Mmm Spinach Soup… my favorite.

So I’m going to share. Nice, huh?

Spinach Soup

1/2 cup butter

2 onions or shallots, chopped

5 cloves garlic, diced

4 large potatoes, peeled & chopped

1 46.5 oz can chicken broth

1 giant tub of organic baby spinach (I think it’s 1lb?)

4 cups water

Fresh ground nutmeg

Ok, ready?

Chop & dice your onions & garlic- and throw in the stick of butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces.

Cook until translucent, add a little salt & pepper.

Get out your Titan peeler, and if you don’t have one… buy one. It’s one of those kitchen tools you’ll love so much you wont be able to imagine your life before it. Seriously. Peel your potatoes, and chop them into fairly small pieces. You’re going to blend them in, so you want them small enough that they cook quickly & evenly.

Add the chicken broth, put the lid on your stock pot, and let it simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Pack the entire container of spinach into the pot- turn the burner off, and put the lid back on. Let it sit for another 10 minutes, or until you can see the spinach has softened. I have a serious lack of patience when it comes to this soup- and it always comes out perfectly.

Soft spinach- ready to blend!

Now the fun part 🙂 Get out your immersion blender and start blending. If you haven’t bought an immersion blender yet, I wholeheartedly recommend them.  I paid $1.99 for mine at the Goodwill so it doesn’t have to be expensive. They’re $20 retail, and the amount of stress & clean-up time they eliminate will more than justify the purchase. I used to make this soup with my food processor and I can’t tell you how much easier it is with the immersion blender. I’ve used it for everything: potato leek soup, whipping cream, Hollandaise sauce, even mixing orange juice concentrate.

After it’s blended to a smooth & brilliant green (I’d show you a picture but the camera got all steamy) add your 4 cups of HOT water. Blend a little more, grate a little fresh nutmeg on top…and….

Voila! Heaven in a bowl… with enough leftovers to freeze some 🙂 It’s especially good with Indian Flatbread… 🙂

Enjoy!


Here’s to you, Mr. H♥

My grandfather died on March 26th, 2010. He was the closest thing to a father I had. I’m beyond melancholy. I’m devastated.

He loved our Grandma so much- and when I used to ask what his job was, he’d say “To make Grandma happy”…I’ve probably held out faith in “Happily Ever After” because of their honest-to-goodness love story. Ultimately he was one in a million- determined on being my Grandma’s Elaine’s Prince Charming. He showed all of his granddaughters that true love exists- that it’s worth waiting for- and that we all deserve to have someone in our lives that loves us like he loved our Grandma.

He knew Neil- our father, had failed us. He was the only person in our family that ever admitted it. He apologized even. He tried to make up for it with trips to Yellowstone & voluntary trips to see Old Faithful geyser for the hundredth time, Flaming Gorge & the rocky islands where he taught us that the the tails of lizards fall off when you grab them- because the lizards keep running… and to his garden in the backyard- where he always let me pick the biggest most beautiful ripe tomatoes. I’m a tomato farmer now- and I’d never have known the joy of gardening, without his influence.

He’s impossible to replace and the world is a darker, quieter place without him. I’m sad my kids don’t know firsthand how much he loved to horrify us by biting the heads of the fish he’d just caught. Eww- it was completely gross… and totally Grandpa. He liked to push us to be different- to question everything while being respectful and reverent. Zach hit me once and Grandpa grabbed his hand and said “Zachary do you know what happens to boys who hit girls?” and Zacky shook his head no… and Grandpa kissed him on the cheek, spanked him and said “Boys who hit girls, go to jail”   It’s something I tell my kids. My son would never hit a woman, and I have my grandpa to thank for giving me the tools to effectively teach that lesson.

He really knew how to hug you. He really loved with his whole heart. He never questioned the choices people made- even when I was baptized Catholic and had been most reluctant to tell him. I finally blurted it out after Grandma forced me to talk to him about it.

“Grandpa… I’m Catholic.” I stammered.

“Jennifer, I love you- and Catholics make the best Mormon’s. I’m happy you found something that gives you comfort. Now, when are you bringing the kids to visit?”

He was just that way.

He taught me how to bait a hook- how to toast the perfect marshmallow- and ALL about love.

After being doted on by my grandparents as a child- then seeing them age and enjoy great-grandchildren- only to see my Grandma go too soon- and see my Grandfather miss her so much. I can be happy for him today. I know he wanted (more than anything) to be with my Grandma again.

Which comforts all of us, somehow.

There’s not a flight out before his funeral- I’m going to miss it… and It truly sucks to be the oldest sibling and not be there for my younger sisters & brother. Sob. Sob. Sob.

I can’t believe I’m going to miss it. 😦

Life is rough this week.


Religiously Strange.

I truly hoped I was prepared for my date tonight with the African Wild Game Hunter. Who just so happens to be 5′ 2:”. At the very, very most.

I’ve begun to wonder if I can have my loser magnet surgically removed.

When the first thing your date says to you is “How do you feel about our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ?”

Where the F do you go from there? Seriously. I can handle a lot of strange things- but a fire & brimstone Baptist, it turns out, is definitely NOT one of them. Frankly, the “born-again” frighten me, and after last night, I know it’s a good healthy fear that I should encourage.

I have Mormon roots, and have chosen to be Catholic. I chose to be Catholic largely based on the fact no one confronted me about my faith at St. Joseph’s. Nobody read me bible stories as a child – and I have absolutely NO idea what they’re talking about when they mention feeding the multitude…  The difference between the Catholic church and all the rest we’d tried, was that they welcomed me and never questioned how deep my faith ran.  After visiting at least 20 churches- I was beyond grateful. I planted the church gardens that year- and my daughter was born, and baptized the same night as my son & I… at my/our first Easter Vigil.I fell in love with the tradition of Catholicism. I’m still not sold on the whole enchilada.

My date tonight was a good old fashioned garden variety disaster. I would go into further detail, but I need to drown myself in a martini & climb into the hot tub. I refuse to be reduced by the nightmare that is internet dating… 🙂

Bring on the cats.


The purest of love affairs…

I simply cannot decide which one I have to throw out this year… so it looks like the garden is going to be bigger than I can handle- yet again. Shocker, huh? 🙂

UGH.

They never have an episode of  “Intervention” about tomatoes… maybe there’s some sort of 12 step program for us heirloom vegetable junkies…

Here are my lovelies:

Aunt Ruby’s German Green: Heirloom beefsteak variety from Ruby Arnold of Greeneville, Tennessee who passed away in 1997. Slightly flattened, 1 pound fruit that ripens to a pale greenish-yellow (“lime jello green”) with a slight pink blush that extends to the inside. Superb, fruity sweet and slightly spicy taste. A tomato I cannot live without…. and it’s one of the latest in the garden- so it gives me an opportunity to learn a little more patience…

Black Krim: Originally from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet Union. This rare and outstanding tomato yields 3-4″ slightly flattened dark-red (mahogany-colored) slightly maroon, beefsteak tomatoes with deep green shoulders. Green gel around seeds. Fantastic, intense, slightly salty taste (which is great for those not wanting to add salt to their tomatoes). Black Krim is one of my favorite tomatoes. Also suitable for container/patio garden. Perfect choice for slicing, salads and cooking. I picked the tomato in the picture on the way to the market last September. Yum.

Amana Orange: Huge heirloom beefsteak tomato named for the Amana Colonies in Iowa. This tomato produces big regular leaf plants that produce above average amounts of beautiful light-orange, irregular shaped (fluted) heirloom tomatoes that can grow to 2 pounds or more, with an average diameter of 5 inches. Excellent sweet, almost  tropical fruit flavors. This tomato variety has been a consistent prize winner.

Super Sweet 100 Cherry: Prolific, indeterminate plant bearing “juicy, sweet” fruit is similar to ‘Sweet 100’ but resists diseases. 65 days.


Green Zebra: Developed in 1985 by tomato breeder Tom Wagner, this is an unusual and exquisite tomato chosen by Alice Waters for her restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California. The 2-inch round fruit ripens to a yellow-gold with dark-green zebra-like stripes. The flesh is lime-emerald in color that has an invigorating lemon-lime flavor. A great tomato for brightening up salads and other tomato dishes- Absolutely DIVINE. The tomato that created this whole craziness. I used to buy these for $6 a pound from a vendor… then tore up the yard so I could grow my own. So so good.

Orange Roma: The heavy hitter in my garden. Where all good things come from 🙂 Amazing for salsa, marinara sauce- etc. Spectacular fresh or in anything- just the most fabulous tomato ever… and extremely prolific. Heavy producer- and produces well into fall. Sprawling plants with good yields of 1 x 2 1/2″ 2 oz. plum-shaped orange paste with pointed ends and a good sweet-tart flavor.  An all-purpose plum tomato with good disease resistance.

Speckled Striped Roma: The source of this tomato is John Swenson. A cross between Antique Roman and Banana Legs. The tomato has the distinct end nipple of the latter. Seeds produce compact, indeterminate, regular-leaf tomato plants that have a high yield of very intriguingly beautiful, meaty, 4-6-inch long, orange-red paste tomato with good flavors and wavy yellow stripes. Looks like a fat sausage with a pointed end. A great novelty tomato that makes the best tomato sauce, along with other colored paste tomatoes.  There is a heavy fruit production of meaty 4-5 oz. oblong fruits until frost. Some years, this has brought the highest yield of the tomatoes grown. The grower who produced this seed, and who has grown all kinds of tomatoes for years, says this is “exceptional – definitely one to save and pass down”.

Brandywine: Probably the first heirloom to achieve “cult status” within the growing popularity of heirloom tomatoes. A pink, potato-leaf, Amish variety from the 1880’s. Years ago, seed saving was done by individuals who understood that the greatest thing they could pass on to the next generation was some of the treasured food plants that had sustained life and had proven their value. One such pioneer was Ben Quinsenbury, who lived in Vermont. He died at the age of 95, passing on his legacy. The Brandywine was Ben’s favorite tomato. In the past 2 years of holding tomato tastings for chefs and tomato lovers, the Brandywine has always placed as one of the top three favorites. It is legendary for it’s exceptionally rich, succulent tomato flavor. Fruits are reddish-pink, with light, creamy flesh that average 12 ounces but can grow to 2 pounds.

Jaune Flamme: Extremely prolific French heirloom tomato that bears in clusters of 6, beautiful, 1 1/2-inch, round, golf-ball sized tomatoes that are persimmon-orange colored inside and out. A delicious tomato flavor that literally bursts in your mouth.  Very pretty. Makes a great flavored sauce.

Aunt Ginny’s Purple: A productive heirloom beefsteak tomato of German origin that was brought into circulation by Rick Burkhart if Indiana whose family has raised it for 25 years. Big, indeterminate, vigorous, potato-leaf tomato plants that yield abundant crops of 1-pound, deep-pink, juicy tomatoes with little cracking. Considered among the best heirloom tomatoes. Excellent tomato in salads and on sandwiches.  Aunt Ginny’s Purple is an American favorite tomato, and since I’m at least a dozen kids’ Aunt Jenni…. I had to have it.

Purple Calabash: A beautiful, drought tolerant variety producing small to medium (2 1/2 to 3-inch), flat, deeply ruffled, chocolate-brown to deep-purple fruit. Intensely rich, almost wine-like  flavor. Crack resistant and stores well. I’ve waited for 3 years for this seed… I am oh-my-heavenly-stars excited for this tomato. The plant is so beautiful I can pick them out amongst the other 500 in the greenhouse.

Chocolate Stripes: One of the Top 3 tomatoes of the 2007 TomatoFest.  Plants are very large, indeterminate, regular-leaf tomato plants that yield a plentiful crop of 3-4 inch, mahogany colored with dark, olive green-striping (similar to black zebra).  Fruits have delicious, complex, rich, sweet, earthy tomato flavors. Chocolate Stripe, another desirable ‘black tomato,”  is an excellent tomato. Produces well into the autumn A great sandwich tomato and salad tomato.


Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter:

Radiator Charlie lived in West Virginia during the 1930’s. He was a radiator repairman by trade, but a tomato breeder extraordinaire by right. He only developed one tomato in his life, but the plants sold so well he used the proceeds to pay off his home mortgage during the tough economic times of The Great Depression. Developed by M.C. Byles in the 1930’s, this heirloom tomato remains very much in demand in the Mid-Atlantic states. Mr. Byles, affectionately known as “Radiator Charlie” earned his nickname from the radiator repair business he opened at the foot of a steep hill on which trucks would often overheat. Radiator Charlie, who had no formal education or plant breeding experience, created this legendary tomato by cross-breeding four of the largest tomatoes he was able to find and developed a stable variety after six years of pollination and selection. He then sold his heirloom tomato plants for one dollar each (in the 1940’s) and paid off the six thousand dollar mortgage on his house in six years. It is said that each spring, gardeners drove as far as 200 miles to buy Charlie’s seedling tomatoes. The large, slightly flattened, pink-red fruits that range from 1 pound to more than 3 pounds, are meaty, very flavorful and have few tomato seeds. I can’t freaking wait! These are 4″ taller than everything else in the greenhouse right now!

Prudens Purple: Developed from the Brandywine. Many people find this variety comparable in every way to the favorite Brandywine. It has even ranked higher at times in taste trials. Great for hot day and cool night climate. Large potato leaf vine produces lots of 1-lb., slightly flattened, pretty, blemish-free, purple-pink fruits with few seeds and excellent flavor.

Big Rainbow: This spectacular heirloom tomato has been in circulation since 1990. originally from Polk County, MN.  Big, sprawling, indeterminate, regular-leaf tomato plants that yield moderate to large crops of 1-2 lb. rib-shouldered bi-colored beefsteak tomatoes with gold flesh with beautiful red streaks running throughout. As fruits ripen they have a rainbow appearance: greens on the shoulder, yellow, orange, gold in the middle, and red on the blossom end. Fruit often has dynamic red splotches inside and on bottom. Very juicy and fruity sweet. Good disease resistance. A late producer. Great for slicing thick into sandwiches or salads.

Sunset’s Red Horizon: This outstanding heirloom tomato, named by tomato grower, Gary Ibsen, for Sunset magazine in 2003, is a native to Southern Russia. Huge, red, 4 to 6-inch, meaty, heart-shaped fruits are borne from a big leafy plant with wispy vines. Introduced to the west by Nik Peplenov who immigrated to the US in 1999 and brought with him his favorite heirloom tomato seeds from the Rostov Don region of Russia. They are not only one of the first tomato varieties to produce, but produce fruit well into November (in Oregon and in California). Proven resistant to frost, blossom end rot and cracking. Delicious fruit with huge tomatoey flavors.

Black Cherry: The only truly black cherry tomato. Large, sprawling, indeterminate, regular-leaf, vigorous tomato plants that yield abundant crops in huge clusters of 1″, round, deep purple, mahogany-brown cherry tomatoes. Fruits are irresistibly delicious with sweet, rich, complex, full tomato flavors that burst in your mouth, characteristic of the best flavorful black tomatoes. Beautiful to mix with other colored cherry tomatoes. Unique tomato variety. Disease resistant. Once you try it…you want MORE.

Kellogg’s Beefsteak: 1 lb., pale to deep orange beefsteak tomatoes originally from West Virginia, that are thin-skinned, meaty, have few seeds and a fantastic sweet, tangy flavor. Juice and inside flesh have the same bright orange color as orange juice.

Moneymaker: These round, deep red fruits weigh about 7 to 8 ounces, and arise by the many dozen on extra-vigorous plants. The vines reach 5 feet or so, and are studded with luscious fruit. MoneyMaker’s flavor is a full, meaty, sweet bite — absolutely delicious fresh or cooked!

Jersey Devil: If I could only grow one tomato- this would be it. Don’t get me wrong- I’d cry about missing my favorite black & green tomatoes… but I’d survive. A prolific variety with 4 to 6 inch long, tapered red fruits shaped like banana peppers. The tomatoes are very meaty and sweet with few seeds — great for sauces, salsas, or even eating fresh. Color is a gorgeous bright red and yield is impressive.

San Marzano Redorta: Hooray for free seeds! They threw these in when I ordered my Jersey Devil seeds… Huge plum tomato is an heirloom variety from Tuscany, and named for a mountain in Bergamo. Used for cooking, but flavorful enough to eat fresh. Tomatoes are much larger than a regular San Marzano, with the average size being about 8 ounces.


The Pretentious, The Elderly, and The Vertically Challenged.

Ahhh yes. The creepy guys I’ve learned to block in this whole internet dating adventure.  The snotty/snobby/spoiled boys, the dirty old men, and every single man in the tri-state area under 5’5″.

I’ve decided to let them speak for themselves, since I could never compete with these emails 🙂

1. HOW YOU DOIN???

How is life in Sandpoint today? I was just there last Sunday. I landed at the airport and looked around a little. Had lunch and did a little light shopping. Sandpoint is awesome. It’s great to see you got more traffic lights and more updated infrastructure. I saw Lyle Lovett at the music show in Sandpoint a long time ago. Are you adventurous enough for me to pick you up and fly you back to Newport Beach for lunch this week?

Have a great weekend.
Hank

Hank is 65, a retired business exec with 4 children that live away from home, twice divorced. Sound Nice? Normal? No. Nice guys don’t try to fly you anywhere on a first date, and any man who’s a fan of traffic lights probably wont enjoy me much- as I do any & everything to avoid them. Realistically? He’s probably an elusive member of the FBI’s Most Wanted.

2. Hotcake,

I just became a paramedic and love it…I’m also a therapist and a accountant…but that’s a long story.

What do I like to do for fun? I like to try new things – like I went skiing for the first time in 30 years and I camped in the snow.  Actually, I have to say much of my jobs is recreational – the best things in life are free.

I’m currently on a very restricted calorie regiment, but normally I’m all about trying new restuarants – the stranger, the better.

I live with my brother in a really small town – he’s divorced and the kids are out of the house. As far as dating, that hasn’t been any sort of issue so far seeing as I haven’t actually had a date since I moved here…but I’m forever hopeful that will change. Nonetheless I have thought about logistics and it just so happens his girlfriend has a place in town and he stays at her house a couple nights a week.

I hope this email has gotten me closer to that all so elusive first date:)

Neal.

… Unfortunately, Neal is my deadbeat dad’s name- so the thought of screaming out “NEAL!” in any intimate circumstance makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Shudder. Eww.. Perhaps not the first thing I should consider, but after dating a guy named Solar- I’ve realized how much a name does matter. It’s hard enough explaining strange behavior- you shouldn’t have to be burdened by his name too.

Neal is 5’4″, around 240 lbs,  50 yrs old,  never been married,  with no kids. (Do you see the flashing red lights? Hear the sirens? Good) He could potentially save my life, solve my problems and do my taxes… but he lives with his brother, camps in the snow and can’t eat anything (and wants strange food when he can). Hmm. The good news? He seems to have already worked out how I can spend the night at “their” house…assuming his persuasive email does the trick and lures me in.Yikes.

(Thank God & all that is holy that Match.com doesn’t share your physical address.)

Hey buttiful,
How’s it going? So you think tractors are sexy? well then you might want to sit down cause I have three of them, four if you want to count my lawn tractor! lol How’s everything in Spoint? I was just up there two weeks ago. Well feeling kinda sick today and I think the way to get over it is to hit the mountains on the sled!! lol Don’t tell the boss even though he’s already on to us. lol Have a great day hope to hear from you. lol Roy

Roy is 27, and has 8 pictures of himself with a different dead animal in each one. Granted, I’m not a hunter- but I would think someone must have some pictures he can use that don’t bring the Sarah Palin live turkey murder to mind. Roy emailed me 11 times before I responded. I emailed him and said:

“No offense Roy, but the more you email me, the more I relate to the animals in your pictures. I’m sure you’re very nice, but you’re too young for me, and we’re looking for different things.” Now I figured that was a nice kind way to get him to scram. Again- I need to learn to be mean. I got this back:

“You could be my first cougar. lol Just Kidden. For real though, I can help you with my tractor.”

Roy

Jerk called me a cougar. So I wasn’t terribly nice when I had to email this crazy person again.

“Oh Roy,

You and all the tractors in the continental US couldn’t handle the job and if you’re going to take the time to compliment a woman, or email a dozen freaking times, take the time to use the spell check. Sheesh!”

Oh the fun of it all 🙂