Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Just Had the Best Day

Life is so unpredictable.  I have learned to simply revel in a good day.  We are supposed to get snow, a few inches of it at least, and that always puts me in a festive mood. I had several things I wanted to accomplish today and realized in the late afternoon that I had reached my goal. not one care That was such a happy feeling.  I got my biscotti made yesterday, two batches of the chocolate almond.  Molly made cut-out cookies yesterday, and I made more today.  They are so good with coffee.  Coffee-cup  I got laundry and cleaning done and now everything is nice and cozy for our holiday.

Here's a peek outside my windows tonight.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Every Day Is Laundry Day

I love to do laundry. I don't like trying to get out stains and going through pockets and turning socks right side out, but I love when I have laundry to do. I especially love hanging my laundry on the clothes lines outside. That's just one of my all-time favorite things, but I also love winter-time laundry. We get very cold here and burn wood for our fuel supply 100% of the time. One advantage of perpetual remodeling of a very old house is that there are two heating ducts coming up into my pantry, one of which will eventually be a cold-air return. But for now it's like a blast of heat and things dry very nicely on the one line I have strung from one end of my pantry to the other. I am blessed to have a walk-in room-sized pantry which holds my washer and dryer, a ten-foot stretch of upper and lower cabinets and counter top, and a newly built closet just big enough to be useful as well as a spiffy new cabinet mounted above my washer and dryer. These two things came to our house over Thanksgiving time when Jack took a week off. I love helpful new things, and they are really making things much easier for me.

As I mentioned, we live in an old house and our water supply just comes up from a point in the ground, not a well. And we don't have soft water. All of this makes laundry more interesting. I enjoy the smell of April Fresh Downy and have been using that rather more than I had because I was needing the clothes to smell fresher. But, I've been doing some searching on the Internet while hunting for better homemaking ideas and skills, and ran across some horrible info on the evils of fabric softener and dryer sheets. Whether this is true or not, I am more inclined to believe it to be factual, so this is just one more way I can simplify things and have them be healthier at the same time. I read that vinegar is a wonderful fabric softener so I've been washing every load with vinegar in the rinse for days and days now. I'm quite satisfied! The clothes just smell nice and clean, and I like that. According to what I've read, just a 1/4 cup - 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle will soften your laundry naturally and also rinses the detergent out more effectively. Here is an interesting link to a discussion on: Is there a way to make homemade fabric softener?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cheddar Baked Potato Soup

I found this recipe on Ezine Articles.  I was really excited to try it because I'm on the lookout for some new favorite recipes.  This one is definitely a new favorite.  The whole family was crazy about it.  It was so tasty! and I loved it because it was so quick and easy to make.  I used my cast iron Dutch Oven because I love using it to make soups.  And something else that really saves time...baking the potatoes in the microwave instead of the oven.  I love it that they're cooking and ready for me by the time I have the rest of the soup ready to put together.  Just cut them in half after microwaving and scoop the potato out like you would for twice-baked potatoes and when you add it to the soup, by the time it's done most of the potato is broken up and what isn't is a delightful tasting nugget of flavored potato.  I used 5 tablespoons of flour and it made a nicely thickened soup.  I also learned that heavy cream is whipping cream.  I thought so, but I wasn't certain. Next time I want to involve some bacon in this recipe.  It doesn't list it in the ingredients but mentions it in the making of the soup.  Yum.  Here is the article written by Diane Watkins.

Cheese and Potato Soup - A Recipe for Cheddar Baked Potato Soup That Is Out Of This World by Diane Watkins.

This cheddar potato recipe makes a soup that is creamy and smooth with true baked potato flavor.  You can dress this up with a dollop of sour cream and chives or crumbled bacon, but I like it just as it is.

The flour serves to thicken the soup.  I don't like my soup real thick, so I usually use less. If you like a real thick soup, increase the amounts to 6 tablespoons or a little more.  The important thing when adding flour is to cook it in the butter before adding the liquid.  This will avoid that raw flour flavor that can result if the flour is not completely cooked.

It is important that the soup not boil once the cream is added.  Boiling will cause the cream to separate.  If this is a problem for you, wait to add the cream just before serving and only reheat.

Cheddar Baked Potato Soup Recipe

6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup yellow onions, diced
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups hot chicken stock
4 cups baked potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
1 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup diced green onions (white part only)
Additional grated cheese and chopped parsley for garnish

1. Cook onions in butter over medium-high heat until transparent, about 3 minutes.

2. Add flour, stirring to prevent lumps. Cook 3 - 5 minutes until just golden brown.

3. Add chicken stock gradually, whisking to prevent lumps, until liquid thickens.

4. Reduce heat to simmer and add potatoes, cream, chopped bacon, parsley, garlic, basil, salt, pepper sauce and black pepper.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Do not boil.

5. Add grated cheese.  Heat until cheese melts and soup is smooth.

Garnish each serving as desired with grated cheese and chopped parsley.  You can also use a dollop of sour cream and chives or crumbled bacon.

Do you need more easy soup recipe ideas?  Sign up for our newsletter at Easy Soup and Stew Recipes from Easy Southern Cooking and get quick and healthy recipes delivered to your email regularly.

Are you interested in traditional southern cooking?  Diane has just finished a free cookbook of her favorite southern recipes.  Download Easy Southern Favorites today.  These recipes are guaranteed to have them begging for more.  Best of all, its free!

Diane Watkins is a traditional southern style cook.  She enjoys cooking, teaching, and writing about good food and family.  For more information on southern cooking and recipes visit her website at Easy Southern Cooking

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