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 – JoĆ«lle’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.