Monday, January 31, 2011


Hello faithful reader(s)!

A lot has changed in my life in the past month or so. 
  1. I got a job! I am now an assistant professor for a school in Rhode Island!
  2. I had to move. A 2.5 hour commute each way, each day just wasn't going to be possible.
  3. I started my job! Teaching 5 sections of General Psychology does take some time out of my day.
  4. I haven't started getting paid yet.
What this means is that I haven't bought any new fabric in a while. I also haven't worked on my quilt. I have enough fabric, that needs to be cut and basted, to make another couple dozen hexagons, which is good! But I haven't had the energy to pull it out and work on it in the past month...

Instead, my energy has gone into making food! Glorious food!

Right before I moved into my friends' house to live for 5 months, I got a couple of cooking for one cookbooks. I love food, I like cooking, but I hate leftovers. I don't think I need to tell you that the vast majority of the cookbooks out there in the world include recipes that serve 4-8 people. So up until now, a lot of my cooking for myself has been sandwiches or salads or quesadillas. 

It gets old.

Now that I'm on my own again, and everyone has to eat at some point, I've been putting my energy and money into cooking! For one! 

Last week I made a smaller version of this soup and just had one leftover portion. That was perfect. The beans were better the next day anyway. I also got some pre-cooked, frozen dinner rolls that heat up very nicely in my toaster oven. They make an excellent sponge for the yummy broth as well.

Last night, I made a full recipe of the soup. That's how good it is. I want to eat its leftovers. OM NOM NOM. So I thought I would share the process with you. Here is Dr. RAR's adaptation of Smitten Kitchen's adaptation of Dan Barber's [greens] and white bean stew.

1 pound Swiss chard (can also swap kale, spinach or another green), ribs and a couple of cups baby spinach, stems removed and cleaned
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (5 1/4 ounces) chopped carrots
1 cup (5 ounces) chopped celery bleh, celery. Didn't use. BECAUSE I'M A GROWN UP.
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) chopped shallots, about 4 medium (the first time I used regular old onion and it was still yummy(
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine (I used Riesling because that's the kind of white wine I like to drink)
2 15-ounce cans (or about 3 3/4 cups) white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (or more to taste) vegetable broth
1 cup pureed tomatoes (from a can/carton/your jarred summer supply) (I used a can of tomato puree since I no longer live with Courtney P and her garden)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar I don't have any. Yet. Thought it was fine without it.

First thing you want to do is heat up some olive oil int he bottom of your soup pot and throw in your garlic, shallots (or onions) and carrots.

Smitten Kitchen says to cook them for 15 minutes, but mine didn't take that long. Maybe ten. Keep an eye on them. 
Also, if for some reason you wanted to add celery, now would be the time to do it. 

While those veggies are cooking (is garlic a veggie?), get your other ingredients ready. Drain and rinse your beans, and get your liquids all measured and poured.
That would be the white wine in the pyrex. It goes in first and has to cook down, giving you time to measure out your veggie stock in the same pyrex, saving dishes you need to do later. Ta da!
And when you open your tiny can of tomato sauce, be sure to slosh some down the side and onto the counter. OK?

Never let it be said that I am Martha Stewart. I am messy. Particularly when working with corn starch, but that's another story.
One that I didn't take pictures of.
ALRIGHT, while your white wine is reducing in the pot with your veggies, you also need to get your herbs together. Aren't herbs pretty?
Three sprigs of thyme and one very old bay leaf. 
When your soup is done, you will need to fish out these four pieces. Last night, I only found three of them. There is a sprig of thyme waiting somewhere in my leftovers to surprise me.

Now that your wine has reduced, pour in the stock, tomatoes, and beans. The stock should cover the beans. If you like soupier soup, add more veggie stock. If you prefer stew, don't.
Though I must say, this broth ends up really tasty. I normally prefer stew to soup because drinking the leftover broth makes me feel bloated. This broth, though, gives such rich opportunity to eat bread and sop it up.
Now you wait. Well, bring the soup to a boil first, turn it down to simmer, and then wait. And you want to simmer this deliciousness for at least 20 minutes. Gotta cook those beans!  Uncooked beans are not good.

I'll bet you thought I forgot about the baby spinach, didn't you?
While your soup/stew is simmering, pull out your spinach and wash it. Then pull the tough stems off of the bigger leaves. I went with this much. That's one soup bowl piled high. 2-3 cups.  The recipe calls for a full pound of the greens you choose (past iterations of the recipe used kale and chard), but I thought the whole bag of spinach would be a bit much. 
Throw the spinach in the last 5 minutes of your cooking time.  

Heat a roll, ladle it up, and enjoy!

Are you drooling right now? You're totally drooling now, aren't you?

P.S. See the Smitten Kitchen link for creative ideas on serving the soup!

A word about leftovers:
I ate a large bowl of the soup, put some in my travel-soup container, and had this much leftover. I froze it, and I'll report later on how it reheats.
Also, have I mentioned that I'm bad at judging volumes for leftover storage purposes?

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I made 50 hexagons over Christmas break! I'm at the half-way mark! for making hexagons!
And I was out of fabric, until a scrap pack came in the mail!
So i'll work on the few I can get out of that, but the quilting will have to be put on hold until I pack and move and get settled in a new job and a new town and a new state. And then get more fabric.

Completely finishing this quilt is one of my goals for 2011. It may take all year, but I think I'm ok with that.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Harses, Harses, harses*

I made these for some of my self-adopted nieblings**.  The block(s - there are two of them) are for the little boy who has only recently discovered his hands. He can chew on them or practice stacking them. Probably in that order.

The horse is for the little girl who is OBSESSED with the local mounted police force (aka horsey-cops). There are three horses, and her favorite is Monty. Monty is all white. So when I decided to make My Favorite Toddler Who is Now A Big Girl a stuffed animal and she said she wanted a horse, I knew that it should be white. 
When she opened the present, she was SO! EXCITED! And immediately named the stuffed horse Monty.  
Her Mommy asked to look at the horse after she got out the first bit of her energy and took Monty for a gallop around the room.  While Mommy was looking at the new Monty, the Big Girl spinned around and then fell on the floor saying, “I CAN’T A-BLEVE IT!”
I love her.

*Once I was visiting the Field Museum in Chicago when I heard a little boy who was very excited about seeing the seahorses at the nearby acquarium. He was galloping alon saying "Harses, harses, harses!" Hence the title.
**Nieblings is the word my sister and her husband came up with to categorize all children of one's siblings without having to say "nieces and nephews." I like the word. I sounds appropriately funny and is quite efficient.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hexagon Break

I have been taking a break from hexagons to make gifts for Christmas!
No pictures, because, well, I haven't taken any.

But if I had I probably shouldn't post them just in case someone they were meant for saw them early.  I am a big fan of being surprised when I open presents.  And so I try to give that surprise to others too.

See, when I was 6, my daddy got me a tiny little Swiss Army knife.  One day when I was alone with the Christmas tree and the presents, I saw that the tape had popped up from one side of the box, so I opened it up and saw what it was. Then I closed it back up and had to pretend that I was surprised on Christmas morning. I didn't want to get in trouble for opening it early. I didn't like the feeling, so I never wholeheartedly looked for presents before they were wrapped or shook the wrapped ones to figure out what they were.

I like surprises. And I hope that the ones I give to others are pleasant ones.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mug Rug

I made a mug rug!
It was for a Crafty Secret Santa. It was my first one.
I forgot to take a picture of it before I sent it, but the recipient took one when she got it!
Ta da!
It took a LOT longer than I expected, but it was excellent practice for my final quilt!

I love the internet.

I got a package in the mail on Monday - a brown paper package, actually.  It was from my internet-friend, and one of my hexagon quilt inspirations, Stephanie.

fabulous box
It looked like this.  This box is, in and of itself, quite fabulous.  I love a good container. So as soon as I got the brown paper off of it, I was already excited. Actually, as soon as I saw it was from Steph I was excited, because I knew the contents would be new! and different! and exciting! fabrics! Steph and I did a fabric-swap. And I love new fabric!

But then...Then I opened the fabulous box, and the contents blew me away!  Not only were there more than 40 new fabrics for me to hexagon (yes, I just used hexagon as a verb. deal with it.), there was a lovely postcard with a doodle on it and a HANDMADE PINCUSHION! See?!

It's great, right?
I can hardly believe that I just sent a stack of fabrics in a manila envelope!

Thank you, Steph! You're the best!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's been a while...

My First Batch
I have been rather busy lately. I've made other things besides hexagons lately (a pencil case, a crafty secret santa gift) and I MISS IT.