Friday, October 31, 2008

Sisters and soup

My sister McKenzie designed this blog's header. She's talented, huh? She is a mom, wife, artist, seamstress, florist, pianist and amazing cook. She is my only sister and older than me, so she has taken care of me a great deal in my life.

I got to this point toward the end of college when I started losing a lot of weight because I had no time to eat. I was taking 19 credits at school, working at least 20 hours a week as a cleaning lady and 20 more hours as an intern at The Herald Journal. I would run from one job to the next and back. At the end of all the chaos one day, I dropped by my sister's and she welcomed me in with a large bowl of corn chowder. I started slurping the stuff down and didn't stop until her humongous pot of soup was empty. I apologized for eating everything. She said she didn't mind but, as another starving college student, I'm sure she was counting on that chowder for a few nights of leftovers. I felt so full and so loved by my sister.

So here are two of McKenzie's soup recipes to fill you up in every way:

Corn Chowder
6 ears of sweet corn

6 c. chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
1 russet potato, peeled cut into 1/2 inch dice

2 cups of milk

salt and pepper

1/4 lb bacon, 1/4 inch dice

1 medium sized onion, 1/4 inch dice

4 medium-sized ripe tomatos seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice

1/4 cup slivered fresh basil

strip corn from cobs. simmer cobs, broth & garlic in a pot, partially covered about 10 min. Discard cobs and garlic. Stir in potatoes half of corn. Simmer until potatoes are tender 10-12 min. then puree. Transfer to a bowl, stir in milk and salt and pepper. Cook bacon in a pot, add onion and cook 10 min. Add reserve soup and remaining corn, then simmer 8 min. Stir in tomatoes and basil and serve immediately.

(I didn't use the bacon, and I can't remember what I did with the onions, but it's probably what it said just without the onions.)

Here's a tomato soup recipe (pictured) copied from her blog. I made this the other night and it was delicious.

Tomato soup

1(14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small carrot, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chicken broth

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (or dill)

1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 15 minutes. (times double for doubled recipe) Add the roasted chopped canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add basil and cream, if using (I always do). Puree in your blender or with a hand held immersion blender until smooth.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Clothing capital

Four years ago, this jacket screamed to me in the store window at Anthropologie. I stopped and turned to the ladies I was with and said, "That is my jacket." I ran in the store and unseen forces led me directly to it. I tried the jacket on and bought it. I might have called Ryan, my brand new husband, somewhere in between, but that was only to inform him that I was making a great investment. No no could talk me out of getting it.

Since then I have quit a job, obtained a new job, graduated from college, retired for a few years, moved across the country, had a baby and spent almost two years as a mom. And I still don the jacket frequently. I have never worn an item of clothing so many times. There are permanent wrinkles at the elbows and I have replaced almost every button, but it is in pretty good shape for the battles I put it through.

Every few months I clean my closet out and throw out as many clothes as I possibly can so I can whine to Ryan, "I have noooo clothes. I HAVE to go shopping." I'm pretty good at ridding my life of old clothes. But I think I might just keep this jacket until it screams at one of my daughters or granddaughters.

Until then I'm looking for a new investment. Some Christian Louboutin pumps maybe? Ryan?
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Campaign quiz from a swing state voter

"Obama, McCain, Obama, McCain, McCain, McCain, Obama, Obama, McCain, Obama."

Question: Who said this and why?

a). Me keeping track of which commercial belongs to who during one commercial break.

b). Me reading campaign signs stuck in lawns while I'm driving down the street in my Arlington neighborhood.

c). Me mumbling, gone insane after having to listen to these names repeated over and over for the last two years.

d). Me trying to decide who to vote for in SIX DAYS.


a). Correct... but I exaggerated a bit. While there are not usually 10 campaign commercials during one commercial break, they do make up a large part of it. And Obama is definitely winning on that front. He should be praising Allah ;) for all of those campaign funds.

b). Correct, again. First thing's first: Almost two years ago, I moved from the reddest state in the country to yet another historically conservative state. So I was surprised to find out that we are now a swing state, meaning Virginia is up for grabs! Nowhere is this more apparent than in my neighborhood in Northern Virginia. On my street, where the majority of lawns have campaign signs proudly planted in the grass, the race is a dead heat. And it's crazy to see how many times these candidates and their running mates have visited our area. As a lifelong Cache Valley, Utahan, I am used to seeing campaign signs for only one candidate. And don't ever expect even that candidate to visit Utah before an election. That would be a waste of time. For once in my life, my vote for a presidential contender will matter.

c). You are right again (Oh you are good)! I cannot wait for this longest election ever to be over.

d). Cha right! I know who I'm voting for. Do you?Campaign signs along the street on which I live. I love how they are planted right next to each other, on the very corner of each home's property line. I would love to see how these neighbors get along.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"It's vintage!"

Ever since the momentous Saturday morning when I found some $2 leather merlot-colored boots at a yard sale in my neighborhood, I can't seem to leave the local thrift stores alone.

Several times a month I drive to the Goodwill, maneuver the door handle with my sleeve, brave the old-lady's-closet smell and sift through stuff that other people have discarded. I have books, toys, clothing and furniture all thanks to thrift stores and people who dump their junk on the side of the road.

So why the obsession with used goods? The price (or lack thereof) likely has something to do with it. I guess I also like to think that my inner Project Runway fanatic loves to create something new and chic from something old. And the Rachel Zoe in me craves the feeling I get when someone begs to know where I got that fabulous skirt and I get to tell them, "It's vintage."