Thursday, January 10, 2013

Something Old and Something New: Soup and Salad for the New Year

This is my second post on my WordPress blog, "Eating Slowly."  I'm phasing out this one, so be sure to head on over and follow me before I quit posting here altogether!  I've added a "Follow" button in the sidebar, right on top to make sure you don't miss it.  See you there!

I love cookbooks and I love cooking magazines.  I have so many of both (and I'm sorry to say we took a box of cookbooks to Goodwill not long ago) that I've made a New Year's resolution of sorts:  to try one new recipe per week, either from one of my magazines--I subscribe to Fine Cooking and Every Day with Rachael Ray--or a cookbook that I don't use much.  Or maybe even a new recipe I haven't tried from a well-used book.  Heck, I might try something from a novel I'm reading, since I've been doing that anyway for the last couple of years on Cooking Nick's Books.  My hope is to share the things I make with you (I've got to let Eating Slowly live up to its name, after all, right?)  Whether I keep that resolution or not remains to be seen, but I'll try.

Today I'm sharing a recipe for a spinach salad from the latest issue of Fine Cooking that I made on New Year's Day; and as a bonus, a wonderful, simple vegetable beef soup that was handed down to me from my mother.
2 heaping cups torn bread(about 3/4-inch pieces) from a day-old rustic white loaf (I save the heels from my gluten free bread; I just used some of those) 
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
1 small clove garlic, mashed to a paste with a pinch of kosher salt 
1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar, more as needed 
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard 
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice 
6 slices bacon 8 oz baby spinach (about 8 cups),washed and well drained 
Freshly ground black pepper 
4 large eggs 
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 F. 
Put the bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toss lightly with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil.  Spread in an even layer and season lightly with salt.  Bake until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.  Set aside. 
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, mustard, and lemon juice.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the olive oil.  Taste the vinaigrette with a leaf of spinach and season to taste with salt and vinegar if needed.  Set aside. 
Heat the remaining  1 Tbs. olive oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat.  Cook the bacon on both sides until brown and crisp, about 7 minutes.  Leave the skillet on the stovetop and turn off the heat.  Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan. 
Put the spinach and croutons in a large bowl.  Gently toss the salad with just enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide the salad among four serving plates.  
Heat the bacon fat in the skillet over medium heat.  Crack the eggs into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and fry sunny-side up or over-easy, 1 to 2 minutes total.  kTop each salad with an egg and season with salt and pepper.  Tear each slice of bacon into 3 or 4 pieces and tuck them into the salads.  Serve immediately and pass any remaining vinaigrette at the table. -Tasha DeSerio 
From Fine Cooking Magazine, No. 121.  Feb/Mar 2013

The main course for this meal?  Something our family calls "Clara's Soup."  The recipe was given to my mother from her dear friend Clara from church, and it's been one of our favorites ever since I was a girl.  It's simple, comforting, and easy to throw together.  I double the recipe, and sometimes I throw in some oregano or even a little Tabasco sauce if I want a bit of a kick:
1 lb hamburger, browned and drained well 
1 onion, chopped and cooked a bit with the hamburger 
1 large can tomato juice 
16 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (don't use canned) 
3-4 potatoes, diced 
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce 
salt and pepper to taste 
Cook everything together for about 1 1/2 hours. 
Mom says if you want thicker soup you can add a little water, and she likes to add about 1/4 cup frozen okra with the vegetables.  I threw in some dehydrated mushrooms that I had picked up at the farmer's market this fall.

 With a hunk of gluten free cornbread (I like Bob's Red Mill gluten free cornbread mix) on the side, it makes for a yummy winter supper!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Eating Slowly, Transitioning to Word Press

I've gone and done it, folks; I've set up my new-and-hopefully-improved blog over on Word Press.  For now I'm calling it "Eating Slowly"  --which is kind of a misleading title given the fact that my boys wolf down their food as if they were going to a fire, as my grandmother used to say.  (And just now I realized the title already sounds lame.  So be it; it is what it is).  For a little while I'll be publishing my posts on both blogs while I'm tweaking my new one, and hopefully establishing a little bit of readership over there.  So pay me a visit, tell your friends and neighbors, and follow me!  Meanwhile, may I present my first post on Eating Slowly, "Musings of a Catholic Mom, Volume Two."

I've had a blog for four years.  I started Musings of a Catholic Mom on Blogger New Year's Day 2009, with a fairly unimpressive post about New Year's Resolutions.  Since then I've published over 200 posts (the official number is 221, but I've deleted a few now and then so I've actually posted a few more), and my blogging style has evolved over the years--for better or worse, I couldn't say.  For a while now I've been contemplating switching over to Word Press, and when I realized I'd run out of space for photos in Google's free photo sharing site, I thought, heck--now's the time.  I've wanted to find a more "catchy" title, too; after much pondering, Eating Slowly is what I've (finally!) come up with.


(Yellowstone, 2009)

Why Eating Slowly, you ask?  I wanted to have an underlying theme for my blog, but the problem is, I like to blog about all kinds of things.  Food, my faith journey, the joys and struggles of raising two teenage and one almost-teenage boys, being Catholic, books, places we visit, and the everyday ins and outs of life.  Not long ago I was thinking about the book Eat, Pray, Love; remember that one?  Elizabeth Gilbert writes about leaving her husband to go on a worldwide journey to find herself.  The way I figure, I don't need to go on some epic quest to find myself; I'm doing that every day just by living my life.  And I realized that "Eat, Pray, Love" can be a theme for my own life.  Here's what I mean:

1.  Eat Slowly.   I love cooking, and good food always makes life just a little bit better.  I try to minimize the processed food and cook things from scratch whenever I can.  I even started a whole other blog called Cooking Nick's Books--dedicated to food, and my favorite writer, Nicholas Sparks. (Although, I'm thinking Dean Koontz might soon become my new favorite writer.  But I digress.)   I'm a big believer in Slow Food (meaning, minimizing fast and processed food and serving home-cooked, locally-grown, organic, and nutritious meals instead--although I don't always practice this), and I love having a meal with my family around the table; even though sometimes one or all of the boys have someplace to rush off to right after dinner.

(Corolla, NC, 2010)

2.  Pray (insert your favorite adjective here:  Hard, Fervently, Often, Always...)  Something that we all need to do a little bit more of.  I love my Catholic faith, and I want to learn more about it and grow closer to Jesus every day.

  3.  Love Deeply.  Starting with my family.  I want to treat others the way I would want to be treated.  I want to always be reminded that every person I come in contact with is made in the image of God.  I want to think of others before I think of myself.


(Shenandoah National Park, 2011)

I hope you'll join me on this journey.  If you already follow me on Musings of a Catholic Mom, you might not notice too much of a change in the way I write or the things I write about or the photos that I publish.  Most likely I'll put my posts in both places at first, and I'm still planning to keep Cooking Nick's Books going (even though I haven't been posting there much lately), at least until I've exhausted Nicholas Sparks' novels.  I'm getting pretty close.

(Denali, Alaska, 2012)

This blog won't be just about eating, of course; although I expect there will be quite a bit about food.  I'm excited about sharing what I'm learning in my faith journey, our adventures as a family, my wonder at the beautiful world around us, and my love of God and all things Catholic.  (Perhaps "Living Slowly" would be a more apt title...something to ponder for the future, I suppose.)  And I think I have a pretty good sense of humor, so I'll mostly keep things light.  I'll leave the heavy-duty stuff for the more "serious" bloggers.  So welcome and hello!  And Happy New Year!
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