Sunday, December 4, 2011

The New House!

Today was our first Sunday Soup in two months because last month we were under construction. Plus we went to Victoria to hear the Fiddler play a viola recital (ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT, by the way!). Boy were the guests surprised when they showed up today! The writing cabin is almost done out in the yard, the deck has been replaced and there's a brand new grand staircase leading up to the front doors, the wall between the kitchen and the living room is gone, and we got rid of a bunch of furniture and then divided our living room into two areas...a seating area, and a dining area.

Oh, and did I mention the AMAZING double skylights which are a work of art, thanks to Mr. Reno? They really were la piece de resistance*. Forgive my unaccented French. I'm too lazy to look up the accent marks.

The soup wasn't bad either. At least, judging by the very small amount left. It was an eight bean soup...or maybe six if you don't count lentils and split peas as beans. And I made my regular standby no-knead bread that, really...people love because well, it's really, really good. And all it is is flour, salt, yeast, and water.

The company was diverse and the house was full. Appearances were made by many of the regulars, like the Pastry Chef, the Musician, and the Fleece Lady. Also dropping in were some we haven't seen in a while, which was nice too! In addition to all the oohs and ahhs, there was a bit of je ne sais quois* in the air...maybe it's because the house feels so much more roomy, so people talked louder, maybe it was that some had just come from a Christmas music concert, or maybe it was just because we hadn't seen each other in a while, but it really was a jovial Sunday Soup. And the last one of the year!

*The foreign phrases are for the Builder (of the writing cabin) since he's French and he dropped in today too. I thought I should try to make him feel at home since he practically lives here these days, even though whenever he's working, he says, "I'm not here. You don't see me." because he's supposed to be somewhere else.

That's about it for today. See y'all in 2012!

Oh, speaking of 2012...guess what else happens next year? Yep! My next book comes out! Since I don't think I've shared the cover here yet, here you go.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Soup Potluck

Today was our annual Sunday Soup Potluck. Since I always tell the guests that they don't have to bring anything, we think it's only fair to have a potluck once a year. The end of September is our anniversary of moving to Canada, so it seems like a great time to do it.

It was a wonderful day, full of old friends and new, lots of good food and two soups - Mushroom Onion, and Black Bean Vegetable. I have to admit though that I would not have been able to do it if it weren't for the Southerner. As most of you know, the Sous Chef passed away unexpectedly in August and we're all muddling through with broken hearts. I honestly don't think I could've made the soup last night if the Southerner hadn't come out into the kitchen to help me. Instead of focusing on my loss and how much I missed her in my life, I was able to think about the food we were making, and we honoured the memory of the Sous Chef while we cooked. If you haven't read my blog post about her, here is a link which I hope will make you smile.

And there really is a lot to smile about. After only four years here, we were surrounded by wonderful, loving friends, the Pastry Chef made a delicious cake from scratch (she used to think "from scratch" meant from a cake mix, but now she's so savvy she can substitute ingredients when she needs to!), the food was wonderful, and the cats got extra doses of attention. Life is good.

For those of you who couldn't come, well, there's always next year! Thank you to everyone, you have made our time here so happy.

Love, the Chef and the Southerner

The photo is the Sous Chef on the left, and me on the right.

P.S. No Sunday Soup in November as we're off to hear the Fiddler play viola (yes, you read that right). See you in December!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Soup is Canceled This Week

Hi All...
Early Sunday morning bulletin...For the first time ever, Sunday Soup is canceled due to illness. Victor's got a bug and we don't want to spread it around even more (others on the island have it, too).

Fortunately, because I was going to make Egg Drop Soup with Garden Spinach, and it's best made fresh, I am not stuck with 9 gallons of soup. Unfortunately, no soup this week! I might have to make a small batch just for us.

Next month is our Fourth Annual Thank God We Live on this Island Potluck, so make sure you drop in, if you're around!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Those Summer Days (and vegetables)

Today was an excellent Sunday Soup. The sun was shining (a rare thing this summer), the veggies were fresh and from the farmer and various friends, and the soup was Summer Vegetable. The Sous Chef made the bread last night, and I baked it this morning. I've been experimenting with other breads lately, so it was nice to have the basic bread again - nice and simple and fresh.

I found this great company where I can order fruit and vegetables from the Okanagen (BC) and they pick it on Friday and deliver it on Sunday, so I took delivery of 11lbs of BC cherries and 10lbs of blueberries today. Oh, double yum! I will have stained fingers from pitting cherries for the freezer, but come winter, it will be so worth it when I make smoothies.

We had a very nice turnout today, lots of people packed onto our narrow deck (which will be coming down and replaced with a wider one, hopefully this fall). After everyone left, The Sous Chef came over to cook dinner with me (she may be moving away, so we're doing crash cooking lessons 5 nights a week for the next month). We made pasta with cararmelized onions, sauteed zucchini, fresh garlic, and fresh basil. It was delicious! And then we capped it off with fresh fruit.

I can't believe by the next time we meet up for Sunday Soup we will be thinking about fall. It's gone so fast! I hope you had an excellent summer day today though, and enjoy the rest of the sunny days too.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Old Slow Me!

Just realized I forgot to blog after last Sunday's soup. Perhaps it was because of the sheer hoards of people who showed up. Don't get me wrong, we were thrilled to see them all, but kind of surprised. Especially since it was a holiday weekend and there was so much going on all over.

I made a yummy cauliflower soup and pesto bread. Luckily, the Swimmer (a visitor from another island who SWAM here!) brought two baguettes, otherwise we would've run out of bread. He also brought red wine and brie (and no, he did not carry these items while swimming, but that would've been cool).

Because only four people showed up for SS in June, and as I said before, it was a busy holiday weekend, I only made one pot of soup...and we had 19 people here, including myself and the Southerner. I ended up defrosting the leftover soup from June for the last five guests! The Fleece Lady brought dips and chips, and there were a few other contributions too, so in the end, it was a bit of a party. The weather even sort of cooperated in that it didn't rain and most of the guests were hearty Canadians, so they had no problem sitting on the deck.

It occurred to me afterward that we should've had a cake for the Sous Chef because July is her birthday, but I'm sure she'll come out okay at some point this month, so not to worry. I'll even dig out the SS Birthday Princess banner and let her wear it on the big day.

Thanks to all who came, and sorry to miss those of you who couldn't make it. Maybe we'll see you in August!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rhubarb Soup? Maybe not...

I'm thinking perhaps now that SS is only once a month I might need to remind people. Either that, or they're all tired of my soup! The only people that did come are ones I reminded the day before, so it was a bit on the quiet side, but it was very nice.

First The Actor showed up, and we had a lovely chat over broccoli almond soup...for about an hour and a half. Just as he was getting up to leave, someone pulled into the driveway. I said to him, "Are you sure you want to leave because your daughter is here now?" He ended up staying for a bit, and his daughter The Farmer came in with a couple who are visiting the island with the idea of living here permanently. We had some lovely crackers that The Farmer made, along with soup and bread, and she brought me rhubarb as a hostess gift.

I got very excited because I am a rhubarb JUNKIE. Every time I go to someone's house and I see they have rhubarb I get all shifty and try to get The Southerner to distract them while I snag some. Actually, several people have been very generous with theirs this year, and I'm already getting a very nice stash in my freezer. The Actor said he has some I can have too. Yay! It is so great in bread (make your favourite banana bread recipe and sub roasted rhubarb for 2 of the 3 bananas).

Anyway, that's about it for this month. Summer seems to have finally arrived here, too! Yay!

Take care, and eat lots of soup. See you next month.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Soup Debut

First, join me in sending out warm congratulations to the Sous Chef who is graduating from University this spring! She's just finished her thesis and moved back to the island, so we will be doing even more cooking. Yay! To celebrate, I handed her the recipe for Tomato-Orange soup and gave her the ingredients and she made the soup herself from start to finish. It was a big hit and every bowl got eaten (The Southerner had the last one with his dinner after everyone left).

We had quite the international gathering today. We all live here now, but there were people here today who were originally from the U.S., Scotland, France, the UK, Sweden, Holland, and yes, even from Canada! For a while, it looked like The Neighbour was going to be the only Canadian, but then we got a rush of Canucks at 6:30pm.

Because I can't eat tomatoes anymore (related to potatoes), I've been experimenting with peaches. For example, I made a peach pizza sauce that's quite delicious. And for today, I made Peach-Orange soup. I used all the same ingredients for the Tomato-Orange, so it had onions, garlic, thyme, salt & pepper in it, and it turned out pretty darn good. The Neighbour also can't eat tomatoes, so she had a bowl of the Peach soup instead and loved it. Out of necessity comes invention (is that the saying or did I mess it up and that's just some weird version of what I meant to say? Who cares. I'm too tired from socializing to look it up).

So...a very good day was had by all! Or at least by me and The Southerner! Hope y'all had a great weekend too. See you in June.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April is the best month!

April is my favourite month, and yes, it's because my birthday is this month. And so is The Southerner's. Now that we have SS only once a month, if there are any birthdays, then we have cake and The Southerner wanted an old fashioned coconut cake like his grandmother used to make. I had never made one before, which would be obvious to anyone who has, when I said, "Sure. No problem." Because, you know, cracking that stupid coconut is NOT as easy as they make it look on Youtube (but just as dangerous). However, I did it. Yesterday. This morning I noticed our cat, Sophie (who also has an April birthday), playing with a chunk of stray coconut that had apparently gone flying yesterday when I hit it with a hammer.

Anyway, we had cake!

In addition to making the actual cake layers (with homemade lemon curd - this is so easy you should never buy lemon curd in a jar) I also made coconut whipped cream frosting. I have to admit, the frosting is what got me really excited. I don't really like frosting, and while we do eat eggs, we don't generally eat dairy, so I have not had whipped cream in a really long time, but it's the only kind of frosting I really like (except cream cheese, and I can make a vegan cashew cream cheese icing to live for!) so I was flummoxed about how to frost this cake. But then Google saved the day.

All you have to do is get a can of coconut milk (not light) and put it in the fridge for a while. Also, chill your bowl and beater. When it's good and cold, open the can and cut a hole through the thickened coconut cream so you can drain the liquid out (use it to soak the cake layers for extra moisture). Then you simply put the coconut cream into your cold bowl and beat it on high for about 5-6 minutes, add powdered sugar (I used 1/3 cup, sifted) and keep beating it. It is AMAZING (If you are vegan, you have to make sure you use vegan sugar or some other sweetener). It was soooooo delicious! After I frosted the cake, I did chill it for thirty minutes before adding the fresh coconut to the top and sides because it seemed like it was starting to melt a little, but in the end, it held up great.

So many people came today, I'm not going to mention everyone, but I will say that the soup was Curried Cauliflower Rice and the bread was foccacia. Also, some of the guests brought yummy things like gingerbread, wheat bread, and chips and dip. So thanks to everyone and if your birthday is in May, let me know! As of right now, I don't have any on my list and we don't want to miss an opportunity for cake.

Happy Birthday to Sophie (the cat), The Southerner, The Fleece Lady, The Chef, Kim of The Brouhahas, My Agent, and everyone else in April (see how I covered myself there?). Have a slice of cake! It's fresh!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Once a Month is a Party!

So it turns out that there are many benefits to having Sunday Soup only once a month, in addition to not having to clean the house so often. For instance, a lot more people come. Now they know if they don't come this week, they have to wait a whole month, so it gets prioritized. Also, even though I encourage people to join us without bothering to bring anything, when it's once a month, more people bring yummy stuff!

The Fleece-lady brought a lovely homemade salsa with chips. The Englishman brought me a lemon he GREW in his house! The Ex-Librarian & the Hiker brought wine. The Farmers & their friend (first time to SS, so she doesn't have a name yet) brought homemade crackers, cheese, and an avocado (yum!). And then, of course, there was the soup.

Today we had one of my two favourite Indian dal soup. It's made with red lentils which turn yellow when you cook them, and has onions and garlic, and lemon in it. Yum. It's a bit spicy, so The Neighbour just tasted it. The Pastry Chef probably wouldn't have liked it, but she couldn't come anyway (we missed her). And we missed the Sous Chef too, who did not come home for the weekend. But she did buy herself her first real (gorgeous) German chef's knife a couple of weeks ago and so she can chop like a pro now.

The Realtor also made an early escape from work and showed up - due to the fact that no one wanted to go to his open house when the Super Bowl was on...oh, I'm feeling the need to make a really lame Souper Bowl joke here. Someone stop me, please...?

Also, The Musician and the Irish One dropped in, and maybe I've forgotten a few, but I think that's it. It was great fun. And the best part? I mean, the best part after seeing all the guests and eating the great food? While I am typing this, The Southerner is cleaning the kitchen! And he's going to make avocado omelets with eggs so fresh I actually had to wash them myself because the lady we buy them from took them out from under the hens to sell to him! And we'll add some of The Fleece Lady's salsa to them too.

Anyway, a great time was had by all, except maybe Marley (the black cat) because right at the beginning she got a little stressed by all the people and took a whack at both The Englishman and The Irish One so she had to have a time out and go nap in my office. All is well now though (she's still sleeping!). And the rest of us had a great time.

See you next month!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy 2011!

Happy New Year, everyone! We just had the first Sunday Soup of the year and it was very, very nice. Great friends, great conversations, candles, the fire in the woodstove, white bean soup and lots of fresh bread. The Fleece Lady brought lovely feta cheese and olives, we broke out the holiday cookies, and consumed gallons of tea. And not just by The Southerner, although I do think he put away quite a lot of African Mint tea!

Today was actually a full day of socializing and food. We started off with brunch at The Sous and Pastry Chefs' house this morning. We just had time to rush home afterward and bake the bread, put the soup in the slow cooker, and clean up the house. Luckily no one showed up until around 4:30 and by then we were looking calm, cool, and collected. Fooled 'em again!

I have to admit it does seem strange, and a little sad too, to write these posts and not email them to my grandmother anymore. I think of her every day, but especially on Sunday Soup days. Still, she's with us in spirit!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and The Southerner and I wish you a very Happy 2011. May your year be filled with love, peace, and lots of good food. Thank you so much for being part of our lives, whether it's in person in our home, or simply reading this blog. We really value you all.
Thank you and Happy New Year!