Soup’s On!

I woke up yesterday morning to the sound of rain pelting on the roof and a chilly breeze coming through an open window. It felt like a cozy kind of day so I dug out one of my quilts to throw over the couch in my guest room/office and made plans to curl up with a good book later in the day.IMG_0334

My next thought was soup! I hadn’t made a pot of soup in months and this seemed like the perfect day. Vegetable beef soup has always been one of my favorites and it’s so simple to make. I put some chopped meat in a pot with beef stock (you can substitute broth or bouillon and water) and began chopping my soup starters – onions, celery and carrots.
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You can then add any veggies you like/have on hand. I found half a yellow squash, a single ear of corn, potatoes and some broccoli. I just added these to the pot along with 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste, a dash of garlic powder and some tomato sauce. Done! I let this simmer until the vegetables are tender.
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At this point, I was thinking how well my mother’s old fashioned Irish soda bread would go with the soup. Out came the mixing bowls, recipe and ingredients and in about 10 minutes I had a loaf in the oven

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Of course, at this point, the sun came out.
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But, we still enjoyed our delicious vegetable beef soup topped with slivers of asiago cheese and a little drizzle of olive oil and the delicious, crusty, dense Irish soda bread slathered with butter. Oh, yes, this bread must be slathered with butter. It’s the rule! It must not be broken!

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It was great for lunch too!

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MOM’S IRISH SODA BREAD

Grease a 4 x 10 bread pan and preheat oven to 375

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 stick butter
1 egg
1 1/3 cup milk
1 cup raisons
3 tbs caraway seeds (optional)

Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Cut softened butter into mixture using your fingertips. Add raisons and caraway seeds.
In a separate bowl, mix egg and baking soda into milk. Add to flour mixture and knead together with fingertips. You may need a bit more flour to take out the stickiness.

Bake 55 minutes, until a golden brown. If needed, bake an additional 5 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this as much as do. Have a wonderful day!

Susan

Subtle Changes

IMG_0401IMG_0385IMG_0397IMG_0400IMG_0406IMG_0407IMG_0408IMG_0411IMG_0414IMG_0416I just love the way one season gently slips into another here in the northeast. Daylight turns into darkness a bit earlier, the tops of the trees are turning from dark green to beautiful shades of orange and gold and the temperature has dipped just low enough to make you reach for a sweater when you wander outdoors for an early morning walk.  I’ve noticed pots of geraniums and petunias being replaced with beautiful mums and i’ve even spied a few pumpkins on neighboring doorsteps –  all reminders that Autumn is just a week away.
The other day, I stopped at one of our local farm stores. My timing was perfect – they had just pressed their first batch of apples for the best apple cider I have ever tasted! Though they still have luscious peaches and blueberries, apples are definitely the main event. Besides the cider, I also picked up some honey crisp apples (my favorites) and peaches. Their baked goods, which are all homemade, are absolutely delicious – apple crumb cake, apple pies and turnovers and, of course, apple cider donuts – and though I passed on them this trip, they inspired me to think about doing some baking myself.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that they have loads of seasonal veggies too?  I think I was so mesmerized by all the sweet treats, I barely noticed the “good for you” stuff.
So, this week I’ve decided to slip into cooking and baking mode and to make an effort to spend more time outdoors, reveling in the beautiful changes taking place. How about you? What are you doing to enjoy this perfect time of year?

Have a wonderful week!

Susan

Sweet Sundays

IMG_0165IMG_0338IMG_0339IMG_0341IMG_0342IMG_0343IMG_0344IMG_0314IMG_0352IMG_0354IMG_0361IMG_0232Oh, how I love Sundays!  I have such wonderful childhood memories of the delicious smells of bacon, eggs and coffee perking on the stove and my whole family gathered around the table for breakfast together.   Afterward, my mother would shoo us from the kitchen and do all the clean-up, bake something special for dessert  for later in the day and start the process of making a wonderful Sunday dinner with all the trimmings.

Well, I still love Sundays but these days I enjoy the day a little differently.  I give myself permission to spend the day exactly how I please.  I might pour a big cup of coffee and enjoy a bit of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday – there are usually some wonderful lessons to be learned from her guests.    I also love strolling through the farmer’s market.  Aside from an amazing selection of vegetables and fruits, all grown locally, you can find an assortment of freshly made cheese,  incredible baked goods, honey, eggs, handmade ravioli and wine from local wineries.  I always leave with a bag full of goodies.

Sunday dinners are sometimes meals that rival those my mother made all those years ago. Sometimes, they’re as simple as tomato sandwiches with mayo or maybe with some homemade pesto and mozzarella.  And then there are those days when I feel like leaving the cooking to someone else and we’ll call for take-out or stop in at a favorite restaurant.  It’s my call.

Taking a walk, reading, spending time with my husband and Molly and my daughter and her family are all the things that make my Sundays special.  Oh, and maybe an hour or so of my secret pleasure – watching the Housewives series on BRAVO – they really make me appreciate my simply, cozy life!

Enjoy your Sundays!

Susan

 

 

Simple Joys Of Summer

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Oh, how I love the long lazy days of summer!  As I watched a few dried leaves swirling down the road on an early morning breeze, I was reminded that there are only a few short weeks left in August.  I’ve decided to savor every single moment.

Life seems so much easier this time of year, doesn’t it?  I love being able to slide into a pair of flip flops before heading out the door.  Our meals are so much less complicated too – a slice of watermelon for lunch on hot days and a big salad  made with goodies from the farmer’s market along with some fresh, crusty bread  for dinner.  Yum.  Oh, and did I forget  to mention the homemade ice cream from the local dairy?(Sigh)

Living in a townhouse, we don’t have much of a backyard to speak of, but we do have a deck and a tiny (about 10′ x 16′) fenced in courtyard – I call this my secret garden.  It’s the perfect spot to sit outdoors and sip morning coffee, read, write or plan projects for the cooler months ahead.  I’m thinking of a brightly colored afghan for the living room and maybe a patchwork throw – very ambitious planning!

For now, I think I’ll just enjoy a walk around the neighborhood, taking pleasure in all the lush greenery and the bright colors of the last of the summer flowers.  Have a wonderful day!

Susan