Monday, February 23, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

Ah I fell in love with this soup all over again this weekend. It's been awhile since I made it and now that I found a new sausage that makes everything taste good, this is a winter day recipe that's hard to beat.

1 package of Gautney 40% lower fat sausage meat without the casings
3-4 leeks sliced without the green tops (first time I made this I didn't know you weren't supposed to use the dark green tops of leeks)
4 potatoes, thickly chopped
1 onion chopped
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. ground thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 quart of chicken stock
a few cups of milk to make the soup creamy
2-3 Tbs. flour

Brown the sausage in a frying pan and drain the fat. Add to the ol' Crock-pot with all the rest of the ingredients except the milk and flour. Cook for abut5-6 hours on low or until the potatoes are tender. Turn the Crock Pot to high. In a small bowl combine the flour with a few Tbs. of the soup liquid, adding a Tbs. at a time until the mixture forms a paste. Then add to the rest of the soup, blending until smooth. Add the milk and heat until ready to serve.

I used this recipe, the promise of some bread and butter pudding and a hot bath with story time to lure Paul to go on a run with me on Sunday afternoon. It worked, and he was amazing- completing a half hour of running with me with hardly a complaint once I got him out the door. And it was freezing outside. I carried out my promises too, but forgot to make the bread and butter pudding as we got saddled into helping a neighbor bring her treadmill in from the garage.

Sunday was a perfect day as I took the day off after church from studying (back to getting ready for the Professional Geologist exam on March 6th), had some good quality time with Paul and it was really relaxing. Today I'm back into Hendersonville for some groundwater sampling and although the work is tough, it's good to see the familiar faces.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Paul's Birthday Weekend (and Valentines)

What a fun weekend we had! I decided to surprise Paul and plan something for him that didn't involve getting up early, doing a long drive or staying out all day. He likes to chill out on weekends since the workdays are so long, and so I thought the best thing to do is head into Charlotte, the city we are so close to but have hardly ever been to (downtown that is). Actually, Charlotte calls their downtown "Uptown." We left at the leisurely hour of 1:00 when we started to get hungry enough for lunch. To add to the adventure, I drove us to the train station to ride the Lynx to the city center. It was a lot of fun, relaxing, no traffic involved and no parking meters to worry about.

We walked around on the main center of town and then went to Ri-Ra's for lunch, a great little Irish Pub that has the traditional British cuisine and decor. We then headed to the Levine Museum where they had the opening day of an exhibit about how the south has changed over the years, with a focus on Charlotte. This was very cool!
On the way back to the train station on 7th st, we found a grocery store that had a coffee bar and we each got a hot chocolate.

That was it for us on Saturday. We got back and Paul put in "The Incredible Hulk" and I promptly fell asleep on the couch while he watched the movie. I've had a cold this week so I keep falling asleep!
Today we slept in (ahhhh) and then had a full bacon and egg breakfast. I made some chicken salad and a fruit salsa with cinnamon tortilla chips and brought an assortment of cheeses and bread and drinks and we headed down to the Andrew Jackson State Park in SC around 2:30. We were there on Memorial weekend too, and hardly anyone there both times.

Paul loved his surprise picnic and when we were done, he shared a few pieces of bread with the locals.
Some were waiting very stoically, and proud and didn't seem to want to ask for handouts.

And others were a little more impatient, coming right up on the blanket behind us.

This little guy was not shy at all and wasn't afraid to ask for food! I thought he was going to bite, but he just kept putting his bill near our shoulders - couldn't get any closer - until we gave him a piece. When he was done he kept making chewing sounds as if to say, "come on, where's my next slice? I'm tired of eating grass!"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A beautiful day

It has been so cold this winter that we've hardly been outside unless necessary, and I got more than my fill in January with 3 weeks of field work in the coldest weeks in Charlotte in 4 years. When I stepped out of church this afternoon it was at least 20 degrees warmer out than when I went in (or so it seemed). So Paul and I spent the afternoon outside washing the salt off the cars(from the snow a few weeks ago), we hosed down bird cages and cleaned the garage a little. I still had a pile of vines in the backyard that I had cut down out of the trees in December that still needed to be put in the trash. It was such a nice day that the chores didn't feel like chores. Even the birds enjoyed being outside without complaint.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but we started a compost pile about a month ago and it seems to not be doing much since all our kitchen vegetable scraps are still as good as new when I go to turn the pile. Nothing is decomposing and I guess it's because the weather has essentially been a freezer, preserving everything till the spring! I am excited to see some progress and so looking forward to more warm days like today.

The funny thing about the compost pile is that Mrs. Neighbor across the way has spotted it hiding inconspicuously in the "back 40" as I call it. She asked me, "What is that big thing back there?" I explained our new composting mission and she wasn't too impressed. Her husband calls us "the environmental neighbors." I had anticipated that the compost pile might not be a favorite, so I planned ahead and used the tidiest materials to build it so that it doesn't stand out too much and I kept with the homeowner's association code which states that structures under 3' high do not need prior approval by the association. So I opted to keep it to 2'11" so as to escape hassel.