not sure how much time I'll have to post tomorrow. She's no relation, but she did play his daughter in the Smoke on the Mountain plays at the Cumberland County Playhouse last year. Also, Sunday Soup will be competing with a wedding and reception tomorrow. We're invited to the reception, which starts right when SS ends, and it's just down the street, so we'll be wandering over there afterwards. Should be fun.

Okay...this week's soup was inspired by all the fabulous (although somewhat expensive) Walla Walla onions available here, locally grown and organic. The Southerner is growing some too, but he had to grow them in the ground, as opposed to the greenhouse, so the ones from the farm are softball size, while his are still maturing (just like can hope, anyway). So today, I tackled French Onion Soup.

I know that this is normally a cold-winter-warm-you-up soup, but when you make it with fresh summer onions and use vegetable stock instead of beef consomme, it's actually quite light. I had been wanting to try it for ages, but didn't have any oven-proof bowls (or at least not enough for all the guests at SS). However, then I learned this nifty trick for serving FOS to guests! A party trick, if you will. You make the soup as usual on the stove, and then just before you're ready to serve it, you put all the bread slices on a cookie sheet, broil them until they're toasted, flip them over and place some Swiss cheese on them, and then return them to the broiler until they're hot and bubbly. When you serve the soup, you simply lay a slice or two of cheesy toast right in the bowl and cover with the soup! Voila! I tried it today and it worked. Boy, did it ever work! Yummm!

I was doubly glad too because earlier in the day I'd been at a garage sale and they had a bunch of the exact kind of bowls you see in all the magazine spreads for French Onion Soup, but you know, they were so ugly and as The Southerner says, "Ugly hurts my eyeballs" and so I couldn't bring myself to buy them. Glad to know I don't need them! At least not for FOS.

And now for a few words about the recipe. I used Tyler Florence's recipe from, but I made some changes. He uses red wine, which seems interesting if you're using beef broth or consomme, but with vegetable stock, it seemed like it would be too heavy, so I went with the queen of French cooking, The divine Ms. Julia, and used white wine. I'm actually thinking that even the white wine sort of overpowers the sweetness of the onions and I might just skip the wine entirely next time. Since I don't drink, Carol donated a few bottles of her homemade wine. Thanks, Carol!

When I was reading the reviews of TF's recipe, a lot of people said they had trouble getting the onions to caramelize and I thought smugly to myself, "Ha! It just takes a have to be patient." Well, after an hour I was no longer patient and my onions were more golden than caramel coloured, which I found annoying. Especially since I caramelize onions all the time. But they were also starting to fall apart and I was in danger of onion paste, so I just went on to the wine step. I think that it might have been because the onions were sooooo fresh that they just had a lot of liquid in them. Who knows? Do you? Any tips? They were plenty sweet...and it all turned out just fine.

A lot of the reviewers complained about this soup taking too much time, much longer than the recipe said it would, and it really did. I think it took me about two or three hours to make this soup! However, I was busy cooking a zillion other things because No Dog The Southerner will be home any minute and will be really super hungry!

I didn't want to spend every minute cooking while Miss Southerner is here, so I planned ahead. Over the last two days I have made:
Rhubarb Bread
Zucchini Bread
No Knead Bread (two loaves)
Zucchini bake (a Julia recipe given to me by a reader of this blog!)
Two kinds of enchiladas
A tortellini salad
Onion and cherry chutney
A pot of Chili
A bunch of pizza crusts (now in the freezer)
Black beans
Fresh pesto
Onion soup
and I have Swiss Chard from The Southerner's garden ready to sautee the minute they walk in the door.

I probably made a few other things I've forgotten about since I'm sort of wiped out after all this cooking! Are you hungry yet? What are you cooking this week? I will blog about the actual SS at some point, but maybe not tomorrow! Have a good week, and eat your soup!