Anniversary dinner

Hey! We didn’t actually end up having pasta! We had soup! That I made from scratch! And it was yummy!

So, allergy season is mid-swing now and Justin’s having a heck of a time, like I mentioned yesterday. (Look at me, posting two days in a row!)  We’re at a forecast pollen level of 9.4 (out of I’m not sure, 12?) and the top culprits are oak, juniper, and elm. The oak trees are trying to kill him. The juniper are working their way up to me, but I’m so far putting up a fight.

Anyway, yesterday he was head achy and draining and sneezing. Today he’s got awful gunk in his lungs and he’s miserable. He slept most of the day. (No classes today, so he didn’t skip anything.) We cancelled our chiropractor appointment because he wasn’t going anywhere and I didn’t want to go by myself. Which means we didn’t go to the grocery store or get tempted to get dinner on our way home. When he did finally decide that he was getting hungry, he said that what really sounded good wasn’t the frozen fish that we’d discussed, but a really creamy tomato soup with vegetables and noodles in it.

Well, we don’t have any cans of soup right now. But we do have a lot of other stuff, including a half bag of red potatoes that needed to get eaten. So I looked up a few recipes online, extrapolated a few concepts, and made up a pot of tomato soup from the stuff we had in the house!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons sweet unsalted butter
  • 6 oz bag of chopped carrots and celery (left over from the last time I made soup and stored in the freezer)
  • 1 young sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-ish pounds red potatoes, chunked
  • 1 small can of no salt added tomato paste (less than 1 cup, the tiny little can)
  • 1 big can of no salt added petite cut tomatoes (but whatever type you like would work just fine) (this was the biggest can we had in the house — 3.5 cups)
  • 4 cups no salt added chicken broth (or stock)
  • Optional: pasta, cheese, milk or heavy cream
  1. I melted the butter in a big skillet on a medium heat and added my frozen carrots and celery and let them cook for a while. It would probably go faster if they weren’t frozen, but I didn’t feel like doing it differently. Meanwhile, I cut up a small sweet Vidalia onion into small bits, and then I added that to the pan. It got pretty watery as the veggies melted, but I just kept giving it a stir now and then. And I crushed one clove of garlic into the pan with all the rest. I let this go until the onion was translucent and the other veggies seemed like they were getting pretty soft and the water had evaporated.
  2. While that was cooking, I scrubbed and cut up my red potatoes into small chunks and put them in a pot of water on the stove to boil.
  3. Into the pan with the carrots/celery/onion/garlic, I added the can of tomato paste and turned up the heat to a medium-high for just a little while, just to get the sauce bubbling a lot, and then I brought it back down to medium and let it reduce for a while, stirring it constantly to keep it from burning and sticking. I have no idea how long this took, but pretty much until I was bored and then again half as long. Once it got pretty thick looking, I removed it from the heat and set it aside.
  4. I put my big pasta pot onto the burner and added the carton of chicken stock (the carton was 4 cups, so I just put it all in there) and the big can of tomatoes, with all the liquid from the can, and then ground a bunch of a spice that Justin recommended and I can’t remember right now — I’ll find it later and tell you. And then I turned that up to medium and let it boil for a while. It’ll get a little bit foamy on the top as it boils. I was still waiting for the potatoes to boil at this point anyway, so I just worked on cleaning up the kitchen and let them bubble away. I don’t know how long that was — maybe 10 to 15 minutes? Not longer than that, I’m sure. Once the potatoes were done, I removed them from the stove, drained them, and set them aside for a little bit.
  5. After letting the tomato/chicken broth mix boil for a while, I added in the tomato paste/carrots/celery/onion/garlic mix from the first pan into the pasta pot and stirred that in for a while. (I kept on cleaning the kitchen.) Once it seemed like everything was integrated nicely, I turned the temperature down to a simmer and let it cool down a little bit.
  6. Since Justin had barely eaten all day and he’d mentioned wanting noodles in his soup, at this point, I set a pot on the stove with some pasta to boil so he could add it to his soup. I didn’t want the pasta in mine, so it didn’t get added to the big pot in the end, but he added it to his and said it was good that way.
  7. Once the pasta pot of soup had cooled down a little, I took out half of it (roughly) to another container, making sure to get a bunch of the solid vegetable bits. Then I used my immersion blender (Thanks, Mom!!) and blended all the rest of the soup in the pot, making it all creamy and foamy. Remember: you can always add the vegetable bits back in, if you decide that you’ve taken out too much. But you can’t take them out once they’re blended!
  8. Then I took about half of the potatoes and added them to the pasta pot and blended those into the soup, too. By this point, it was looking nice and thick and creamy. So I went ahead and put back in the rest of the soup that I’d removed but not blended and the rest of the potatoes and mixed it together to make a nice chunky, but still thick and creamy soup, and let it simmer just a little longer.

Justin put more spices into his bowl, along with the pasta and some cheddar cheese and probably a splash of milk. I didn’t want the calories, but adding some heavy cream or milk at the end of this would definitely make it even more creamy.

I thought it was delicious as it was and I’m very pleased about it! Even after we each had a big bowl of it, there’s still 5 cups of it in the fridge. So I’m definitely calling it a 6-serving soup. And if I’ve entered everything into MyFitnessPal.com correctly, 1/6 of this recipe comes in around 212 calories. (This is excluding the pasta/milk/cheese, just to be clear.)

Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 212
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7 g 11 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 23 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 20 mg 7 %
Sodium 136 mg 6 %
Potassium 951 mg 27 %
Total Carbohydrate 30 g 10 %
Dietary Fiber 6 g 23 %
Sugars 8 g
Protein 6 g 12 %
Vitamin A 76 %
Vitamin C 57 %
Calcium 5 %
Iron 13 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

 

So I’m feeling very accomplished! And Justin is feeling, I hope, well fed. He went back to bed about half an hour ago, poor thing. I need to head to bed myself in order to prepare for getting to work at stupid 6:30 in the morning.

Did you know that there’s an actual word for the mix of carrots and celery and onion that was the start of this soup? It’s a French word: mirepoix. I think that’s nifty.

I should be sleeping, but instead I’m writing

  • It’s been crazy around here. I should be heading to bed, but everybody else is posting today, so I figured I’d join in.
  • Last week I worked 52 1/2 hours
    • I was told on Thursday that I’d have a big thing done by the following Friday
      • And then on Monday, I was told I’d have it done by Wednesday
    • It got done well enough, but it’s a mess and I have a lot of work yet to do
  • This week and next week, I’m covering the morning meeting for my coworker who is out on vacation
    • I have to be at work at 6:30 tomorrow
      • And Wednesday
        • And next Monday,
        • Tuesday
        • & Wednesday
          • Remember how I was so excited to not be awake at 5:00 AM anymore?
            • Yeah
              • This stinks.
  • I haven’t got my morning work out in since Friday before last.
    • I didn’t exercise at all last week, to be honest
      • I also didn’t eat well last week
        • My weigh-in this morning was not encouraging.
    • I did exercise this afternoon after I got home
  • Justin’s allergies are trying to kill him
    • Mine aren’t so bad … yet
      • Our grocery store sells 90 packs of generic allergy meds that we can both take for about $15
        • They also sell 15 packs for about $12.
          • They’ve been out of the 90 packs every time we’ve checked for the last 2 weeks
            • We have 3 pills left
      • Costco also sells allergy meds for cheap, but it’s an hour away
  • We saw Zootopia over the weekend
    • It was adorable
  • We are watching season 2 of Daredevil
    • It is almost as violent as season one… :(
      • The plot line is not as interesting as season one
        • I wish I had Karen’s hair
          • Also, her waistline because dang that girl is slender
  • Justin is still doing well in school
    • We have about 2 weeks before he has to focus on getting ready for finals and all his big end-of-the-semester projects
      • I’m going to have to make dinner more often when that happens…
        • I see a lot of pasta and frozen dinners in our future.
  • It’s our 8-year wedding anniversary tomorrow!
    • We have no plans
      • Besides going to the chiropractor
        • Because we are old and boring
      • I think dinner is probably going to be pasta
        • Because it’s quick, easy, and goes well with the broccoli going bad in the crisper
  • And now I have to go to bed so I can get up again in 6 1/2 hours.

Keeping busy

We had a nice weekend around here. Saturday was kind of busy. We had chiropractor adjustments up in Bluffton. From there, we went down to mid-town Savannah and I donated platelets at the Red Cross donation center.

It had been six months since my previous platelets donation! I don’t know how so much time passed! I know that for a streak there I wasn’t feeling well. And then the holidays hit and things got busy. And then I wasn’t feeling well again. And then they changed my schedule at work and I couldn’t schedule donations on Friday afternoons anymore. But a whole half a year?!

After donating, and getting some food, we went back home and I took a power nap for an hour or two because in the evening I went out to a friend’s birthday party. She was having her third or fourth annual 49th birthday and it’s always a lot of fun. She invites a handful of women and we sit around eating and drinking and playing games for prizes that she’s bought for her guests. This year I brought home a yoga mat and a lovely piece of wall art. I’m not sure yet where to hang it.

Sunday was relaxing after all the excitement of the day before. And that was needed because I was up very late on Saturday and this week has been busy and stressful. I’ve had a lot going on at work, trying to get caught up on a mess that’s gotten out of control and requires an insane amount of detailed research to clear up. And Justin had a test today, has a paper due on Friday, has another test next Wednesday, plus another paper due that same day. Plus his other class is starting and that’s going to add more work and reading. And it’ll extend his days so I’ll have to be responsible for making sure we eat dinner on those days.

On top of that, we’ve started training for the 5K race we have coming up in April. So we’re running up the street outside our apartment complex and back. It’s a nice place to run, with wide grassy strips, and we see a lot of people who are also out running or walking.

There’s this one guy I’ve seen several times who walks with his three dogs. I’m not sure what kind of dogs they are, but they’re biggish, like Labradors, but skinny with smooth coats. One of these days I might ask him what they are. Anyway, he walks them off leash and they are the most well behaved dogs I’ve seen. They stay right beside him all the time. And when someone approaches him from the other direction on the sidewalk, he’ll step off the sidewalk and tell his dogs all to sit. And they plunk their bottoms down and look up at him, not at the people who are walking past. And then once the sidewalk is clear again, he’ll give a command and they’ll all get back in heal with him walking.

I saw a Yorkshire Terrier try to pick a fight with his dogs and they all just sort of looked at it and kept on walking. I was worried the Yorkie would try to bite me, it was so badly behaved. But not these three big, muscular dogs who are just the best behaved things on the street. I’m very impressed.

Anyway, nothing terribly interesting from me today. But I’m trying to remember to write more often. So this is the babbling that happens.

Quarterly update (part 3) — talking about the table and random other stuff

Okay, so what else has been going on?

  • Happy belated birthday to Amy, Mae, Tim, and Ethan! And happy birthday today to Isaac! We really had intended to send cards or something but my life is apparently insane and I can’t get anything done.
  • Congratulations to Dalton on those first steps! So exciting!
  • I’ve taken two classes now on how to use MS Access. I’m trying to learn a new way to keep track of all the information I manage at work and it’s being troublesome. It’s a whole new way of thinking about what I’m doing. I’m sure it’ll work out in the end, but it’s making me go around in circles while I try to figure it out.
  • I’ve donated platelets several times now. The last time went without a hitch and didn’t have any low-pressure problems. The time prior to that, however, was a failure because the pressure was so low I couldn’t even manage to get blood up to the machine to start.
  • On our way back from an appointment for Kay in Atlanta back in May, we stopped to help a woman and her daughter who were stuck on the side of the road with a shredded tire. We learned that we need to keep a better flashlight in the car, that we need a higher jack if we’re going to be able to help people who’ve lost their jack, and that we’d need a better tire iron to get those lug nuts off if they’ve lost that piece of equipment, too. Fortunately, a Georgia State Patrol trooper stopped and he had all those things and was able to get the women back on the road again. But we were able to help them stay calm and we learned some valuable lessons for ourselves in the process. One of these days, we’ll figure out which jack to pick up — hopefully before we actually need it again.
  • When Mom and Dad were here, the project that we decided to work on was a skinny little table/shelf that goes behind the sofa and has outlets on it, making it easy to access an outlet, even though the sofa is blocking that whole wall. I got the idea from a blog online that I’m too lazy right now to go find. And we kind of adjusted the idea as we went anyway. When they were here, Dad showed Justin how to run the electric by taking an extension cord and splicing in an outlet. And we cut the wood and stained it. After they left, I sanded the wood and Justin polyurethane it a couple times to give it a nice sheen. I don’t have any in-progress photos and the pictures I have of it in place aren’t super, either. But this is what I’ve got.
Behold! Our table shelf thing.
image-3007

Behold! Our table shelf thing.

It’s just a little wider than the outlets, of which we’ve got two. One of them is a standard outlet. The other has USB charging slots. We had to order that one from Amazon because no where in town carried them in the nickle color we wanted.

USB charging at the outlet!
image-3008

USB charging at the outlet!

But a gift card from work and an Amazon order later and we’ve got ourselves a really spiffy outlet.

The rope lights are only temporary.
image-3009

The rope lights are only temporary.

We would like to have installed actual lights into the table, but they were really expensive, so we held off on that idea for now. In the mean time, we’ve got a rope light that we’d put up the stairs at the other house that didn’t have a home yet, and that’s filling in the gap for now. It’s a subtle light, but nice.

Back-lights behind the sofa
image-3010

Back-lights behind the sofa

The outlet that’s down behind the sofa has one outlet that’s controlled from a switch at the door and one that’s on all the time. So the outlets are plugged into one and the lights are plugged into the other and it works perfectly!

The table isn’t actually put together all the way yet. The long piece was really torqued and we were having trouble figuring out how to actually install the support beams that we cut in order to give it some structural support. We’d really like to do it right with sunken screws and everything, but we don’t have the money right now to buy the kreg jig we’d like in order to do it right. So for now, it’s tucked back behind the sofa, hopefully getting a little more straight the longer it’s there, and when we’ve got the money for the tool, we’ll take it back down and do the supports. And then when we’ve got more money again, we’ll add a lamp or up-wash lights or something.

For now, though, we’re really happy with how it turned out. I’ve actually got my computer plugged into it right now. And it’s actually stained darker than we would normally go, but it almost perfectly matches the sofa, so I’m tickled at how that worked out.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for paying for all the lumber! And for all the help on figuring out how to put it together!

And that pretty much rounds out the news that I’ve got for the moment. More than what I’ve mentioned and I feel like I’m complaining about my life, which is actually pretty good, I’m just irritated at parts of it at the moment (55 days) and that’s putting a huge grumpy gray cloud over everything. So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for a while again. I’m not exactly trying to be reclusive or anything. I’m just trying not to be a whiner at everybody. My life is good. I’m just cranky. But things will get better.