Soup is the Answer

Cold Snowy Ohio, Noel Lizotte, 2011

Cold weather this week! More snow, highs in upper teens, lows in the single digits. That’s the forecast for north central Ohio.  This is the kind of weather that makes me want to hunker down. I went to the library the other day at stocked up on books and movies. If you haven’t already, check out your local library’s selection of DVD and VCR videos. We’ve taken advantage of the library as a source of free entertainment and been able to watch up to date movies. We also have watched our share of National Geographic specials! 😉

When it’s especially cold and snowy outside, I like to curl up with a book on the sofa and spend the day reading. Or, I start cooking. The kitchen turns into a warm, scented sanctuary against the outside. Today I made Vegetable Beef Soup and can’t wait to serve up a bowl for supper!

The secret to this soup is easy ingredients. All I really had to do was combine them and then sit down with my book and wait for the flavorful scents to drift into the living room!  One other trick, I found my butcher carries packages of beef cut for stew. This is a great way to simplify recipe preparation. I bought a pound of meat and just had to put it in the crockpot. No messy cutting up a roast and worrying that I might not have the knife sharp enough or sanitizing the cutting board.

I thought about adding potatoes to the mix, but the ones I had on hand were not fit for consumption.  I tossed em. If you’ve got potatoes, I’d say add them. They’re a sure way to bulk up the soup without too much extra cost. The mixed vegetable package from the freezer always works fine. I did find a bag of frozen tomatoes from last summer. I added them.  They’ll give the soup some extra vitamins and maybe a little summertime flavor.

So, when I finish the vampire story I’m reading, supper will be ready and the family happy! Soup is the answer!

Vegetable Beef Soup, Noel Lizotte, 2011

A New Use for Your Microwave Defrost Feature

First of all, you’ll want to check your owner’s manual for specifics on the defrost feature. I’m not techologically or technically inclined when it comes to household appliances. I know how to use the ones I have. That’s it. Some features I have never used.

The defrost button on most microwaves is intended to be used to thaw frozen foods. I’ve had good luck with vegetables and hamburger. The only thing about defrosting hamburger, I’ve discovered I need to keep an eye on it or I end up with the whole thing slow cooked brown and it’s no good for patties or what ever  I had intended.

I learned a new use for the defrost feature recently though and I wanted to share it with you!

You can melt chocolate chips in your microwave and *not burn them*!! Did you know that?! Here’s how it works.

Place the chips in a microwave safe bowl. We used glass.

Set the timer for 3 minutes and hit the defrost button.

After 3 minutes, there was no change in the chips and I was thinking “Uh, yeah. right. this is going to work.”

Repeat the 3 minute steps a few times. I discovered the chips were starting to look a little soft but the bowl WAS. NOT. GETTING. WARM.   “hmmm, maybe this will work.”

Repeat the 3 minute steps a few more times and LO and BEHOLD the chips were all melted. They were not burnt. Not even scorched. The bowl was still not hot.

I was surprised.

I was educated.

I’m sharing this tip with you.

Toss out your double boilers. – well, on second thought, don’t you might find another use for them. Like melting wax to make candles, or melting sugar for hard tack, or something…

Bormioli Rocco Pompei 9-Piece Nested Bowl Set can be ordered from my Amazon store

OH Fudge!

Fudge is one of those treats that you either “can’t get enough of” or “could care less”. I’m positive there are just these two groups of fudge pepole in the world. Others may disagree or even debate that there are many sub-fudge-categories. As in, chocolate, peanut butter, etc … but that is an argument for another day.

It seems to me that when you take a plate of fudge into the office, some people are elbowing their way through the crowd to get a tiny bite of this delicious sugary creamy gooey goodness. Or, they don’t even turn to look when somebody says, “Oh! Fudge!”

I’ve never had much luck making fuge. I’ve tried a couple times. I think the first few batches failed because I’ve never owned or borrowed a candy thermometer. I’ve heard that’s pretty much a requirement type tool to have if you’re making candies. Perhaps that’s why most of the recipes you’ll find on here for candy don’t involve complicated processes.

Shirley makes the best fudge. That’s a statement you’ll hear repeated throughout my workplace every December. She does make a pretty durn good fudge. I have to admit. She makes two flavors – chocolate and peanut butter. She says the secret is to use very high quality ingredients. She is insistent on the type of sugar she uses. Maybe it’s her attention to the details that makes her fudge so yummy.

Laraina makes a super easy fudge. I love that about it! It tastes good too! This fudge is more creamy than sweet. She made a batch for me this week. Let me tell you … this recipe is perfect for those days when you want to have a cuppa tea with your friend and spend more time chatting than cooking. It’s a fail proof recipe – I’m telling you … there’s nobody more distracted than Noel and Laraina when we’re drinking tea and yakking!

So, try the recipes I’ve added for fudge and let me know how they turned out for you!

Laraina's Fudge, Noel Lizotte, 2010