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Carolyn

Sara

Sara and me

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Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast. There are characters galore in this book, and it sometimes takes a bit to figure out which decade you’re reading about (few clues) or which person. Oh yes, her, current day. Oh, that’s him, during the war. Max, oh, I thought he died. No, that’s his son. I think. The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem. There is family dysfunction. Relationship dysfunction. There is quite a bit of adultery going on, yet I found myself understanding why. The book relays a true story (names changed) about an architect and a woman who is trying to write a book about him. Drawings and paintings of this village play a big part. There is some mental dis-health too. And throughout, it’s about the land, the sea, and this remarkable house. I wondered if in the hardback edition there were any photo plates of the drawings. One character is driven to draw the rooms he’s in, the house he’s in, or the house he conjures in his mind. There are lots of beach walks, and there is a huge tidal flood too. Despite having some difficulty keeping track of the characters, it was a good read.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. She struggles to keep her poverty at bay, and like many women of her time and the day, wished themselves on men of means. There is love. There is loss. And through it all, the thread that holds it all together is the mores – the rules of civility – required of most everyone. To keep up the face. To swing. To survive. Really well developed drama and a very real sense of place. I’m reviewing the book in one of my book clubs; fortunately there is a lot online about this book.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl. She’s a biologist, was working at Cal Tech and someone brought in a tiny abandoned barn owl. She took him home, and he became her “mate” (that happens at year two). Everything about this book is interesting, from how she nurtures him in his tiny habitat, to how she transforms her living space to accommodate a full grown owl. He couldn’t be habilitated to the wild because of a wing injury (likely when he fell out of the nest). It’s a heartwarming story.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends). The supposition is that all the women are ladies of the night, and it’s their ticket to a better life. He holds to his principles until he meets lovely Livia, who begins cooking for a group of soldiers (it was a real job). Food plays a starring role in this book, as well as Vesuvius’ eruption. It’s a very interesting story – I don’t know if it’s true there were such positions in the British military, but it sounds like it. Gould has to find his way through the miasma of politics, corruption, provisioning in a war-torn country and the warfront. But all of it is laced with the very sweet love story.

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio. She needs a job, and agrees to the commute, rain, shine or snow. The “library” is limited. The inmates her “staff.” She weaves her way through the pitfalls of limited funds, theft, perversion, jerks, rules, and every myriad of inmate problems. Very interesting read.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II. Franco is a weary Italian soldier. He stumbles into a vineyard and is hired. It’s hard work (nothing he’s ever done before) but he’s a very diligent worker. He didn’t stop there to find love, but it found him. There’s a lot of sinister Fascist activity throughout the book, plenty of local history, and of course, a bit about the walls of Lucca.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars. A British family buys a very dilapidated house, and a local man (the handyman) begins helping them fix it up. Two children play a part, with the British husband merely peeking in now and then. There is local dissension, town secrets, some violence as the town tries to heal from years of war. And the handyman just keeps working, pondering his own demons as well. Very riveting story.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition. Some of that is hard to read, but Follett writes sagas, and I was really “into it.” Have always loved his writing, and if you haven’t ever read this sidebar before, or my section on books, his book, The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel  is my#1 favorite book I’ve ever read. In this Fire book, though, there are numerous characters, families really, in France, London and the (fictitious I think) town of Kingsbridge. Riveting reading, as are all of his books.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way. Anger is there, but deep down you know, reading this, that they care about each other. The one that left is a successful but lonely attorney in Seattle. The other is a single mother who owns a small seasonal cabin rental facility near Seattle. It’s a very sweet story – takes awhile to “get there” but you know they’re going to reconcile and find their sister-groove again. Good book. Worth reading.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital. You ride the wave of his first, painful days when he questions if he was ever meant to be a doctor, to the end of the year when he recognized his true passion for infectious disease diagnostics. I really enjoyed the book, and commend him for being so brutally honest about his own vulnerabilities and what he saw as complete inexperience. If you enjoy this genre of book, this is a good one.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children. She was hired as an under-nurse, but soon became the prime caregiver of the youngest children. She became “Lala” to the children, and they loved her dearly. And she them. This is a serious below-stairs look at that part of the royal family, their foibles, idiosyncrasies, and even the proclivities of the children themselves. It was a great read. Loved it from the first page.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam. It’s an eye-opener. Over the last many years I’ve marveled at authors who have found a niche of some part of that awful war and it was enough to write a great story. Simon is the hero, here. He was a Jew and miraculously survived Auschwitz and returned to his home, hoping to find his mother and sister (who were also at Auschwitz, but he knew not their fates). He knew his father had died in the camp. The family home had been taken over by others. He was destitute. He befriended two young women (one had worked for his father in his clock-making business). There is a “box” in the story – an important element. Simon finds a job, income, friends, and love. Finds some caring people, but also encounters some very shady characters as well. The story is told very well. There is mystery, poignant love and redemption. Well worth reading.

Camille De Maio wrote Before the Rain Falls. Very interesting story about a young doctor who returns to her border town in Texas for a very short vacation. And about a young down-on-his-luck journalist who goes to the same town to get a story. There’s a death/murder long ago, the sharp shards of emotions that remain in the town. The survivors. The grandmother who spent 7 decades in prison. And a love story. Very sweet book about family. Love. Loss. As I write this, it’s $.99 on Kindle.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career. There was always “talk” about him. He never married. He was querulous. He got high-handed too frequently. He was a tee-totaler, and always had a dog named Psyche. He was a brilliant diagnostician and was appalled at the condition of prisons and even ordinary Army barracks. When he died it came out – Dr. James Barry was really a woman. And a woman who had borne a child. Facts that were suspected by many, but never corroborated. S/he did so because a woman wasn’t allowed to go to college, let alone medical school. When you read it in context, it’s logical what her mentors suggested she do. I can’t say that this book is all that well written – some of it uses the stilted language of the time, even though it’s current in its publication. But it’s a fascinating read nonetheless. So I’ve read, there is going to be a documentary made about her life.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with distant heritage. She hopes to gain inspiration for her next book. As she investigates, she discovers she’s related to a family that lived in the early 1700s at Slains Castle on the east coast of Scotland near Aberdeen. This was the time of the Jacobite rebellion (the exiled King James and his hoped-for return to England). When I say this woman gets inspiration . . .well, it’s more than that. She questions whether she could possibly have genes that contain memory (what an idea, huh?), because she begins to know how events took place, who the people were, what they said, exactly where they stood, the layout of the castle, even the furniture in the rooms. She wasn’t channeling, actually, but I suppose it could be interpreted so. The book is full of the Jacobite history (more than I’d ever known before, but then I love English/Scottish history). There’s a romance back then, and a romance in the today time. Both lovely. Great book. An historical novel of the first order.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. Six months ago I attended an author’s talk at the Bowers Museum. Lisa See was the speaker and shared her story about this book. I’ve heard her speak several times before (she lives near me) and have read several of her books. This one, though, is very different. She was sitting in a doctor’s office reading some magazine and spotted a tiny snippet of data about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real. And what happened during WWII on this island is horrific – makes me feel ashamed that our military had a hand in what happened to many people. But everyone should read this book. It’s a novel, about 2 girls who are divers and how their lives diverge for a variety of cultural reasons and because of the war.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London. This book takes place in the 1920s and tells not only the general history of the early days of radio, but also the role women played (a vital one). Initially it was in the background, because women weren’t considered intelligent enough. Maisie, the heroine in the book, works her way up the ranks. It’s a fascinating read from beginning to end. Many famous characters (real) flow through the studios. Early voting rights play a part in the story line also. And some wartime intrigue. You’ll find yourself cheering from the bleachers when women make a tiny inroad into the male-dominated field.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. My friend Ann, from Idaho, brought it with her as we spent a week in Palm Desert in February. She handed it to me and said I’d really like it. Oh, did I! Loved the book. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt. There is lots of dialogue in the book which is made up, but I’m guessing the author probably read many diary entries of Alva (and the family) to create a very intriguing and readable story. A life of unbelievable privilege. Several children, including one who marries into a titled family in England. You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals – men were nearly expected to have mistresses or affairs. This was the Victorian Age when sex between husbands and wives was not necessarily, and usually not, passionate. I loved this book from page one until the end.  Alva was a suffragette of the first order. Having read the book, I have a lot of admiration for her, even though she lived in the highest echelons of society.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. But in Paris she meets the charismatic Dr. Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help establish a field hospital in the old abbey at Royaumont, staffed entirely by women—a decision that will change her life. Seamlessly interwoven is the story of Grace, Iris’s granddaughter in 1970s Australia. Together their narratives paint a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love. The book  gives you a vivid picture of the state of nursing in WWI, but the story is quite mesmerizing. And there’s a twist almost at the end. Highly recommend.

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas. But events intervene, as history tells us. That was 1914. Cut to 2016 when a young woman inherits an ancient cabin in upper New York State and she discovers a jeweled pendant. The two times weave together to make a really riveting story. Lots of Russian history; well written; as I said, couldn’t put it down.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania. The warring native Americans play large in this book. There is a romance, yes, but this book is not “a romance.” It’s more than that – about the hardships of living on the land, away from protection, Tessa and her family struggle to make a living and avoid the angered natives who take revenge when their people are murdered. Clay Tygart is a respected officer/soldier and commands a fort near where Tessa lives. Clay was captured by Lanape Indians when he was a young man, so he straddles both sides of the equation – first hand, he knows how the natives feel, but also his role in the lure of American exploration of the west. The natives wish to preserve their hunting grounds from the encroaching settlers. This book takes place in the mid-1700s I think. Loved it. Not only the history that is brilliantly detailed, even to the summer heat they experience. The crops they raise, the constant fear of attack. And the sweet love that weaves through it. Not a speck of sex in it.

Reading mysteries has never loomed large in my reading life. Occasionally, yes. And some espionage type books. But light mysteries have not intrigued me much. But one of my book clubs had us read Louise Penny’s novel, A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel). The member actually handed out a cheat sheet of the characters in the book (many) and posed several questions of us as we read through it. The cheat sheet really helped. She asked us when (or if) we caught the foreshadowing of the murder culprit (I never did). The book takes place at a lovely inn in Canada and Chief Inspector Gamache (he is quite a character – along with his wife – are vacationing there) when a murder occurs. None of the characters escape the C.I.’s scrutiny. Lois, our book club member, led us through a very thorough and lively discussion of the book. Usually, my complaint about murder mysteries is that they don’t make for good discussion at a book club – but this book was an exception, for sure. Many of my learned book club friends rave about Louise Penny. One told me I should read Still Life next, and probably should have read it before I read this one.

Rachel Hauck is an author I’ve enjoyed reading over the years. Just finished reading The Memory House. It’s about relationships. Love. About family. About secrets. Doesn’t that just describe about 90% of every novel out there these days? Beck is a cop in NYC; a series of events occur and she is forced to take leave. Just then she inherits a house in Florida. She barely remembers the woman who bequeathed the house to her. Then you meet Bruno, a sports agent who will figure large in Beck’s life. Then the book jumps back in time to Everleigh, the woman who owned the house and you learn her story. Really stories of her two husbands. And how do those stories connect to present day. Very sweet book. Not a speck of sex in this one, either.

The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger. Such an interesting book – nonfiction. The author is an ornithologist by profession (and a PhD) and this memoir of sorts is about her Red-Lored Amazon parrot she and her husband own. But no, it’s the parrot who owns her/them.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. A book club friend recommended this book, I immediately bought it on my Kindle. I could NOT put the book down. I devoured it. Any other “work” I should have been doing was swept aside as I read and read of Resolute’s adventures. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

Finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel by Kim Richardson.  It’s a novel about the first mobile library in Kentucky (this is the 1930s) and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and, just as importantly, a compassionate human connection.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This book was offered as a bargain book from Bookbub, and something about the description resonated with me – maybe because of my Old Testament readings regarding the lives of shepherds back in ancient days. I utterly loved this book. It might not suit everyone – it’s a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. He bickers with his father, eventually moves out. One night in a pub with his blokes (friends) he enters some kind of a contest in the pub and realizes he has a lot more knowledge than he thought he did. In time he applies to get what I’d call here in the U.S. a G.E.D (high school diploma), which he does, and then he applies to Oxford, on a whim. And gets in. He graduates. He applies his knowledge to his rural life. He marries, has children, but still, his day to day life is all about his Herdwick sheep, although he does have a day job too working for UNESCO. You’ll learn more about sheep than you might have wanted to know. I absolutely loved, LOVED this book. If you are interested, James Rebanks has a Twitter feed, called @herdyshepherd1, and you can sign up to get updates from him about his farm and his sheep. I don’t do Twitter or I would.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation. So it is with surprise that she finds in this cold and bitter country the capacity for new love and perhaps even a new home. I just loved this book – could hardly put it down; yet it’s not a mystery. You’ll come away with a desire to find that house by the fjord. I want to go there and have some coffee with the Anna, who was a Brit, yet fell head over heels in love with Norway.

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher mystery. From amazon: Across the country, women are being murdered, victims of a disciplined and clever killer who leaves no trace evidence, no fatal wounds, no signs of struggle, and no clues to an apparent motive. They are, truly, perfect crimes. Until Jack Reacher gets in the middle of it. A page turner, as are all of the Jack Reacher stories.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. A sweet book, true story, of the author and her friend, during one summer in the midst of their college years, going by train to NYC and ultimately getting a job of Tiffany’s.  Cute read.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? I marvel sometimes about how authors ever come up with the ideas they do, to create the premise for a novel. And this one is right up there at the top of the list. Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who has a big lack of self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. He discovers she’s blind and needs some help, which he gives her.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.  From Amazon’s description: August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he’s spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip’s ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip—and the bonds that develop between them—would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together. Have a tissue handy at the end. It’s such a charming, sweet story. You’ll fall in love with the young boys, and fall in love with them again 10 years later.

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

Mark of the Lion : A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure As the Dawn (Vol 1-3) by Francine Rivers.

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

Answer As a Man

Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.

C.J. Box’s book The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel).

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

The Boston Girl: A Novel by Anita Diamant.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.

Leaving Blythe River: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Girl with Seven Names by Hyanseo Lee.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

The Good Widow: A Novel by Lisa Steinke.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes.

How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Gundry-friendly, IP, lectin-free, Soups, on February 25th, 2019.

chix_enchilada_soup_GFLF

EASY to make soup in the Instant Pot. Lots of flavors to savor.

So, Carolyn here – I’m still alive and well – I made this soup yesterday and it was so good I knew I needed to post it. I was supposed to have a group of friends over to my house to watch the academy awards last night, but a few days ago my Tivo went kaput – everything about my entertainment system goes through the Tivo. Tivo is sending me a new one, free, but it won’t arrive for about another week. Therefore I have no TV to watch in my family room. So we had our academy awards potluck dinner at someone else’s home. And I made soup.

Because I had a whole chicken in the freezer, I chose to use it instead of the chicken thighs noted in the recipe – I used the same timing – so you can do that too, if you choose.

Into the Instant Pot went the chicken, some diced tomatoes (canned), a can of chopped green chiles, an onion chopped up, a shallot minced, a package of chili seasoning (or taco seasoning), a bit of extra ground cumin, canned enchilada sauce and chicken broth. I set the Instant Pot on “soup” for 20 minutes. I let it slow release for 15 minutes, then fast release. The chicken was removed to cool, then I shredded up all the meat from the chicken.

Meanwhile, I used the immersion blender on the broth part, added in the sour cream and crème fraiche, added back in the shredded chicken and let it reheat briefly. Don’t let it boil or the soup part will separate. Then I cut up the garnishes and let everyone help themselves. If you want tortilla chips, smash a few to garnish the soup (I didn’t because I didn’t think it needed it, plus I can’t have tortillas on my diet).

And how am, you want to know? I’m good. Very busy. Have a done any painting yet? Only a little. PEO has been taking up a bunch of my time lately. I’m taking a trip to San Francisco with 3 girlfriends next month which will be great fun. My grandson has been accepted at Clemson in the Fall, although he hasn’t officially told them yet (he’s interested in bio-science) – Clemson is where his sister goes to school (she’s a junior there), although she’s in Argentina studying this semester and is really struggling with the dialect. She got accepted to do a medical internship at a fertility clinic in the city where she is living. And she starts her semester classes later this week, all in Spanish (or, this Argentinian dialect, I should say). Sabrina is planning to take the MCAT in the fall to be accepted to med school. She’s the one who started out wanting to be a vet, but I think she’s certain now she wants to be an MD or a PhD research doctor. My other granddaughter is finishing her senior year at Sacramento State and hopes to go on to get a Master’s in Nursing. By the way, I’m still keeping up the “Currently Reading” section of my blog (left sidebar of the main page) in case you’re interested. Last summer I couldn’t WAIT for winter to arrive. Be careful what you wish for, right? It’s been SO darned cold here in Southern California. Coldest on record almost. But it’s been going on for weeks now. I had to dig to find more coats and wraps because it’s so cold even in the daytime.

What’s GOOD: how easy it was. I could have made it a day ahead, but as it was, I made it just before I toted it to my friend’s home. The flavor of the soup part is really, really good. Lots of Mexican flavor too. It was filling (and fairly low calorie too) and everyone thought it was really good.

What’s NOT: only the shredding of the chicken meat, and that took about 15 minutes, tops. I’m glad I still have some, because I’ll be having it for my lunch today.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup (also LF and GF)

Recipe By: adapted a lot from All Day I Dream About Food (blog) 2019
Serving Size: 8

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs — or you may use chicken breast meat
3 cups canned tomatoes — canned
1 whole yellow onion — chopped
1 medium shallot — peeled, minced
1 package taco seasoning mix — or chili seasoning
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 ounces chopped green chiles — canned
10 ounces red enchilada sauce — Frontera brand if you can find it
salt to taste, if needed
3 cups chicken broth, low sodium
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup creme fraiche
grated cheese, chopped cilantro and chopped avocado for garnish

NOTES: I used a whole chicken (smaller sized one) but used the same 20-minute timing and it was cooked through just fine.
1. Place the chicken, tomatoes, onion, shallot, enchilada sauce, chiles, and seasonings in the bottom of an Instant Pot . Pour the broth overtop.
2. For the Instant Pot, seal the lid and make sure the vent is on seal. Set to the Soup Function for 20 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
3. If you want to use a slow cooker, place the lid on and set to low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours.
4. When cooking is complete, remove the chicken to a plate, cool and shred the chicken meat. Remove about 1 cup of the hot broth to a bowl and whisk in the sour cream and creme fraiche, then whisk this combo back into the pot. Use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup. Add chicken to the pot.
5. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot with grated cheese, chopped cilantro and chopped avocados.

Per Serving: 308 Calories; 18g Fat (53.3% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 123mg Cholesterol; 1110mg Sodium.

Posted in Soups, on December 13th, 2018.

burmese_inspired_chix_soup_w_sweetpotato_coconut_milk

Really I’m not certain what parts of this soup make it Burmese-inspired, but what it is, is a 10 in flavor! MAKE THIS!

This recipe came from Food52, that website that is just chock-a-block full of recipes and ideas, posting about 8-10 new things every day, almost. Since sweet potato is something I can have on my diet (in small amounts) I decided to use up a sweet potato I’d purchased some weeks ago and needed to be used! I had a package of boneless chicken thighs in the freezer, so those were defrosted first, then they were marinated for a day in a mixture of turmeric, powdered ginger, ground coriander and a dash of oil.

Once I was ready to make the soup (which didn’t take all that long to do) I whizzed up in the food processor a handful of cilantro STEMS, some fresh garlic and a shallot. I was supposed to add a hot chile, but I forgot! Meanwhile, I used a big deep pot and I browned the sweet potato (peeled, cubed) in a bit of EVOO until at least 2 sides were golden-browned. It took 3 batches as you don’t want to crowd the pan (would steam rather than brown) and those were set aside. Then the chicken was added in and the pieces nicely browned for about 4-6 minutes, then that mixture I’d done in the food processor was added and allowed to cook a bit. Wow, the flavor wafting from the pan had my mouth watering. Then in went chicken stock and the sweet potatoes were added back in. Pan was covered and it simmered for about 15 minutes. The can of coconut milk was added, some fish sauce, broccoli and bok choy plus a bit of salt too. It simmered just long enough to smooth out. I didn’t eat it that day – I cooled it and refrigerated it overnight (and the coconut milk “fat” congealed on the top – but put that back into the soup – do NOT throw it out thinking it’s not healthy). I heated it up in the microwave and added some cilantro on top. I was supposed to add a quarter of a lime – I forgot to do that, too. I also didn’t make the fried shallot topping just because.

What’s GOOD: I just love-loved this soup. Everything about it. The broth is super-flavorful from the spices and the garlic and cilantro. The broth is thin – don’t expect a thick soup – it’s not. (Although you certainly could add rice or whiz up some of the sweet potato in the broth to thicken it some.)  The pieces of chicken thigh were flavorful and tender. The soup was outstanding. I have a friend who is 75% Burmese – I asked her what veggies she would add – she suggested adding the broccoli and bok choy (not in the original recipe), so I’ve added those into into the ingredient list.

What’s NOT: only that it’s best to start this a day ahead, or two, because the chicken needs to marinate overnight, and the soup is best made a day ahead, as with all soups. Otherwise, the time to make the actual soup was only about 35-45 minutes total.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Burmese Inspired Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk, Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Bok Choy

Recipe By: adapted slightly from Food52, 2016
Serving Size: 7

SOUP:
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil — or EVOO
2 cloves garlic
1 piece ginger — peeled (1 inch)
1 whole shallot — peeled
1 chili pepper — on the hot side (de árbol)
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup grapeseed oil — or EVOO
2 cups sweet potato — peeled, cubed
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup broccoli florets — (cut small) (optional)
1 1/2 cups baby bok choy — chopped small (optional)
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 limes — 1 juiced and 1 quartered
Salt to taste
SHALLOT TOPPING: (optional)
1 shallot — peeled, sliced thinly
1 cup grapeseed oil for frying the shallot

1. Cut the chicken thighs into about 1-inch pieces and marinate overnight with the dried ginger, turmeric, coriander, and 1 tablespoon of oil. If time doesn’t permit, simply toss the chicken pieces with the spices before you start cooking.
2. In a food processor, mince the garlic, ginger, shallot, dried chile, and the roots and/or stems of the bunch of cilantro.
3. In the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Then add the cubed sweet potato. Fry until golden brown on at least 2 sides of each cube. Scoop out of the pan, leaving the oil, and set aside. Add the chicken pieces (a few at a time so you can brown them without having them cool the pan down) and let them begin to brown. Season with a pinch of salt. When they are mostly browned, add the minced shallot-ginger-garlic-cilantro stem mixture and let cook out a little. Add a couple tablespoons of the chicken stock and let reduce until the mixture is soft and cooked. Add the rest of the chicken stock and the reserved sweet potatoes and bring to a simmer.
4. Meanwhile use the method below to fry the crispy shallots (this can also be done as much as a week ahead of time, as the shallots will keep in a closed container at room temperature for a week at least). Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes, until the chicken and sweet potatoes are close to tender. Add broccoli and bok choy, if using and simmer until vegetables are barely tender. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, and coconut milk and bring up to a simmer. Stir in a quarter cup of cilantro leaves and taste for salt. Serve garnished with the crispy shallots, a couple of sprigs of raw cilantro, and the lime wedges
6. SHALLOTS: In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots and stir frequently. As the oil continues to heat, the shallots will start to color. When they get to golden brown, scoop them out of the oil and drain on a paper towel. You want to pull them out of the oil a little before dark brown, as they’ll continue to cook and crisp up on the paper towel.
Per Serving: 302 Calories; 18g Fat (52.4% calories from fat); 19g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 74mg Cholesterol; 1112mg Sodium.

Posted in Soups, on November 12th, 2018.

cr_chix_lemon_tarragon_soup

Tender chicken pieces simmered in an onion/leek-forward soup with tarragon, lemon juice and some zest. Altogether delicious.

It seems, I rarely make anything exactly as written. Are you like that too? Since I’m a big soup eater, recently I sat down at my kitchen table with cookbooks piled up on the table beside me. With this new diet I’m on, lots of soups (carb-centric) won’t do, so I scanned a couple hundred recipes and added sticky notes to about 24 of them.

Next on the agenda was to add the titles and a few ingredients into Evernote (an app on the phone) that is always with me at the grocery store, so when I think about soup, I’ll look up the soup category and will be able to read that this soup needs coconut milk, a pound of chicken, leeks, for instance. I always have onions and celery, and I have chives growing in my herb garden. And I almost always have chicken breast packs in my freezer. So I’ll know I can make this soup if I buy those extra items (leeks, coconut milk).

The original recipe for this came from a cookbook I bought about 10 years ago at Harrod’s in London. New Covent Garden Soup Company’s Book of Soups: New, Old & Odd Recipes. As I recall, the company makes a bunch of fresh soups available at grocery stores in England. The soups are unusual. Not every one, but many of them are ones I’ve not heard of before. Which is a good thing. I’m kind of tired of my usual stable of soup recipes.

But, despite the fact that the recipe looked complete, I wasn’t satisfied with leaving it status quo. I had leeks in the refrigerator, so those were added in. And, I always think celery adds good flavor, so a cup of chopped up celery went in as well. The recipe called for half and half – I didn’t have any, but coconut milk was on the shelf, so that’s what I added. It wasn’t noted in the recipe, but I whizzed up the mixture with my new immersion blender. I didn’t totally puree it because I still wanted some texture. Then the little bits of chicken breast were added and simmered. Then in went the coconut milk, the lemon juice and zest and it was done. I used a combo of low sodium chicken broth and vegetable broth and used double the quantity too.

Generally, when I make soup, I make it the day ahead with the intent of waiting a day to let the flavors meld, but I wanted to taste it and I took the picture at top with some chives from my garden. I dipped my spoon into the soup before I staged the photo (hoping the soup was going to be blog-worthy), and WOW. Was it ever good. I mean REALLY GOOD. What flavor. Can’t wait to have some tomorrow.

What’s GOOD: there is tremendous flavor – the onions, leeks and celery are definitely there, but then you get the tang of lemon. Yum. The zest likely added some nice extra oomph to it too. Delicious soup. A definite one for more often rotation in my kitchen.

What’s NOT: not a thing, really. Easy soup to make – it would likely take about 45 minutes total with the chopping and mincing.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Cream of Chicken Soup with Lemon and Tarragon

Recipe By: Inspired by a recipe in New Covent Garden Soup Company Book of Soups
Serving Size: 6

1 tablespoon EVOO
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion — chopped
2 medium leeks — cleaned, chopped
1 cup celery — chopped
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons dried tarragon zest from one lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast — chopped in small cubes
12 ounces coconut milk — full fat, or coconut cream
3 tablespoons fresh chives — minced

1. In a large Dutch oven heat butter and olive oil over medium-high and once shimmering, add onion and leeks. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, then add celery. Cook for 5 minutes, then add dried tarragon, both chicken broth and vegetable broth to a simmer. Add lemon zest and juice. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
2. Using an immersion blender, puree about half of the soup mixture until thickened. Add chicken, cover and simmer for about 12 minutes, then add coconut milk. Heat to just below a simmer and serve with chives garnishing the top.
Per Serving: 353 Calories; 20g Fat (49.8% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 50mg Cholesterol; 816mg Sodium.

Posted in Soups, on October 23rd, 2018.

watermelon_cuke_gazpacho

Can’t say that I’d ever had gazpacho with watermelon and cucumber. But oh, my, was it ever good.

Hopefully by the time this recipe posts, you’ll still be able to find watermelon in your grocery stores. Because this cold soup is so very refreshing. Maybe for a fall outdoor barbecue? Might be the last.

You begin with about 5 cups of watermelon (buy a seedless one, if possible), diced up. Most of it gets blended until smooth. Pour that out into a bowl. Then the remaining watermelon and the veggies get mixed in – you add a peeled and seeded cucumber, a red bell pepper, a small jalapeno chile pepper, some inner-stalks of celery, some red onion, fresh mint, fresh lime juice, a jot of sherry wine vinegar and salt. Chill and you’re done. Refrigerate for a few hours. Serve with a little dollop of crème fraiche If you’d like. I’d also put a mint leaf on top too (see photo). This recipe came from a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter.

What’s GOOD: the word refreshing is the best one. Cold. Soothing. Tons of flavor in it. Worth doing. Could be made several hours ahead of time.

What’s NOT: nothing really other than prepping the vegetables. Otherwise, very easy.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter, cooking class, 9/2018
Serving Size: 6

3 pounds watermelon — seedless, diced (5 cups)
1 small cucumber — peeled, seeded, diced (1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper — seeded, diced (1 cup)
1 small jalapeno chile pepper — seeded, minced
1/2 cup celery — use inner stalks only, diced
1/2 small red onion — diced
1/4 cup fresh mint — diced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup creme fraiche — for garnish
mint springs for garnish

1. For watermelon, use 4 cups to puree, then remaining cup to mix in with other ingredients.
2. Puree 4 cups of watermelon in blender until smooth. Transfer puree to a bowl (or storage container).
3. Add remaining cup of watermelon with all remaining ingredients except creme fraiche and stir (no, don’t blend). Pour into the container with watermelon and chill until cold, at least one hour and up to 4 hours.
4. Divide among bowls and top with a dollop of creme fraiche and a mint leaf, if desired.
Per Serving: 116 Calories; 6g Fat (45.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 18mg Cholesterol; 112mg Sodium.

Posted in lectin-free, Soups, on October 15th, 2018.

cauliflower_parsnip_soup

You might be of the school of thought that there isn’t any way to make cauliflower edible. This soup might change your mind. Mostly because it’s the parsnips you taste!

In my repertoire of cookbooks (hundreds) I have one book that sits out on a stand in my kitchen. Why that one? Only because I like the cover colors and it fits well on the stand. Not exactly the most admirable of reasons. Yet I like the cookbook – I just don’t visit its pages very often. The other day I noticed that when I’d read through the book I’d put pink stickies on recipes I thought I’d like to make. There are about 10 of them. And this soup was one.

The book, Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: A Backyard Garden-to-Table Cookbook by Jeanne Kelley, is a treasure trove of relatively simple recipes, done beautifully with photographs and some lovely type fonts (you forget? I love type fonts). As it happened I had both a head of cauliflower AND about a pound of parsnips in my refrigerator. Yes, also I had an onion and a bay leaf. Gee, this soup was easy to make.

An onion was sweated in EVOO, then the parsnips (peeled, chopped) were added, as well as the chunks of cauliflower; 8 cups of water (I used vegetable broth) and a bay leaf and it simmered for about 35 minutes. Once it cooled a little bit I used my new immersion blender and whizzed it up easily enough. I added a little jot of salt. Since it was a hot day when I made this last month, I decided to eat it cold, although Kelley only mentioned serving as a hot soup. I left the pot out on my stove for 2-3 hours while it cooled down, then refrigerated it until dinnertime.

As an aside, I was watching a recent Cook’s Country episode on TV, and they did a test of immersion blenders. Mine is old. And I mean old (at least 35 years) – one of the very earliest models and I’ve never felt it did a very good job, so I splurged and bought a new one. Braun MQ505 Multiquick Hand Blender, Black. Braun makes several models, but this one, the cheapest ($59.95 on amazon) won their kitchen testing. I’ve used it twice in 3 days and am very pleased with it.

The topping called for currants. I didn’t have any, and on my diet I’m not supposed to eat dried fruit, but dates are okay. So I subbed dates for the currants. My kitchen garden has fresh thyme, and I easily toasted up a bunch of pine nuts in a skillet. The author cautions about that – how many times have you burned pine nuts in the oven? Way too many for me, so I, like her, toast mine in a skillet always. At the end you drizzle on a little bit of EVOO. The soup was filling and very tasty.

What’s GOOD: love the flavor – it’s the parsnips that predominate (adding a lovely sweetness), although the cauliflower adds plenty of texture. The garnish made the soup for me – the little crunch of the pine nuts, the thyme adding flavor, and then the minced up dates. Altogether delicious. Next time I’ll make a double batch and freeze some. The recipe makes enough for 4-5 generous dinner-sized portions.

What’s NOT: gee, nothing. Very easy soup to make.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup with Currant and Pine Nut Garnish

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes
Serving Size: 6

SOUP:
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 large onion — chopped
1 pound parsnips — peeled, chopped
1 head cauliflower — roughly chopped
6 cups water — (or vegetable stock)
1 whole bay leaf
salt to taste
GARNISH:
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup currants — or raisins or dates
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — chopped
1 tablespoon EVOO — to drizzle on top

1. SOUP: Heat oil in heavy pan over medium heat. Add onion, cover and cook until onion is tender and just beginning to turn golden, about 8 minutes. Add cauliflower, parsnips, bay leaf and water (I used vegetable broth). Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
2. Cool slightly and remove bay leaf. Using an immersion or standard blender, puree soup (in batches if necessary) until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Reheat to serve. (May also be served cold.)
3. GARNISH: Toast pine nuts in dry skillet until golden brown. Mix pine nuts in a bowl with currants, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Serve in bowls with about a tablespoon of the garnish on each bowl of soup then drizzle with olive oil.
Per Serving: 201 Calories; 13g Fat (54.1% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 20mg Sodium.

Posted in Dr. Gundry friendly, lectin-free, Soups, on September 16th, 2018.

moroccan_harira_ground_turkey

Extra tasty soup with tons of flavor, and some spiciness. Made lectin-free by using pressure cooked garbanzo beans and strained tomatoes (without skin and seeds).

Most of you aren’t eating this diet I’m on, so you can just not pay any attention to the “lectin free” info. This is just a sure-fire winner of a soup no matter whether you use pressure cooked garbanzos or not. I make a lot of soups around my house. Even in the summer. The A/C is on, so I’m not uncomfortable having hot or cold soups all summer long.

I was craving this harira soup (it’s a real favorite of mine) – I’ve made it before, but in the past I’ve made it with a big bunch of chicken thighs and then you need to cool them, skin them if they’re not already, pull the meat off and wait for it to cool enough to chop up and add back into the soup. This time I bought ground turkey to make it a bit leaner, and easier.

As I’ve continued to be on this diet I’m on (which is still working, otherwise I’d have quit), from the Plant Paradox book (Dr. Stephen Gundry), I’ve been trying to adapt some of my existing recipes, and since I knew I loved this soup already, I wanted to make it a bit more friendly for my diet. Legumes (beans) are a no-no on this diet UNLESS they have been pressure cooked, which cooks out the bad bug lectins in them. (Who knew, right?) Technically, since I’m trying to lose weight, I shouldn’t be adding these beans into my diet, but I decided to seek out the Eden brand canned garbanzos (Whole Foods carries the whole line of Eden pressure-cooked beans) and I didn’t put very many in the soup in any case. You don’t know from the can or the label that they’re pressure cooked, but they just are. I could have pressure cooked my own, but I wasn’t in the mood.

I used most of the same seasonings, pretty much the same quantities of things (less water, though, because I was not adding lentils) and the soup was sensational. Don’t be dismayed by the long-long list of ingredients. None of them are difficult to add (lots of spices) and much of the soup is normal ingredients you’d have on hand anyway.

Another of the lectin no-no’s is tomatoes with skins and seeds. At first I wasn’t eating tomatoes at all, but gosh, that really puts a limitation on soups. So I’ve researched lots of canned tomatoes and found that if it says “strained,” it means no skins or seeds. That type is also called passata in Italian. You can buy canned whole tomatoes and try to cut them open to remove the seeds too. That’s not too difficult. Most whole canned tomatoes already have the skins removed. I am eating fresh tomatoes (albeit not too many) as long as they’re big enough to peel and seed.

So, I made this soup one day and didn’t eat it until the next (always a good thing with soups, IMHO). And oh gosh, was it ever good. I didn’t miss having chicken pieces in it – the ground turkey was very satisfying. And I loved the few garbanzos in it as well. If you’re sensitive to spice (heat) you can tone down the harissa a little bit, and you don’t have to add the chiles, either. I used a small can of whole green chiles (mild) and easily removed the seeds (yes, those are a no-no also, the skin and seeds of any kind of peppers), then chopped them up finely. Although they were the “mild” kind, they did have some heat to them. Just right for me, however.

What’s GOOD: well, for me, it’s that this soup is Gundry diet friendly – but the flavor of this soup is just right down my alley. I love love this soup. Love the spice in it, the texture and flavor of the soup/broth part. It’s very filling. A 1 1/2 cup serving is ample (for me anyway).

What’s NOT: only that there is a long list of stuff to add – just plow through it – it doesn’t take all that long.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Moroccan Harira with Ground Turkey, Gundry friendly

Recipe By: My own concoction, 2018
Serving Size: 6

1 large onion — diced
4 stalks celery — diced
1 bunch cilantro — see notes
1 bunch Italian parsley — see notes
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 pound ground turkey
3 cloves garlic — minced
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon harissa — or sriracha
4 ounces green chiles — canned (skinned and seeded)
2 teaspoons salt — or more to taste
6 cups water — or more if needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces Eden organic garbanzo beans — drained and rinsed, or use pressure cooked beans you’ve made from scratch
24 ounces canned tomatoes, strained — called “passata” in Italian
GARNISHES:
1/2 cup sour cream chopped
Italian parsley (see quantity above)
chopped cilantro (see quantity above)

NOTES: If you’re not following the Stephen Gundry diet, you can use any kind of garbanzo beans and tomatoes. To make this a Gundry soup, you must use lectin-free beans (only Eden brand are pressure cooked) and tomatoes with no skin or seeds.
1. Cut off the little brown ends of the cilantro and parsley, then cut the stems off and mince them up finely with a knife (you’ll add the leaves as a garnish).
2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the vegetables and saute until the onions have begun to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and cilantro stems and cook for 1-2 minutes just until they’re fragrant, then add the ground turkey and stir to break up the meat. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Then add canned tomatoes, the chicken soup base, green chiles, garlic and water. Bring to a simmer. While it’s warming up, add all the seasonings.
3. Cover and keep over low heat for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
4. Add the garbanzo beans and taste for seasoning. Add more water if needed. This is best made the day before, but I’ve eaten immediately and it’s still delicious!
5. Serve in wide bowls (about 1 1/2 cups per serving) and add a dollop of sour cream on top and garnish with cilantro and parsley.
Per Serving: 321 Calories; 16g Fat (44.5% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 68mg Cholesterol; 870mg Sodium.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Soups, on August 21st, 2018.

microwave_bowl_cozy

Isn’t that the cutest thing?

As I mention frequently, soup is a common theme here at my house. I eat soup year ‘round. Recently my best bud, Cherrie gave me one of these things. She’d won it a a Bunko night and didn’t think she’d use it. I loved it so much I ordered the larger size too.

They’re on etsy.com – here’s the link to Mary Egan’s website called “Just 2 Dang Cute”:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/just2dangcute

In the event you want the larger ones, here’s a picture of both sizes:

sm_lg_microwave_bowl_cozy

May I make a suggestion – these would make a great gift – for a birthday, or a housewarming gift, or a Christmas gift (maybe buy 2 matching ones). Or a Bunko prize! I heat soup with the cozy in the microwave and then I take the whole thing to the table and leave it on. You can pull the soup bowl out and off, but it’s just as easy to leave it. Mary makes them with all kinds of sports teams fabric, and plenty of collectible kind of designs. She makes other things too – obviously she’s an accomplished seamstress! I think these bowl cozies are just the most adorable thing! I use mine several times a week.

Mary has kindly emailed me saying that if you order anything from her during August, 2018, and write in BLOG ON THE COZY she will refund the shipping. SUCH A DEAL! Thanks, Mary.

Posted in Soups, on July 19th, 2018.

curried_cauliflower_soup

As I write this, I’ve only eaten this soup warmed up (hot) but I think it would be delicious served chilled. For me, the garnishes are what make it – cilantro, almonds and chives.

The other day I was searching through my own recipes for soups, and ran across this one, and I’d taken a photo of it which was inserted into my MasterCook file, but I’d never posted it. No reason why, I’m sure (other than perhaps I made it before I started my blog in 2007?), as I’d made a note in the recipe that it was really good. So, I decided to make it again. I bought fresh cauliflower and a sweet potato (the latter, something I can have in light moderation on my low-to-no-carbs diet, as sweet potatoes are what are called resistant starches – meaning they mostly pass through the intestinal track without metabolizing much). You can add regular potatoes if you’d prefer.

This soup is a fairly thin consistency, even with the sweet potato, so if you prefer a thicker soup, do add potatoes or sweet potatoes, or use less chicken broth (which will then make less soup). I used just one sweet potato, but two was suggested in the recipe. And the recipe came from Cindy Pawlcyn, the famous chef at Mustards Grill in Napa Valley. I have her cookbook, Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook, published many years ago now, but it’s one I refer to now and then. Coconut milk is now considered one of those good fats, and it gives the soup some wonderful texture, color and flavor.

Don’t skimp on the garnishes – as I mentioned, they’re part of what “makes” this soup, for me.

What’s GOOD: overall flavor, not too thick, more on the thin side, refreshing; can also eat chilled.

What’s NOT: nothing really, other than chopping and mincing the cauliflower.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Curried Cauliflower Soup

Recipe By: Based on a recipe from Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook, Cindy Pawlcyn
Serving Size: 8

2 tablespoons EVOO — or peanut oil
1 large onion — sliced
8 cloves garlic — sliced
1/2 whole jalapeno chile pepper
1 large carrot — halved lengthwise and cut into half-moons (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger — peeled, grated
1 tablespoon curry powder — or more if desired
1 cup dry white wine
2 whole sweet potatoes — (or white potatoes) peeled and diced
1 large cauliflower — trimmed and chopped small (including stem, minced)
8 cups low sodium chicken broth — or vegetable stock
20 ounces coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Minced fresh cilantro (optional)
Toasted sliced almonds (optional)
Chopped fresh chives (optional)

1. To make soup, heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute several minutes, then add garlic. Cook for about one minute. Add in chile, carrot (if using), ginger and curry, and cook, stirring, several minutes. Add in wine and cook at medium-high until it is reduced by half. Add in potatoes, cauliflower, chicken stock; bring to a boil, skimming off any froth. Lower heat to a simmer and cook about 20 min, or until vegetables are tender but not falling apart.
2. Stir in coconut milk and season with salt and pepper. Puree about 75% of the soup in blender until smooth (be careful – don’t load bowl too full or it will explode). Leave the remaining 25% of the soup with chunky vegetable pieces. Pour puree back into main soup pot, add butter and garam masala and reheat. Taste for seasonings. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, almonds and chives. (May also be served chilled.)
Per Serving: 331 Calories; 22g Fat (60.3% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 4mg Cholesterol; 810mg Sodium.

Posted in Soups, on May 30th, 2018.

fresh_easy_salmon_chowder

It wasn’t too long ago I made a very complex salmon chowder. Here’s another one that’s just about as good, and a whole lot easier. Maybe the steam fogged up my camera lens, you think?

I must be a sucker for salmon chowder. I do love the stuff. And this one is relatively easy to make. It does have a bit of heavy cream in it, though. If you don’t want that part, just add more chicken stock. It will still be good! Onion and celery are sautéed, then you add some corn (frozen works fine here) and potatoes, some spices and stock. It’s simmered for 15-20 minutes (or less) until the potatoes are just fork tender but not falling apart. The cream is added and brought back to a simmer, then you add in fresh chunks of salmon and fresh dill, and that gets simmered for just a few minutes. You do NOT want to simmer it long or the salmon pieces will fall apart. Scoop into bowls and add another few tender twigs of fresh dill and serve. Hot. To mmmm’s.

If you like smoked salmon, that can be substituted, which will give the soup an altogether different flavor, but still salmon, of course. If you’re not fond of salmon, substitute another firm-fleshed fish in this (halibut, tilapia, sea bass, even sole would work). Altogether delicious in any of those riffs. This came from a cooking class with Tarla Fallgatter.

What’s good: how easy it is to make, first of all. Then the delicious flavor – the aromatics and onion add lovely depth. Plenty of good texture too. Worth making for sure.

What’s NOT: nothing I can think of – this is a great soup.

printer-friendly PDF or MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Easy Fresh Salmon Chowder

Recipe By: Tarla Fallgatter cooking class, 2018
Serving Size: 6

2 tablespoons butter — or up to 3 T.
1 medium onion — peeled, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs — thinly sliced
1 pound red potatoes — cut in 1″ cubes
1 ear fresh corn — sliced off the cob (or substitute frozen)
salt and pepper to taste
some pinches of a spice rub, your choice
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream — or up to 3/4 cup
1 pound fresh salmon fillet — cut in 1″ cubes (or substitute smoked salmon, or other firm-fleshed fish)
2 tablespoons fresh dill weed — chopped, with more for garnish

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan; add onion and celery and saute until soft. Add corn and potatoes and saute to coat with vegetables, adding more butter as necessary. Add spice rub, salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken broth and simmer until potatoes almost fork-tender.
2. Add cream and bring to a simmer.
3. Add salmon and dill and simmer gently for a few minutes until salmon is just cooked through. Do not over cook or the salmon pieces will fall apart. Scoop portions into serving bowls and top with more dill.
Per Serving: 293 Calories; 14g Fat (42.8% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 77mg Cholesterol; 332mg Sodium.

Posted in Fish, Soups, on April 5th, 2018.

fresh_salmon_chowder The simplest of ingredients, just a lot of them, to make a really flavorful chowder. With chunks of fresh salmon barely cooked at the last.

Making this happened on Oscar Sunday afternoon. I’d invited 5 widow friends of mine to come to watch the show together. I made soup, and everyone else brought something else to round out the meal. It was simple enough to do, although this took a bit longer than some soups, I suppose! Not by a lot, but there were more than the usual amount of things added to this. I started with a recipe at epicurious, but I altered it so much, it’s really doesn’t bear much resemblance to that recipe.

salmon_chowder_spoonfulIt started out with rendering a bunch of bacon. The meaty bacon I used didn’t give off much fat, but there was enough to then cook down some fresh leeks. Meanwhile, I cooked the potatoes separately in a pot of salted water. I’d cut them into small chunks and that took about 10-14 minutes at most. The potatoes were drained and set aside. Once the leeks were mostly done I added a whole bunch of celery and green onions (4 cups of the latter – I doubled the recipe you see below), including most of the green tops since they would add good flavor. Then I began adding in the other ingredients – corn, garlic, fresh thyme, some dried thyme too, a couple of Bay leaves, red chili flakes and some chicken broth. I brought that up to just BELOW a simmer, then added in the raw salmon chunks, milk, half and half and cream, plus the potatoes – oh, and the bacon. I brought that just barely BELOW a simmer again and let it stew for about 10 minutes until the salmon was cooked through. Discarded the bay leaves and served with chopped dill and chopped chives on top. DEFINITELY don’t bring this soup to a boil or it will separate – the half and half and milk can’t hold together over high heat. Not a pretty sight, so stay close as you watch it as it cooks at about 200°F.

What’s GOOD: Delicious soup. Just plain, simple, but very flavorful soup. Everyone raved, me included. I gave 2-3 portions away to my friend Gloria and her husband, had 2 more portions to take lunch to my friend Judy on a day when she was under the weather, and had one more portion for myself for dinner another night.

What’s NOT: nothing really; takes an hour or so to make, quite a bit of chopping and dicing. Very worth it, though.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Salmon Chowder

Recipe By: Adapted significantly from an epicurious recipe
Serving Size: 6

1/2 pound red potatoes — scrubbed, but leave skins on
6 ounces thick-sliced bacon — cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 large leeks — cleaned, chopped
1 cup celery — chopped
2 cups chopped scallions
1 cup corn — fresh or frozen (use more if you like)
1 tablespoon garlic — finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme — finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Turkish bay leaves — or half the amount of California bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 quart half and half
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 pound salmon fillet — skin discarded and fish cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Garnish: chopped fresh chives and fresh dill

1. Cut potatoes, skin on, into 1/3-inch cubes, then cook in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
2. Cook bacon in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook leeks for about 5 minutes until wilted. Then add celery, scallions, corn, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and red-pepper flakes in fat in pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until scallions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add half and half, milk and cream and bring very low simmer – do not let it bubble or the soup will separate.
3. Reduce heat to moderately low, then add potatoes, salmon, bacon, salt, and pepper and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until salmon is just cooked through and begins to break up as you stir, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped chives and fresh dill.
Per Serving: 484 Calories; 31g Fat (56.4% calories from fat); 29g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 102mg Cholesterol; 886mg Sodium.

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