Monday, November 30, 2020

MONDAY RECIPE POST - CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP FROM SCRATCH

I found my recipe at Cafe Delites hosted by Karina.  The link is here.  I would like to thank Karina for a great tasting soup.

A first-class replacement for the canned variety by the way.  We both gave this soup a 10 out of 10.

Serves: 6

Calories: 271 per serving

 

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon oil

2 onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds (750 g) fresh brown mushrooms, sliced

4 teaspoons chopped thyme, divided

1/2 cup Marsala wine (any dry red or white wine)

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock

1-2 teaspoons salt, adjust to taste

1/2-1 teaspoon black cracked pepper, adjust to taste

2 beef bouillon cubes, crumbled

1 cup heavy cream or half and half (evaporated milk can be substituted)

Chopped fresh parsley and thyme for garnish


Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until melted. Sauté onion for 2 to 3 minutes until softened.

Next add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add mushrooms and 2 teaspoons thyme, cook for 5 minutes. Pour in wine and cook for 3 minutes.

Sprinkle mushrooms with flour, mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Add stock, mix again and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium heat, season with salt, pepper and crumbled bouillon cubes.

Cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until thickened.

Reduce heat to low, stir in cream or half and half. Allow to gently simmer (do not boil). Adjust salt and pepper to your taste.

Mix in parsley and remaining thyme. 

Serve warm. 

I read a lot of comments underneath the original recipe at Cafe Delites, and got some great ideas.  I highly recommend going to the original to read those.  Also for more information at the beginning from its host.

I was looking for a replacement to a chicken pie recipe I am making, which calls for 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup.  As I did not have the canned and like the idea of making something from scratch, I found this one.

Changes made because of what was in the pantry:

I used 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of the four garlic cloves

Also 1 teaspoon of dried thyme instead of the 4 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme, or to taste  

White mushrooms instead of brown.

Instead of the Marsala wine we had a bottle of Beringer's White Zinfandel.  This is a wine we both enjoy occasionally.

No fresh parsley to garnish but used plenty of black pepper to sprinkle over.

Instead of the bouillon cubes which I did not have, I used a tablespoon of HP Brown Sauce.  It is like A1 steak sauce here.

If I couldn't find HP I would use A1, which was my next choice except that it was way in the back behind loads of other items, and I put my hands on the HP first.  You could also use Worcestershire Sauce.

If I knew ahead of time that I was going to make this recipe, I would probably get all fresh herbs, but the dried worked just fine.  I would probably have a lot more flavor if I used fresh.  But honestly?  This was one of the best mushroom soups - for both our tastes - that we have ever come across, and will most definitely be making it again.

Apparently you can freeze it.  Another commenter mentioned that it looks curdled when it is thawed, but heats up well.  I am wondering, as I read from another commenter, if you added the dairy after thawing the soup, this might stop the curdled look. I would add the cream when the soup is heating up on a medium-low heat   

I used 2% milk and the soup was still very creamy tasting.

I like to read the comment section afterwards, and saw a lot of interesting tips on there.  

Someone said they would use this soup as a gravy at Thanksgiving. Another said they would put it into the green bean casserole instead of using the canned variety.  I make green bean casserole every time for Thanksgiving, and I can see doing this.   I can also see using it as a gravy.  We also thought this would be delicious over rice or noodles or mashed potatoes.

There were a lot of different ideas that you might enjoy tailoring to your own taste.  These were a few of them.

I served this with a crusty bread which I sliced and toasted.

Thanks for taking the time to visit, and I hope your week is a great one.





Friday, November 27, 2020

CHIPMUNKS IN THE GRAND TETONS AUGUST 2007

For those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, I hope your day was a wonderful one.  Ours, unusually and for the first time in years, was just the two of us but we were in touch with family and friends throughout our day, and that made it extra special. I am thinking of you all out there, especially those who have had to deal with so much.  I pray that 2021 will bring good health, keep you safe and bring you peace.  Hopefully my post today will give you a smile or two.
The Chipmunk

My friends all know that I am shy,
But the chipmunk is twice and shy than I.
He moves with flickering indecision
Like stripes across the television.
He's like the shadow of a cloud,
Or Emily Dickinson read aloud.

~Ogden Nash~
1902 – 1971
I am continuing with our vacation/road trip to the Grand Tetons National Park in August 2007. On one occasion I met these darling critters along the banks of Snake River, near Jackson Lake Lodge, Wyoming.  Gregg and I had been told by some fellow travelers at the Lodge, to not miss going to the Jackson Lake Dam, where apparently we would be sure to see moose and other wildlife.  I only got a couple of photos of the dam itself and they didn't turn out very well, but you can see what it looks like here.  I remember the roar of the water and watching a fisherman casting out his line not far from it.  
We walked up and down for half an hour, quietly enjoying our surroundings and looking for moose, but there were no immediate sightings (we did later and those photos I shared in my other post here if you missed it). I suggested to Gregg we sit down for a while and see what happened, that it would be good to relax and enjoy watching the river. Ten minutes later Gregg had gone off to explore but I was content to stare across the water, looking at the occasional duck family swimming by. The solitary fisherman was by this time several hundred yards away, but there was no one else in sight. I loved the peace and tranquility of it all, it was heavenly.
It was then that I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. When I turned my head ever so slowly, there was a little chipmunk looking up at me a few feet away. We have chipmunks back home but I rarely see them, and when I do they are very skittish and fly off at great speed.  This one seemed happy to enjoy my company as much as I was enjoying his. So here we were 3,000 miles away from home and I am sitting right next to one practically nose to nose. I watched him for a while and I thought him adorable, then I remembered my camera. I thought I may startle the little chap, but took a chance and moved very slowly.  I wanted so badly to capture this moment.  He stayed and posed for me and then ran from spot to spot to find his dinner. I was totally mesmerized and lost in the moment when Gregg touched my arm and as I looked at his face, he was staring in the distance pointing down the river. That's when we spotted our moose mum with her calf. But that was yesterday's story. This one is about my little chipmunk which I fell in love with on the spot.  Not too long after he was joined by his mate.
"CHIP, CHIP, CHIP," he sang loud and clear.
"Hey, you other chipmunks, stay away from here.
He sat beside his doorway and loudly sang his song,
Protecting food he'd gathered to eat all winter long....
~Author Unknown~

What could be better than one chipmunk, but two?
They eventually disappeared into the bush where their home must have been, a burrow just out of sight. I didn't want to leave them but the call of the Moose was too strong, and off we went to take photos of yet another most beautiful family, Mother Moose and Calf.

These are more lovely memories for me of our first trip to the Grand Teton National Park.  I hope I get there again one day.  The two maps show its location on the US map.
A closer version showing the actual park.


Enjoy  your day and 
thank you for stopping by.




Thursday, November 26, 2020

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!



For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a wonderful day. 
The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway
Thanksgiving comes again!

~ by Leanne Guenther ~








Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A ROAD TRIP TO THE GRAND TETONS - AUGUST 2008

With more time at home I am enjoying going through our travel photos.  The following were from a trip we took to the Grand Teton National Park in August of 2007. We stayed at the Jackson Lake Lodge.  Since this trip we have been back a couple of times but not for quite a while now.  

One day we saw what only can be described as a buzz of activity from several people with cameras  on the overlook. We had been in the sitting area of the Lodge, where the windows reached from floor to ceiling. 

When we looked to see what was going on we saw Mother Moose and her calf not too far below. This was our fourth sighting on this vacation, and they were closer than the other three. It was very exciting and I just about fell out of my shoes when I saw them. Before this trip I had only seen these amazing animals in photos or on nature shows, and as I looked at them this wave of happiness came over me, I can't describe fully how I felt.

Mother, in the photo below, is doing what any mother would, waiting for her little one to catch up when he or she lagged behind.
Good Mum!
The following photos show another mother moose and calf from the previous day, when we were near a dam. We weren't as close here but it was our favorite moment as it was such an idyllic spot.  
I was already happy as a sandpiper having been in the company of two adorable chipmunks who had joined me as I sat next to the river enjoying my surroundings. We were obviously not going to get any closer as we didn't want to disturb them but also for our own safety.  I made the most of my new zoom lens, which we had invested in just for this vacation. 
Do you see the extra set of ears to the right of baby? Mum is keeping a watchful eye, come to think of it so is baby. We have been spotted and it wasn't long afterwards that they disappeared back into the brush. What a magical moment they shared with us.
On our way back to the Lodge more people on the side of the road and of course we had to join them. In this scene there is a standoff. On the left is another mother, in the middle is her calf and on the right is a very cantankerous bull moose. We watched him as he galloped up and down and stomped his feet, he was not a happy bull moose and this went on the whole time until after about half an hour we decided to move on. Mother was having none of him being very protective of her calf. Bull Moose was not a happy moose.
In the last two photos we were in the northern part of Idaho on our way here.  It was our first sighting ever of a very unexpected moose. Gregg had decided to follow his nose and get off the map that I was following, just to see where this road took us. Sweet Other Half is a 'follow your nose’ man, and I am a 'butter my bread from corner to corner' kind of girl.  I follow those directions to the ‘T’. We are a good balance he says and meet each other somewhere in the middle but I have to admit, I get a little fussy when I know we are off the beaten path because I don't like getting lost. "Are you sure you know where you're going." "Are you absolutely positive we're not going to get lost?" I always have visions of having to sleep in the car and we were in the wilderness. I know that wouldn't be so bad to sleep in the car, as believe me I have done it before (maybe when I was ten), but I really don't like getting lost, and we were also in bear country. With Gregg we always get off the beaten path, his sense of direction is excellent and I should know better by now, but I can't help myself. I really don't like getting lost! Have I mentioned that before?

Well, here we were lost! But it was the best thing that happened because this is what greeted us when we came around a bend. Our very first sighting of a moose ever. No, he wasn't close and these photos were the best I could get but oh my, I just about did a double flip and I looked at Gregg after the moose had disappeared into the woods and I hugged him and thanked him for getting off the beaten path. It always works out somehow, and it wasn't long after that we got back on track and were heading for the Grand Tetons.  I knew these gorgeous animals are big but he was huge!

With all the thanks I could muster to my Sweet Other Half, he really is the best 'get off the beaten path' husband who always ends up finding his way, and next time we go on a road trip I will zip my mouth because you just never know what is around the next bend. "Yeah, right!" I hear him say, and yes we are both smiling. 


Writing in August 2008, I wrote that Gregg is on his own trip right now. He just called me from the airport about ready to get on the plane for Kansas City. It's going to be a quick trip as he heads back tomorrow (this original blog post was before retirement when he used to travel quite a lot on business so no, Gregg is safe at home with me and we are following all the safety guidelines).  

Thanks for traveling back with me a few years ago, and I hope your day is a great one.





Tuesday, November 24, 2020

THE NEWSPAPER BOYS

 


I know nothing about this delightful photo of young newspaper boys, other than the fact that it was taken in 1910.


“Carpe diem! Seize the day, boys.
Make your lives extraordinary”

~Williams Robin Professor Keating~




Monday, November 23, 2020

MONDAY RECIPE POST - PEAR GORGONZOLA SALAD still not done yet


This was an excellent salad and I found it here at A Food Lover's Kitchen, hosted by Laura.  My photo shows it without the vinaigrette dressing.  If you look at Laura's recipe at the first link above, you will see photos and where she goes into great length explaining every step.  This is a fast salad to prepare and I had it on the table in no time at all.


Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

Makes 2 large salads or 4 side salads

 

For the salad dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon honey or agave

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Squeeze of lemon juice

 

For the salad:

 2 cups wild lettuce mix or arugula

1 small pear diced

3 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons dried cranberries, roughly chopped

 

Instructions

Toast the walnuts in a pan with a small amount of oil over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

 To make the salad dressing, add the olive oil, vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, and oregano to a small mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients together until well combined. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the lettuce, pear, cheese, walnuts and cranberries to a large salad bowl.

Top the salad with half the salad dressing. Mix gently to coat the lettuce. If the salad requires more dressing, add a little extra at a time until the desired amount suits your taste.

Serve immediately.


We both enjoyed this salad very much. 
 
I bought a baby lettuce mix. 

You can add extra nuts and dried cranberries if you want to.

We added diced avocado and diced sweet red pepper to the mix.  For our tastes it was a very nice addition. 

We added a tad more of the walnuts and dried cranberries.

After making this vinaigrette I won't be buying store bought too often from now on.  It was very easy to make and tasted great.  I didn't toss the salad with the vinaigrette, but served it on the side to spoon on top.  I am not a big fan of too much dressing, probably because I didn't grow up with it, except for salad cream which Mum always used sparingly.  I wasn't a big fan of that either but it was probably a kid thing. This is what salad cream looks like.  I understand you can buy it from World Market if you have one in your area, or maybe the British section of your supermarket.  Failing that, online.

Here is the address to the recipe just in case the link doesn't work.

https://afoodloverskitchen.com/pear-gorgonzola-salad/


Thanks for looking and Bon Appétit!


Friday, November 20, 2020

RANDOM PHOTO AND A QUOTE

"You can say any foolish thing to a dog and the dog will give you a look that says, "Wow, you're right!  I never would've thought of that."

~Dave Barry~

 



Thursday, November 19, 2020

BIG CATS AT NORFOLK ZOO

Just a note to let you know that I wrote this post several years ago, and any information on the animals, statistic and so on, may be out of date now.

There are two wonderful sculptures that I like at the zoo.  One is at the entrance.  It is an African elephant created by Matthew Gray Palmer of Friday Harbor, Washington.  He calls it "All Things Within All Things".  Not only does it hold a golden butterfly on the tip of its trunk, if you look closer you will see the elephant is made up of thousands of aluminum butterflies (10,000 to be exact), and if you look at that golden butterfly more closely, you will see that the wings are the side view of  an elephant.  You can see more photos here.
Here is my other favorite.  A tiger standing in the front of the Trail of the Tiger exhibit.  The tiger sculpture was erected in honor of the two beloved Siberian Tigers Shere Khan and Shaka Khan.  



Below are photos I took of one of the two Malayan tigers.  The exhibit now houses Kadar and Tahan.  It was fun to see them so clearly.  According to what I read, "Malayan tigers are endangered and recent counts showed there may be as few as 600 in the wild.  
It is perhaps the smallest subspecies of tiger, with an average weight of nearly 300 pounds for adult males, and just over 200 pounds for females.  They are found in the tropical forests of the southern and central Malay Peninsula."


We were also very lucky to get some decent shots of the African Lions.  I read the following on the website's information page.  The male lion weighs 364 pounds and its mate weighs 344 pounds.    African lions are found throughout the south Sahara desert and in parts of southern and eastern Africa.  








When we first arrived we heard the male lion roaring.  He was very vocal and you felt that roar reverberate right through your body!    
He almost looks like he is smiling in this one doesn't he?
One last shot, nothing to do with the rest, but it caught my eye.  A toucan made from an old tire.

And that's it for our trip to the National Zoo, a very nice memory with the hope that we will revisit one day.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of your week.