Monday, 28 July 2014

Hamburger Soup: A "Recipe"

This is my first blog about something that is not crochet, and it feels a little weird! Here we go....!

I love soups!  It doesn't matter what time of year it is, I'm always game for soup.  One of the great things about soup making is that it caters to my cooking style of "I don't really measure anything, I just throw it all in and see how it comes out."  A fellow crocheter (and an amazing designer to boot), Zelna Olivier of Zooty Owl 's Crafty Blog (who also has a crochet-a-long going on right now on her blog that you should give a try.  I'll post of pics of my squares soon!) mentioned making soup a day or two ago, and I can't quit thinking about Hamburger Soup!  She said she had never heard of it before, and that doesn't surprise me.  Until last year, I hadn't heard of it either.  My friend, Carla,  mentioned she was making it for dinner, and my curiosity was peaked!  So I started scouring the internet for recipes.  I tried a couple recipes at first, and then went off on my own and made my own version, tailoring it to my personal preferences.  That's another great thing about making your own soup- you can adjust things to make it better for your tastes easily.  I'm a person who loves onion, carrots, and green beans, so when I make soup, I usually have more of those than vegetables which I like but not as much as those others (like celery, tomatoes and potatoes).  I rarely write things down like this when I make them (but perhaps I ought to), but today I tried to pay attention to what I was putting in so that I could share my "recipe" with those who had asked for it.  Despite being made with hamburger, it's a fairly healthy soup with a lot of veggies.  Also, I don't cook using salt and pepper.  Foods have enough salt that occur naturally for my personal taste, and I'm just not huge on pepper.  However, if you are a person who likes their salt and pepper, you'll want to add those according to taste when you make this.

My preferred method for soup cooking is my Crockpot. There is nothing like your whole house smelling of a yummy, slow cooking soup all day.  I used my 4 quart Crockpot and it is full to about 1 inch below the rim- I'll keep an eye on it as it cooks and may possibly add some more broth to it later.  However, this soup can also be made on your stove top in a soup pot if you need it to be done sooner than 4-6 hours.  Simply combine the ingredients, bring it to a slow boil for about 5-10 minutes, and then let it simmer until the veggies are your desired texture. Also, there are a few vegetables that I used today that were canned.  Fresh will work just as well (if not better), but I didn't have any fresh green beans today, and I rarely have fresh tomatoes.  So I used what I had laying around, as I seem to be fighting a kidney infection, and I didn't feel up to leaving the house.  In contrast if you'd rather use all canned veggies, I'm sure that would work too, you just probably won't need to cook it as long.  This usually makes enough for us to have for dinner, and then we freeze the rest, giving us enough for another 2-3 meals.  It freezes really well, and tastes so good when reheated.  My soup smells yumtastic right now, I wish it was done cooking already!  Let me know if you try it!  Enjoy!
  Hamburger Soup
*Approx 2 lbs Ground beef- browned, drained, and RINSED (I run hot water over mine while it's in a colander)
* 1 1/2 - 2 White onion, chopped
* 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 cans green beans, drained
* 20 oz. petite diced tomatoes (I used ones that had garlic and onion in them)
* 24 oz garlic and herb flavored spaghetti sauce (most recipes call for just tomato sauce, which is okay too. However, I have found that using the spaghetti sauce gives it SO much more flavor!  Another good substittion is low sodium V8 juice)
* About 6-8 small new, yellow fleshed potatoes- sliced and then halved
* 14 baby carrots (the ones I had today though were MONSTER baby carrots!  I'm not sure I'd even consider them babies myself.  You may want to add more)
* two stalks of celery, chopped
* 1 900ml box of no salt added beef broth
* 2-3 TBSP of Heinz 57 sauce
*2/3 - 1 Cup dry red wine (depending on your preference, I've made it both ways and I like it with about 2/3, but if you aren't using the 57 sauce, I'd go 1 Cup)
*1/2 - 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
* parsley (I usually chop up fresh stuff and put in, but I was out, so I just used dried flakes)

Combine all these together in your Crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5.  I usually serve this with a crusty butter roll, and it makes a great meal (particularly in the Winter)!  The recipe for the crusty butter roll , you ask?  Here it is: 1. Drive to Safeway. 2. Buy crusty butter rolls from the bakery.  3. Eat and enjoy!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Something About A Summertime Ripple

I love to ripple.  For me, there is just something about rippling away on a Summer evening that is so peaceful and relaxing.  I'm a big fan of patterns that allow my mind to wander just a tad while working on them, but are interesting enough to keep me from getting bored after 5 rows.  The family and I set out for the beach about 12 or so days ago, and I decided that I would take some yarn along with me and start an afghan that could always remind me of our first family trip to the beach.  I had actually picked these colours out a few months ago, but couldn't decide exactly what was going to become of them- just that they WOULD become something together one day.  I had to do a good chunk of frogging already, as I changed my mind on how I wanted to pattern the colours.  Sometimes after you see something stitched up it just isn't what you had envisioned and you have to make some changes.  I have worked on six other projects since starting this blanket (only three of them are finished as of now), but I am trying to make sure that I give this blanket a little time each day.  I'm finally happy with the colour patterning, and have all five colours incorporated into the blanket now.  The photo above show how it is looking as of right now.  What do you think?  This is made with Stylecraft DK in the colours Shrimp, Sherbet, Mocha, Saffron, and Meadow.

As for the other projects I've been working on, one is a bag for my Mother in law for her to carry her Kobo and tablet in. I'll have pictures of that up in a few days.  I've also been working on Christmas gifts for my in laws.  Those pictures will be coming along soon as well.  I got a request the other day to make a hat and beard for my 5 month old niece.  What a fun idea!  So I made a practice beard for my son to try to get a gauge of some sort, since I can't really have her try on the beard and make adjustments since we are in different countries and all.  my little monkey loves his beard and it has been seeing good use!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Wonderful Day For Crochet Friends

First, let me apologize for my lack of entries as of late.  Between the teachers being on strike here, the kids being out of school, dance photos and recitals, and the oodles of things life has had in store for us the last month, I just haven't had enough juice at the end of the day to blog as I would like.  Things are settling down now, tough, so things should be back to as normal as they ever are.  

I had an exciting day I'd like to share about though.  The internet allows us the ability to interact with people from all over the world.  It is fabulous! As wonderful as online interactions are, there is simply no substitute for the real thing.  Today, I was lucky enough to have tea with Anne of Crochet Between Two Worlds who is in the Vancouver area on holidays!  I came across her blog (which she shares with her friend, Michelle) while reading comments on Attic24 one day, and it quickly became a favourite of mine!  

I was a little nervous at first.  I was wondering on my way there "What if we can't find anything to talk about?"  That was a not a problem at all!  Anne, my hubby and I sat out on the patio at Thierry Chocolates on a gorgeous Vancouver afternoon and happily chatted away about this, that, and the other.  Since Lucy of Attic24 just released the pattern for her bower bird  (hooray!) a couple of days ago, I thought that I would make one up for her to take back to Germany with her.  She turned out rather cute for being done in such a rush (I honestly just started it last night and finished it today)!  I'll be the first to admit that I am rubbish at embroidery, but I gave it a wingding nonetheless.

All too soon, our time was over, past over actually as our parking had expired.  We had left the children with Grandma and Grandpa, and since Grandpa is having surgery tomorrow, we didn't want him to over do anything today.  It was a wonderful visit, and I look forward to some day visiting Anne while we wander around Europe.  I'm so happy that crochet has brought a wonderful new friend into my life!  Thanks, for a wonderful day, Anne!