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.