We made a double batch of this wonderful potato soup on Sunday. I had both grandchildren of Marie Hodge present as taste testers to confirm the authenticity of the recipe.
Back in 2001, I contacted my then living grandmother, Doris Andrea, for recipes and stories to be included in a local church anniversary cookbook. This was one of the recipes she provided me. The story she told me to accompany this soup hailed back to the hard days of the Great Depression and making simple hearty meals that stretched ingredients.
Addendum (updated 8:15 am 11/09/2015): Some specifics on the double batch version of this recipe we created in my kitchen yesterday morning include using two 3-pound bags of organic russet potatoes, about half of an organic yellow onion and a few stalks of organic celery. The rest of the ingredients, with the exception of the bacon, were non-organic. Instead of a quart of milk, we used a quart of half-and-half (store brand).
The bacon was an uncured natural version from Farmland. To bake bacon in the oven, cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (makes cleanup easy) and place the strips of bacon so they just barely touch. I can usually get an entire 12 ounce package of bacon on my largest baking sheet. Place the sheet in a cold oven and set the temperature for 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the timer for 20 minutes and check the doneness of the bacon when it dings, adding more time if you want it more done and/or crispier.
For my twenty-eight posting in my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness‘ blog series, I am extremely thankful for the Interstate Highway System championed by the only President hailing from Kansas (albeit as a transplant from Texas): Dwight D. Eisenhower. Thanks to his vision and backing, construction was authorized by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and took 35 years to complete. The network has since been extended and as of 2006 it had a total length of 46,876 miles. About one-third of all miles driven in the country use the Interstate system (2003 figures). The cost of construction has been estimated at $425 billion (in 2006 dollars), making it the largest public works project in history (for more interesting facts and trivia about the Interstate Highway System, please click here).
Last Wednesday, my husband and I embarked on our third annual trip to North Texas via the Kansas Turnpike (consisting of I-70, I-470, I-335 and I-35), paying for the privilege to drive from one end of it to the other for just $10.75, continuing on through Oklahoma and about forty miles of Texas to reach Denton. Within just the past couple of months, Kansas raised the speed limit on all Interstates to 75 mph, which made the trip from Kansas City through Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia, the Flint Hills and Wichita, seem to fly by. Oklahoma, however, still maintains a 70 mph speed limit and thanks to the ‘no delay’ Dallas interchange (between I-35 and I-40) and all the attendant reduced speed zones through the Oklahoma City metropolitan area makes the trip south seem to drag on forever. Terry slept through the second half of Oklahoma and I listened to music via my Nook Color. I had to switch from Heart‘s Greatest Hits (which started to put me to sleep) to Iron Maiden‘s Powerslave (nearly all the songs on this album race along at tempos that rival the Trooper). I managed to stay awake and arrived in Denton just as the sun was setting.
For the rest of the weekend, we visited Rachelle, Nic, Derek and Royna, enjoying a fabulous smoked turkey and ham with the usual Thanksgiving fixings. I made two batches of sticky buns, which didn’t survive more than an hour or so once they came out of the oven.
We avoided any of the early bird Black Friday sales, but attended the special Black Friday show at the Abbey Underground. Saturday we spent more time visiting and watching movies, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Tower Heist and Super 8. We had some dysfunctional family comedy at the movie theater Saturday evening and drama early Sunday morning, but nothing that we couldn’t overcome and laugh about. Sunday we did some more shopping and then spent the evening reliving my childhood by trying to tune in television stations with an indoor antenna.
Yesterday, Terry and I were up early to hit the road north, since we had a pickup time at the kennel of six o’clock to retrieve Roxy and Apollo. We left Denton at 6:55 and pulled into the driveway in Lansing at 3:25 p.m.
We experienced an uneventful drive for the most part, except for an incident involving an Oklahoma State Trooper. He pulled me over, not because I was speeding, but claiming I had crossed over the white line (the one between the right lane and the right shoulder) several times and was concerned that I was suffering from fatigue from driving too long (I’d only been on the road a couple of hours by then so no, I wasn’t tired, nor do I believe I was weaving erratically around the highway). He asked for my driver’s license but not my registration or insurance. He also asked for my husband’s driver’s license, which always makes Terry angry, but he restrained himself from sarcastic outbursts. Essentially, the only reason this trooper pulled us over is (most likely) that we had out-of-state tags and he was fishing for illegal drugs (good luck with that) or outstanding warrants (ditto on that one). I need to poll my attorney friends and determine if when pulled over, an officer can ask for passenger identification without stating a reason. Otherwise, it might be harassment or just a way to extend the length of the stop. The officer did not ticket me, but gave me some kind of warning (not really a warning, just a record of our contact) for me to sign. I signed (since I didn’t feel like making a scene) and proceeded north, finally and thankfully reaching the Kansas border at noon.
Despite the prevalence of State Troopers in Texas and Oklahoma (I only saw one Kansas State Trooper just south of Topeka), we made record time. I purposely prefer to make the return trip on a Monday because traffic after the Thanksgiving weekend is horrendous on Sundays, but non-existent on Mondays. I attribute the ease of our travel to the exceptional highway system we enjoy in the United States. I’ve ridden or driven quite a few of the Interstates and someday I need to figure up which ones and how many miles. With a nod to Eisenhower, I’ve visited his home town of Abilene, Kansas several times (and driven through it more times than I can count while traversing Kansas via I-70 east or west) and been through his birthplace of Denison, Texas via US-75 and US-69. Roads and facilities are named for him in my unofficial home town of Leavenworth, Kansas, probably because he attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. I’m just grateful that Eisenhower brought back something good from WWII Germany:
Eisenhower gained an appreciation of the German Autobahn network as a necessary component of a national defense system while he was serving as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II. He recognized that the proposed system would also provide key ground transport routes for military supplies and troop deployments in case of an emergency or foreign invasion.
I can’t seem to shake this funk I’m in. All motivation for any activity has evaporated from me. I could blame it on the heat, but that would be a lie, since I’ve felt wonky from back in May when the lows at night were still in the 40s. I have many hobby and home projects I could be planning and prepping, but the minute I get home, I just wilt.
Terry tries to make me smile in many gracious and loving ways, and it helps me get through the evening. He makes fresh sun tea for me and greets me at the door with a tall glass of it. He grills and smokes the most amazing cuts of meat. He creates delectable appetizers, salads and side dishes, all ready and waiting for me the minute I get home. And even though he’s chronically ill, he manages to keep the house in tip-top shape, despite Apollo’s ability to shed three or four times his weight in fur.
I complained about cloudy skies, yet when the clouds disappear and the sun bakes the Midwest to a toasty 100 degrees in early June, I can’t be bothered to drag up the telescope and attempt to see the supernova in M51 (near Ursa Major). I can’t justify staying up late (and by late I mean past 9:30 p.m.), waiting for the sky to darken, since I must be up by 5:00 a.m.
I forgot to buy a birthday card for my daughter, who turns twenty-two this Sunday. Not that she’d be home to receive said card. She’s traveling, again, to Boston next week. In fact, she’s on a plane Sunday (her birthday). It’s been five or six years since Rachelle has actually been home (or even in the same state as me) to celebrate her birthday. She tends to travel routinely on her birthday. Last year, she turned twenty-one while studying abroad in Germany.
I opted to stay home this weekend and not travel like the rest of my father’s family to Ohio for my youngest cousin’s wedding. My dad is on the road now, heading east, while his brother is on the road, heading west from Virginia. The impromptu Andrea family reunion will converge upon Ohio this evening and continue throughout the weekend.
Next week, my mom is scheduled for surgery, for which I’m taking a day off to transport her to and from the hospital. At least she has finally found a blood pressure medicine that has few side effects. The following day is my aunt’s birthday, another one I routinely forget but this year I will get a birthday card and I will send it to her. I even put it on my calendar with double reminders to text me on my cell phone.
And a week from this Sunday, is Father’s Day. I’ve reminded the ‘adult’ children to get their cards and gifts in the mail soon. I just hope my dad makes it back from Ohio in time to celebrate, not that we need an excuse to take him out to dinner.
My son and his wife are prepping for their interviews. More on that after the fact, as I don’t want to jinx anything.
I used the word (or contraction of two words to be precise) ‘can’t’ many times in this post, something I usually avoid vehemently. I strongly believe that ‘can’t’ never did anything. Perhaps if I purge ‘can’t’ from my system, I’ll also free myself from this funkiness.
Ten days and over a thousand miles ago (1,313 miles or thereabouts, but who’s counting?), Terry and I survived a weekend of single digit temperatures and 35 mph north wind gusts without a working furnace. We kept our home a toasty 70 degrees with two oil heaters and two inexpensive fan space heaters, even in the aforementioned frigid weather conditions.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010: Mark Moody, life-long friend of Terry from the Wichita area, and his assistant, Kenneth, arrived with our shiny new 96% efficient furnace and four ton air conditioning unit. In record time (and I mean record), Mark and Kenneth installed both units and by the time I arrived home from work on Wednesday evening, I had a warm toasty house.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010:
Thursday, 16 December 2010: Only about twelve hours after thanking Mark and sending him home to Wichita, Terry, my dad and I hit the road south to Texas for a weekend of celebration, exhibition, reception and graduation for my son, Derek Moss. We took our time, had fantastic weather and arrived in Plano as the sun was setting.
Friday, 17 December 2010: Derek’s exhibition demonstration was scheduled for 4:00 pm at the Guildhall (SMU @ Plano campus) so we (Dad and I) retrieved Rachelle from Denton via SH 380. That took a couple of hours, and a stop for lunch at Braums.
Once back in Plano, we left Rachelle at the Residence Inn and headed over to the Guildhall for the presentation and later the reception, which included a talk by the EA’s Chief Creative Director, Richard Hilleman.
Of even more importance to the photographers in the audience, the graduates donned their academic regalia and received their stoles and master’s hoods.
Saturday, 18 December 2010: Friday, we left the Residence in after a quick continental breakfast to brave the Dallas traffic to the main SMU campus. On a normal day, Google maps estimated an hour drive. Since it was early Saturday morning, it took us just a bit over a half hour, giving us some time to cruise around campus and take in the beauty of the grounds at Southern Methodist University. We scored close parking, thanks to Terry’s handicap hanging tag and great seats (also in the handicap accessible area) of Moody Coliseum.
A couple of hours later, at 10:00 a.m., the graduates processed in and the fun began. The Guildhall graduates were the last set of Doctoral or Masters candidates to walk before the ‘regular’ Bachelors degree students.
After the ceremony concluded, it took us a few minutes to find Derek again out in front of Moody Coliseum, but we eventually got together for some family photos. Derek turned in his gown and led us to the home of one of his team members for a after-graduation party. Stunning home (built by the owner/father), savory pulled pork (prepared by Derek’s friend), wonderful vodka punch and great fun.
Sunday, 19 December 2010: For some unknown reason, Terry and I were up, wide awake, by 4:30 a.m. We packed as quietly as we could and started stowing away items in the car. By 6:00 a.m. we were done and waiting for Rachelle, asleep on the hideaway. Rather than wait another hour for the continental breakfast provided by Residence Inn, we left early and descended upon an IHOP just north of there on Preston Road. If you haven’t tried their Harvest Grain ‘n Nut pancakes (with a side of turkey bacon heave), you don’t know what you’re missing. We dropped Rachelle off in Denton and said a quick ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ to Nic as he was heading off to work (the only Sunday he is required to work all year for his employer). The rest of the trip north, with a hefty tailwind to aid our gas mileage, was uneventful. We arrived back in Lansing before 4:30 pm.
Just a few hours later, while Terry was talking to a friend down in his band room, he started experiencing chest pain. We called an ‘ask-a-nurse’ service and tried to wait it out, hoping the pain would resolve itself, but after a couple more hours, he was still in pain (but not experiencing any of the other ‘usual’ symptoms associated with heart attacks or strokes – no numbness, tingling, tunnel vision, radiating pain, etc.). So, at 10:15 pm, we arrived at a quiet St. John’s Hospital emergency room, where we stayed for a battery of tests until 3:30 a.m. Heart issues were quickly ruled out, as well as stroke, but it took some time to rule out a blood clot in the lungs. Eventually, Terry was released to return home with some pain medication to help deal with the chest pain, which continued but was unexplained (yet apparently not life threatening).
Monday, 20 December 2010: We slept late (see previous paragraph), but not too late as we had several errands to run, including retrieving the Rotts from the boarding kennel. Squeaky clean excited Rottweilers in the back of your car and in your home for the first fifteen minutes; makes it difficult to take snapshots, but I persisted:
Tuesday, 21 December 2010: Knowing I had to work a whopping two days this week, I went to bed early. Terry woke me up around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. to let me know Derek and Royna were arriving in thirty minutes. Shocker! I blearily got up and prepared the spare bedroom and slunk back to bed to finish my interrupted sleep. After work, I made a couple of loaves of Rosemary Sourdough to take to work on Wednesday as last-minute gifts for a long-time co-worker and my boss.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010: I survived a slow day at work, anticipating Rachelle arrival from Texas, via the Kelloffs, later that evening. She arrived safely before 10:00 p.m.
Thursday, 23 December 2010: Rachelle and I, the early risers in the family, rearranged the great room to accommodate the Christmas tree.
Thanks to Santa’s helper (Rachelle), who transported the tree and trimmings from the basement storage room up two flights of stairs to the great room, we have a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the northwest corner of our great room.
And here I sit, on the morning of Christmas Eve, reflecting back on a year of surprises, filled with joy, hope, grace and love.
Before falling asleep Thanksgiving evening, I remembered to turn off my weekday alarm on my cell phone. When Terry and I finally woke up, we discovered a house transformed (see photo to the left). Being gracious guests, we refrained from comment and chortles.
Rachelle cooked her dad an egg-white, ham and cheese omelet and I sampled her beer biscuits. Derek and Royna fell asleep on the couch so they woke up after we ate and came along with us for a short ‘painless’ shopping spree on ‘Black Friday.’
Our first store was Rachelle’s old employer, Ross, where I found a new purse and wallet, an electric razor for Terry and some reasonably priced extra virgin olive oil for Rachelle. I had a thirty percent off in store coupon for Barnes & Noble, so we trekked all the way across the Golden Triangle Mall. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the appropriate gift I wanted to use the coupon for, but I did spy a newer version of the Lightwedge that’s now rechargeable and thinner and lighter. Oh, well.
Next, we stopped at Hobby Lobby pricing small air compressors for Derek (a requested Chrismtas gift wish list item). The prices were mind boggling, so that item will be bought online. Rachelle prowled around for fabric paints and aprons for a Christmas gift idea. She was disappointed in the selection and variety of fabric paints so we eventually made it to Michaels near Bed, Bath and Beyond, where Terry and I found our next hopefully dog-proof stainless steel trash can (no, we didn’t buy it and haul it back here to Kansas from Texas; we’ll buy it at our own local BB&B).
By then, the morning had melted away so we stopped at Paulio’s Pizza Cafe for lunch. We ordered the King and Hawaiian Sunrise (my favorite pizza bar none!). After lunch, we returned to Kent’s ‘Redskins Christmas Extravaganza’ where he and his significant other spent the rest of the daylight putting up the exterior decorations. After Nic returned from work (and Derek and Royna returned to Plano), all four of us (Terry, Nic, Rachelle and I) spent the evening wasting time playing Peggle on the Xbox 360 in the spare bedroom. Rachelle and Nic left ‘early’ to create spring rolls for tailgating on Saturday but Terry and I toughed it out and made it to the credits by 1:00 a.m.
After a quick and meager breakfast of English muffins and almost oversleeping (one o’clock in the morning is way way way past my bedtime), we joined Kent and several others for tailgating on the University of North Texas campus in a parking lot near Fouts Field stadium. This football game was the last ever to be played in the old stadium since the new stadium on the other (south) side of I-35 will open next spring.
Can you guess who was invited to play against the UNT ‘Mean Green’ Eagles? Oh, the irony! The Kansas State Wildcats! Quite funny, if you think about it. Here’s our daughter, sporting her green UNT T-shirt (the girl on the left with short blond hair and white framed sunglasses) prior to the flood of purple pouring down from the north. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day for an outdoor party and a final college football game for UNT, providing a great game but ultimately a victory for the Wildcats.
We returned to the house, Terry took a nap, and I read a book while everyone else watched several college football games (sometimes simultaneously) on Kent’s amazing LED HD 3D television.
Sunday morning, Terry and I quickly packed the Bonneville and headed north, pushed relentlessly home by another stiff wind. Our gas mileage on the routine trip was nothing short of miraculous. We stopped in Wichita for a couple of hours to visited some old friends but still made it home before seven o’clock.
Terry and I drove five hundred miles in record time against a stiff south headwind yesterday to visit our offspring and their significant others. Even though we left over an hour later than I had planned, we arrived in Denton before the sun set and to a balmy 84 degrees. We were so early, Rachelle and I had time to make our first of three trips to the largest Kroger store in Texas (just five minutes away from her residence).
After Terry and I retired to the spare bedroom, Kent (Rachelle’s landlord/homeowner) decided to decorate for Christmas. We woke up to Christmas a la Redskins (I’ll let Rachelle explain that one to you. Or, if you’ve seen the DirecTV commercial about Cowboys and Redskins fans, you’ll have some idea of what I’m talking about). I forgot to reset my cell phone alarm, so I was up by five o’clock since it’s technically a weekday.
I only had to make two more trips to Kroger before I got the turkey in the oven. This year Derek had requested a ham instead of turkey, so I also had to juggle warming up a sprial cut ham with the usual side dishes and the family tradition of sticky buns. Derek and Royna arrived from Plano just shortly after noon, as the turkey was cooling and the ham was in the oven. Everything turned out well and we all sat down for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Everyone pitched in to clean up and we soon had the kitchen back to normal and sat down to enjoy Toy Story 3 on Kent’s amazing Samsung LED HD 3D sixty inch television.
Here’s hoping all of you are having as great a family gathering as we’re having here in chilly north Texas this Thanksgiving.
This weekend and next are the final rounds of the 2010 Formula One season. Terry will be watching one of the practices live at home today since Brazil is nearly in our time zone (only two hours ahead of us). Next weekend will wrap up what has been another competitive driver and constructor championship with the last round in Abu Dhabi. I’ll be content to watch them on the reply when I burn the GPs to DVD from the DVR sometime in the next few weeks.
Since I no longer have any science fiction television to look forward to on Friday nights, I’ll continue reading Blackout by Connie Willis. I’m about half done with it and I have All Clear, the sequel, waiting to pick up as soon as I finish Blackout. Only about twelve hundred pages total between the two and not as heavy as the tome I read in September by Brandon Sanderson: The Way of Kings.
I’ve accumulated over two hundred points over the past couple of years by giving away books via BookMooch, yet because I read fantasy and occasionally science fiction, I’m not finding many books to mooch from others. Yet I still need to divest myself of some more books (hardcovers mostly). So I think I’ll branch out to another swap site, a division of one of my favorite reading and reviewing web sites, the GoodReads swap. That’s my first project for Saturday morning, to prep and post about a half dozen hardcovers via GoodReads swap.
The second task for Saturday morning involves wrestling the Rotts into the car and heading to the vet for some pre-boarding shots. In a couple of weeks, Terry and I will travel south to visit our kids in north Texas for Thanksgiving. Roxy and Apollo will remain behind and make new friends at Deb’s Riverview Kennel. On the way back, weather permitting, we might let them roam free at the Waggin’ Tails Dog Park for a half hour or so.
Once back home, I should probably make a few loaves of bread, for Terry and for my dad. Most likely I’ll make a Rustic Sourdough (dough in the bread machine, but shaped and baked in conventional oven) as well as Honey Wheat and White Sandwich loaves. He’s traveling next week to Virginia for a mini-family reunion at his brother’s home. My aunt from Ohio will also attend. My dad and his brother were born on November 17 and 18 almost exactly four years apart and my aunt was born on November 29 so they’ll be having mutual birthday celebrations. I hope to send a loaf or two with dad for them to enjoy.
In addition to their birthdays, I’ll swing by WalMart and pick up a gift card and birthday card for my daughter-in-law’s birthday, which is the 12th. Terry’s birthday is on the 14th, but at least he’s not leaving town on me. For a birthday present to him, we may go see Mannheim Steamroller in Topeka that weekend.
It’s a new moon tonight so I’ll probably get the telescope out tonight and tomorrow night for some viewing. I might even venture out into the county looking for a nice dark spot away from all the light pollution of Lansing (and the prison that’s only two blocks north of my house with all it’s blazing orange halogen lights) and Kansas City. I should probably dig out some light gloves though since the evening and night temperatures have been dropping down into the 30s most of this week.
Sunday morning I’ll be substituting for the accompanist at Southern Heights UMC during worship, which is also communion Sunday (being the first Sunday of the month) so I’ll be playing a bit more than a normal service. But the choir took the weekend off and the special music doesn’t require an accompanist. All in all, should be a fun hour well spent.
Sunday afternoon will be for relaxing, reading or watching movies. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
This will be a conglomeration of star gazing journal and family events and I only have fifteen minutes to spit it out! So here goes:
First, the star gazing report: My dad and I traveled to Winfield to visit my aunt and uncle for the weekend. Since the weather was forecast to remain calm, clear and the moon was just barely a sliver, I took the telescope and accessories with us. We spent the day visiting, enjoying experimental cooking from my aunt and uncle (which was delicious, don’t get me wrong) and doing fall tree trimming and another household repair a la my dad. I have photos of a couple of the close calls my dad avoided, but that will have to wait for another post.
Later in the evening, after another wonderful new recipe for dinner, as the sun set and the moon quickly followed, we setup the telescope just in time to catch a glimpse of the craters of the moon along the terminus. Everyone got a chance to view before the moon slipped towards the horizon and behind the tree line.
Now, we waited for Jupiter (which was visible already) and the first few stars (Altair, Deneb and Vega). We relocated the telescope to the backyard (for a better angle on Jupiter) and my aunt invited a couple of neighbors to view Jupiter’s spectacular display. We discovered, over the course of the evening, the Jupiter’s moon move quite fast, so much that when the evening began, we only saw three moons, and as it progressed we saw the fourth appear and a couple others move out and up in their orbits.
My personal goal for the evening was a second attempt to find Comet Hartley 2. So I was just killing time until the skies darkened enough to make the attempt. In the meantime, I showed my aunt and uncle the double star in the Big Dipper (Mizar/Alcor) and of course we began to see the great sweep of stars for the Milky Way.
We took a break (about an hour or so) to sit inside and rest our backs (tree trimming was only a regular activity for my father) and returned to hunt for the comet. My dad and I tried for another hour, but haze, trees and light pollution were not helping us. We finally gave up around 11:00 p.m. and headed off to bed.
I woke at my normal 5:00 a.m. timeframe and migrated up to the dark living room. My uncle soon arrived and we both exited outside to determine the location of Cassiopeia. That region of space was still not dark ‘enough’ I believe and clouds were rolling in fast from the west. I did point out Orion and Sirius almost directly due south at that time of morning.
After another wonderful meal (this time breakfast of course), we visited and discussed books, movies, politics, religion … all the usual topics I’ve come to know and love with my close family. Lunch was a local Chinese buffet followed by a mini-tour of Southwestern’s campus, where it’s celebrating it’s 125th year and Ron’s art (as an alum from 1968) is featured in Baden Hall. Recently remodelled, it had formerly housed some of Arthur Covey’s artwork and still sports a block dedicating the fireplace from Arthur to his art professor Dunlevy.
Rain rolled into Winfield and followed Dad and I north along the turnpike, peaking in Emporia where we stopped for supper and Braum’s ice cream, but tapered off as we continued northeast along I-35 to K-7 in Olathe and finally reaching Lansing/Leavenworth by 8:00 p.m. — only one hour late mostly due to too much talking (missing exits) and stopping for gas and food.
A wonderful weekend getaway in Winfield I hope to repeat in the future.