Category Archives: cook off

Summertime Serenade

Image

This poem was written last summer

to celebrate the 2014 season.

It will be my “encore” serenade to you.

~~~~~~~~~~~*x*x*x*~~~~~~~~~~

Let’s hear it for Summer, 2015!

If you are in another season…

Hope it is a wonderful time for you.

~~~~~~~~~~~*x*x*x*~~~~~~~~~~~

Summertime Serenade

by Robin Oldrieve Cochran

Shimmering sun shines through haze,

“Shoo!” to flies, bugs and mosquitoes.

“Sh-h-h” – settling down – naptime now.

Silent respite, serene moments.

Sensation of peace surrounding home.

Skinny-dipping, slippery babies,

Slide smoothly into cool water.

Swing soars high into the sky,

Shoes kicked off, sandals flipped. . .

Splashing sounds, as hands release!

Sprinklers shifting, swishing rhythmically,

Sprays of warm water change.

Shivering, cold droplets follow: “Br-r-r!”

Soaking grateful kids, dogs and grass.

(Cats hiss!)

Shrieks ring out:  joy and sheer delight.

Sensational salads whet appetites.

Sliced fresh vegetable from garden,

Savory spices of basil with sprigs of parsley,

Soaked with slippery vinaigrette dressing poured,

Sizzling barbecue aromas, family gathering,

Should I bring something?

. . . Satisfaction!

June 28, 2014

Hospitality

Standard

Hospitality comes in all forms, sometimes simple and warm, other

times it is elaborate and luxurious. There are times in our lives,

each one has its ‘benefits’ and comforts, too.

 

My ex-sister in law, Linda, was such a special woman. She was so

kind and thoughtful. We had her up a few times for holidays, but

as she had invited us numerous times, we felt compelled to go her

direction- to Roanoke, Virginia. We were excited since we had at

the time six children, three of his and three of mine. Yet, we were

given a ‘vacation reprieve,’ while my parents were taking my two

girls and a boy, his other sister and her husband, were taking his

two boys and a girl. They were both heading in different directions

with the children, one to the far western part of Ohio for my parents

to where their ‘home camp site’ part of the Good Sam camping club,

and the other three were heading to a farm out by Johnstown, Ohio.

They were going to help pitch in with pigs and also, dunk in a spring

fed pond to wash the smell and dirt off, enjoying ‘country living.’

 

Linda had sent me a questionnaire; really!  Smiling right now at her

sweet questions, asking me to rate some of her favorite and practiced

dishes, letting her know which ones I would like her to prepare for

our meals. This way, she had thoughtfully and carefully planned all

the meals and had competed her shopping, too. Mike told me he loved

ALL of her home cooking, so not to worry about checking back with

him. She also asked in this fun and interesting quiz, what activities I

liked, what treats I enjoyed snacking on and other hospitable questions.

 

Upon our arrival, we found a lovely fruit basket in her guest room. It

had (at the time, I felt this way) ‘exotic’ fruits like starfruit and kiwi,

along with apples, pears and tangerines. I had told her I didn’t like

bananas, unless they are greenish, never any brown spots on them.

So, Mike who loved his bananas ripened, no such luck for him!

 

We had brought her a stone carved into an angel for her garden.

Linda was so thrilled and we felt we could not have brought her

a better gift. This is how a generous and caring hostess greets her

guests and makes them feel so welcome.

 

On our pillows, I had three Lindt dark chocolate balls. No, at this

time I had never tried them, but when asked which candy I liked in

my Easter basket (yes, this was a true question!) Linda found out I

liked the white chocolate bunnies, the dark chocolate covered coconut

eggs, and the milk chocolate maple eggs. I would switch with my two

brothers until I had the combination I enjoyed most.  (The second

night she put a Heath bar on my pillow and on and on, until we left

after a four day visit. Back to the plain old house, with the bustling

children there. Shoot!)

 

When we went into her newly furnished bathroom, she had placed

the exact color of towels she had seen in our own bathroom. I had

‘assigned’ Mike an olive green and I had lilac or lavender colored

towels at our house together. I had always felt if I ever had more

than one bathroom, I would decorate with a basket of violets and

those colors. Linda had bought a large bath towel, hand towel and

two wash cloths, in the colors from home.

 

As you can guess, we had delicious meals, went to many scenic

places, along with a beautiful mansion to eat our dinner at. It was

set off the road, quite a step back in history to the elegant antebellum

period of time. This is the period between the 1812 war and the Civil

war. I like to think of “Gone with the Wind,” when I reminisce about

this lovely place. The meal was delectable, with our being able to

choose one, two or three meats for our meal. My ex, Mike, being tall

and lanky, able to eat as much as he wanted order the three meats’

meal. Linda ordered pork and I ordered chicken. The other meat

was beef.  We had dressed up, full of expectation, which we were not

disappointed in this at all.

 

When I was growing up, my Grandmother Mattson, liked to make

desserts. Her German heritage helped to prepare yummy breakfasts.

We would usually have a simple meat, vegetable and sometimes a

bread or potato. My Grandfather had changed her into a Swedish

chef, for meals and a gourmet streusel, rum balls, Black Forest cherry

cake or German chocolate cake would be our reward for eating a

well prepared meal, but healthy for our lives. We still don’t prepare

our daily meals with many complicated recipes or sauces.

 

When we would arrive, my Grandmother would be given a gift,

my Mom called it her “hostess gift.” She emphasized respect, love

and never arriving at someone’s house, ’empty handed.’ Often, the

gift was flowers. Sometimes, it was a bouquet, often it was a potted

plant of lilies, tulips, or daffodils in the Spring, burgundy or golden

mums, if it were Autumn. Late summer, my Mom liked to pick out

sunflowers, along with asters. Sometimes, these could be found at

roadside tables, along the country back roads from Cleveland to the

town of Middletown, Ohio.

 

Mom often would give my Grandma a pretty tea towel, candy and

if she had baked cookies, those were stored in a tin for them to open

after we left. Once, my brothers got into that tin and boy! Did they

ever get in trouble!

 

When my parents retired the hospitality became less structured, it

was now Lake Erie casual dining experiences, find your beach towels

on the fence or in the linen closet. When they moved from the suburbs,

the antiques got shipped to an auction house, barely any were saved.

I was asked, but I had decided on Early American or Colonial period

having been raised in a Victorian style home, I was anxious to choose

a different way of decorating. Sometimes, I do wish I had saved some

of the special pieces, but then when I moved to my little apartment,

it would have been bittersweet parting at such a late date from them.

 

When we were on our way to my parents, we would use our landline

phone to call theirs. “Leaving now, see you in about 3 hours.” We were

not ones to carry on much conversation. Even now, when I call my Mom,

she immediately asks, “Is everything all right, Robin?” or “Are you okay,

dear?” (This works for all of us, since she and Dad named us all with “R”

in the beginning, it is quite a silly thing to hear her go through the names,

including my Dad’s, too.)

 

Upon leaving the last highway and getting onto Baumhart Road, our

labrador retriever mutt, Toby, would howl.  He knew the lake was out

there, wanted the window open to snort and sniff. He would walk on

top of people to get to the window, but usually even in the dead of

winter, we would ‘humor’ the good ol’ boy.

 

If it were Summer, my Dad would hear us honk about three times, as

we passed the Showse Park beach area. He would get up off his lounge

chair, go to the back of the house, grab these spongy things called,

“noodles” and usually for fun, had a Life Preserver over his shoulder.

This man was so ecstatic to have company, more than you would ever

know if you had been his friend at work or in the church we went to.

 

Dad would have either croquet set up or the net for badminton or

volleyball. If anyone mentioned a different preference, Dad was on

top of this, so excited to be able to play with the kids. You may have

read awhile back, my Dad gave up his childhood play time pursuits

at age 11, to start working to help pay rent and take care of his own

mother. His father had been in the war, was in Cincinnati Veteran’s

Hospital.  Being retired was like Heaven at the end of years of being

‘on top of things.’

 

The formal ‘bar’ my Dad had had, with all kinds of liquor, the “Old

Mr. Boston’s” book of bartender’s recipes and the side dishes of olives,

onions, cherries and orange slices were gone. The Beach retirement

life style meant you could grab a beer, pop, water or wine cooler from

the three full bags of iced up beverages in the huge coolers kept under

the picnic tables on the carport.

 

Food was sandwiches, available 24/7, with various delicatessen meats,

cheeses and condiments in the drawer of the refrigerator. If anyone

showed up who wished to get a frozen lemonade and make it in a

pitcher or stayed a few days and wished to make some Sun Tea,

all the ‘fixings’ were here. There were steaks, chops, salmon and

hamburgers in the freezer. If my brothers wanted to take the time

to fire up the gas grill and prepare them, all of us were overjoyed.

Otherwise, Mom and I would make potato and macaroni salad in

the early cool hours of the morning and were quite content with

nibbling on snacks, cookies and an occasional piece of meat or

cheese.

 

Relaxed dress code, shirt optional.

Wow, this was the simple and warm hospitality I had mentioned

in that first paragraph.

 

Please share some of your favorite places you have gone, where

hospitality was special to you. Oh, since I didn’t cover the whole

gamut of Southern Hospitality, please pitch in with some details!

 

 

July’s Forecast: Making Plans

Standard

As we begin July, there will be plans ‘in the making’ for family reunions, annual

gatherings, holidays, picnics, barbecues and enjoyable pastimes. These could all

fall into the category and be labeled, “Rituals.”

Here is a poem on the subject:

“Rituals encase memories.

They link the past and the present,

They choreograph the dance of intimacy

that families and friends perform.

They give us access to each other.”

~Written by Wendy M. Wright~

 

JULY

 

July 2-

Canada Day will be observed on this Monday.

Also, an important date to celebrate. In 1964, fifty years ago today,

President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law, the Civil Rights

Act. It outlawed discrimination of the following: racial, ethnic, nationalities,

religions, minorities and women.

The Civil Rights Act abolished segregation in schools, workplaces and all

public places.

Here is a Thomas Kinkade quotation that seems appropriate to the beauty

in our relationships. among all peoples:

“Perceptions of beauty vary.

We should delight in the diversity of taste.

Just as we rejoice in the abundance of experiences that life has to offer.”

(Thomas Kinkade, 2001.)

 

July 4th-

In the United States, called The Fourth of July.

This celebrates Independence from Britain, attributed to July 4, 1776.

I love the Chicago (group or band) song, which is called,

“Saturday In the Park, (I Think It was the Fourth of July…”)

Always love those horns and  the way the lyrics include so much action

in a public park.

July 5-

First Quarter Moon

(Are we waxing or waning? I believe it is waxing…)

July 9-

First Day of Ramadan

Nunavut Day- Canada. This has been celebrated among Canadian Native

Americans, since 1993.

July 12-

Full Buck Moon.

Also, Orangemen’s Day (N. L.)

July 13-

The Final FIMA World Cup Soccer Championship Game!

July 15-

The Major League All Star Game, being held this year in Minneapolis.

July 17th-

Well, I wanted to list this concert that I would wish to attend. It may

be possible, yet! Philip Phillips (an alumni and winner, from “American Idol”

television show, plus O.A.R. will be playing at the Lifestyles (or L.C.) Pavilion.

This will be an outstanding concert, with lively and original songs being played.

This is also celebrating 30 years of Promo West from 1984 – 2014, here in

Columbus, Ohio.

July 19-

Last Quarter Moon

(I think we are waning, now!)

July 26th-

New Moon or No moon tonight!

The Moon is covered with the shadow of Earth. Spooky!

“It’s dark out there at night!”

July 27-

Delaware’s Annual Automobile or Car Show.

I am going to describe the downtown blocks that will be

closed to traffic, while you walk along our “main street”

Sandusky Street for four blocks, running North and South:

Here are the cross streets that intersect Sandusky Street,

running East and West.

From Park Street to Spring Street, closed.

From Spring Street to West William Street, closed.

From West William St. to West Winter Street, closed.

You may walk in the streets, but when there is promenading

for the cars, watch your toes! All sorts of antique, racing,

unique and well kept cars on display, you may sit on OWU’s

campus lawn and picnic, or if you are in town, let me know,

I am going to be walking and browsing, enjoying the fun

atmosphere and some live music, fair food and other sights

to see!

The last quote is one from A. A. Milne’s books:

“A little Consideration,

A little Thought for Others,

Makes all the difference.”

~ Eeyore the Donkey ~

 

Spread some happiness around in July!

For a whole month of July, my good and dear friends, Jason and Felda,

along with their children, Kridia Dawn and Zachary (otherwise known

as “Zachy- Poo!”) will be in the Philippines’ celebrating and enjoying

Felda’s Mom, cousins and extended neighbors and friends. Keep them

in your prayers for a safe journey and filled with precious memories.

Please feel free to leave a comment of any additional concerts, county fairs,

events or holidays celebrated that may be noted for other’s to take part in!

 

“June is Bustin’ Out All Over!”

Standard

Thanks for this song, Rodgers and Hammerstein! The musical, “Carousel,”

featured this lively and unforgettable song from back in 1956! This month,

we celebrate Father’s Day and a lot of other exciting dates.

We will be turning a Season, in the month of June, along with the calendar

month.

Lots of exciting events begin this month like our Delaware Farmer’s Market,

downtown on Wed. evenings and Sat. mornings. The swimming pools have

opened, as of Memorial Day! The special 40 acre, new African Safari opened,

at the Columbus Zoo! Along, with its side by side amusement and swimming

area, called Zoombezi Bay.

All across the country, people are ‘gearing up’ for taking time off, using

their vacation time. Hopefully, you will have a great Summer!

You may have someone in your family or among your friends, who has a

Graduation or a Wedding event! Enjoy your month of June!

June, 2014

Birthstone: Pearl

Flower: Rose

June 5- World Environment Day

June 6- D-Day

It will be 70 years since our invasion of Normandy,

France, on 6/6/44.

We honor Veterans and Servicemen in the military.

June 12-

The U.S. Open begins and continues until June 15th.

Remember Nelson Mandela.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment, serving from

1964 until 1990.

June 13- Full Strawberry Moon

June 14- Flag Day

In 1777, the United States adopted our flag of red, white and blue.

June 15- Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day!

This goes out to all those men who have been uncles, fathers,

sons, caring mentors, brothers and grandfathers! There have been

teachers, social workers, neighbors and others who have played an

important role in children’s and teens’ lives, making a huge impact

and demonstrating good male role models. Thank you very much!

My Dad liked to look up cocktail mixes in his “Old Mr. Boston” book.

I was reading in the Preface an interesting description, published

in 1935, about the character of one who is an “Old Mr. Boston.”

It (with a few ‘tweaks’) could have described a Father or my Dad:

1. Official bartender.

2. Sympathetic best friend.

3. Jolly fellow.

Prankster, joker and sometimes tickler!

4. Rare individual.

5. Distinct personality.

6. Sterling values and qualities.

7. Genuine good nature.

8. Accepting of difficult tasks or chores.

9. Fixer of broken toys, bikes, or other odds and ends.

10. Errand runner.

11. His domain includes lawns and garage.

Sometimes gardens, too.

12. Giver of advice or suggestions.

13. Rule maker or ‘ruler of the roost!’

14. Someone to rely on in emergencies.

15. Chauffeur and changer of tires.

16. Champion of your causes.

17. Protector of the family.

18. Kindness, along with harshness.

19. Family vacation planner.

20. Barbecue ‘king.’

Hope this list is as ‘good’ as my Mother’s Day list and I welcome any

and all additions! Hope this one gave you some smiles and also, got

you to think of others who have played valuable roles in forming how

you have become.

June 17- Suffolk County, Massachusetts

Bunker Hill Day.

June 19- Texas Emancipation Day

June 20- West Virginia Day

June 21-

The First Day of Summer!

In Canada, National Aborigine Day.

June 24- Discovery Day, Canada and Newfoundland.

In Quebec, “Fete Nationale.”

June 27- New Moon.

June 28- Ramadan starts at Sundown.

June 29- Ramadan.

Announcing Ohio State Fair, 2014

Standard

Entertainment and relationships have been found and made

stronger from attending lively musical performances and

riding on fair or amusement park rides. This year has

already been forecasted to be a hot summer, by the 2014

Farmer’s Almanac and meteorologists.

Where do you go that is not exorbitant in cost and get

the ‘most bang for your buck?’ The Ohio State Fair!

From July 23 – August 3rd…

I am sure that your area of the world may have wonderful

cultural events, festivals, zoos and botanical gardens

to enjoy.

The CBS news broadcasters (Channel 10 in Central Ohio)

recently gave us the upcoming partial list of singers

and entertainers who will perform at the Ohio State Fair.

Here are a few of them:

Lady Antebellum will deliver a great country and popular

musical performance. They are easy on the ‘eyes’ and

‘ears.’ Their concert will be held on July 25, 2014.

Joan Jett will be bringing her excitement and enthusiasm,

along with some ‘retro style’ (of the 80’s) ‘rock and

roll’ music.

Going even farther back in time, Aretha Franklin, The

Beach Boys, Nancy Wilson and Heart will be performing

for those who have nostalgia and deep pockets.

The American Idol night will include Scotty McCreary’s

deep vocalizations and country combined with pop style

music, (July 27, 2014) All the concerts will be held

in the air-conditioned Celeste Center.

I used to love to go to the Ohio State Fair, where

the coliseum and the bleachers were all one price.

Past personal experiences of fair entertainment was

so incredibly diverse. I have seen The Beach Boys,

Huey Lewis and the News, Kenny Rogers, Three Dog

Night, Alabama, Kenny Loggins, and many more singers:

All For Free, with the cost of Fair admission.

That time has been ‘long gone,’ sad to say!

There are many other directions other than music, to

go and see at the Ohio State Fair. There are all the

wonderful 4-H exhibits of crafts, cooking, domestic

animals, and even Rodeos! I enjoy the Amish hand-

crafted wagons, which are proudly displayed, along

with demonstrations of their skills in maneuvering.

I was lucky enough, to stumble across this with

an ex-boyfriend who loved horses. We sat and watched

several of these ‘programs’ in the Coliseum. It was

amazing to watch the beautiful horses showing both

obedience and majesty, with their heads held high

and their clopping hooves kicking up the sawdust.

I like to head towards the Natural Resources area as

the day gets warmer. There is a large prairie, filled

with original Ohio plant life. The Ohio animals display

includes wolves, coyotes, owls, songbirds, and other

interesting living native species to Ohio. There are

many trees, where you can feel refreshed, sitting and

listening to country style music, once you have toured

the area to see the ‘sights.’

Every year my children were young, they liked to go

see a huge Smokey the Bear, where there was a person

out front, who would ask questions about the children,

or they could ask Smokey ones, and the ‘helper’ would

help fill in the blanks to allow Smokey to talk to

the child. My children ‘fell’ for this for a few years,

then politely did not let my youngest daughter in on

the secret. It was like an Ohio trip to Disneyland,

where children are so in awe of the costumed actors

from their favorite fairy tales.

You may wish, in this Natural Resources area to view

loggers trying to stay on their logs, while there are

fishermen, (children can fish for free) on a man-made

lake in the center of this cooler, shady area.

There is even a place to ‘clean’ the fish and fry

them, if you should wish to!

One special area of the fair, that my brother Randy

used to enter his artwork,is the Fine Arts Building.

I always go to see our native Ohioans who are both

creative and artistic. It is air-conditioned and they

have a guided tour with ear phones, along with a kids’

packet that has the kids looking for certain details

and checking them off, very interactive!

Lastly, if you come to Ohio during midsummer, make

sure you come to see the Butter Cow, along with the

very unique and artistic butter sculptures that are

crafted annually.

I think it is interesting that the butter sculptures

have included tributes to John Glenn with his space

craft, the Wright Brother’s and their airplane, along

with the Ohio Children’s Choir.

I am sure you can check out some examples of such fine

and varied artistic renderings out of butter on their

website. As an aside, have you ever seen the hilariously

funny, yet poignant movie the Midwest custom of having

butter sculpture competitions? This one is focused on

the Iowa State Fair.

The movie simply named, “Butter,’ has such recognizable

actors as Jennifer Garner.

Now, I cannot write about the upcoming Summer event of

the Ohio State Fair without reminding you that our

cooking demonstrations and fair food cannot be beat!

There are all cultures represented in their trailers

where FDA inspects and the BBB endorses all the foods

prepared there. I would write an ‘ode’ to such delights

as the deep fried Snickers candy bars, Oreos and even

enjoy the deep fried pickles, too. There cannot be a

food that is not included on this fair’s menu! If you

want simple ‘home cooking’ you can go to the Bob Evans’

booth.

If you would like to eat some Ohio/Lake Erie fish, you

can catch it yourself, as mentioned, or you can seek out

a Walleye Fish Sandwich. You can go to Schmidt’s that has

been around for over 100 years to get a Cream Puff or a

Brat sandwich combo with sauerkraut and/or German Potato

Salad. You may purchase beers and other alcoholic beverages

inside the gates, where your photo ID will be necessary

and our state law is must be 21 years or older to purchase.

I personally like the homemade ice cream and also, the

funnel cakes. I choose to eat a Greek gyro, which includes

sour cream or a special Greek garlic sauce, chopped lettuce,

tomatoes and onions, too. Mmmm! Good!

I have hopefully enticed you to try out your local fairs,

just for the memories you and your friends or children will

have afterwards! If you go to Kroger’s or another grocery

store, they usually have discount tickets and if you are a

Veteran, there is a free day, as long as you bring some form

of identification!

Enjoy and looking forward to seeing you in my Home State: Ohio.

Let me know if you are coming!

Soup-er Sunday

Standard

A great idea a friend of mine suggested for a new family

or friends’ gathering tradition would be to have a cook-off!

This could be, she suggested, with soups in crock pots or

chili! What a fun way to celebrate a football or other chilly

sporting event!

I was reading one of my Mom’s little craft ideas for using

herbs, at the end of your gardening season, to make a spice or

herb wreath. I thought what better idea than to add such a wreath

to a bubbling pot of broth to fill the soup with flavor and your

home with a savory aroma!

Here are the directions to these circlets that were being sold

at Autumn craft sales, but perhaps, you have indoor pots of herbs

to make these desirable gifts and additions to soups or stews.

1. You begin with stems of long, pliable herbs. You may start with

rosemary, which is structurally substantial. Form into a circle or

wreath, some of the ends tucking inside each other.

2. After a circle is shaped, you can weave fresh thyme, lovage,

chives, oregano and savory. I am only aware of the three that are

recognizable. Perhaps, someone has grown lovage or savory, and will

let me know what these plants are like? Or I will pursue this on a

separate trip to library for ‘research.’

3. You should only add a little bit of the herb, sage. This herb can

overpower or dominate the soup, stew or a roast with vegetables.

4. Cooks may toss the dried wreaths into a Crock Pot, that is boiling

hot, filled with a broth and the vegetables that have been softening.

It is good to let it sink, mixing or transplanting some of the heavy

food items in your pot to weigh it down. This will allow the spices

to permeate the soup.

Long simmering dishes can also utilize these homemade wreaths in a

pot on the stove.

In January, 2014’s edition of the Prevention Magazine, they have an

article titled, “Simple Soups.” There are five of them, I will post

one that sounds delicious and vegetarian. I also have one from my

personal collection to give you two choices of soups to prepare in

your friendly rivalry and competition. You could have medals bought

at the dollar stores, small and fun little gifts for each of the

entrants, like a gift of a new ladle! (After all, this contest will

help whoever are the hosts and hostesses, not having to come up

with so many dishes to prepare!)

ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP

(Preparation time: 20 minutes and Cooking may last betw. 45- 60 mins.)

Ingredients:

4 cups of reduced sodium chicken or beef broth or stock.

3 cups of low sodium tomato juice

4 carrots sliced

3 thin skinned boiling potatoes, scrubbed and chopped

2 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced

1 onion, cut in 1/8ths (I would chop it up!)

1 rib celery, thinly sliced

(If you have not any seasoning wreaths to add to this

soup, here are the spices in the magazine’s recipe.)

1 clove garlic, smashed

1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon of cumin

Preparation:

1. Combine broth and tomato juice in large sauce pan and

bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add carrots, potatoes,

and parsnips, onion, celery and garlic. Reduce the heat to

medium low and simmer until vegetables are tender.

2. Stir in parsley, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and

pepper, to taste. Heat through.

This makes 11 cups of soup.

ROBIN’S 3 TOMATO SOUP

(This serves six small bowls of soup.)

Ingredients:

2 T. of olive oil

1 c. chopped onion

1/4 c. chopped celery

1 leek, white and light green parts only,
chopped

3 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth (I like
Swanson’s brand.)

1/2 c. sundried tomatoes, chopped

3 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

2 sprigs fresh thyme, I use about 3-4 tsp. of
dried thyme (or I ‘switch it up’ by using fresh
or dried basil).

1 c. 2 % reduced fat milk

2 T. balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Procedures:

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat.

Add onion, celery, leek and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes.

Add chicken broth, and all forms of tomatoes along with thyme.

Bring to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.

2. Remove thyme stems, if you used fresh, and discard. Puree soup in

a blender until smooth, (these are the directions that I ignore! I

like this recipe made in a crock pot, you will start 6-8 hours on “low,”

before serving. The tomatoes ‘melt’ and don’t need pureed. You can start

this by grilling the raw veggies and then throwing them into the Crock Pot,

then dumping all the tomatoes into it, letting the thyme be added in the

last hour, too. You may revise this, upon eating, because you may wish to

add a different spice or maybe chili pepper, too.)

When you have finished the soup, by pureeing it (or cooking it until

it is mushy in the crock pot), return soup to pan or leave in crock,

and stir in milk, vinegar and pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated.

You do not need to change the temperature on the crock pot, but if it

doesn’t mix well, then raise your crock pot to “high.”

Some family members like this with a teaspoon or two of honey, I sometimes

will add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar. I have a ‘sweet tooth!’