This Saturday was the first in three weeks that I haven’t had to work.  Except that I scheduled myself to help my parents paint the basement at my grandparents’ house.  Not exactly a relaxing break, but since they are “old and decrepit” (according to my brother), they don’t put in 12 hour workdays either, so I did the painting and when I was done (about 3 hours later) we went home!  And I went to Home Depot and bought stuff to make a temporary potting bench for Oatmeal’s room.  I need somewhere to start all of my tomato seedlings.

I sort of went overboard with tomato seeds.  I found a company that specializes in different tomato varieties, and ended up with 7 new species to try.  And they recommend starting them inside.  And my best light comes in to the 2 bedrooms that have south-facing windows.  Which means I have added the bench to Oatmeal’s room (and if I need more space, I will have to add a second one to my room)!  The board the plants will sit on is just under the window and higher than Oats will attempt to jump, so they will be safe from bun-splorations.  He was intrigued by the new additions to his space and took a nap under the bench this afternoon.  I think he likes it.  One of my renovation thoughts is to add some shelving/cabinets under the window in that room, so this is like trying out that idea in a not-so-permanent way.  Plus, plants!

After carrying all the concrete blocks into the house I was even more exhausted (I’d already been to the gym prior to heading over to my folks’ place).  I fell asleep while reading, but when I got up to brush my teeth, I couldn’t stop thinking about this idea I had for a drawing, and that distracted me for another hour at least (where I should have just done it, or worked on it, but instead tried to sleep)…which put me in bed at 10:30.  That was fine since I had to get up early this morning to start my laundry before meeting a friend for a hike.

We did not find dog hat, though we did revisit part of the woods where I lost it.  It was a beautiful morning – steadily climbing into the 60s – and we hiked a little over 4 miles (some of it very muddy).  Almost fell asleep while we were waiting to get seated for brunch, but quickly rallied once I had a bite of my sandwich.  PK recommended an apple bread gouda ham sandwich.  The apple bread would have made an excellent French toast all on its own.  I somehow missed the “ham” part – not my favorite, but the combination was still good.  It came with sweet potato fries.  Lovely.

A few more errands after that, then home where I continued the laundry and collected a bunch of small projects that I dumped on the floor in the living room to finish Once and For All.  Once the floor is empty, the projects will be done and I can go to bed.  Because SLEEP.

I wish I had had more energy for this day, because I *could* have gone for a bike ride – it was warm enough out.  And I could have had a fire (lots of wood/sticks came down in my yard in the past 3 months).  And I could have cleaned the house.  But, instead, I am cataloging my seeds, planning my garden, folding my laundry, and baking cookies.

I still need to draw the thing.



During my last riding lesson, Hawk tossed me out of the saddle when he saw gremlins midway across the arena (I’m half way through “Centered Riding,” by Sally Swift which suggests that this is a real possibility, especially if you forget to breathe – this is only partly tongue-in-cheek; you do transfer a lot of your feelings to your horse if you are tense, and one of the signs of tension is holding your breath).  He bounced to the left, and I pretty much hovered in the air above the spot where his back had been.  And then I didn’t.  It was one of those things that happened so fast it’s hard to remember/reconstruct the event.  I thought initially that it was my left foot that got stuck in the stirrup, but after thinking about it and examining the bruise on my right knee, it appears that it was my right foot.  Hawk went left, I went off to the right.  He was facing me when I fell, and I almost caught myself, but couldn’t get my foot out of the right stirrup.  I landed on my butt, so, it was a well-padded landing, and had a sore cheek/right hip for a couple days (plus the bruise on the side of my right knee).  Otherwise, I’m fine.  We did a lap or so with me leading him on the ground and then I got back in the saddle and we went back to our lesson without any more shenanigans.  Things actually clicked better after that and I had Hawk at a nice slow trot going both directions.  Briefly disappointed at the beginning of our lesson because we had been looking forward to using the larger arena, but a therapy patient unexpectedly showed up for his lesson, so we got reassigned.  I am hoping that when it gets warmer we’ll be able to ride outside (I think they have an outdoor arena) and have some more room to work with.

I’ve got another lesson coming up this week.  It would be nice if I could find my rhythm again.  I have lots of theory in my head, and exercises to help me practice, plus I know I’m capable of it since I’ve done it before.  <– Having done it before is what makes it frustrating since I’m not quite there right now.  Maybe I’ll ask my instructor if we can do balancing exercises while she lounges the horse – I can practice dropping my stirrups and sitting and posting a trot, and raising my arms to work on centering.

Soupsperiment 14

Chile Relleno Soup, from House of Yumm (recipe here)

Go check out the pictures of this NOW.  I’ll wait.  Also, it opens in another window, so you won’t have a problem finding your way back here…

Are you back?  Good.  If you like chile rellenos, you will love this soup.  I made a few changes – added 1 c zucchini to the soup to make it thicker/chunkier, used 1/2 c half & half instead of the heavy cream, used 3/4 c milk instead of 1 c, skipped the chile relleno topping entirely, used 1/4 c flour, and 1/2 c cilantro (chopped).

I did top this sometimes with cheese.  Sometimes I left it off.  (As I ate it through the week).  It’s got a nice spiciness to it that’s very warming (and would make you feel better if you had a cold).

I’ll definitely make this one again – probably without the milk & half & half.  Thicken with cauliflower, maybe, and continue to top with cheese.  Guacamole, too!  Yumm, indeed.

Soupsperiment 13

It all gets wonky now.  I was keeping track of my soupsperiments on Facebook, but figured I was boring people to tears with my soup achievements and sloppy food photography.  Really, good food photography can be very involved and I just don’t have the patience for it when all I really want to do is TASTE my creations and ENJOY them.  This is also a better way for me to keep track of them, since FB doesn’t provide the organizational structure to do that.  I did end up throwing all of the photos into an album, but when I moved them, I lost all the notes that went along with the original posts.  Hassle.

The point is that I’ve continued to make soups, but I haven’t been real good about which ones were made when, so that’s the part that gets wonky.  I *can* tell you what I thought of them, and I can reference the actual sites they came from (since I printed these puppies out, instead of jotting them down in the soupsperiments notebook <– also my beekeeping notebook/journal, also, also running out of space DANGER!).  And I haven’t been taking pictures of anything.  I’ve just been falling on finished soups like a starving animal.  I mean, that’s probably worth documenting as well (maybe even more so than the soups), so if anyone would like to volunteer to be in the same room with me when the soups come to completion, you’re welcome to do so.

* * *

Cauliflower Chowder (after much ado), from Damn Delicious (recipe here)

This was delicious the day I made it, but taking it for lunches wasn’t great.  The bacon got a little water-logged in the soup.  Because of my problems with spatter, I made the bacon in the oven.  Where, I presume it spattered to its heart’s content.  I also used foil on my pan, so the cleanup wasn’t too awful.  Look at how smart I’m getting with my cooking!

I skipped adding flour for thickening.  What I *would* do in the future is puree some of the cauliflour and use that to thicken the soup.  Probably you don’t even need milk either.  I’d leave that out as well in future versions.  Yes, bacon, all the way.

Soupsperiment 12

Sausage Lentil Soup, from Kathy’s Kitchen Table (recipe here)

No pictures of this one, so you’ll have to look at the ones on Kathy’s Kitchen Table for reference.  This is another (rare) recipe that I followed exactly.  The stars aligned or something.  And coincidentally I just whacked something on the keyboard and accidentally right-aligned this whole entry.  Stoppit!  (Fixed now.)

I don’t have any notes for this one either.  WHY EVEN BOTHER POSTING THIS??  It was an ok soup.  I think a more exciting sausage might have given it some more flavor.  Pro-tip, you can pick up Italian “sausage” pre-sausageified at some grocery stores (i.e. without the skin), which makes it easier on you when you have to remove the casings.  There are none!  The place I stopped – not my usual sausage supplier – didn’t have any.  Ask at the meat counter if you don’t see it out.  They may have it there.

Soupsperiment 11

MushroomSoup11 (2)Mushroom Soup, from Life Currents (recipe here)

My mom heated up some canned mushroom soup as a snack while we were waiting on Turkey day dinner, and after looking at it all I could think about was all of the delectable recipes for mushroom soup I’d seen on Pinterest.  The canned version was just not what I was hoping for.  All my notes for this recipe say are “Very Good.”  And I told my mom about it and offered to make it for her in the future (because we should all have a mushroom soup that is Very Good and not canned – unless you’re canning  your own?).

I wasn’t able to find all of the varieties of mushrooms it called for, so I ended up with baby bellas primarily.  I did find the dried Shitake mushrooms, but almost didn’t get them because they were pretty expensive.  Fungus should not cost $6 for a little bag.  I guess when compared to truffles…I have no leg to stand on.  Still!!!

The recipe suggests running the dried mushrooms through your food processor.  I tried chopping them on the cutting board instead.  This was ok, except for the part where mushroom pieces shot across the room (I need to work on my knife skills, obvs).  You probably get a thicker soup if you use the food processor method, though.

I will definitely make this one again.

Soupsperiment 10

Soup10_CreamyTomatoTortillaCreamy Tomato Tortellini Soup, from Key Ingredient (recipe here)

I love it when I look at a recipe’s ingredients list and just write “nope” next to the things that I was never in a million years going to use.  This happened a couple times with this one.

They weren’t kidding when they said this one was creamy.  It was too creamy.  I tasted it before I added the creamy ingredients (I did a 1/2 c of half & half and a 1/2 c of sour cream instead of 2 cups of half & half – once again substituting for not having enough of something and too much of something else) and it was amazing.  And then after the creamy stuff…and almost cried.  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t as good anymore.

Some other substitutions – I didn’t like the ingredients in the condensed tomato soup, so I left that out.  Instead I used a lb of tomatoes, 1 14 oz can of tomato paste, and 1 can of Trader Joe’s Tuscano Marinara to get in my tomatoes.  And I had a bigger package of tortellini than the recipe called for, so I just used the whole thing rather than have a few left over.

My ideal version would be Tomato Tortellini Soup – nix the cream.

Hah.  I’m not sure what that little green leaf is in the middle of the soup.  I didn’t intend to garnish it…