Clean out the fridge soup

On the day I’m writing this it is cold. Below 40 in the morning in south Florida cold. I broke out the blueberry (the very warm winter jacket Val bought for me the first year I had Jessie), the scarf and gloves to walk Arthas. It may have been overkill to some, but it worked for me. 40 is cold, especially after ten years in Florida.

But it is also a great day to make soup and making soup means cleaning out the fridge. Soup was not on the list to make this week, but I decided to go ahead and make it since it’s cold and Bob is sick. Homemade soup is always good when you are sick.

So … I stared at the contents of my pantry and refrigerator for a bit and settled on barley and vegetable soup. I had celery on it’s last legs, carrots that I was not sure would last a whole lot longer, a zucchini I intended to use the week before and garlic that was just starting to sprout. Add some onion, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, the chard that I HAVE to use this week, vegetable stock and seasoning and you have … soup.

I have to admit, like most of the time when I just wing it in the kitchen, I got very nervous about this. It’s a lot of vegetables and if it doesn’t taste right it is a lot of food wasted. But I was pleasantly surprised. The soup has a nice depth to it and it is both light and filling at the same time. I would love to take this soup for lunch when I know I”m going to have access to a microwave, so to the freezer some of this soup will go.

Recipe:

  • Celery (about 3/4 cup, diced)
  • Carrot (about 3/4 cup, diced
  • Onion (about 1 cup, diced)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (enough for about 2 teaspoons minced)
  • Zucchini (about 1 medium, diced)
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking barley (or grain of your choice)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 large leaves Swiss Chard, chopped including stems
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

In a large pot heat oil. When hot, add celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium to medium high heat for about three minutes then add the zucchini and cook another 4-5 minutes. Stir frequently.

Add fire roasted tomatoes, vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Reduce heat, add barley (or other grain) and simmer, covered, on low heat for ~25 minutes.

Remove lid. Add chard and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning again if needed. Cook on low for about 3 minutes. Serve hot with bread, and if you like, some grated cheese.

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Old Vine Zinfandel

  • Producer: Bedrock Wine Company
  • Location: California
  • Year: 2017
  • Type: Red Zinfandel
  • Price estimate: $20 (from winery)
  • Tasting notes: Opaque wine in the glass, but with some translucency at the edges. Inky and dark ruby in color – reminds me of a ripe plum. Aromas of black fruits, black pepper and some oak. Taste is tangy and spicy with lots of dark red and black fruits. There is a hint of coco on the finish. 
  • Conclusions: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is one of my favorite wines. Period. The 2017 does not disappoint – it has a depth of flavor that my palate cannot appreciate, but it is easy to drink – not so easy that I’ll finish the bottle in a night, but easy as in two glasses over an evening is enjoyable. 
  • Notes: I am slightly biased towards this wine. The Whole Shebang (produced by Bedrock) was one of the first wines I took notes on when I started this little one journey and the first bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel from them blew me away. In my personal notes I had “wow” and “I need more of this.” That was the 2016 vintage, and the 2017 – with a little added pepper notes, but less smokey notes – is the same. This may be my favorite wine – it is the wine I would pick over many way more expensive wines because it is everything I like in wine. Lots of flavors, lots of character and just really nice to drink. Add to it that this wine is how Bedrock rehabs old vineyards and it makes my heart, as well as my taste buds, sing. Yes, there are probably “better” wines out there – Bedrock makes some that are technically better – but for me, this is just about the perfect wine. 14.4% alcohol by volume.

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Tigger’s Blanket

In December I started knitting a blanket for the guest room – I want to replace the one we have and decided that I could knit one. This turned out to be larger project than I anticipated, but that’s not a bad thing. But I discovered two things – Tigger REALLY likes that yarn and it was too bulky to bring with me to knit in the car on the way to Suzanne’s for the holiday. So … Tigger gets his own blanket.

I picked up one skein of yarn – super bulky blanket yarn (Bob picked out the color) and started to knit on the drive up. 50 stitches across, one skein of yarn and a few days later Tigger has a blanket. It’s not fancy – a regular stockinette stitch so one side is nubbly and one side is smooth – but he likes it. I think because Tigger is getting older, he wants the soft and warm surfaces more. So … Tigger has a blanket.

 

Chickpea Curry

I have a love/hate relationship with curry. I love the taste, love the texture and love the warm, comforting feeling I get from a good curry, but trying to make curry is really frustrating. It is probably the most frequent “yeah, I can’t eat this” dish I experiment with and I hate that feeling. You know, the one where you feel like you wasted time, food and money and it really, really didn’t work. I don’t attempt curries often because I hate this feeling but I’m pretty sure the few times we have not been able to eat something I’ve made, it was a curry.

Given this, I was skeptical of the recipe I found on Hurry The Food Up. I mean, it’s another curry recipe and they generally look kind of do-able, but this looked really possible. As in easy possible not just give it a go possible. So I tried it. Since I wasn’t thinking it would work, I didn’t bother with pictures and that was a mistake. Oh my gosh, this was good. A month or so later, I made it again because … well … it seemed like I found a curry recipe that I could do and I wanted to see if it was a fluke or not. Nope – really good and still easy. But I forgot pictures. So, I tried again and the results speak for themselves …

I actually follow this recipe except I only use one onion. Other than that – make it as is. It will taste a little meh until you add in the maple syrup and lime juice, but once you do … oh my gosh, it is so good. Bob even likes it (a lot) and chickpeas are not high on his list of go-to food items. Seriously, try it. It is awesome!

 

La Grive Bleue

  • Producer: Evesham Wood
  • Location:Eola-Amity Hills Oregon
  • Year: 2016
  • Type: Red, Pinot Noir
  • Price estimate: $30
  • Tasting notes: Dark red in color, almost like black cherries. Blackberry and bramble on the nose. Wild berry tart tasting with some bramble and cranberry. Bob said cassis, but given that I don’t know what that tastes like I’m going to have to take his word on it. Tart finish, but easy to drink.
  • Conclusions: I really liked this wine. It wasn’t my favorite and I won’t seek it out like I’ve done some we’ve picked up, but it was good and very easy to drink. Good body and a nice finish really help this wine, especially since there is an almost sour note at the very beginning, although that went away after a few hours after opening. 13% alcohol by volume.

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Spicy Peanut Noodles

My work computer decided to take over an hour to update the other day, which meant that I could not get any work that could not be done on my phone, done. It was frustrating, especially since I did everything I could and answered every email I could in ab out 30 minutes. Everything else, I needed my computer. So … I began searching for some recipes for dinner for this week and came up with a few good options.

I found an interesting recipe at Give Me Some Oven and thought it would make a nice lunch/dinner with plenty of leftovers for lunches for a few days. It actually worked out rather well.

I changed up the recipe a bit – chili garlic sauce for the garlic powder and red pepper flakes, less lime juice and a bit more soy, but overall the sauce was pretty much the same. I didn’t have cabbage, so I went with yellow pepper, carrots, scallion, and cucumber. I really liked this dish, but both Bob and I agreed that it would have been just a bit better hot. With this in mind the next time I make it, I’m replacing the cucumber with zucchini, making the whole dish hot, and adding a fried egg like I would in Pad Thai or fried rice. I’ll try to remember to post that once I make it, but for now, this is a really good, filling dish with lots of leftovers (no microwave required).

 

Rivata Prosecco

  • Producer: Rivata
  • Location: Veneto,Italy
  • Year: No Vintage
  • Type: Bubbly – white
  • Price estimate: $11 (Total Wine)
  • Tasting notes:  Very pale straw in color with fine bubbles. Notes of apple on the nose.  Taste is apple, pear and white peach. Some white grape and almond with a nice effervescence. Clean, crisp and dry.
  • Conclusions: I love Prosecco and this one is no exception. Easy to drink with a moderate alcohol content, it’s pretty perfect with our cheese box this month and a little dessert. Would probably work well just for a drink too because you should always drink bubbly just because.
  • Notes: After New Year’s I wanted some bubbly just to have on hand. Every now and then I want sparkling wine just because I like it and it is fun to drink. So, we stopped by Total Wine and picked up a bottle to have on hand, and it worked out rather well. I may need to get some more since at $11 it is about the cheapest wine I drink.