I was telling a bunch of friends about this soup I made three nights ago. I wanted a health-giving snack just at bedtime. Not fruitcake! (Well, I really did want fruitcake—sighs!) There was a day-old salad in the fridge, but you know how arctic it’s been around here, lately. I did not want something cold to eat to comfort me to bed; I was already cold.
Then I thought of it.
Long ago, when one of my sons married, we had grilled chicken breast and a salad bar for the rehearsal dinner. Not as many family members made it to the dinner as had been planned and we had bags and bags of mixed greens left over, along with all the sliced and chopped veggies that usually occur on a salad bar. Plus the chicken. Lots of it.
So I decided to try something I’d read about somewhere, long ago:
Sad Salad Soup.
It is a British thing, I think I remember, and not really so very complicated. You just cook your salad and it becomes a lovely, warm meal.
So I mixed all those bags of salad and dishes of chopped veggies and then added the grilled chicken, which I had cubed, and a lot of water and a bit of seasoning, and ended up with 15 quarts of really amazing soup.
Which I then canned.
We loved it! The kids loved it! I could not believe it! Fifteen times, in the dead of winter, we had this lovely homemade soup for lunch. It was such a joy!
So, the other night, I mixed that sad salad with a bit of chicken broth I had, and added onion, a dab of mushrooms, and some herbs and spices and simmered it until all was soft and I was shocked at how good it smelled and tasted. How warm it was! How comforting and filling! How health-giving!
So let me tell you what it’s like, so you will believe me.
You know how carrots, beans, corn, etc., are when they are in soup or cooked alone. You may not know cooked lettuce will pass for cooked cabbage in a soup—milder, but the same idea. Cooked radishes turn out a lot like very mild cooked turnips. My salad that night also had celery in it. That was a great addition.
You probably can guess that this is not going to be a really real recipe. It’s a chance for you to be creative! Just toss the salad into a pot, add liquid, and simmer.
But I can tell you what I added to make it marvelous: I browned some onions and mushrooms in butter, a while, before I began, which I am sure added to the flavor. I am really fond of cumin, so I dosed it with that, plus a goodly amount of powdered cayenne and black pepper. Did I toss in a dried basil leaf? I think so… I almost forgot to add salt. Do use a bit of salt.
You can see, I am sure, how the options are endless. If I’d had some cauliflower and broccoli, I’d have added that, too. If I’d had left over cooked green beans, they’d have gone in, along with their broth. I actually had saved the broth from some creamed corn, for such a time as this, and it was a perfect addition.
In the end, I created two servings of very lovely soup, which I ate all gone!
I am so sorry I did not get a photo of it for you! I was thinking with my tummy that night! And I was cold!
However, as I said, I shared this experience with some friends and one of them had some lettuce that had gotten way too cold in the car after shopping. (It’s cold out there, folks!) So we discussed it and she made her soup (which her children loved—it cannot be coincidence!) and sent me a photo of HER soup. Not only that, but she graciously gave me total free permission to give you a peek at her soup! I am so thankful, but she is thankful, too, at being able to save that poor frost-bitten bag of salad. So, the soup you see on this post is hers, not mine. (Thank you, Heather!) And she ingeniously added a side of udon. Mmm!
If I could throw a soup together after only reading about it, and if she could do the same thing after only hearing about it, I KNOW you can do this, too!
It’s finally happened. I’ve let myself get talked into sharing this amazing recipe I only had in my head.
I had the rudiments of it on paper, but it was inadequate. You know. Lots of things I did differently than the person who shared her own version of it. Lots of changes I made, if I remembered. Lots of special things I made sure of, that no one could have known by reading the recipe.
Rosemary and me…
Cozy up with something warm to drink and let me tell you all about it!
Is rosemary the world’s most favored herb? I don’t know; maybe not. However, it is one of my faves, and in my cooking adventures it shines like a star. I love it so much, I grow my own so never to be without.
If you were to visit my herb gardens, you’d notice two robust rosmarinus bushes (alba and sativa) both in easy reach. I like to think they are hefty branches to guard the doors to my kitchen, but really they mostly supervise the frolics of the latest kittens.
They say the size of a rosemary bush carries great significance. Supposedly it indicates the strength of the woman in her home.
I’m not sure about that, either.
I have landscaped around my house with the useful, herbal plants, for over 20 years. My gardens have varied from move to move. There was the glorious stand of dill in a raised bed. For my birthday, once, a son helped me set in a semi-circular hedge of 70 lavender plants. And when we spent a short time in Mississippi, I created an entire enclosed convent garden featuring a beautiful nighttime white-garden section. (That one did let a few non-herbals in for the sake of the flutter-byes.)
But the four-inch diameter twisted trunk of the rosemary right by my back door remains my favorite expression of my love for herbs: Always at hand. Shelter to cats. Exuberant. Generous. What more could an herb lover desire in a true friend?
Rosemary in the kitchen…
We eat lots of Italian food; that is an understatement, really. However, even when we cook something as simple as a pot roast, or baked chicken, a lot of rosemary goes in. It’s the natural additive, here, to the point that when my son’s friends thought the lavender cookies I had sent him smelled like pizza, he just chuckled, knowingly.
How few guess the redolent education that is inherent to owning rosemary!
Now. It’s not as though a cookie with rosemary could not be astonishing in its goodness, but today, we are going to make a cake, a simple pound cake, and we’re going to make it astonishing. So read on . . .
Rosemary in a cake?
I’ve mumbled and fumbled my way through many a delicious pound-cake recipe, including this one, and the variations I offer here I have acquired on the journey. I lost the original recipe, even, and have had to concoct this current iteration from memory and by refashioning a few I had lying around.
Funny, it turns out to be the best. I think you’ll like the results.
In my opinion, there is nothing in the kitchen that compares to creating this cake. The satisfaction is complete.
Noticing recipes for cakes with a sugar crust built in to the pan coating, I dared myself to try it. Using butter instead of shortening or oil would surely add perfection to the immaculate flavor of a fresh pound cake. Doting on its plainness, I realized it would play well with a hint of rosemary and the playwright in me took flight.
This cake is not hard, at all and it will leave you speechless.
My first attempt was not impressive. The recipe I used to build this project had faults. I do not appreciate that when it happens.
First, there was nothing in the recipe about the absolute importance of having all ingredients at room temperature. I’m telling you now; it’s absolutely important if you want the ingredients to mix well, and if you want a high cake with delicate crumb.
Next, the oven time was simply wrong. I kept checking and checking until I thought surely it was burned up, but no. I’ve corrected the time, now, realizing any cake this full of goodness would need at least 75 minutes to reach perfection. Also, I devised a method for you to know if your cake is done (toothpicks and such just do not work) and I’ll explain that soon.
Finally, the directions were not explicit enough and I actually made it wrong on the first try. It did make a cake, but I had a time keeping it all on the counter, at one point. (Sort of a Julia Child moment, that.) I’ve fixed it so you cannot make the mistake I made and you can thank me later.
So the first one fell just a smidgen—it came out of the oven too soon, I am sure, and there was that episode all over the counter…. It was scrumptious and everyone loved it—especially the slightly-fallen-cake-lovers—but I was not proud.
I might be a bit too proud, now.
However, this cake is a hit everywhere it goes, its lovers stealing extra pieces to take home for seconds the next day, then later confessing and offering huge compliments to get back into my good graces. So I’ll make one again, soon?
I just laugh—it’s a life!
And now is the time to make this darling, since rosemary is blooming right now and that’s the best time to harvest, so here goes!
(Oh, and you’ll need a stand mixer and a Bundt pan or other tube pan.)
That Scrumptious Pound Cake.
For the Crust. (Have ALL at room temperature):
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup) (Should be almost soft enough to shed oils.)
1 cup sugar (approximately)
the leaves from two 5” sprigs of fresh rosemary, rinsed well, and DRIED. (NOT dehydrated, just pressed between toweling and maybe aired before a fan.)
For the cake. Have ALL at room temperature. I’m not kidding:
A mixture of 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, poured into 1-cup liquid measure with milk added to fill the cup. This mixture will be divided, later.
1 ½ cup butter, not margarine (3 sticks)
5 large eggs
3 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon soda
3 ¼ cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the glaze (optional). Have ALL at room temperature:
1 small can frozen orange juice concentrate
½ cup powered sugar
First: Prepare pan.
Slather butter thickly over all interior pan surfaces. The goal is to create a surface to which the rosemary leaves and sugar can stick. Do not ignore the hollow core part of the pan.
Sprinkle the rosemary leaves randomly over the butter. They will stick pretty well if the butter is very slicky-soft.
Over that pour about 2 Tablespoons at a time of sugar into the pan and twirl it around gently, to spread sugar all over, trying to keep leaves in place. If one or two rosemary leaves dislodge, it is okay.
Continue adding small amounts of sugar and spreading until absolutely no more sugar will stick. May take even more than a cup; that is fine. Set aside in a cool place such as an unheated room, or near a window, but not the fridge.
Second: Prepare the batter. (Pre-heat oven, now, to 350 degrees.)
Milk and vinegar should be well-combined, and set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, beat butter until pale and fluffy. Add sugar, gradually, until all is incorporated, beating until fluffy after each addition.
Add eggs to butter, one at a time, beating until fluffy after each addition, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.
Stir and divide milk/vinegar mixture, putting half into a 2-cup bowl. (The 2-cup bowl is mandatory.)
In a small dish, combine baking soda with one tablespoon of water, stirring well, then add to the ½ cup milk in bowl. Stir well. This will gradually foam up to about one-cup size or more, so watch it, being ready to place a plate under the bowl, if needed.
Add vanilla and mix well.
Beginning with the flour (!) add flour to egg/sugar mixture, ½ cup at a time, alternating with the soda/milk mixture, 1/3 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition until soda/milk is gone, continuing with the rest of the milk/vinegar mixture until all is mixed in (beginning and ending with flour!) Beat very well, until completely incorporated, after each addition.
Ease batter into prepared Bundt pan or tube pan, using a large spoon to place batter directly into bottom of pan, and not disturb sugar/rosemary coating. Place pan in middle of oven in all directions. Bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes (one hour and 15 minutes.)
The test for doneness is to notice that the top of the batter will crack part-way through the baking. When the raw dough that is revealed in these cracks, begins to brown, the cake is done, especially if the cake is pulling from the sides of the pan. See photo:
Cool cake for ten minutes, in pan. Turn onto plate to finish cooling.
Mix orange juice concentrate with powdered sugar to desired consistency and serve as topping for cake, if desired.
This is too little, too late, I know, but if it can help someone in Florida to survive, it will be worth every moment it takes to post.
Or to read.
I found this on facebook, with an encouragement to “please share”, so here goes:
Start running your ice makers TODAY. Bag the ice. Fill the space between your freezer items as much as you can. A full freezer stays colder longer than one with empty spaces. And besides, you may need that frozen water in the form of water in the near future.
Freeze regular tap water for pets, cleaning, or drinking. Use Tupperware-type containers. REMEMBER to leave a small bit of space between the top of the water and the lids so the ice expands but doesn’t crack the container.
Start using your perishables TODAY to make more room for ice in the freezer.
Another tip of freezing water in gallon baggies—they can fit upright in the freezer well and you can thaw as needed.
Sanitize at least one bathtub and fill with water 24 hours before the storm hits. BUT TODAY MEANWHILE make sure your tub will hold water through a storm. YOU MIGHT THINK YOUR TUB HOLDS WATER but a 20-minute bath is not the same as keeping filled for several days. Fill it with about 2 inches of water and check on it after a couple of hours. If the water is lower, replace your stopper and try again, OR fill several plastic totes/bins with water & keep them in the tub or a secure low-traffic area of your house. (Or seal the drain with plastic wrap, a plastic baggie, and duct tape for good measure.)
SECURE ALL FIREARMS and AMMUNITION PROPERLY.
Gas up all vehicles and check tires and oil TODAY. Gas up all gas cans.
Get cash TODAY from ATM. Enough to get you through tolls and out of town to get supplies and more gas later. Call your bank if you plan on leaving the state so they don’t freeze your card for out-of-area “suspicious” transactions.
Screenshot or scan and send to your own email all of your important documents. Put originals in sealed bags or plastic bins. Think about sending second copy to friend or family who do not live in your area.
Stock up on pet and livestock food and supplies. Have your animals’ records handy in case you need to shelter them at a storm-safe facility.
Share evacuation plans with family and friends so they know where you will be. Have second location ready and known to all, in case first plan fails.
Store family heirlooms and photos in plastic bins in a high place, second floor, attic, or safe room if you can’t take them with you.
Keep old rags and beach towels on your stormside windowsills. Even with the best windows and shutters, water seeping from the horizontal wind pressure happens. A few soaked towels are better than soaked floors or drywall.
I also advise duct-taping windows and door frames to prevent water seepage. Windows are NOT made to withstand horizontal rain. While you are at it, buy some sturdy tarps—you may need them.
Shutter windows and doors and bring everything outside into your garage or house TODAY. Do not wait until the day before. Better to get done early and relax than wait until its too late, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE MANDATORY PERSONNEL (health care worker, emergency worker, or first responder). Remember that EVERYTHING is a potential projectile in hurricane-force winds. As long as you are out there, check for any weak or low hanging branches that are too near your house, windows, etc., and take them down now.
If you own greenhouses, remove plastic sheeting now. Better to destroy sheeting that to loose the entire structure (built like a box kite) in these winds.
If you don’t already have your hurricane supplies (non-perishable food, non-electric can opener, paper plates, lamp oil, etc.), get them TODAY. Shelves are already empty in some places.
Back up important computer files on a thumb drive! Place drive in a safe or other water-tight arrangement.
Get an advance or a refill on your prescriptions TODAY!
Unplug electronics as power fluctuations in high winds can cause damage.
If you do evacuate, put everything in your freezer and refrigerator into ice chests. Unplug and prop open your freezer and refrigerator. If you do not, when the power goes out—and it will—you will come home to rotting food and an uncleanable freezer or refrigerator.
Before you leave, turn off the MAIN power switch to your house or else you may come home to a fried AC unit because of power surges.
Take a shower (while you can) and wash your bedding and all laundry. You don’t know the next time you might be able to.
Declutter your living space—in cases of extended power outages, you may be living without a good light source for some time and tripping hazards can be avoided if you take the time to declutter TODAY.
Make sure your emergency weather radio is charged up and set to receive the news and information you need. Sign up with local emergency management to receive important warnings via your cell phone. When chemical plants are blowing up because they have lost power for refrigeration, this is the only way you might know to seal your home! More Duct tape!
Easily forgotten but as important as all of that—photos or videos of every inch of your house and a list of all belongings of value for your insurance company. Again, email to self and to family/friends.
Plastic bins can open during extreme vacuum. Duck tape completely around each bin, in both directions. (Like fancy ribbon around a present forms a “plus” on top and bottom)
Scan and email all photos to yourself and to friend or family in safe places.
For this hurricane, I’d also try to tie down my car. Cars have been blowing away in the Caribbean. Try chaining axle to a tree?
Gather some excellent firewood and store it in a plastic bin, too, along with very securely wrapped matches or lighter. It will help if you are cold and wet, afterwards. Once you get a good fire going in, say, the carport or some other sheltered place, you can add wet wood to it, but you cannot start a fire with wet wood. Also, then you can cook. If you have a fireplace, even better. Raise a pot off the flame with the next pieces of wet wood, or a few rocks or bricks, which are best if dry. Wet ones sometimes crumble or pop…
If it’s hot weather, stay cooler with wet clothing, wet towels around neck.
Hurricanes also bring tornadoes with them. Usually these are weak funnels that seldom touch, or only touch very briefly. Still, have a tornado plan, too…
I’ve always taught my children to memorize the Bible. I think it is good for their spirits, good for their souls, and even good for their bodies, if they heed it.
People seldom made me memorize anything until I was fourteen, but I remember much of it, today. I want my grown children to have lots and lots of the Word hiding in their hearts, and they do. It was worth all the work, just for that benefit.
Several times, though, we realized a different benefit.
I always had my children recite their memory work during our homeschool closing programs. It always was a large Scripture portion, such as The Book of James or The Letters to the Seven Churches. One night, when they recited Hebrews 11, “The Faith Chapter”, one preacher in attendance asked if we could recite it again, at his church, during the normal worship time.
After that presentation, a man remarked to me that it was such a great essay and wondered if I had written it, or where he could get a copy of it. Hmm.
I assured him I am not that great a writer, that it had been a selection from Scripture. He was astonished, said he’d never read anything that good in the Bible before. I gave him the reference. He marveled and promised he would go home and read it again, with the children’s voices still sounding in his ears, and seek for more meaning. Hmm.
But another time tops this. One night my children recited “The Sermon on the Mount”. Our youngest bravely wanted to help recite and assured me he could, although he was only seven at the time. I wondered at the wisdom of it, but knew the audience would forgive a flawed recitation from one so young. I knew this, especially since he desired to recite solo the entire parable of “The Wise and Foolish Builders”.
As the presentation progressed, I felt good about it. My children were totally prepared for this and giving, truly, one of their best recitals. However, as they neared the end, and my young son’s solo, he began to waver. After several bobbles, though, he collected himself and made it through to the end.
Later, I asked him what was wrong, what made him fearful. He replied, “When I saw that man in the audience crying, I thought I was doing a bad job.”
Further checking revealed this man in a rumpled suit, slumped down in his pew and openly mopping tears from a crumpled face, was the back-slidden relative of one of our group.
Oh, the power in the voice of a young child reciting Scripture! A grown man weeping to hear it, a churched man desiring to read it, what more could a mother want for reward?
Only this: that they would remember it, walk in it, and turn and teach it to their own.
One of our little boys was inventive and fearless.
And one day, a stranger came knocking at our back door.
It had been a mild-weather day and the main back door was open to let breezes in and to allow my supervision of our little boy’s outdoor play, while I tended to some laundry. The only separation between me and this huge visitor was the screen door of the back porch.
Over the expanse of his body he wore a grayed t-shirt, overalls with one strap fastened, and grubby boots untied. Some of his teeth were missing. He badly needed a shave and his oily hair flattened in several directions. Something about the urgency of his loud knock startled me. That was before I turned and spied his unkempt estate.
I admit I was beyond distressed. Wild images of countryside kidnappings captured my mind, uninvited.
Timidly, I approached the main door, breaking all my rules about talking to strangers.
“Ma’am, it may be none o’ my business, but did you know y’ur little boy has got hisself a fire a-goin’ in the pine straw out here?”
“Oh, no! Oh, no! Please, PLEASE, stay and help me!”
Funny how outward appearances don’t matter much, sometimes.
I followed that kind and insightful messenger of mercy to the scene, and found that, sure enough, as he’d seen his daddy do countless times, our little son had raked up a pile of pine straw and set fire to it. He never guessed his tiny blaze was only feet away from oceans of pine straw, some of it drifted against our garage, downwind on a breezy day. The fire had already broken out of bounds.
We two adults raked and sprayed water until it was out.
I told the man he had probably saved our son’s life, and surely saved us great property loss. I thanked him until he was embarrassed and left.
I forgot to ask his name.
I guess he was an angel in disguise. Sometimes we need help, and God knows it. Yeh, maybe an angel. I can imagine my asking him his name, and him saying, “Folks jis calls me Gabe.”
On investigation, I learned my husband’s matches were stored high on a wall in the garage, good, but under them was the mower, rolled there by our son in less than five minutes, and topped with a milk crate, making him tall enough to reach. So young, but so brave and inventive.
Where I guest post about another of my silly home-made recipes that I love…
If you’re interested in catfish, at all, but resent firing up the huge fryer thing.
Or if you are looking for yet another low-carb recipe.
Or if you are totally bored with the usual and just want something different.
Head on over to theArkansas Women Bloggers page and check out my latest guest post there, where they are so generous to allow me to contribute sometimes.
You will find precise instructions for a dish I mentioned once on this site, and love to use to surprise people’s taste buds. In that one, I used swai, but in the new one, I’m going with catfish because I like it better, by far.