O. G., Consider Yourself Copied!

I know, it isn’t exactly soup weather. But I wanted to try this new recipe while Luke was out of town and while I had some fresh spinach. I’m so pleased with how it turned out. Next time there’s a chilly, rainy day, make this for lunch.
Zuppa Toscana My Way
1/2 lb. spicy breakfast sausage (I use Aldi’s in the red wrapper- it is excellent!)
3/4 cup onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 medium potatoes, halved and sliced into 1/8 in. thick slices
4 strips bacon
2 cups fresh spinach
1 quart chicken broth
1/3 cup cream
Brown sausage in large skillet; remove meat with slotted spoon and place in soup pot (I put it in my crock pot). Place bacon in same skillet; cook until done. Remove, cut into small pieces, and add to soup pot. In remaining drippings, cook onion and potatoes over medium heat until not quite tender. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and place in soup pot. In remaining drippings, cook spinach until just wilted. Add to soup pot. Pour chicken broth into soup pot, heat to simmering. Add cream. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Consider next year’s Soup Swap won!

Seasonal Scene- Spinach

I’m in love.
There is something intoxicating about being able to walk out to the garden and pick salad greens for dinner. This week is the first I can do this, and the spinach in particular I have coming up in abundance. Here are some of the many ways I like to eat spinach:
‘green’ smoothie- spinach, strawberries, banana, yogurt
in salads
I’m going to try a copycat recipe for Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana this coming weekend- the recipe calls for kale, but I believe spinach will be a dynamite stand-in.

The Friend Dare

Maybe it is in the water. Leigh Ann has been posting lately about what she is calling The Respect Dare, taking inspiration from the popular Love Dare book. I wrote a while ago about how I would love to reverse some of the same sinful habits that I had as a child and that I now see at play in my children’s friendships (jealousy, pride, anger, etc.). I wanted to get my hands on the Love Dare book, to get ideas for how I might begin a daily project with my oldest daughter. We could meet together and discuss the good/ not so good qualities in a friend, and ‘dare’ ourselves to become more mature in the good areas. Our local Christian bookstore was closed, so I couldn’t look at the Love Dare book, but last night, I was able to flesh out some of my ideas on paper. First, I thought of the many friendships in the Bible, and wanted to pick one that would give us a good picture of what it should look like. My initial thought was David and Jonathan, the classic daring duo. When I looked up the passages that talked about the two of them, I noticed all the mentions of Saul’s behavior during this time, as well- not a real friendly guy. Hey- in this story, we have exactly what I originally wanted- examples of how to and how not to be a friend! So basically, I see us proceeding as follows:
-We’ll make a list of friends. Hopefully we can come up with about six or seven, one for each day of the week. We’ll come up with ‘dare’s for the friend on whose day it is, ie. doing something kind to that person without expecting anything in return, etc.
-Each day we’ll read a verse in 1 Samuel, starting in chapter 18, and look at what qualities of a friend are mentioned there. We’ll pray that God increases the good, and prunes out the bad, in us.
I hope to blog every day our thoughts. Who knows? Maybe we can make it into a book. As y’all know, I’m kinda into books right now.

Us Two

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,
“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,
It isn’t much fun for One, but Two
Can stick together,” says Pooh, says he.
“That’s how it is,” says Pooh.
~from ‘Us Two’ by A. A. Milne
It may be the fields and barn to the north and east, the cousins next door, or the cows across the road. Something has given my twenty-one-month-old a serious case of wander-itis. I ought to be on the ball with this kind of thing since I have had five others this age, but they never had the desire to run, to go like he does. The simple acts of getting one’s jacket on and climbing in the van fill him with unspeakable joy; I can’t tell when he’s saying ‘coat’ or ‘go’, and it really doesn’t matter because to him they mean the same thing. I’m sure this wealth of courage and adventurous spirit will serve him well as a man of God, but for now my priority has become helping him survive toddlerhood by going to extremes to make sure he’s safe. This past week I have stuck to him like glue. Things don’t get done when I am out, then in, then out again. But the rewards are precious.
-swinging high on the swing, us two
-holding his little hand
-hearing his sweet, infectious laugh
-shooting down the slide again and again
-and again
-hearing him sing
-reading his favorite books again and again
-and again
-treasuring this fleeting time together, us two

Seasonal Scene: Rhubarb

So begins a series here on Consider It Done where I talk about each fruit and vegetable I harvest or receive this growing season, and what I do with it. Posts may look sloppy; I plan to go back and insert recipes and future thoughts whenever the need arises.

Here I am with the firstfruits of the Ohio season- rhubarb stalks from my buddy Diana. She gave me two rhubarb plants, and Luke put them in over at the new house, but these aren’t from them (they shouldn’t be harvested this year). She has lots more rhubarb at her house, and tells me I can have all I want. So that is rhubarbhow we have our first farmer’s market offerings! I doubt I will sell them whole, but put them into baked goods. There are a few recipes sitting on the counter I will try this week- already made strawberry rhubarb tarts, but this would not be seasonally accurate, as nobody I know has strawberries yet. Made rhubarb cookies today- very good. Will have rhubarb coffee cake tomorrow morning for breakfast- I can see this made into muffins and selling well. Then there’s strawberry rhubarb jam, and I want to work out a kind of rhubarb marmalade (is this compote?) to go on my homemade English muffins- I think that could go over big. 5/11- made Oatmeal Rhubarb cookies that I could not stay out of. Mmmm! The rhubarb tastes like tart apple in many of these recipes.

Me and my rhuby babies, celebrating Mother’s Day. Don’t you love my Children’s Churchmade corsage? Courtesy Little S and N.

Fresh Rhubarb Pie (from Betty Crocker)

8 inch
Pastry for 8 inch two crust pie
1 to 1 1/4 Cups sugar
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoos grated orange peel, if desired
3 Cups cut up fresh rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
1 Tablespoon butter

9 inch pie
Pastry for 9 inch two crust pie
1 1/3 to 1 2/3 Cups sugar
1/3 Cup flour
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel, if desired
4 Cups cut up fresh rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
2 Tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare pastry. Stir together sugar, flour, orangepeel. Turn half the rhubarb into pastry lined pie pan. sprinkle with half the sugar mixture. Repeat withremaining rhubarb and sugar mixture; dot with butter. Cover with top crust which has slits cut in it; seal and flute. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover edge with a 2-3 inch wide strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; remove the last 15 minutes of baking.
Bake 40-50 minutes or until crust is brown and juices bubble up through slits in crust.

Variation
Rhubarb-Strawberry: Substitute sliced strawberries for half the rhubarb and use the lesser amount of sugar.

Cream Cheese Rhubarb Muffins (the only thing so far that I would let my kids eat on a regular basis)
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 cup diced fresh rhubarb
cinnamon sugar
In mixer, cream first five ingredients well. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and rhubarb. Add to creamed mixture, beating only until moistened. Spoon into muffin cups and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 375 degrees 18-20 minutes.

Where’s Caleb?

Luke took some photos of the pictures I sketched & painted and put them into a Word document. The actual book has the text printed right on the water color paper which is making copying the book a difficult task. It seems that a scanner doesn’t capture the finer details of the pictures. The digital pictures in the Word version aren’t quite right, either, because the lighting has to be just so in order to get the backgrounds perfectly white. Anyway, click on the link below to see kind of what the book is intended to be. Enjoy!

Where’s Caleb? by Valerie Burton

NOTE: the file is 16 MB, so be patient as it is downloading.