Monday, January 25, 2010


This is another recipe to take away the winter blues while you peruse the seed catalogues.  Garlic is also something alot of people raise (Not us, the last few years, it has been too wet; even in raised beds we have had it rot.  Hopefully this fall we can put some in and have it survive.).  Till then I have to purchase mine. 

I haven't found many things I eat that don't improve with the addition of garlic. 
Think about it;  mashed potatoes with garlic, fresh garlic minced and saute'd with
Broccoli, green beans with bacon and minced garlic, and the list goes on. 
One day looking through my stacks of cookbooks I came across this recipe for a peasants soup. 
It had a goodly amount of garlic (3/4 cup) and a small amount of other veggies. 
I fixed it and was impressed but all the time I am thinking what can I do to make this my own. 

Garlic soup is like Chicken broth, it is satisfying when you feel bad.  It is also satisfying if you are on a diet and have the urge for something filling and slimming.  It freezes excellently.  In my experimenting with the original recipe I have found a myriad of ways to make it.  This is also an extremely cheap soup to make.  Except for the garlic (which can be bought cheaper at the stores like Sam's and Cosco's), the rest of the ingredients are items we have in our pantries at all times.



2 LBS Potatoes, peeled and quartered or eighth'd (if large). any variety will do. 
(Original recipe called for 1 1/2 lbs.)

4 Carrots (I use large carrots), washed not peeled, cut into 2 inch lengths. Ends trimmed off.
(Original recipe called for 2) 

1 cup garlic cloves (approximately 3 heads). Peel by smashing with a knife. 
Leave the cloves whole do not mince or chop. (Original recipe called for 3/4 cup)

2 TBLS "fat", Oil (do not use olive oil), or butter, 
I have never used bacon drippings but I bet it would be great.

2 quarts "Liquid", water, chicken stock, beef stock, vegetable stock


Soup pot with lid (at least 4 quarts)

Wide blade butcher knife for smashing garlic

Paring knfe for cutting the ends off the garlic and carrots,
and cutting potatoes and carrots in chunks

Vegetable peeler for peeling potatoes

Blender, processer, or sieve(foley mill), an immersion blender

Holey ladle

1.  The first thing you do is work on the garlic.  Peel it and get it ready.  Melt your butter in a soup pot (no smaller than 4 quarts).  Saute' the garlic till golden, do not make it dark you will ruin the flavor of the soup.  BTW DO NOT ADD ANY SALT .

2.  When the garlic is golden pour in the two quarts of liquid.  Each different stock changes the flavor of the finished product but all are good, even plain water.

3.  While the liquid and garlic are coming to a boil prepare your vegetables adding them to the pot of liquid.  Bring all to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Cover and slow simmer for one hour. 

4.  At this point you can wait another hour and let it cool on the back of the stove (when it cools down it is easier to process). 

5.  Use what ever means you have for puree'ing the pot of soup.  When you have the entire pot pureed if you want return the contents to the pot and reheat to serving temperature adding salt to taste.  The original called for adding a cup of cream at this point.  To me it is an unnesessary step and doesn't add to the flavor of the soup. 

At this point I divide mine into containers the size we use.  I do not salt till serving.  This soup served with herb bread 

and a salad is the perfect lunch.  Serve it in a mug and it is the perfect snack in the afternoon.  When it is made with chicken broth you get the doupble whammy of the garlic and the chicken soup to keep away the cold and flu.  With the addition of the extra carrots you are getting extra vitamin "A". 

This soup looks and feels like cream soups.  And is much easier to make.


(It wakes up taste buds.  I am salivating just thinking about the smell. 
I made this at my mother's one night when I couldn't sleep. 
The next morning she said the smell kept her awake all night, making her hungry.)

Friday, January 22, 2010


I didn't know whether to include this article in this blog or my other blog, . 
I post recipes on both blogs.  The final decission
came down to our need for thoughts of spring and perusing the garden catalogs. 

It is cold and dreary with off and on rains in the St. Louis area.  Even my house feels damp.  Today I am organizing seeds, seeing which ones I want to use and making sure I have enough of those.  My mind is also thinking what to have for supper.  I am for sure going to have soup.  I'll break my arm patting myself on the back right now, I make really good soups.  Just ask

 I ran to the fridge to see what was there that needed to be used up.  When I make un-planned soups I usually make them from what ever veggies are on their way to crossing over.  There on the shelf were two of those long hot house cucumbers.  They had gotten their ends froze from being on the wrong shelf.

Just recently I heard about cucumber bisque.  This is a soup served cold. I didn't think I was in the mood for a cold soup on a day like today.  I have cooked with cucumbers before, the resulting dish was excellent.  I decided to make a hot cucumber soup for tonight.

I cleaned the cukes, throwing the bad parts in the compost bucket.  Reached in the veggie bin, there was a bunch of celery that would be over the hill in the next week.  On the shelf was a plastic container that had accumulated the halves of onions I didn't need in other dishes.  A peek in the freezer revealed a bag of frozen peas that had about 10 ounces left in it.

I proceeded to assemble my soup.  I can't wait till supper to serve it.  My taste sample made me want to eat all I had prepared.


1 cup 1/4" diced celery
1 cup 1/4" diced onion (don't use red onion)
1 cup 1/4" cucumber (no seeds if you use regular cucumbers, do not peel)
Kosher salt
2 TBLS butter (you can use an oil with no flavor if you like)
1 can Swanson's chicken broth (Or home made with salt)
10 oz Frozen peas

1 TBLS Butter
1/2 cup fine diced celery
1/2 hot house cucumber cut in 3/8" dice (do not peel)
Lemon Thyme (dried, rubbed, afterall it's winter right now)
Salt to taste

Heavy stainless pan (I used a 5 qt dutch oven)
heat proof rubber spatula
knives to slice and dice


1.  In 2 TBLS Butter saute'  diced onions, celery, and cucumber (sprinkle with about 1/4 teas salt)  in your stainless pan till the oinion is soft and translucent.  Do not brown.

2.  Pour your can of broth in the pan and turn up the heat and simmer covered for about 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat and leave it for about 3 minutes. 

3.  Pour into your hot broth the package of frozen peas.  Stir until the peas are defrosted. (do not apply more heat or cook in any way)

4.  Have your blender ready and put the contents of your stainless steel pan in the blender bowl.  (You can use a food processor too)  If your blender is not large enough do it, blend in small batches.  You want the contents thoroughly pureed. 


Preheat your creamed soup bowls in a 200 degree oven (Or microwave them filled with hot water till the bowl is hot)

1.  Use your cleaned stainless steel pan, Saute' the fine diced celery till aldente', add the diced cucumber and and saute' till tender.  (you can cover the pan and finish them.) 

2.  When the veggies are saute'd add the pureed soup (being mine was stored in the fridge all afternoon I brought the soup back up to serving temp in the microwave.  I didn't want to sorch it in the pan or cook away the fresh taste.)  Add salt and lemon thyme to your taste.  I didn't add the lemon thyme I was in a hurry and forgot. 

The soup was very thick.  I could have added at least another 8 ounces of broth.  BTW...If you want vegitarian I would say add plain water and some salt.  I wouldn't add Veggie broth because it would add too many other vegetable flavors and muddy the flavor of the soup. 

With the addition of the other 8 ounces of broth; this amount of soup could serve 4 easily.

The flavor of the soup was outstanding.  Very spring and green tasting. I imagine the soup could be made with green zucchini too.  It was thick and satisfied my taste buds making them think they had indulged in cream soup.  In my other blog is a recipe for herb bread that would compliment this soup.  If you want to make it decadent, add a dollup of sour cream.

While eating the soup I thought a nice addition  to the basic soup would be a cooked potato blended in and a diced cooked potato added before serving. Crisp bacon bits might be good too.

If you try this quickie soup I hope it is as enjoyable for you as it was for us.  I will be posting my garlic soup recipe later this week. It's a fast to make soup too. It goes great with the herb bread.  In fact all the soups seam to be attracted to Herb, LOL.

Monday, January 11, 2010


If you enjoy sweets and have never grown them, please indulge enough room in a corner of your garden.  Enough room so they can sprawl where they want.  Have a great pile of friable dirt that is mostly compost.  The deeper your pile the better your sweets and the larger and more perfect your sweets.  This year proved water is a sweet potatoes best friend,  but I imagine if we had not had them in a raised bed it would have been detrimental to their health, probably causing root rot and lots of other funguses and things I can't even imagine. Well drained and consistent moisture is the key.  When sweets are first planted we make sure they have adequate mulch but they don't need it replenished as they grow because they grow a mat of leaves that does a surpurlative job. (unless you have critters that lunch on the plants. lol)
This is our four sweet potato plants when they were about 3 weeks in the ground.  They had no idea they were to be ravaged three times in their lives.  Twice by the ground hogs and once by our deer population. They are in a raised bed that is approximately 20 inches deep filled with compost. the other plants in the bed are ancho chillies which did fantastic paired with them.  We only had to keep the vines from growing up into the cages.  Everyday, as I perused the garden, I made sure to stop and re-arrange the vines, extracting them from their new found home. 

We only raised four plants because we did not have an area ready for them.  This year we raised our own plants from the sweet potatoes we saved from last year.  Last years potatoes were from a potato we bought at the store that was exactly the consitency, color and flavor we loved.  We have no idea the variety.  The sign at the store was just a generic "Sweet potatoes 89 cents pound" (Catalogs can't provide taste test.)  Raising the starts was very easy and a lot of fun. 

This is the recouperated potatoes after they had been eaten to the ground by a family of groundhogs. Notice how big the pepper plants are.  A couple of months have gone by.  The cage contains my lone eggplant (hunny doesn't like eggplant).  We put it in a screen cage to hopefully deter the flea beetle.  We are organic and  always looking for a natural pest preventative.  BTW..aluminum screen does not keep the flea beetles away.  The base of the screens goes into the dirt to keep bugs from going under.

This is some of the  harvest from only one of the plants, there were other tubers  on this plant too.  They were similar to the tuber in the back of the picture.  The coin is a dime.  Those four plants had over 10 lbs apiece under the ground.  The largest potato is 16" long X 11" radius, approximately 3 1/2" in diameter.  It weighs 2 lbs 12 ounces now.  It lost 4 oz in storage.   We have saved out two tubers from this harvest for growing our starts. 

Last night we had a hunger for sweet potatoes.  I thought what can I do to make them different and fun.  There is the normal candied sweet potatoes, and of course a fabulous baked potatoes, but I had the urge for something different. 

Being there is just the two of us I pulled out a corning ware 1 3/4 quart covered casserole.  Retrieved 4 tubers that were about 8 oz each.  I have had a lot of trouble with sweets turning black immediately after they are peeled.  I decided lemon juice works for other things maybe it will work for the sweets. I put about 1/4 cup of jarred lemon juice in a bowl (no fresh lemons on hand, but I can't think this would make a difference in the final product).  I proceeded to slice the tubers in 3/8 inch slices, peeling the slice as I went.  Tossed the slices in the lemon juice.  When all the slices were prepared I decided to leave the juice in the bowl with them.  Next I tossed them with 1 1/2 TBLS of flour.  Anytime I have made the candied sweets the syrup on them just doesn't stick the way I like.  So I figured this might work.  Next I tossed the potatoes with 3/4 cup, loosely filled not packed, light brown sugar.  Sitting on the table was a bowl of apricots I had reconstituted for breakfast.  I thought, I wonder, and added 16 apricots to the potatoes.  With  a final tossing I put the mixture in the corningware dish and topped the sweets with a 1/2 stick of butter cut in pats and scattered over the surface.  Put on the lid and baked in the oven till the potatoes were done and the syrup thickened.  The flour worked perfect.  The syrup was very perfectly thickened and the lemon added the right zing.  The apricots complemented the sweets well.BTW, the lemon juice kept the black away .

I rate this dish as one of the more delicious ones that have popped into my mind.  Outside it was -16 in my valley yesterday (January 10, 2010) and it was very satisfying knowing I didn't have to run to the store to buy the potatoes. (St. Louis at the airport had a -6)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010



This is the beginning of the New Year. A fantastic year it is to be. After all the date is 2010. Doesn't it even have an exciting sound. It is the beginning of a new decade. Our New year's eve practice is to sit and peruse the seed catalogues. We need bibs because of the drooling we do. Especially the plants that we know we can't possibly grow due to climatic conditions. We have started our own seeds for years.

Starting seeds is not Rocket Science. There is tons of info available on the Internet or in books or on the back of the seed packets. Beware of taking for gospel the info from any one source, read everything, and talk to everyone, then make a decision on what might work for you.

The reason I say, don't trust the seed packets, is because I have never had the info on the back of them turn out to be right for me. For instance, on the lettuce packet it says 7-10 days germination. We always have fresh seed germinate in less than three days in a controlled propagation chamber. Maybe if it was outdoors it might take that long. We always start ours indoors because our weather is so inconsistent we would not have a good germination rate (usually it is too wet to cultivate at the time we need to plant lettuce).

We have been told 80% percent germination is good. Planting indoors we have had what seems to be 100% germination. The other thing to not trust is the guidelines for the growth habits of your plants. Good organic soil seems to add inches to the projected size. Also don't be afraid to transplant a seedling which seems to be falling behind to a different location. It is said, "location, location, location." We have found that so true.

This week we will spend the snowy Thursday deciding what we need to buy and what seeds will still be worth saving if they will germinate for us. My Hunny will test all our peas and beans. He will put them in wet paper towels and into our propagation chamber.

Our propagation chamber is nothing fancy and it serves a variety of purposes (I have used it to make yogurt).

To build your own you will need the following. Styrofoam ice chest Heating Pad or an old working yogurt maker, Easy to read Thermometer,  Piece of card board, serrated knife something like the bottoms of egg cartons or something of that height.

CONSTRUCTION: We have found the same heat source works in a large cooler (ours is 28"x 16" x 17") but we also have those that are 12x12x18. In the bottom corner of the cooler make a hole just large enough for the plug of your heat source to slide through. If you have chosen your old yogurt maker you will only need the bottom half not the lid. Place it in the center of your cooler on the bottom. Now cut the card board (the serrated knife is good for this) to fit on top of the yogurt maker.(it should just barely slip into the cooler and rest on top of the maker.) Now remove the card board and make a series of one inch holes in the cardboard. make them far enough apart that they will support the weight of the trays you will be sitting on top of it. If you have chosen a heating pad you will need something to support the cardboard about 2 inches above the pad. (I have used egg cartons without their tops for this. I have also used cardboard strips).

Your chamber is finished. Now put your thermometer in side and turn on your heating source and find out what temp your propagation chamber keeps. We found sometimes we have to crack the lid. Now you need to scrounge for take-out plastic containers with clear raised tops. The 2 inch deep ones are great, allows for starting medium and a little sprouting room (sometimes they sprout in the middle of the night.) Rectangle ones are preferable to round can put more in your cooler. can stack them inside the cooler...but remember everyday twice a day to reverse who is on top and who's on the bottom, so they get the same amount of heat.  Keep your thermometer inside and check it first thing in the morning to make sure your cooler isn't accumulating too much heat. I didn't say this was a low maintenance project. (If you are adept I imagine you could fix this with a thermostat to turn off and on the heat and keep it at the perfect temp.

We have had 20 years of success with our homemade box, hope this works as well for you.