Posts Tagged ‘Soup’

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
George Bernard Shaw

Happy is said to be the family which can eat onions together. They are, for the time being, separate, from the world, and have a harmony of aspiration.
Charles Dudley Warner

Family. Can there be a more prickly source of joy and despair in our lives? Last night my children, Daryn and Kerryn, came to have dinner with me. We haven’t had a meal together just the three of us in years. There were a good many conversations that began “remember when…”

Daryn brought Kerryn his electronic key board (she wants to learn to play the piano and is planning to take piano lessons!) and while I got dinner on the table and took pictures of it, she began trying to play chopsticks. I was immediately transported back in time, wandering down memory lane. That was the one piece I taught them as youngsters and they loved the fact that we could all three play a part. Whenever we got near a piano back in the early years the three of us would play chopsticks.

Last night was special. My kids became kids again and I was the Mom. We were the family of origin once again.  The salient unit. Happy being together.

Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of THEM. I’m pretty sure they enjoyed having just the three of us together without spouses, grandchildren and extended family members present. We’ll have to remember to do it more often.

On the menu: “left over” Boef Bourguinon (I froze some of the beef and broth when I made it a couple of weeks ago and added fresh vegetables. Fairly quick and easy.) and Dairy Free “Buttermilk” Biscuits. It was a great meal for a night spitting rain and snow and the biscuits turned out really well.  So far I have had only one failure with my egg and dairy free adaptions of family recipes.  That’s amazing!

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn


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One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.  ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Last Sunday I tried a new recipe and baked a Dr Pepper Ham for a feast for the “kids.” I’ve heard about soda pops being used to tenderize meat but had never tried it.  Then a ham recently came into my life and while I was googling recipes to be sure I had the oven temperature and stuff right,  I ran into the Dr Pepper Ham recipe on The cooking Dude website and I had to try it and tweak it to make it my own. 

Dr Pepper just happens to be my favorite soda pop.  I can remember the first time I tried it.  I was at the Pibel Bible Church Camp and Jon Zlomke bought it for me. Ahhh…sweet memories.  But I digress, back to my very tiny, very retro 1980s  kitchen:

Actually I tried FIVE new (at least for some of the family) recipes for that dinner since I’m trying to adapt tried and true family recipes to the dairy and egg allergies that have recently been diagnosed. Reinventing the wheel so to speak. The menu:

Dr Pepper Ham*

Garlic Mashed potatoes and Cauliflower*

Roasted Beets*

Steamed Broccoli

Corn Bread*

Grandma’s Dilly Bread**

Vodka Apple Pie*

Everything turned out great except for the adaptation of Grandma Iola Gavin’s recipe for Dilly Bread (**found in The Joy of Cooking recipe book). I’m not sure exactly what went wrong because I went off course and mixed the batter up the night before and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight in the interests of saving time and energy when I had all that other stuff going on. That might not have been a good idea for batter bread.  I substituted soft tofu with a couple of tablespoons of almond milk for the cottage cheese and added a tablespoon of vinegar and extra baking soda to substitute for the egg. The rise didn’t ever quite get there and when I took it out of the oven it fell. :^(  It was really dense and seemed too “wet.” 

The good news is that it tasted quite similar to Grandma’s Bread.  I’ll have to try again because Dilly Bread is a big favorite and a must for a ham dinner at our house. I’m thinking there was too much moisture—I didn’t adjust the wet ingredients to account for the vinegar and the almond milk may have been overkill.

After a big ham dinner, what comes next? Why Ham & Bean Soup*, of course! My friend Mark Zakula is responsible for the ham dinner because we bartered for services. He drove my dog Igor and me to the vet and requested a batch of bean soup in return. As happy coincidence would have it, ham went on sale at my neighborhood store, Capitol Centre Market, that same week and we scratched the Ham Hock & Bean Soup in favor of that coveted ham bone and my “kids” got a ham dinner. :^)

I was “talking” to Bebe, author of the French Twisted Woman  blog here on WordPress, about cooking, recipes, and food photography and mentioned that I had made bean soup but neglected to get a picture but maybe I should post a picture of the blister I got rendering all of the carrots I put into it into ¼ cubes. She said she’d post a picture of one of her failures If I would post my blister picture. So here you are Bebe:

It had already begun to heal and wasn’t full of water anymore so it’s not as dramatic as I would have liked but if you look closely you can see it at the base of my index finger on the right. <heheheh>

Then I remembered that I actually had a couple of bowls of that soup in the refrigerator so here’s a picture of the soup too!


*All recipes can be found by post date in the new Recipe pages found in the tabs at the top of every post or by clicking the links on the menu posted above.

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn

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“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”  –Harriet Van Horne, Vogue 10/1956

“Fat gives things flavor.” –Julia Child

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”Julia Child

My daughter, Kerryn, grandson, Gabe and my son-in-law Mike’s recent discovery that they are dealing with food allergies as the cause of a variety of maladies they suffer from has started me on a quest to adapt or develop family recipes that are dairy and egg free as well as a few other things they can no longer eat . Here’s the latest:

 Hearty Savory Pumpkin soup (Dairy Free)

Fry one pound of pork or turkey sausage until browned in a large skillet on a medium high burner, breaking it up into bite-sized chunks. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon. If your sausage is low-fat (why bother), melt 1-2 table spoons margarine or butter (this is NOT diet food people!) and saute:

  • 1 large onion minced.
  • 2 ribs of celery diced (you may substitute 1 tsp celery seed)
  • 2-3 carrots diced
  • A large pinch of sea salt
  • a few cranks of the pepper mill or 1/8 tsp ground pepper

until the onion and celery are beginning to get soft. Add

  • 1 tsp thyme
  • a couple of large pinches of rubbed sage (¼ to ½ tsp?)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or one dried hot pepper (Jalapeno, Habanero, whatever…) crushed.

Continue to saute, stirring occasionally for another 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the celery is soft. Meanwhile in a large stock pot over medium heat melt, stirring constantly:

  • 1 TBS margarine or butter
  • 2 TBS creamy peanut butter

Slowly add, stirring constantly with a whisk:

  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • Another large pinch of sea salt
  • the sausage and sauteed vegetables

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes until the carrots have softened. Stir in:

  • 1 can or 2 cups of pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can of coconut milk or 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

At this point taste your soup and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if it needs it and pepper flakes if you like the heat. Be careful with the pepper flakes because they take on a life of their own. Add a very few at a time and let it cook for a minute or two and taste again before you add more. Heat slowly just until it starts to simmer and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You can skip this step but it really will help to improve and intensify the flavors. Turn off the heat and let it sit until it becomes room temperature then refrigerate it for 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Be sure you cover it so it doesn’t pick up any flavors from the stuff in the refrigerator. Bring it back to serving temperature and stir in 1 TBS of chopped parsley. Ladle into a bowl and drop a dollop of imitation sour cream, greek yogurt, or the real thing (if you aren’t doing dairy free)  to float on top.

I made this last night to taste test with Kerryn to determine if we liked it. We figure if SHE likes it then more than likely the rest of the Gavin-Lewellyn-Francis clan is going to like it. Namely the men in the family. They’ll pretty much eat anything that isn’t vomit worthy except for Gabe and he’s pretty picky–a typical kid who hates most vegetables. He and Kerryn both have food texture issues. Gabe doesn’t like “crunchy” onions in stuff as does Kerryn who also despises celery that has any amount of give to it in soups and things like stuffing. I learned years ago to saute onions and celery to the point of mush to get it past her.

We’ve decided it was a keeper. Kerryn said that it was the best soup she had ever had. I think that’s a little hyperbole on her part but it was pretty damn good. We decided that we wouldn’t tell Gabe it was pumpkin soup until  after he ate it. We don’t usually do that to him because it causes trust issues but she thinks I can get away with it. This would look great served in individual hearty artisan bread bowls (sunflower bread?) or a medium-sized pie pumpkin hollowed out and roasted until al dente used as a soup tureen or caldron, especially for a Halloween Supper. Toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds and some more fresh parsley sprinkled on top would be a nice touch.

This is my very own recipe that I came up with based on this recipe and this recipe from Cooks.com. Making up recipes that turn out as well as this one did is really gratifying. I also have to give kudos to my grandmother, Iola Gavin and my husband at the time, Skip Lewellyn who was a chef, for teaching me how to cook.

When I got married I didn’t even know how to cook cream of wheat, Skip’s favorite hot cereal, without it being full of lumps. Frankly, I thought cream of wheat was supposed to have lumps in it because that’s the only way I had ever had it. Let’s just say that while my Mother could and did cook some things very well she was an indifferent cook at best. She didn’t particularly enjoy cooking. It was just something she had to do as a Mom and Wife.

My Grandma Gavin, on the other hand, was a goddess in the kitchen. I can remember sitting at her kitchen table in the house on Brown Street in Clay Center, NE watching her bake bread, make donuts and cakes and fry chicken. I loved being there with her. I loved eating her food. One of my fondest memories of Grandma Gavin is of her making chocolate cake for someone’s birthday and pulling a jar of home-canned dill pickles out of the refrigerator and pouring some of the juice into a measuring cup with really thick fresh from the farm cows cream in it. She winked at me and said “Now, Barbara, don’t you tell anyone you saw me do this. This is my secret ingredient that makes the cakes taste so good.” Isn’t that great? I think about Grandma Gavin a lot when I am in the kitchen.

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When you have a good stock, you can make a good soup.
You can do almost anything with soup stock, it’s like a strong foundation. When you have the right foundation, everything tastes good.
Martin Yan
Non-cooks think it’s silly to invest two hours’ work in two minutes’ enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet.

January is  National Soup Month and the 15th is National Soup Day so I started a batch of beef broth for soups, stews and gravies yesterday.  Homemade beef broth is sooo much better than the canned stuff.  Your family’s taste buds will thank you for this homey cold weather treat and it’s good for the rest of your body.  Check out this article at LivingStrong.com for information about the benefits of simmering a stock pot of bones for several days.

Yesterday I scored 13 pounds of grass-fed beef bones  for $2.00 a pound at the Dane County Farmer’s Market which is held on the Capitol Square in Madison during fair weather.  It  moved to the Madison Senior Center at 330 West Mifflin on the January 7th.  Lucky me!  It’s right next door across the back courtyard of my building.  Actually it’s in the same building but I have to go outside to get there.

Mostly I got the bones for my dog because a good raw beef marrow bone a couple of times a week keeps his teeth clean, gives him some good nutrients such as calcium  and make him a happy camper gnawing on his bones.  These are lovely meaty bones too.  It would be a pure shame not to make myself some good broth from them.  The vendor is:  Fountain Prairie Inn and Farms.  You have to ask for the soup bones and pre-order them so they can bring some to the next market for you because they usually don’t have them on hand at the market but somebody failed to show up for their bones so they called me and made me very happy.

They serve a great breakfast every Saturday at the Senior Center Market and the room is crowded with vendors selling and buyers buying everything from frost-sweetened spinach to Chocolate Fire cookies.  I can vouch for the yummy cookies w/a subtle peppery bite but I don’t like mature spinach, frost-sweetened or otherwise.  It tastes too green.  I’ll wait for the baby spinach in the spring.  I also got half a free range chicken for $2.99 a pound.  Can’t wait to cook it.

So, here’s my recipe for beef broth.  I’m not a purist who just boils up some bones and beef.  I add vegetables, the holy trinity or what the French call mirepoix also known as aromatics. (3 stalks of celery, 4 medium or two large onions,  and 3 good-sized carrots (do not peel) cut into 2 inch chunks, ) 3 large cloves of garlic (smashed and roughly chopped) and some spices (a bay leaf, some rosemary, and thyme (a 1/2 tsp of each give or take of dried spices a full tsp or more of fresh) and about a tablespoon of chopped parsley), salt to taste, a few cracked peppercorns, a dash of red wine vinegar (less than 1/8 cup.  This leaches the minerals out of the bones) and a cup or so of a hearty red wine (Burgundy is the best for taste but cheap old cooking wine will suffice) to a pound of stew meat and one to three pounds of bones or more depending on how meaty they are.  In case you haven’t figured it out I really don’t measure any of this, I just do it by feel.  Later I taste and add more of whatever I think it needs it.  If I have some mushrooms around that are on the verge of going bad, I’ll add them.  Ditto for parsnips and rutabagas.

First I drizzle some good olive oil on  the beef, bones, and vegetables and roast them in my cast iron skillets (using cast iron ensures good caramelization and adds iron to the stock when I deglaze the skillets after the roasting is done) in a hot oven (400*), turning them occasionally  until they are caramelized  a rich dark brown.  Then I put that and all the other stuff into a big stock pot and add water until the bones are covered by a good inch.  Bring it to a simmer on medium high heat and then lower the temperature to simmer and let it cook for at least 3 days stirring occasionally.

I’m around all the time so it doesn’t matter if I have a pot simmering on the stove but for safety’s sake you can do this in a large crock pot. Stir it periodically and add more water if need be to keep the bones covered.  Then drain it through a fine mesh strainer into a container large enough to hold it, pour a couple of cups of plain boiling water over the mess in the strainer to leach out the rest of the goodness and then throw away the bones and stuff.  There you have it, rich delicious beef stock.

You can reduce/condense it by putting it back onto the stove to simmer until some of the water has evaporated so it will take up less space.  When it has cooled a bit, pour it into some nice pasta sauce jars you have washed and saved and store it in the refrigerator.  When it’s cold you can scrape most of the fat off the top.  You should have at least 2 quarts if not three or more.  Stock can be frozen for up to three months.  I use plastic for freezing.  Be sure you leave some space for expansion in your container.

Next, my daughter’s recipe for beef burgundy stew since I bought that big ol’ bottle of burgundy.

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