Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best Potato Soup Recipe!

I’ve been making this for years, it is the boys favorite, and it’s SO easy….just a bit messy in the makings, but worth it! AND. It gets better the next day and the day after as all the flavors blend and it thickens up!

There are lots of recipes for low-fat-no-fat-this-and-that, and this is NOT one of them! However, when you divide the fat by the 8-10 large servings this recipe makes, I find it to have less fat than what most people load on their baked potatoes. I know there is a recipe for a lower fat roux using chicken stock and flour, but it just doesn’t TASTE the same!

This recipe is great for a quick meal because I can make the white sauce while the potatoes boil.

In a pinch, I’ve even grabbed a 2lb bag of diced frozen hash-browns and used them instead of peeling, slicing, dicing 2 lbs of potatoes.


Once upon a time, I used to have one of those french fry press things called a Veg-O-Matic! It was a wedding gift and I used it for years. You peel the potato, push it through the thing and you’d have fries! And I would boil them down as fries and mash them in the water with a potato masher to break them into bite size pieces, but the french fry press gave up the ghost a long time ago and I never replaced it. After doing a search for a pic on these, I found they are still available..what a hoot! I don’t think I will replace it ---but seeing the pic sure takes me back!

I also have this MOULI thing – got it from a yard sale about 20 years ago or more for something like $3.00.


and mine is probably about as OLD as this one! I used this to slice the cheese for sandwiches when Lisa was over the other day and she said “What IS that thing?!?” Rolling on the floor laughing

Love that 70’s Cheddar Orange color! I’m not that lucky, mine is TAN! It’s very easy and I use it all the time. You slide the blade in, put the handle through the hole in the blade…put the cheese, the potato, the onion, whatever it is you want to slice or grate in the space, push the cover arm down on it and rotate the handle. No electricity, easy clean up, in the dishwasher it goes, and voila. And this is what I’m using to make my Potato Soup with – I’m going to grate the potatoes with the LARGEST grater, and boil them that way.

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So on to the recipe:

  • Approximately 2 lbs potatoes, washed, peeled, diced (or largely grated) (About 4-5 potatoes depending on the size)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Place in large soup pot with water to a bit more than cover. Boil until potatoes are done, adding more water if needed. I use a potato masher to break the grated pieces into smaller bits as they boil. Do not drain water!

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First pic: Roux Second pic: Soup in the Pot!

While potatoes are boiling:

  • Fry up 6-8 slices of bacon in a large fry pan. Allow to drain on paper towels, and when cool crumble.
  • Stir 1/3 cup flour into the warm bacon drippings and stir into a smooth roux. (There should be approx 3 Tbl drippings)
  • Add 2 cups of milk (We use 1%) and bring to a boil to thicken. It will get VERY thick.

When potatoes are done, and sauce is thick, stir the sauce into the potato soup ((if your soup is very watery, you might want to drain some before adding the sauce)) Soup will thicken as it cools. Stir in bacon crumbles.

If you like more vegetables in your soup ((I do, family doesn’t! Nyah-Nyah )) You can add celery, sweet corn, and sliced or diced carrots to the boiling potatoes! Frozen peas & carrots also work in a pinch and add nice color.

Add salt and pepper as desired. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes to cool and thicken before serving. Serve with crackers and top with grated cheese. Choppped green onions or chives are also yummy and pretty!

This is great and hearty served with a nice green salad!


And Since We’ve No Place To Go ---

Let it SNOW!! Let it SNOW!! Let it SNOW!!

It started coming down yesterday morning around 11am…..

We went to the movies to go see True Grit at 2:25pm – It’s a Christmas Matinee Tradition! ((This started somewhere around the release of the first Harry Potter, and the Lord of the Rings series and has continued on..))

When we arrived home after the movie…this was the view from the top of our driveway!

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And it kept coming, and coming! And it is still snowing!

This morning I looked out the back door that leads to the back deck and was greeted with this sight:

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Guess we won’t be “cooking out!” today! Sadie was having a ball running around and burying her nose in the snow..she loves it!  The cats? Not so much!

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I love it when the limbs are laden and frosted with snow! This is the view off the back deck by the grill! What a gorgeous sight for the morning after Christmas!

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Here I was on the front porch….The whole world out there is a Winter Wonderland!  At this point though, we are worried about Jason and Kim making it back to Columbia SC today. Kim has to work her shift at the hospital tomorrow, and the snow and Ice has also hit Columbia, so their going may be slow and nerve wracking. Kim tried to switch shifts, but so far no avail. We are telling them to wait for the warmest time of the day, when the interstate may be more clear due to home-bound traffic --- But still! Wish they could stay one more day!

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This is the back of the house from down by the creek looking up…aren’t those branches just lovely!? Yes, I did put my boots on….I had to photoshop this next pic…can you see how deep the snow is? It’s a good 4” at least, and like I said, it is still coming down!

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That’s my boot print!! I’m prepared to not go anywhere. Leftover ham is going to be the startings for a big pot of potato soup today. We’ve got plenty of fire wood, the power has stayed on ((Thank heavens for that, that’s always my worry.)) And I have family around me and lots of projects to work on. I do wish I could escape the video games playing at full blast on the 65” living room TV…that is a bit much for me to handle, but all in all..I’ve got it dang good!

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And yes, I did get the binding on the pink/brown quilt yesterday! I’ve got about 1/3 of the last side left to bind, and stitch the hanging sleeve down. And then, since my under-finger has had a day of rest, I can get back to quilting the center!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning and all is Still…..

We’ve been having a wonderful Christmas, and I wanted to peek in just to wish you all the Merriest!

The best part by far is having Jason, Kim & Jeff here, and watching them interact with each other! How did my little boys grow into such wonderful young men? And Kim? She is the daughter I always longed for, and I’m so glad and grateful for the life that she and Jason are sharing together. My heart just about swells to bursting when I think of it. At this moment “All is Calm, All is Bright”…in my world.

I’ve spent MUCH time with my feet up the past couple of days doing lots of THIS:

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I’ve started the 3rd row of fans, working my way toward the center. Dealing with these tiny pieces and their seam allowance is kind of slow going….can’t load as many stitches on to my needle when going through them, but when I hit the open areas on the white…AHHHH! If you look close, you can see that I’m using my little wheel marker ((I think it’s a Fons& Porter one)) with the yellow chalk to mark my lines. Yes….this one I AM using a stencil because it’s a very formal quilt, and I wanted large even fans, something I can’t do when free-handing them.

Kim is so sweet, she said she loves this quilt the best and can she have it? You know, that is the way straight to my heart, when someone wants a quilt that badly to ask for it! BUT --- I told her it would probably be on my deathbed as it will most likely take me that long to finish it! Never the less, she WILL get it --- some day. :c)

I’ve gone far enough now toward the center and away from the outside edge that I’m planning on giving my poked up underfinger a break today…I’m going to trim the excess batting and backing and put the binding on. That is going to help protect the raw edges of the border fabric, and it won’t interfere with my hoop as I continue to quilt inward. And it will look A LOT better. Those edges are raggedy!

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We went out for Christmas Eve dinner at our fave Japanese place last night --- we called ahead to find out how long they were staying open! ((Learned this lesson last year when we had no kitchen, and all we could find open on the holiday was the Chinese Buffet! Rolling on the floor laughing )) We made it in time, and really enjoyed the evening. Pardon the grainy iphone pic, but it was a spur of the moment capture.

Jason and Dave were nuts enough to go golfing yesterday when it was only 35 degrees out! Kim and I occupied ourselves inside, and then went to the store to grab the last of what we need food-wise, and we ended up making the yummiest fruit salad for dinner tonight! SO EASY!

Yogurt Ambrosia

2 c. sm curd low fat cottage cheese

1 sm package sugar free lemon jello (dry)

17 oz can mandarin oranges

1 c halved, seedless red grapes

1 c light lemon yogurt

2 c mini marshmallows

8 oz can pineapple tidbits (I think my can was bigger than this, I put the whole thing in anyway!)

1 c flaked coconut

Mix and cover. Chill for 2-24 hours. Makes A LOT! (but we ate some for a snack last night just to test it out and it was so good!)

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Merry Christmas Whiskers & Wishes from Oscar and the Hunter Clan to you, wherever you are!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Elves are Busy!

Jason and Kim are arriving late tonight, so I’ve been sprucing up the guestroom to make it a soft place for THEM to land after a long day working, and a 3 hour drive from Columbia SC to Wallburg, NC! I’m so excited to have both of my boys here for Christmas!

Of course, this meant that I had to clean bathrooms…which means that Emmy Lou is close at hand to inspect that I’ve cleaned the tub right…and that I’ve left enough in it for her to drink! She LOVES to drink from the tub. It never fails, as soon as I’m out of the shower, she is IN IT. Weird cat…but she doesn’t like regular water sources, so whatever floats her boat!

This morning Lisa and Shelby showed up at my door….along with Lisa’s BIG WOOLIE! ((If you click on the link above, you’ll see a great pic of Shelby as Lisa’s header pic!)) She has been piecing on this wool strip quilt for a while, and it’s SO cozy, and quite the heavy beast! Just the top weights what seems like 30 lbs….and then…today….we added a flannel backing, and a warm & natural batting! WOAH!!

We quilted it with Baptist Fans, and because the wool is so stretchy and pushy, I had to teach Lisa how to surf on either side of the needle to man-handle the fullness and stretchiness.

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Here she is, working that fabric! The main spots were were watching were where the 4 blocks come together. Wool is pretty heavy, even with pressing the seams open, the thick spots made it harder for the hopping foot to get across those areas….

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She is getting to be quite the pro at this machine! Just remember, if anything goes amiss HIT THE RED BUTTON!! Confused smile

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Look how fun the fans are on this! We made the fans about 9” tall….the lines are not too close together, but perfect for the scale of the strips in the blocks.

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Close up of the yummy wools in this quilt…I love the gold to green to blue to brown..it’s going to be so warm!

We dug through my stash….I had two pieces of a grey tweedy looking flannel that will work perfect for binding, and I’m happy to see it go to a good home! I just know her hubby is going to love it—even if he won’t be able to roll over under it! Rolling on the floor laughing

So…it’s Thursday! You know what that means? Step 6 of Roll Roll Cotton Boll goes live in the wee small hours of Friday morning! We are nearing the point where you will know what you are making. This Mystery has 8 steps, so we have to start putting these units together at some point, don’t we? Well, maybe I’ll just keep you stumped for a little bit longer, it sure has been FUN!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gifties of the Season!

The Santa Express has been busy this year! Look what came into my mailbox! I found a darling snowman card ((I am so in love with snowmen, more than any other Christmas Icon! In my book, Snowmen are appropriate from Thanksgiving all the way to Easter depending where you live!)) with a lovely note from Mona, and look! She sent me a “Birthday Girl” Block from the Quiltmaker Magazine’s 100 blocks vol 2!

I love this so much! Thanks Mona! I especially love how you colored the triangles around the center pinwheel…that adds so much motion!

I enjoyed a wonderful lunch yesterday with Karen and Lisa at a little Irish pub in Winston Salem called Finnigan’s Wake. The lunches there just can’t be beat – they had a chicken pot pie and salad special for only $7.00 And it was to DIE for. Just what I needed on a cold December afternoon. Of course, the cheese cakes served in shot glasses were the perfect finish…I had some caramel pecan thing that was so rich, a shot glass size was ENOUGH, no more! ((Or…..I would have eaten the whole thing regardless of the size, you know?))

Winston Salem has a thriving art community, and every year there are art events and sales, and in so totally KAREN-STYLE…..she surprised me with a lovely handmade piece of pottery. I love pottery!! And….Tada…she filled it with…

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3/4” per side hexagons she cut with her creative memories punch from left over Christmas cards!! Isn’t this great?! They are just the size I am using and now I can look at the pictures as I grab each one from the bowl. You can read parts of messages, and get glimpses of what the card might have been before it was repurposed into hexie papers. Thanks Karen!

We are planning some girlfriend sewing time between Christmas and New Years…which means, on top of everything else, I need to spend some time re-shuffling stuff down here in the studio. Over the past few weeks it’s become a dumping ground for miscellaneous fall-out since the last time we sewed.

You know, it’s a good thing to have people over once in a while. It keeps us from letting things become CHAOS ((Cant. Have. Anyone. Over. Syndrome!!))

Last night I *DID* do just what I said I was going to do. I laid low and slow and sat on the couch with a fire going in the wood stove and worked on hexagons while watching a couple movies.

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All of the short border sections are added! And I added one of the long star point sections so you can see that coming together! I only have FOUR MORE long star point border sections to finish and this round will be done! I’m thinking how I’m going to fill in the outside edges to make this quilt more square. Or…do I want to make it a rectangle by adding more piecing to just the top and bottom in another motif? I love that look, where they take a square quilt and just add something else to only the top and bottom.

Visions of hexagons are dancing in my head instead of sugar plums! ((What is a sugar plum anyway, and is it any good?)) And I’m semi-calculating - - It took more than my flights to Vegas and back to piece that one long star point. Which means…. 4 more long trips to and from to get the other ones done. I think I’m not as close as I think I am!

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Are you tired of seeing this? It’s a SLOW process to do something like this by hand. Very much worth it..but I’m afraid I’m boring you with it! But I love how the 3 blossom units come together in that star point!

Which brings up another question….do you find yourself gravitating to mostly “quick fix” easy/small quilt-in-a-day kind of projects, or do you like things that you can mark the passing of time with? I talked to Lisa about this kind of thing when we were at the beach. She was working on applique sashings for a quilt, and they’ve been her “emergency” project for years. It sits in a basket, and when she goes somewhere and it fits the bill, they just come with her. It’s a no deadline project. And then there are the projects with deadlines ---and we all have those!

But if I were listing UFOs…these long term projects, that are worked on in small amounts of time here and there as a fill in, are they really UFOs? I don’t think so! For me, UFOs are things that have come to a complete standstill, like over a year has passed since the last time I worked on it.  To me it’s kind of like my airline miles. If I’ve used some of them in the past year, it keeps the others from expiring!

I better get going. I’m trying to get into a cleaning mood, but it isn’t working! However, I did wipe down the inside of the fridge the other night…does that count for brownie points at all??

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Slowing Down….

Christmas is Saturday! How can that be? And New Years? How can that be a week from Saturday? Doesn’t it feel like it should be far away still? Like…..there is no way this year has passed this quickly?

I tackled a bunch of mundane stuff yesterday and it was nice just going through the motions..not thinking too hard, just doing the next thing on the list. Winding down to enjoy the holiday.

Jason and Kim are coming late Thursday night when they get off work. We’ll have three whole days! Not sure what we are going to do, but I asked Jason via facebook if he had any requests for special meals he’s missed. His reply? “Do NOT spend 8 hours cooking for a meal that takes 15 minutes to eat!” Thank you son!

We hit the grocery store last night…..picked up a spiral ham. The leftovers will be great for sandwiches or fried up for breakfast. Used in soups, casseroles…I just can’t do two TURKEY holidays close together, and Christmas means ham for me!

I want to do SOME easy baking…..so we wandered down the baking supplies aisle, and there was NOT A SINGLE package of BROWN SUGAR to be found in the store! The whole of High Point, NC must be baking at present! It’s okay…I’ll hit somewhere else today, there are a few other things I need.

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Last Friday Dad and I rented a car and drove out to Hoover Dam! You can see by this pic that it was very overcast and a bit rainy. But here we are coming over the rise and seeing the beginnings of the lake! By this time on Friday I was READY to get out of the strip area, and we had a great time doing this….just driving and looking at scenery. It is so very very different than the surroundings I have here in NC. I think of pioneers and others that crossed this vast wasteland, and I just can’t imagine what it was like 100 years ago!

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Dad on the path way up to the new bridge…

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Me at the Welcome to Nevada Sign! At this point we had crossed into Arizona!

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We were so SO SO high up on this bridge! And here I am..it’s raining, and my hands are cold, and I’m trying to get a picture…and I nearly NEARLY dropped my phone over the railing!! I felt it slip, and slammed my hand down on the railing, pinning my phone between my hand and the rail….it NEARLY took a nose dive over the edge. I could see it now…bye bye phone! My heart was pounding to think I saved it from such a fate…but from that point on..I let DAD take all the pics!

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This is just the most amazing site!

It worked well to get the rental car on Friday, because we used it to return ourselves to the airport on Saturday morning, dropping off the car, and catching the shuttle to the terminal. Great planning, Dad!

I’ve got a lunch date today with two of my favorite quilters – Lisa and Karen! And I’d really like to snuggle in later this afternoon, a fire in the woodstove –and spend the rest of the time I have home through the holidays just hand quilting away on the Pink & Brown DJ. It’s been at a standstill for a while again, too many other irons in the fire…but I don’t fly out anywhere until something like Jan 9…..and I plan to lay low and slow til then!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Goodbye, Vegas–Hello, HOME!

I had a lovely lovely unbelievably fun time with my Dad! The weather was fair, we had a bit of rain, but it seemed to happen mostly in between what we were doing, and it didn’t affect us much!

I arrived on Tuesday, and found my dad waiting for me at the baggage claim….since my flight was delayed, he had been sitting there in a chair by my carousel for over two hours!

But this apple didn’t fall far from the tree, and the tree, being Dad, was busily engaged with his laptop, his phone, his e-reader and didn’t mind the wait!

We checked into our room at Treasure Island, dropped off our stuff, and went wandering to get our “lay of the land” and make plans on where we wanted to eat, etc. We also had to procure tickets for the two shows we decided on: Mystere, a Cirque du Soleil production, and Jersey Boys, a musical about Frankie Valli and the 4 seasons. Both turned out to be FABULOUS choices, and my favorite was Jersey Boys on Thursday night. I grew up to Frankie Valli music because my parents played it. It was just SO SO SO good! And since being home, I have to admit I added the Frankie Valli channel to my Pandora internet radio and am really enjoying these oldies! Especially when Christmas music 24/7 is getting a BIT MUCH for my brain to handle.

There is so much to see just walking the streets, and our favorite was the volcano erupting at the Mirage on the hour! We watched it twice, one night from the street level, and the other time from up above at the Mirage…..vegas2010 027

These pics were taken with my phone, so pardon any night-time grainy-ness!

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I think we walked MILES and MILES! You know, the hotels are SO HUGE, they are like little cities, with shops and restaurants all inside, and If the weather is really bad, you never ever have to go outside!

I am “NOT” a big shopper unless it is quilting related, or maybe bookstore type stuff, and the only thing I ended up buying was a pair of shorts and a top for the fitness center! I forgot to pack my own and I wasn’t going to pass up on the fitness center, it was awesome! Rolling on the floor laughing That’s one area where Dad and I differ. I’m an early to bed, early to rise girl, and he pushes it past midnight and sleeps in til 8am, so I made good use of that time by getting up and going to the gym.

Dad found a great deal at the Sony store in the forum shops at Ceasar’s Palace—he turned in his old e-reader for a new one, and they gave him $75.00 off the price. He was as happy as a kid in a toy store!

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Dad asked me where ideas for quilts come from….and I looked across the street and pointed to this building! Ideas for patchwork are everywhere! Look at this brick pattern. COOL!

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Look at this tile floor! I see a quilt, don’t you?! After spending a few days pointing things out to Dad, I think he got the idea….

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Look at this one!

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And that triangle border! Weeeeeeeeeeee! I also like the cable as a quilting design..ideas are everywhere. I am very geometrically charged, so I tend to see things in squares, rectangles, triangles, etc…

vegas2010 019 We had a great time walking through the different hotels and their prospective malls just looking at things! ((More grainy pics, but you do what you can with what you’ve got! This couple offered to take our pic together and we obliged!))

The Venitian hotel had a canal going through it, and you could take a gondola ride!

However, the water was EXTREMELY blue, and it looked to me like there had been a tidy bowl accident to get it colored that way!

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I’m still playing with pics and finding out how to get text to go where I want it.

The last time I was in Vegas was probably over 10 years ago, and it had changed SO MUCH. What I really liked is now they have pedestrian overpasses so you don’t have to cross on street level as much. This was great. It also provided a nice view as you crossed over the street, you could stop and take pics, etc.

However, food was much more expensive than I remember it ever being! The days of the $3.99 egg breakfast are LONG OVER, and I paid something like $12.00 for pancakes the first morning in the coffee shop in the hotel. Surprised smile From that point on we decided to be a bit more discriminating, and found ourselves at Outback for dinner that night, and avoided anything attached to any hotel. There was a Dennys for breakfast down the street the next day, our walking had showed us where things were that were more affordable.

Oh, and here is the other thing….though I got a great rate online for our room and pre-paid it…the hotel charges an additional $20 per day “resort fee” that you can’t get out of. That greatly increased our projected expenses. So plan on that if you go…And there is no coffee machine in the hotel room, you can order from room service ($$$) or go down to the starbucks in the lobby. I really missed having the availability of at least hot water for a cup of tea or cocoa in the morning!

I’ll write more later….this morning is already flying! Laundry needs to be started and errands need to be ran. Jason and Kim are coming for Christmas!