Soup saga

My weekly soup challenge has not gotten off to the strongest start. The curried carrot and apple soup I made after the last soup post (October 18) was delicious. So great, in fact, there were sadly no leftovers! It turned out we didn’t have as many carrots as I thought, so I threw in a sweet potato and it became a curried carrot, apple and sweet potato soup. It worked well because there was sweet potato in the buddha bowls we also ate, so it all tied together nicely.

The next week, I did not make soup at all. I chaperoned the primary class field trip to the apple orchard. Anna started Sparks and those evenings are a blur trying to get back out the door on time. Matt was away two full days for work. I decorated the house for Halloween and prepped for our Halloween party happening on the weekend. (We did make apple pie muffins - that  totally stuck to the muffin wrappers, the topping entirely flaked off and they were too dense and dry. Better luck next time!) I had TWO nights out that week and the Friday was my birthday. There was just no time to think about soup. As simple as it may be it just wasn’t on the menu.

Last week, we got our Nourish Your Roots food box from the school fundraiser. Without a doubt, soup was happening. I really wanted to make leek and potato soup and lo and behold, both ingredients came in the box, along with lots more yummy fall fare. I found a recipe for leek and potato soup with carrot and celery on the Nourish Your Roots website. It was good though a bit bland. I’m glad I made garlic & pepper croutons to add some texture and crunch! Have you ever made your own croutons? I was daunted at the thought when I came across the recipe in my Oh She Glows cookbook but tried it once and have never looked back. It’s SO easy! Spread olive oil, rub one garlic clove, sprinkle garlic powder and salt over three slices of bread, slice, bake at 400 for 15 minutes, voila! Three slices were enough croutons for 4 of us.

But the saga of last week’s soup is that I was far too ambitious. I left things way too late and made pork tenderloin with roasted apples and onions at the same time. Plus the croutons. Each task fine on their own but combine doing all three at the same time? There was no “Once it’s on the stove you’re handsfree!” —smug me. I was chopping vegetables and browning the tenderloin and peeling apples all at once. It was labour intensive and it was not a day my kids were cooperating by just finding something to do. They were fighting and annoying and hello, day after Halloween what was I expecting?

So in the process of making dinner I managed to melt the bottom of the rice cooker to the top of the stove. : (  It was just a little too close and the heat a little too high. And oh, I managed to also burn part of the melted rice cooker to my hand. I’m talking little bits of melted black plastic STUCK TO MY HAND. It was not a good scene. Good thing it looked (and felt) worse than it was. There’s just a small burn on my hand. A reminder that this was not the kind of meal to make on my own on a Thursday night. Lesson learned.

In fact, I’m not having a great run in the kitchen at all. I proceeded to shatter our coffee pot carafe against the edge of the counter on the weekend and we still haven’t replaced our toaster that short-circuited weeks ago. We’re now down 3 appliances that we used religiously...might be a very boring Christmas. And maybe I better not touch the slow cooker for awhile…

So, I’m four weeks into the “weekly soup” and down one. I think I’ll forgive myself because really, who’s counting, besides me? I’m planning another soup for this Thursday and guess what? That’s all we are having. Soup and some nice crusty bread. Or maybe croutons!

My book club's better than yours

Two years ago this fall I started a book club. The YA (young adult) book club I’d been part of (and loved - we read only YA books) had wound down, and I missed the experience. Reading books I normally wouldn’t choose, discussing them and hearing other points of view, the social aspect of gathering together with strong, like-minded women, the food and the wine. Of course, the wine.

It started off with a group of a few friends. We were already recommending titles amongst ourselves, now we’d be reading the same books at the same time and then sharing our thoughts on them at a designated time. While drinking wine. I started with a book I’d just finished and had already passed around to my friends, Brain on Fire: my month of madness by Susannah Cahalan (I challenge anyone to read this book and be able to easily put it down). I thought this was a good way to get the ball rolling. “Hey, let’s get together and discuss this book we’ve all already read!” and we’d go from there. We met at my house on a Tuesday evening. We stood in my kitchen and ate cheese and drank wine and talked about the book and various related subjects at length. The discussion flowed naturally and we stayed up way too late for a work night. And it was awesome. It was basically an episode of The Social, or so we like to think.

Now, our book club is official. We have a name (“Read Between the Wines”, naturally) and we meet regularly. Usually every 6 weeks because let’s be real, we’re busy and 4 weeks goes by way too fast to meet monthly. Sometimes we meet less often, slowing for the summer and holiday season. We’ve had book club getaways (hello wine tour!), unique meeting spaces (most recently the Lunenburg Seaport Museum and Makerspace), book themed drinks and food, we’ve even had a wine sponsor (thank you Summerhill Wines!). So we’re official but we are also pretty relaxed. We don’t choose a list of books for the year like some clubs. We don’t assign hosts way in advance, we don’t have mandatory discussion questions we have to cover. At each meeting, someone offers to host next time, we look at the calendar to see what date works best for the majority, throw out a few book suggestions and agree on a title.

We try to always meet on the weekend since the drinks seem to flow effortlessly. The last time we met midweek some sincerely regretted it the next morning. Now there are 12 of us regulars, though we can’t all always make it every time, and we don’t all always finish (or pickup) the book every time. Our conversations are wide-reaching. A lot of what is discussed at book club stays at book club. I think our crowning moment was when one of the hosts’ husband walked into the room and said "Oh! You really do talk about the book!"  We showed him. The particular host that night is a teacher and had a white board with talking points and we were actually examining themes from the book. We are legit!

Some call it book club, some call it wine club, some call it therapy; we all call it a good time. I call it my Read Between the Wines book club and I’m proud of it! How about a regular section on the blog for reviews of our book club picks ?

Read Between the Wines book list

What's for supper - soup edition

I’m on a quest to make soup once a week through this fall/winter. Ambitious? Probably. But my kids love soup, any kind it seems. It feels good to pack a whole bunch of healthy yummy goodness in there that I know they will eat without complaint (humble brag they are actually pretty good eaters). But any homemade meal they devour and ask for more of is a good one in my opinion!

Chef Du jour

Last week I made turkey soup for the first time - broth and all. Matt made his first turkey for thanksgiving at his parents place and turkey-fest ensued. For the rest of the week we had leftover turkey dinner, turkey sandwiches, and the turkey soup.

I prepared the broth using the turkey carcass on Tuesday and made the soup on Wednesday. Threw in some onions, carrots, celery, thyme - whatever we had on hand, and some shredded turkey of course. Added some tri-coloured animal shaped pasta just for fun and it was a hit. I didn’t take any pictures while I cooked, except for the final product.

It dawned on me on the drive home from a trip to the apple orchard on Sunday that we’d planned our meals for the week and bought the groceries but didn’t plan for a soup. I was failing my challenge already! I thought about the groceries we had and remembered one I made last fall, curried carrot and apple. With plenty of apples in the trunk and a bag of carrots and chicken broth (leftover and unused from thanksgiving) in the pantry at home, I knew I’d be able to prepare this one without an extra trip to the store. So curried carrot and apple soup will accompany the buddha bowls we are eating tonight.  

Voila!

Daunted by the thought of making homemade soup? Don’t be - it’s so easy. It requires a little forethought so you have time to allow the soup to simmer, that’s the only time-consuming aspect. Once it’s on the stove you’re handsfree! If you’re pressed for time when making dinner, prepare your soup on the weekend or an evening and save it in the fridge for a couple days or freeze it for later.  You won’t regret it!

Let’s see how well I do on my weekly soup challenge!



Update

Welcome to my new website! I’m building something more current, more clean and more my own. I’m switching from wordpress to my own site using SquareSpace. Construction is slow as I am learning to build this website as I go but I hope with a little perseverance everything will be in its place in no time, and I’ll soon be smoothly up and running with a functional website and lots of current content. 

I am still plugging away at bringing over all my past blog posts from the old blog site (https://heatherfegan.wordpress.com/). I had no idea how many posts I wrote in two years! Often two a week for many months until I slowed down in the spring of 2015 and then stopped altogether in the summer of 2015. Probably around the time I went into early labour 11 weeks before Rosie was due (held on 9 more weeks before she made her debut!). And from there life raced on. Be sure to scroll down for all the posts from the early days. I still can't believe I started posting content four years ago! 

I’ll continue to bring the posts over until everything is here. I don’t want any of my work to go to waste. Lots of the blog posts are timeless and relevant and I can share those fun “from the archives” posts on social media! I'm sad past comments and discussions will be lost but looking forward to the future and where this website takes me. Of course, my portfolio section of the site is up-to-date with all my freelance work, if you want to check out my articles and book reviews (with more coming very soon!). At the same time, I’ll be adding new, regular posts and updates as I rev this website back to life.

Thanks for dropping by and come back soon! 

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A whirlwind weekend away

Last weekend Matt and I popped up to Ottawa for a quick weekend away to join in the festivities celebrating my brother’s retirement from the military. No, I am not old enough to have a brother who is retired but he is the oldest sibling and I am by far the youngest, with 15 years (and two sisters) between us (surprise!). He served 33 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and will now transition to new adventures as a civilian.  

My mom and dad drove via the outlets in the states with my sisters in the backseat. I opted out of the middle seat (though an old school family road trip would have been… interesting) and enjoyed a luxurious kid-free flight complete with wine (yay, Porter!). We absolutely love travelling with our kids. Between the two, they’ve been down south, to Toronto multiple times, Ottawa, California, Florida and as far as Italy and it’s all gone well so we plan to keep going. But travelling sans kids is really a treat. Suddenly I don’t mind the lines and the wait times, especially with a hot coffee (or glass of wine) and a magazine or good book in hand. Or some uninterrupted conversations with my husband. Can you imagine?!  But still. It is so much work to get away.

I had to felt the need to make sure the house was tidy and organized for my in-laws to stay a night with the kids (which included having all the laundry not just washed but also put away), pack a bag for the kids to then spend the weekend chez the in-laws, pack ourselves, and also coordinate the dog for a weekend of being boarded out of town. Phew. Long gone are the days of throwing my stuff in a bag and being ready to go. With kids in tow or not, all of the things still need to be done.

Of course it was worth it. A lot of drinks, late nights and fun. We missed the girls the entire time and came home exhausted. I thought I was coming home for a rest, ha ha! We are a bit slow on the uptake this week but the bags have all been unpacked. The laundry's been redone. The dog is home. Without a blink we’re back in the thick of our new weekly school routines.

Maybe our next kid-free weekend away should be spent at a spa...but of course there are still all of those things to be done. For now, the wheels keep on churning and the coffee keeps on brewing!