Sunday, February 24, 2008

Taco Soup

For Groundhog's Day, we went to Colin and Sam's for fun, food, and games. Sam made Taco Soup and the DH wondered why we never had that. It's one of the easiest things to make and takes all of five minutes to put together. Add to that that it tastes great and you have the makings of a great, easy meal.

Taco Soup

1 pound hamburger
1 onion chopped
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 can whole tomatoes
1 16-ounce can corn (I use ½ cup frozen corn)
1 small can green chilies (I never use this much – put a little in and then taste it)
1 package taco seasoning
1 can small red beans
1 can chili beans
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown hamburger and pour off grease. Add rest of the ingredients and simmer. Garnish with chips, grated cheese, sour cream, and avocado.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Master Butcher's Singing Club

Well, I finally finished it. Last night, I read the final pages of The Master Butcher's Singing Club. It only took me since, what, October? I know, pa-the-TIC! It was a pretty good read, even if it did take me a long time. I'll blame it on changing jobs and added stress, but I think the book just didn't move along for me the way I would have liked.

The characters were all well-developed and I enjoyed the story. There's a nice little twist at the end too, in case you haven't read it. This isn't a spoiler, so don't worry, but it really didn't end as i expected.

One thing that I think many of you would appreciate is that all of the sex scenes are implied or alluded to, without any explicit descriptions. There is some homosexual love, but again, not described in any kind of lurid detail. The themes aren't for children (as in, I don't think anyone under 15 would be interested, not that it's too graphic or anything like that).

I also enjoyed the German references, but others might not enjoy those as much. Any time a foreign language is used in the book, it's not translated. Either you figure it our from the context, or you don't.

All in all, I think I would recommend it. Hopefully it wouldn't take you as long to read as it took me. Also, I'm happy to loan it out or give it to someone else who wants to read it. Just let me know. First come, first served!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Soul Food

My last post and the comments from my sibs on the merits of upside-down hamburger pie just got me thinking about those staple meals from my childhood that I love to remember. There were some I loved and some I hated.

We had a rule that you had to eat dinner with the family, but you didn't have to eat anything you didn't want to. My mom never made special stuff for anyone who didn't like what we were having for dinner that night, but we could get a bowl and eat cereal if that sounded better than whatever she cooked. Or we could make our own sandwich. Or whatever.

Anyway... these are the foods from my childhood that worked for me and didn't:

Loved it
  • Ramen noodles with all the fixin's -- my mom would fry some egg, cut shallots and other vegetables and put together a whole spread to go with the noodles. I've never had as much fun with Ramen on my own.
  • Chili -- mom would make chili on Saturday while we were all up at Bogus Basin skiing. We'd come home and have chili to warm us from the inside out.
  • Homemade Bread -- who could pass this up? When I was young, mom would make a batch of bread dough and make cinnamon rolls and bread from it. It was divine. A loaf would never last more than the day. Whatever was left in the evening, dad would eat as bread and milk for dinner.
  • Tacos -- this one might make you laugh. There was a time when mom put shredded potatoes in the taco meat to make it stretch. She always seasoned it with the Schilling taco seasoning packet and I still love that stuff to this day.
  • Spaghetti -- I think this might be my mom's specialty. I've started her spaghetti more times than I could count, but I never finished it and I still can't make spaghetti taste as good as hers. The secret ingredient was ketchup, but even knowing that isn't enough for me to duplicate it.
  • Fried Chicken and new potatoes -- this is my all-time favorite home meal. It's the meal to eat in August when the potatoes are ready from the garden. After making the chicken, mom would make gravy from the drippings. YUM! We might have corn on the cob too, just to make it the most amazing dinner on the planet.

Hated it
  • Upside-down hamburger pie -- I think the recipe came either from the bisquick box or the Campbell's tomato soup label. The meat is seasoned with onion and tomato soup and then you put it in a pie dish and put a layer of bisqick dough on top and then bake it. I just thought it was horrible. As you can see from my previousl post, however, the family is quite divided on this topic.
  • Potato soup -- I didn't actually hate it, but dad likes his clam chowder without the clams and with no thickening. Basically, it's the same recipe as clam chowder with bacon and potatoes, but no clams. I always wished we could have it thickened up instead of milky. Mom liked to make what dad liked though. I'm actually supportive of that position now though.
  • Grandma Deschamps' dinner contributions -- my family will totally laugh about this. When Grandma came to visit she always thought we should eat more vegetables. My favorite horror food was when she made vegetable soup and then put it through the blender thinking we would be more likely to eat it if we couldn't identify any of the vegetables. It was horrible.
  • Steak -- this is something I only hated at home. We didn't get steak very often, but it was usually a pretty thin cut and my dad like his well done. As a result, we all got ours well done. I thought I didn't like steak until I was in high school and had my first medium rare steak. Now I love the stuff.
  • Fish sticks -- I think we only ate these when mom and dad were going out for dinner on their own. I may have liked them at the time, but now I really don't like fish sticks.

In the end, what I really loved about dinner growing up was that we always ate dinner together as a family. I have fond memories of spilling milk, and then spilling more, having dad make a rule about no singing at the dinner table, and sharing the highlight of our day. It fed the sould then and I still look forward to dinner with the whole family now.

Monday, February 04, 2008

My Elementary School Journal

When I was in elementary school, I got a journal for Christmas. I think I was in about the 4th grade. I would write in the journal every day for about two months. The entries are mesmerizing. I was quite the writer. Brevity was my strong point. Here's an example:
"Today I went to school. After school I went home and mom made me practice the piano. We had upside-down hamburger pie for dinner. It was gross."
After weeks on end of that kind of entry, there would be a gap of several weeks or months. Then I would start up again with an entry that looked like this.
"Sorry I haven't written in weeks. Over the last few weeks I've gone to school, gone to church, played with my friends, and we went to see Granny and Papa twice."
That was my catch up.

Well, it seems that I've become the same person in my blog. Hopefully I just had a small absence and will be back to the regular blogging now. I sure enjoy it when all the folks I read in blogs keep posting. I guess that means I should do the same.

Here's to more blogging in 2008!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

It's time for the Zout post to go. Here's on to better and more frequent posting.

I'm a day late, but yesterday was the Third Annual Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading. I read about it on the Duchess' blog and thought it would be a great way to get back to posting. I want to share a poem that was shared with me once when I doubted I could what I needed to do to get through some trying times. The times are different now, but the poem still seems quite timely to me now.

by Kay Ryan

A chick has just so much time
to chip its way out, just so much
egg energy to apply to the weakest spot
or whatever spot it started at.
It can’t afford doubt. Who can?
Doubt uses albumen
at twice the rate of work.
One backward look by any of us
can cost what it cost Orpheus.
Neither may you answer the stranger’s knock;
you know it is the person from Porlock
who eats dreams for dinner,
his napkin stained the most delicate colors.