It’s December, and I’m Stewed!

 Yesterday was the first day we got snow, which is unusual for my little part of the globe. We generally have had 1-2 feet by now. (You won’t hear me complaining!)  That first snowfall is always the prettiest. And it’s days like these that make me want something warming and homey to take the chill off. So what better way to warm up a cold day than SOUP! (The post title should have been “I’m Souped!”, but “stewed” is funnier! :))

Now, I pride myself on my down-home cooking skills, but there are two things that defy me in the kitchen. Soup and Gravy. I KNOW! What kind of farmer can’t make soup or gravy?  That would be me. So when I get the urge to make soup, I have to follow a recipe, which I generally don’t use, and the dogs and husband run into  other rooms and shudder in fear.  But, after reading this recent report I figured I better learn to make good soup, and quick!!

So, after a brief search I found this recipe for Minestrone soup. Looks yummy, right? And the best part is, I have 90% of those vegetables frozen or canned from my garden last year! YAH!! FOR GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD! I’m not gonna have any of that chemical crap in THIS soup! Let’s hope it’s edible…

After a few tweaks to the recipe, here’s what I came up with:

(This was before the “Cleaning up the Details…” post, as you can see.)

Actually, this is what was left after we ate a lot of it, packed some for lunch, and froze 2 quarts for later scrumptious consumption! It was DELICIOUS! I really think the secret to this deliciousness was the homegrown goodness. So what exactly is in there that I grew with my own little hands?

  1. Yellow squash and zucchini, frozen
  2. Green beans (frozen or canned, I used canned)
  3. Onions
  4. Carrots (actually had to supplement with store bought, because I didn’t have enough. Note to self: Plant more carrots next year!!)
  5. Stewed tomatoes
  6. Tomato sauce, which was seasoned with home-grown oregano and basil.

The only thing I didn’t have was the kidney beans and celery. Maybe I’ll grown those next year?! Oh, and the garlic, but I have garlic in the ground already, since they have to over-winter. (Yeah!!)

Happy December Everyone!


Mom’s “Better-than-the-Fair” Lemonade.

When I was a kid, the BIG excitement in our small town every summer was the County Fair. It was always the first week of August, and you better believe, come Sunday, we were THERE.  There are lots of things I remember loving about the fair…the smells (funnel cake, sausage, animals, sweat…maybe I didn’t love ALL the smells), the games, all the weird-looking people, the french fries… But the thing I have NEVER forgotten, and often crave, is the LEMONADE! I don’t know if it was the hot weather and the icy, fresh taste, or the 1/2 cup of sugar sitting at the bottom of the cup once the lemonade was gone. Either way, I loved it, and still do.  On a recent trip to visit my family, I was reminiscing with my mother about how I loved the lemonade, and it just wasn’t the same anywhere else. With a sly look on her face, she replied “My lemonade is better than the fair!” (And at $5 bucks a cup, a heck of a lot cheaper, too.) Needless to say, I snatched up that recipe, and make it regularly. I love it so much, I knew you would too, so here it is!

What you need:

  • 2 quart pitcher
  • lemon juicer of some sort
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • spoon

To start, be sure to wash your lemons. A secret (not really) to getting the best juice from a lemon is to roll it back and forth on a hard surface, while putting a fair amount of pressure on it. You’ll feel it soften, that’s when its nice and juicy inside!

Then, cut your lemons in half, and juice the heck out of them, right into the pitcher. We aren’t afraid of a few seeds in this house. (Plus they usually just hang out at the bottom of the pitcher anyway.) When I’m done, I just throw the rest of the lemon into the pitcher, but it’s up to you.

Fill the pitcher up with water and add the sugar.  Stir vigorously, or slowly, I don’t think it matters.  🙂 Once everything’s nice and mixed up, sock on the lid, and put ‘er in the fridge. It’s best to let it sit for 1-2 hours, and as with most things, it’s even better the next day.  One word of warning from my mother is to make it in small batches, because it gets a “bite” after a few days. I wouldn’t know, it never lasts that long.