Welcome back to Soup Week - it's Potato Soup day!
I've never made potato soup before. I'd always had it in the category of onion soup, which is something that I'd order in a restaurant, not make at home. I dislike slicing many onions at a time - although chopping onions can be a great test to see if anyone in your house (ie. your kids) would ever notice you weeping in the kitchen.
In my case, not so much. And it had nothing to do with onions.
I remember a couple of years ago - I'm pretty sure it was when my four kids were all between the ages of 3 months and 4 and 1/2 years - and I was so tired and I was just done and it was only 3:30 in the afternoon. There was fighting and throwing toys and several children crying and I wanted to cry too. So I did. Standing in the middle of a hurricane of a living room, surrounded by kids and toys and noise and no one noticed. They asked for cookies and drinks and the tv, and no one asked why mommy was weeping her heart out. That was kind of a low point for me, but we've come along way since then and now we make potato soup and people actually eat it.
Once again, I have to be quicker with the camera because the soup is gone.
Three kids ate the soup, two loved it and one asked if I could buy her a thermos so she could take it to school and eat it warm. I love that.
I billed this as Mashed Potato Soup because, um, I don't know why I did, but I felt that there'd be a more positive reception if it had the name of something they already knew and loved and ate.
This is what I did:
Saute two diced onions in some olive oil.
Add garlic powder and salt to the sauteing onions.
Peel and dice 7 medium sized potatoes.
I know, I also hate peeling potatoes. Just do it; it's a good soup.
Throw them into the pot.
Add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring it to a boil.
Lower the soup to a simmer and cover it for twenty minutes.
Let the soup cool while you pick the kids up from school or for 15 minutes, whichever is longer.
Using your handy-dandy immersion blender, blend the soup, but not that much. Leave some potatoes pieces whole, that way no one can accuse you of serving baby food.
The many potato soup recipes I've read all call for adding about a cup of milk at this point to make the soup creamier, but there were a few issues here. First, I wasn't looking for a dairy soup and second, the thought of pouring milk into the soup made me gag. I have milk issues. I might have mentioned them here.
To compromise, I poured in a small amount of unsweetened rice milk. I just couldn't add anymore, it looked to much like milk to me, but if you like a creamier soup - and I don't - feel free to add whatever dairy or pareve milk you have on hand.
Rewarm the soup and serve - I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomatoes. Even though I don't eat bread, I love the whole idea of a soup and a sandwich together. Reminds me of my Bobby Toby and a snow day every time. We almost had a snow day here in Jacksonville today, except that we didn't. But the next county over did, and that must count for something.
It's soup week here in Jacksonville.
You know, cause we have a theme here every week.
It's chilly and rainy out - and it is my understanding that much of the country is under a deep-freeze at the moment, but get this, there's a chance it might snow here later. Really. Like one flake. I'll try and take a picture of it when (if) it happens.
To be honest, I can't even imagine what would happen here if it snows. I'm guessing all traffic would come to an immediate halt and a state of emergency would be called for. I sound like I'm making fun, but I'm not. Well, maybe a little.
All I know is that when it rains here, traffic gets so backed up, it's almost not worth leaving the house. I think snow would just make people cry and the only happy tears would be from the kids.
Ooh, I wonder if we'll have a snow day tomorrow.
Anywho, back to the soups. There are two of them, a potato soup and a chicken-vegetable soup.
I made the chicken and vegetable one last night for dinner; I wasn't at all sure if anyone would eat so I made some emergency-backup-hamburgers (doesn't everyone?) but I was super happily surprised - everyone ate the soup. We never all eat anything, except maybe chocolate chips cookies and you know what, even Josh would prefer oatmeal cookies, so never mind.
And there was only minimal complaining during dinner, which is huge.
I have no picture of this soup, it was that good. I can show you a picture of the empty pot if you like - it's still sitting in the sink, but no soup to show. It's gone - which makes me smile because it got eaten, but also a little sad because I could totally go for some soup right now.
This is how I made it - it's a combination of a plain whatever-you-have-in-the-house vegetable soup and a chicken meatball recipe from Goldie. You remember Goldie, right? She's currently freezing her leggings off in NJ. Maybe she should make some soup. Goldie, make soup, k?
I started by sauteing two large and diced onions in some olive oil. Don't be scared when you see that this whole recipe is a little loosey-goosey. Use what you have and it'll be yummy.
Anyway, saute those onions and throw in some garlic powder. I used a few big shakes but if you like, you can pull on your fancy-pants and mince up several cloves of garlic. Same with the carrots. Over-achievers can feel free to peel and dice up a few carrots. I threw in three handfuls of baby carrots. I also added in some salt, maybe a teaspoon.
Slice up ten or so white mushrooms and a couple of diced zucchini and throw those into pot too and let them cook until they are soft.
Add water to cover the vegetables and then some.
Bring the soup to a boil.
While the soup is coming to a boil, mix 1lb of ground chicken, 1 egg and a little garlic powder, cumin and paprika. Why those spices? Because those are the spices that I use to make schwarma and also, those are the only spices I have. Before we discovered schwarma, the only spices we had were salt and garlic powder. We've really expanded our horizons these past few months.
Form the chicken mixture into little meatballs and carefully place them into the boiling soup. Lower the flame to a low simmer and let the soup cook - mostly covered by a lid or else all the soup will evaporate - for about 40 minutes or until the largest baby carrot is soft.
But, wait, I feel bad because it's very hard to follow a recipe like this, so here is the ingredient list. Amounts are totally at your discretion.
The final verdict here:
The kids ate the liquid from the soup and the chicken meatballs very happily. A couple of kids had a few carrots and once I handed out some leftover challah, three out of four ate the vegetables and didn't even realize it. Josh ate everything but the mushrooms.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's edition of Soup Week: Potato Soup.
Remember about a week ago when I said we had eleventy-thousand oranges and I was going to dehydrate them so we could make orange necklaces in school, kind of like what I found here at CreativeJewishMom.com? No? That's okay. You can refresh your memory here. I can wait.
Anyway, we did - and it was a really fun Tu B'Shvat project, but as it turns out, we didn't need to dehydrate as many oranges as I thought and so we still have a good few hundred oranges sitting around. And sadly, while delicious and sweet, they have pits and so my kids won't go near them with a ten-foot pole unless I take the pits out myself, which is really a very messy and sticky job and I don't like messy and sticky. That's not true, messy, I'm okay with. Sticky, not so much.
Tu B'Shvat, however, worked out really nicely in school - there was a Tu B'Shvat seder with four cups of grape juice per kid (can you spell sugar rush), we made orange necklaces and paper trees that I found here - and ate tons of chocolate covered pomegranates, which, while not technically related to Tu B'Shvat, they're close enough in my book. And very delicious.
There is some good news on the orange front though - we are the "snack family" in the nursery this week and so now the nursery kids are picking seeds from their oranges and eating the rest for snack.
The bad news is that even after bringing some to nursery, handing out several bags to friends and trying to pawn them off on my visiting family all weekend, there are many (many) left.
Can anyone help?
Can oranges be frozen?
Is there a cake I should be baking with them?
The bulk of them are sitting in my laundry basket and I really need to do some laundry. For real.
So much company - and so many kids with ear infections, coughs, colds, sinus infections and the worst - in my opinion - pink eye. I hate pink eye. But by the time you have pink eye from a cold, you're also likely feeling much better. Just not better enough to go to school - which can only mean one thing.
Mommy! I'm Boooorrrred!
So the other day, because we are on a huge Cupcake Wars kick in this house, the girls played Cookie Wars. With playdough. And some beads. And my kitchen cabinets as the ovens and fridges (you know, to cool the cookies down).
And you know what I did? And I mean besides desperately begging children to take their pink medicine and let me put eye drops in the eyes - I sharpened all the pencils in the house. And it made me irrationally happy.
Sounds like I've lost my mind, right?
I haven't. At least I don't think I have.
My kids use pencils every night to do homework; we have what may very well qualify as the mother-load of pencils here and since it's about halfway through the school year it makes sense that not too many pencils had points left on them. They needed to be sharpened. I knew they needed to be sharpened, I thought about sharpening them every day, twice a day. Once when I pass by the bucket of pencils on my out the door in the morning and once more when it's time for homework and we are reduced to using crayons and then also using a crayon to write notes to the teachers apologizing (again) for using crayons to do homework. Oy.
Last week, my awesome sister-in-law was visiting with her kids - and because she is awesome, she began the organizing of my kitchen cabinets that should have been done when we moved in, but was not. We moved in three minutes before Josh started his new job and so in those three minutes, we unpacked as many boxes as we could and shoved as many things into closets and cabinets as we could, and yeah, that's how we've been living for the past six months because I can't seem to catch my breath here.
But then Sara showed up and all of a sudden, I was able to see what I had in my pantry and I must share - I have a lot of almond milk. And tons of Veggie Straws.
I have a lot of cabinets - that's not a complaint, just a happy fact. And Sara was not able to get to all of them while she was here, but I was so inspired by her work that while the girls played Cookie Wars, I tackled the last four un-organized cabinets. And you know what I found? A sharpener.
In the middle of organizing those cabinets, I stopped and sharpened. And sharpened and sharpened. And emptied the sharpener and sharpened some more. My kids were thrilled when they sat down to do homework and I felt accomplished.
You know what's weird too? I felt more accomplished about the pencils than about the cabinets and I think it's cause sometimes (most times?) it's the small tasks on a to-do list that throw up a wall in front of us. And when I say us, I mean me.
The cabinets were a big deal and finally making time to do them felt good. But I didn't think about the cabinets every day. The cabinets were more like something in the back of my mind that I thought would happen whenever. The pencils, though, they're big. They took up precious space in my brain on a daily basis, multiple times a day and I didn't like that.
I think a lot of things are like that in life - small things that take up an inordinate amount of space in my mind. And I feel like makes me super unproductive, so even though it's a little late for new year's resolutions and also I kind if don't believe in resolutions, I'm making one - but I'm not calling it a resolution, just a new way of being.
My new way of being now is to (try) do the small things when they occur to me instead of carrying them around for weeks or months. I could have very easily picked up a sharpener on my frequent trips to target but I didn't.
Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I just never remembered to buy the sharpener. I feel like I need to write things down more.
Okay, so that's it. This is the new non-resolution: I will write things down when they pop into my head.
Now I just need somewhere to write them.
Not being a farm girl myself, I'm not sure I'm using the term "harvest" correctly, but I think I might be. Who knows. But either way, the oranges are ready.
If you've been following along, you might remember that when we moved in, we thought, cool, a big tree in the backyard. And then a few weeks later, we were all like, hmm, something's growing on the tree. They're little and green and what could they be? Turns out they're oranges. About eleventy thousand of them. For real. There are just so many oranges.
They've been falling off the tree for a few weeks now and we've been ignoring them, playing catch around the oranges, sometimes stepping on the mushy ones for fun. But that was only the kids.
And then yesterday, Josh announced that it was orange picking day. And so it was orange picking day.
And now we have so many oranges in the dining room, we can rent a stand at a farmer's market.
Or we can slice the oranges and dry them in our dehydrator and use them for Tu B'Shvat projects. Which is kind of what we're going to do with a bunch of them in school on Thursday. It worked out well when your husband is the school principal.
And since it takes 8 hours to dehydrate them and there are many many oranges, I better get started.
Next Up: A Gazillion Dried Orange Slices.
I thought I was so clever. I did a little research, read a few local mommy blogs and learned that there was not only a skyway and a water taxi, but a trolley, all located downtown. It was almost too good to be true and you know what, I should have known that it would be.
The day started out innocently enough, we drove downtown and were, literally, the only car on the highway. That should have tipped us off that perhaps, on this day before Christmas, everything might be closed.
We parked downtown, easily. Never having been there, we had no idea if it was always this easy to park downtown, or again, if it was a holiday thing but either way, we might have seen this as another tip-off that perhaps today was not the day to be doing these activities.
But no, not us. We were all like, man, this is awesome!, with the kids all excited because last time we drove into the city (that would be New York City), we drove in circles for, I kid you not, 100 minutes, before finally caving and parking in a lot for $18 an hour. Oh, the memories. And the wasted gas. And the money. But I digress.
We parked (and not at a meter, I might add) and were on our merry way to find the water taxi, which sounded like so much fun, even though it was quite chilly that day.
First we found this very gorgeous - and unpolluted - fountain, right in the middle of everything. So strange. Where do people throw their garbage if not into a perfectly good fountain?
And you know what else was missing, besides for the garbage? Homeless people. There weren't any. I saw one guy and I naturally assumed he was homeless because we were in a park and we were downtown and also cause you can't take the New York out of the girl, but he wasn't. He was just doing yoga on the grass, with his backpack and stuff next to him. Just-a-nutty-crunchy-downtown-yoga-kinda-guy. You gotta love that.
We sauntered down to the water taxi, not intending on a specific destination on the water taxi route, just some plain old water-taxi-joy-riding. But it was not to be. The water taxi was closed on the day before Christmas - one of two days the entire year it's closed.
Although, you know what? Now that I'm looking at this picture, the water taxi kind of looks like a floating version of the Electric Mayhem Bus. Frightening? Comforting? Maybe Dr. Teeth is there captain of the boat? Do you really not get the reference? Okay, I'll make it easy for you. Click here.
Moving right along to the skyway. In my head, it was going to be like the monorail at Disneyworld. It's not. It's free, for one. Which should have been warning tip #3 of the day.
Don't get me wrong, the monorail was fun and the kids had a great time. My kids are wonderful human beings and when they see people, all they see are people. I, slightly older and way more jaded, see sketchy people where they just see plain people. I'm guessing that makes me an awful person, but I'm okay with that.
And I'm also okay with the fact that my being happy that my boys and husband were wearing baseball caps over their kippahs also makes me a not wonderful person. But - and this is something that Josh and I vehemently disagree on - having grown up a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I do not believe in the need to flaunt any outward appearances of Judaism, ever, while my husband feels like there is nowhere he would, could or should ever go that might make him feel like taking his kippah off and putting it in his pocket would be a good idea. He's the grandchild of Americans. Huge (huge) difference.
As we exited the skyway, and I pointed out to my children where they should never ever stand, should they ever find themselves riding the skyway again.
What is up with that? You can totally fall off the top of the skyway. No railing, no nothing. And it was at that moment when I remembered that one of those mommy bloggers who went on and on about the fun on the skyway did, in fact, point out that if you are able to buckle your kids into a stroller until the monorail doors have safely closed behind you, you should.
And on to our last stop on transportation day: the trolley. We never made it there. Apparently it's like the train in Staten Island. It doesn't go anywhere you want to go. And the only place we wanted to go was home, to watch a movie and eat popcorn. We tire easily and we get cranky quickly; we're not one of those families that goes out for the day - we like going for a morning, maybe an afternoon. Perhaps a nice lunch, but that's about it for us. But we will return to the Water Taxi. We must. Cause it looks kinda awesome in a rickety old and painted Muppet bus kind of way.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)