Post # 172 Picnic in the Park

September 30, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 172 Picnic in the Park

Since we’ve moved here to Arizona, we’ve had many more opportunities to take advantage of the cultural events taking place in the city.  We live two block from one of the major parks in the city.  It’s a park that holds national tennis tournaments, major golfing events, a zoo which has doubled in size since my college days, and several dog runs.  One of the things the park holds is a medium sized amphitheater where concerts are put on.  The local Pops ensemble gives free concerts every Sunday evening in the Spring and Fall.  Unfortunately, this year the fall schedule had to be severely curtailed and instead of the normal concert schedule, they had only two.  I was lucky enough to attend both concerts, the second of which was held last night.

It was at an outdoor venue.  The area closest to the stage had cement benches, but we chose to sit at the top of the hill in the grass.  The place was crowded both times.  People spread out on blankets or set up chairs.  Some people kept it simple and had sandwiches brought from home.  Others brought pizza or deli subs.  Lots of people brought their dogs which added to the festive atmosphere.  I even saw one older couple who were having champagne and strawberries.  We brought wine and picnic stuff.  Here’s what I did.

Crostini with Caprese Topping:  I took four medium ripe tomatoes and cut them to smaller-than-bite-sized chunks and put them in a bowl.  I took good mozzarella cheese and cut five thin slices from the block.  Then I cut them into chunks the same size as the tomatoes.  Then I took several leaves of fresh basil, lemon balm, and mint and chopped them very finely.  I did this by hand so they wouldn’t turn bruised and pulpy.  All this was stirred around in a bowl with one tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil, and one tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar.  I transferred all of it to an airtight container to avoid spills and put it in the refrigerator to chill.  While it was chilling, I heated the oven to 400 and sliced a medium baguette diagonally into two dozen slices.  I placed these on a cookie sheet, brushed them with olive oil and toasted them in the oven for fifteen minutes.  At the concert, we took the crostini and spread some topping on it and ate it.  Good stuff!  Later, I thought about adding roasted sunflower seeds next time.  And as I was making the stuff, I realized it was sort of an Italian salsa.

Meatballs with Grape Jelly Sauce:  This one is deceptively easy, but I managed to mess it up big time.  The meatball were easy.  I mixed together one pound of hamburger with a half-pound each of bulk Italian Hot Sausage and Italian Mild Sausage.  Then I used a tablespoon to form the meatballs.  Those got baked at 400 for twenty minutes.  Easy peasy.  The sauce was a different animal.  I’ve had the sauce a few times before, but it’s been a long time.  I read through recipes on the web and they all said pretty much the same thing.  Equal parts grape jelly and chili sauce heated together until the jelly dissolves into the chili sauce.  Sometimes people added soy sauce or Worcestershire  sauce.  When we were buying the ingredients, I went to the Hispanic section to find chili sauce.  Partner/spouse suggested the Asian section for a different flavor.  We looked at the selection and chose one that had garlic in it for a different flavor profile.  When we got home, I opened the chili sauce to sniff it to get a sense of its strength.  It didn’t curl my nose hairs, so I figured it would be pretty mild.  Yeah, not so much.  I started cooking the jelly and chili sauce together and I wasn’t getting any burning effects to my eyes or nose so I assumed all was well.  Then I tasted it and nearly screamed.  HOT!!!!!!  Beyond hot, it was surface of the sun hot.  No amount of jelly was going to cool that stuff down.  My sink does not have a garbage disposal on it so I have to be very careful what goes down the drain.  So being very responsible, I strained all the chili seeds that I once thought were minced garlic and all the chili skins, etc. with a fine mesh strainer.  I was left with a light purplish sauce in a bowl which I tasted and nearly screamed again.  Good thing it was a ceramic bowl.  That stuff would have melted plastic.  But I had to have some sauce for the meatballs which were cooling off by this time.  They tasted great.  Partner/spouse said to just use barbeque sauce which naturally we didn’t have.  Okay, I’ve made barbeque sauce often enough, I knew I could mock something together.  As long as it tasted like grape a little bit, everyone would be happy and no one would have to know.  I put half a bottle of ketchup, half a bottle of grape jam (which was normally used for my PBJs, the sacrifices I make!), a tablespoon of brown sugar, and a couple of shakes of Worcestershire sauce with about a quarter cup of water into a pan and heated that until everything was blended.  It was okay, but a little bland, so I added about a quarter cup of the really hot stuff into it, and boom!  Perfect sauce with just the right kick.  I poured about half over the meatballs and tossed them around to get a good coating.  I put the bulk of them in one container and added more sauce.  Covered and into the fridge.  The rest went into another container for FiL who was not coming the concert with us.

When we got to the park and set up, we had the crostini, the meatballs, and my sister had brought some goat cheese and crackers, some sliced fruit, some berries, and then partner/spouse went to the food trucks and got us crème Brule.  People were walking by and asking where we got the stuff from.  One lady asked if I’d cater her next party.

The concert was good too!

Post # 171 It’s Apple Time!

September 27, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 171 It’s Apple Time!

When I was a little kid, we seemed to move about every two years.  My dad was a Marine for a long time, so we did move quite often.  We used to live in upper-state New York when I was very young.  It was a great place for a little kid to be in.  I have lots of memories of blistering cold winters, homemade ice forts, snow ball fights, ice skating.  I remember having to wear a jacket over my Halloween costume while trick-or-treating because it was snowing.  I also remember driving over to Vermont in the fall and picking our own apples to last us through the winter.

So picture it.  Here are three small children let loose in an apple orchard and told to climb trees and get apples.  We have two gigantic baskets to fill and all afternoon to do it.  And we can eat as many apples as we want to in the process.  I always climbed as high as I could, trusting the branches not to break.  They never did.  After what felt like a very long time, but could really only have been a half-hour, our basket were filled and we were hauling them back to the car.  This was usually in mid-October which meant that the back porch provided all the natural refrigeration we needed to keep the apples all winter long.

Stepping onto the back porch at any time was like stepping into an apple refinery.  The smell was intoxicating.  We could have an apple any time that we wanted.  Mom served apples with nearly every meal, and every lunch box taken to school had an apple in it.  Round, red and green stripey things, they were the best.  I ate so many apples then, it’s difficult to look at an apple today.  I love apples.  I have a difficult time actually eating apples now.  I do eat apples, but it’s a long time between apples.  Back then, we lived for the crunch and tang of the first bite.  The juice dripping down your chin while your tongue drowned in that exquisite tart-sweet apple flavor.  It was an experience to remember, and never duplicated.  Until you ate the next apple.  As an adult, I get the same feeling with the first sip of wine from a just open and perfectly chilled bottle of chardonnay.  But that’s a different story.

Through the course of the winter, Mom made different things from apples, but they were usually the same things.  We had apple pie, apple cake, apple butter, apple sauce, but not too much else.  Mom cooked what she knew how and not much else.  But we ate it all, and grabbed an apple on our way out to play.

Today, I know about two thousand ways to eat apples.  Salads, puddings, appetizers, vinegars, and on.  Today, I’m going to share two apple recipes that are easy, delicious, and impressive.

Apple and Cheese Appetizer:

Wash your apple thoroughly.  This is going to be served with the skin on so it must be clean.  If there are bruises on the apple, choose a different apple.  You do not want to cut the skin before serving this.  Once the apple is cleaned, cut a very small, even slice from the bottom so the apple will sit upright.  Using a sharp paring knife or apple corer, cut out the core of the apple, then continue hollowing out the center until about 1/3 to 1/2 of the apple is gone.  You should have what looks like the shell of the apple.  Place this in the refrigerator until you need it again.  In the meantime, take 4 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature and using an electric hand mixer, blend the cheese with 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1-2 tsp parmesan cheese, finely chopped pecans, and finely chopped chives.  Sometimes I add a small amount of white wine, but that’s up to you.  When the cheese is ready, remove the apple from the refrigerator and use a small spoon or pastry bag to stuff the apple with the cheese mixture.  Place the apple with the cheese into the refrigerator until the cheese sets, at least an hour.  Remove the apple, and using a sharp, serrated knife, gently cut the apple into sections.  Sometimes the cheese will want to slide off.  Chilling the knife before cutting can help.  Once all the sections have been cut (I try for 8), place them on a platter skin side down and insert a toothpick through the cheese into the apple.  This provides a quick handle and helps the cheese stay on the apple.  Brush lightly with lemon to keep the apples from turning brown.  Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.  The cheese mixture can be altered to your taste, so if you would like it sweeter, add different things to it.

Easy Baked Apple:  Preheat oven to 350.  Cut four apples from top to bottom.  Using a sturdy metal spoon, remove the core and a small area around it to create a small well.  Spread a tablespoon of softened butter in a baking dish and place the 8 apple halves in the dish.  In a medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons of softened butter to 1/4 cup of quick cooking oatmeal, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of your favorite dried fruits and/or chopped nuts.  Mix together thoroughly to create a crumble.  Even divide the crumble into the apples and place a small dot of butter on top of each.  Dust with cinnamon.  Place in oven and bake 30-45 minutes until apples are soft when pierce, and crumble is golden or dark, but not burned.  Unless you like burned.  Sometimes that’s good.  Serve hot or cold with whipped cream or ice cream.  (My mom would have loved this recipe!)

baked apples

Enjoy!

Post # 170 Autumn and Cherries

September 25, 2013 at 12:28 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I’ve talked about it before.  We’re at the time of year where in many parts of the world, the harvest is taking place.  Right now, harvest fairs, homecomings, and fall festivals are well underway.  People are preparing for the cold part of the year when they’re stuck indoors most of the time.  Our modern lives don’t leave us in our own houses as much as in times past, but very little happens outside after this time of year.  In the Southern hemisphere, that’s reversed.  They’re starting to think about the upcoming warmth.  We in the Northern hemisphere are starting to “patch the holes” and make sure the cold doesn’t leak in.

When I lived in Virginia, this was the time of year when the world turned into a calendar.  The rolling hills that were green were turned into mosaics of yellow, red, and orange.  Whole forest looked as though they were on fire.  That display would last a few weeks, then all the leaves would turn brown, drop to the ground, and start decomposing to feed the earth and provide insulation for the smaller animals when the snow arrived.  Apples were ready to be picked from the trees; grapes were ready to be stomped into wine; and my favorite fruit, cherries were bright red, or dark red, and were ready to be picked and eaten.

Cherries come in a lot of varieties and can be used in a billion ways.  Everyone has seen cherry pies.  It’s the fourth favorite pie in America.  Have you ever seen a Cherry Chip Cake?  Remind me some time to give you that recipe.  During the Fall, Cherry Cider is one of my favorite drinks.  You can’t really make true cider from cherries, so what you do is make apple cider, then add enough cherry juice to make your apple cider taste like cherries.  Good stuff.  And they’re so good for you.

One of my favorite cherry recipes is Cherry Clafoutis.  That pronounced Claw Footy.  It’s French.  And it’s so easy to make.  And the variations are as limitless as your imagination.

Here’s the basic recipe:

Cherry Clafoutis

  • Two tablespoons and 1 teaspoon softened butter
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted (do not use cherry pie filling)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on taste
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat your oven to 350.  Use the one teaspoon of butter to butter a baking dish.  I use either a deep dish pie plate, or a glass 8×8 baking dish.  Any baking dish will do as long as it’s that approximate size.  Or you can make smaller, individual Clafoutis in ramekins.  Fill the baking dish with the cherries.  I’ve used various kinds of cherries and each one gives its own flavor and distinction to the dish so experiment.  There’s no difference using fresh cherries or frozen, except with fresh cherries, you have to take the stones out, while with frozen that’s usually already done.  In a medium bowl, combine all other ingredients except cocoa powder and powdered sugar until smooth, then pour over cherries.  Cook in 350 oven for 30 minutes.  Dust with cocoa powder and powdered sugar.  Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Now some GREAT variations on this.  Sometimes I sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar to give it a crunch.  Other times I’ve added a 1/4 tsp of allspice to give it a spicy flavor.  I’ve added chocolate chips once in a while.  I’ve also poured chocolate syrup on just after it came out of the oven.

This creates a kind of custardy base with the fruit.  I’ve eaten this chilled and it’s tasted terrific.  I’ve added different fruit, like blueberries, peaches, etc. with the cherries or instead of the cherries.  Everything seems to work with this.  And it’s different enough that when you serve it to guests, they’re always impressed.

Enjoy!

cherry clafoutis

Post # 169 Gluten Free the Way to Be?

September 23, 2013 at 1:55 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 169 Gluten Free the Way to Be?

Way back in the mid ’80s, I knew a woman who had such a terrible time with her gut that no doctor could tell her why.  Her symptoms were painful and alarming, and of such a delicate nature that she hesitated talking about it to anyone, except to say she didn’t feel well.  It impacted her life to such a degree that she barely had a life apart from working.

Then, out of the blue, a doctor said she was either allergic or sensitive to gluten.  She had a particularly bad form of celiac disease.  Once she started working with a nutritionist and avoiding foods with gluten, her life improved dramatically.  Of course, back then giving up gluten meant giving up practically everything.  Then after a couple of years, she started reintroducing gluten products into her diet to see what she could tolerate.  She found her happy balance and lived happily ever after.  I think.  We lost touch when I moved to Virginia.

Nowadays, it seems like everyone is at least aware of what gluten free is.  The trouble is that most people misunderstand what gluten free is about.  Gluten is simply the protein that is formed when you knead bread.  And for those who don’t know what that means, kneading bread dough means to move it and push it around, fold it and bend it, until the dough turns into a smooth elastic ball.  The gluten gives dough its structure and its heft.  As an example, when you pick up a slice of bread, it holds together without breaking from its own weight.  If you pick up a piece of well made pie crust, it breaks apart into a bazillion particles that fall down the front of your shirt and land on the floor.  Bread is kneaded; pie dough isn’t.  Is gluten necessary in foods?  Nope, but you sure hate eating bread without it.

But is gluten necessary for a healthy diet?  Or rather, can we eat healthy with a gluten inclusive diet?  Yup!  And it’s a resounding YUP!

The only real reason to eliminate gluten from your diet is if you’re allergic to it.  There is a full spectrum celiac disease from just a light intolerance to full-on “I wanna die every time I eat bread” kind of thing.  And with more people becoming aware of gluten’s impact on their diet, the food manufacturers are adding more gluten free selections on our grocery shelves.  That’s a good thing because it offers up so many more choices.  I’ve seen cupcake shops that offer gluten free cupcakes.  It’s all good.

So why talk about it now?  I was at a cookout this weekend.  Yes.  It was at my sister’s.  Yes.  We had burgers and dogs.  Yes.  It was the standard cookout she seems to host every weekend.  It’s a good time for all and they love doing it.  Everyone pitches in with food and beverages, cooking, prep, clean up.  I don’t think she does much more than organize.  But one of the other guests and I were talking about a gymnastics meet she had her kids at earlier in the day.  They were getting hungry so she went to the bake sale table because the proceeds went to the gymnastics foundation.  She bought two cupcakes and a brownie.  She looked me right in the eye.

“They were terrible,” she said.

“What was wrong with them?”

“They fell apart in our hands.  They didn’t taste good.  They were kind of gluey.”

“They were gluten free.” I said.

“Yeah, I found that out when I went back and saw the part of the table I chose from said gluten free.  But I thought that meant it was healthy.”

So many people believe that.  When you see the commercials on TV, they tend to be a misdirection.  I thought about it long and hard once and realized that there’s actually a very small market for gluten free products.  But if you give the impression that you’re eating healthy when eating gluten free, sales will sky rocket.  So the commercials only say “Thanks for offering a bigger gluten free selection for my family.  My kids can now eat better cereals.”  They don’t tell you that they eat better cereals because they’re allergic to gluten or have celiac disease.  They make you feel better for eating gluten free.

But it’s not necessary.  I’ve made gluten free items as part of a test group I’m in.  They were “okay” based on the how the recipe turned out.  But it was the only time I’ve made gluten free.  Gluten free doesn’t mean healthier.  As a matter of fact, the trend is to the opposite.  Most gluten free products don’t have some of the vitamin fortification that is standard in “regular” products.

To make myself clear, I’m not against gluten free.  I’ve actually had some gluten free stuff that didn’t taste like total “crap on a cracker.”  They were expensive, but tasted decent.  I’ve also had gluten free that really was “crap on a cracker.”  It depends on the recipe and the chef.

Lots of foods in their natural state are gluten free.  Lean beef, buffalo, all fish, most poultry, tons of vegetables including potatoes, tons of fruit including apples and bananas, some dairy but you have to check it, and nearly all grains and flours that DON’T INCLUDE WHEAT, BARLEY, OR RYE, as well as all beans, most nuts, and the list goes on.  Go to the internet and search on gluten free natural foods and select a reputable link and you’ll be surprised.

Since nearly everything in it’s natural state tends to be gluten free, eating “gluten free” can be healthy.  When you give up wheat, barley, and rye in your diet, eating tends to get very challenging.  No cakes, no cookies, no bread, no biscuits, no tortillas except corn, etc.  Oh, lord, I just realized.  No Twinkies!

But, if you don’t have an allergy, and you’re already eating healthy, giving up gluten is simply not necessary.

Hope this helped clear up some confusion because I know everyone who reads this was wondering about gluten, right?  Take care.

Enjoy!

So

Post # 168 Stone Soup

September 20, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 168 Stone Soup

There’s an old story, a fable really, about the man who made Stone Soup.  He was a wanderer and arrived at a poor village with nothing in his pack to eat.  As he looked around, he realized that he had very little chance of getting anything to eat.  He hit on a plan and started looking around for a stone.

While he was looking for the stone, a villager came up to him to find out what he was doing.

“Ah!  Just the person I was looking for!” the wanderer said.  “Could you direct me to the best place to find a soup stone?”

The villager had never heard of a soup stone so he asked about it.

“Well,” said the wanderer.  “It’s a stone about the size of my fist, smooth, and round.  If it’s speckled that makes it more valuable.  It makes the best Stone Soup you’ve ever tasted.”

“I’ve never heard of Stone Soup.  Is it good?”

“Well, if I had a stone, a pot, and water, I could brew up a batch for you.”

The villager thought for a moment.  “Down by the river are several stones.  Likely one of those would do.  The river will give you water.”

“True, but we still need a pot.”

“I have one at home.  I’ll run along and get it and meet you by the river.”

“I have a better idea.  You fetch your pot.  I’ll get the stone.  We’ll both bring water from the river and bring it back here to the village.  It’s drier and more comfortable.”

The wanderer went to the river and stared at the stones, picking up one or two, but discarding them.  Soon another villager saw him and asked him what he was up to.

“I’ve never heard of stone soup, but I’d be interested in tasting it, too.  Can I bring something?” the other villager asked.

The wanderer thought about it for a moment, then said, “The soup tastes better when it’s hot.  Have you wood, and flint and steel?”

“Certainly!” the villager said, excited.  “I’ll bring them along to the village.”  He left quickly.

Shortly after that, the first villager returned with a very large pot.  “I thought perhaps if we made a large amount then we could have our fill and some for tomorrow.”

The wanderer nodded at the wisdom of this.  They filled the pot and managed between the two of them to carry it to the village without spilling too much water.

Once they had the pot in place, the second villager arrived with a cart full of wood and a sack that held his flint and steel.  In no time, a fire was started and the pot sat near the edge, slowly heating.  With great ceremony, the wanderer tossed the stone he had selected into the pot of simmering water.

“How long does it take?” asked the second villager.

“A stone is a very hard thing.” the wandered said.  “It does take a while to soften it enough to make good soup.”

Shortly, the curious villagers gathered about, looking at the pot and asking questions.  The answers surprised everyone since no one had ever heard of Stone Soup before.  Everyone waited around to see the result of the effort.

After many minutes, the wanderer took an old spoon out of his pocket and stirred the simmering water.  Then, carefully so as not to burn himself, he tasted the soup.

“Ahh!” he said.  “It’s fine for what it is.  I just wish there was some salt to add to it.  Stone Soup is good, but with salt, it’s terrific.”

“I have some salt!” cried a villager who hurried off to get the salt.

Many more minutes later, after the salt had been added, the wanderer again tasted the soup and smacked his lips.  “Delicious!” he exclaimed.  “In a few hours, this soup will be perfect.  The salt added just the right touch.  I only wish . . . well, never mind.”

“What?” the villagers asked, almost in unison.

“Well, perhaps, an onion or two, or garlic, but there’s no use wishing for what isn’t there!”

“I have onions!  I have garlic!” a few villagers cried, and matching words to deeds ran off to fetch their contributions.

Shortly, the aroma of onion and garlic stewing filled the air and the entire village watched the pot with anticipation.  Stone soup smelled as exotic as its name.

A long time later, the wanderer again tasted the soup.  “Oh, that’s good.  The only thing wanting is potatoes, or turnips, or carrots.”

Without a word, several villagers disappeared and soon the vegetables were added to the soup.

Over the course of the afternoon, many more things were added to the soup.  The scent made everyone hungry.  Instead of going to their own homes and fixing a meager meal, each villager added their own contribution to what was becoming a feast.  One person provided a table for the villagers to sit at.  Another person supplied bowls; another, spoons.  Several people brought bread to the table.  Still others brought butter.  By the end of the afternoon, the poor village had each brought what they had and created a feast for themselves that left them full and happy.  Each villager proclaimed it the best Stone Soup they’d ever had.  The wanderer ate his fill, packed some up, and went on his way with hearty goodbyes.

Stone-Soup

I first read this story, or had it read to me, when I was in kindergarten.  Looking back, I now realize it was the first cooking lesson I ever had.

I made soup for dinner yesterday.  I had a three pound roast of beef that I had to cook.  I normally cut those in half to make two or three meals.  But, what I wanted to do with both halves required the same kind of cooking so I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone.  Or maybe, two cows with one stone.  Or one stone, one pot, and stone soup.  Oh, what the hell, I made soup.

I put the entire roast into a big ole pot with a quart of water, some salt and pepper, and the lid on top.  I brought the water to a boil, turned it down, and let it simmer for hours, until that stone turned soft.  By the time it was ready, the fat cap on the roast fell off with a touch.  I had added more water during the afternoon so I’d have plenty of broth for the soup, but that was all the fussing I did to it during the cooking time.

By four o’clock, the meat was falling apart tender.  I took it out of the broth and tasted the broth.  Pretty bland, but oh! so meaty!  I added some salt, but not a lot since as the broth reduced, the flavors would concentrate.  Then I looked around to see what I could add to it.

I’m not a good planner when it comes to soup making.  I tend to start it, then look around to see what’s there.  There’s always something to throw into soup even if it’s just meat and noodles.  Or rice.  Always got those.  So I looked around.  I chopped an onion and threw it in.  I had some left over chopped cabbage from tacos a few nights ago so that went in.  A can of tomatoes adds depth to ANY beef recipe.  So in it goes.  A ton of minced garlic.  Oh, what else?  Looking around, looking around.  Oh!  There’s something.  A bag of frozen green beans.  Beef and green beans taste so good together.  By the time I was done looking, I had a ton of hearty vegetables cooking in the broth while the meat cooled off enough to shred.

A quick taste and it was time to adjust seasonings.  It was too salty.  Ooops!  Have to fix that.  Now, many people believe that if you added too much salt, then obviously the way to correct that is to add sugar.  DO NOT DO THAT!!!!  Sugar does not counteract salt.  And in soup, it’s disgusting.  Add lemon.  Lemon will actually cut the salt flavor.  Really and truly.  So I added about a half tablespoon of lemon juice.  The tomatoes and lemon made the soup very tangy, but I knew that the flavors would mellow a lot as they cooked so I wasn’t worried.  What was more important was that the saltiness was gone.  But I wanted something else, some other flavor to add a different layer.  I wandered through my spices and herbs and thought about oregano but I didn’t want the soup to have an Italian profile.  Oh!  I ran out to the garden and pulled a few mint leaves and a few basil leaves.  I chopped them up finely and tossed them in.  Not a lot, I didn’t want the soup to taste only of mint and basil.

So there were vegetables and seasonings in my soup.  Now was time to chop up the beef.  I cut the roast in half.  I wrapped one half in foil and put in the fridge to wait until I needed it in the next day or two.  I was thinking shredded beef tacos, but who knew what it would really turn into.  I took off all the fat I could see and chopped it up for the dogs’ dinner.  Which they loved, by the way.  After chopping the meat up roughly, I put it back into the pot and set it to simmering.  Wonderful, beautiful soup.

Something was missing.  And I knew what it was.  Starch.  It needed either pasta, rice, or potatoes.  I didn’t have any fresh potatoes, and I wasn’t going to put frozen tater tots into this soup.  That’s a good tip, by the way.  The tots fall apart and you have potato shreds in your soup.  Good stuff.  Just don’t add too many.  I love rice, as you know, but I knew that if I decided to freeze the leftover soup, the rice would slowly absorb all the broth.  The rice would expand to the size of bloated ticks, fall apart, and eventually turn into rice pudding.  Nope.  The only way to have rice in soup is to cook it separately and add it to the serving bowl, never the tureen.  Ever.  That left pasta.  And I have LOTS of pasta.  All the time.  So I decided to add some Chinese noodles we’d picked up at a Chinese market nearby.

Someday, if I haven’t already told you about it, I’ll tell you about the ill fated attempt at cooking angel hair pasta in the spaghetti sauce.  Long story short, don’t do it.  Lesson learned, I cooked up the pasta al dente and added to the soup.

Finally, done!  Loads of broth, vegetables, beef, and noodles.  Hot, happy, and tasty!  Totally Stone Soup.  It’s what you bring to the pot.

Enjoy!

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