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Savory White Bean and Mushroom Soup

by Thursday, January 10, 2019
I had some dried porcini leftover from another recipe I ended up not making, and a container of mushrooms I wanted to make into a soup or sauce, but we are out of cream and have very little milk, so I made up a little something for lunch today. Hearty, flavorful, delicious!

INGREDIENTS
2oz dried mushrooms of choice (I had porcini but a blend is a good choice, too)
4 Tbsp butter
1 8oz container whole or sliced fresh mushrooms of choice, sliced (also porcini for me)
1 shallot minced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 19oz can Cento white kidney beans or similar of choice
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup milk (or skip if you wish)
2 Tbsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put dried mushrooms in a heat proof bowl and pour hot water over them to cover (boiling works, but not necessary). Push gently down with a fork to submerge them and let soak while you do other steps.
  2. Add butter to pan over medium heat and melt. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 7-9 minutes until browning and cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, mince garlic and shallot. Add chicken stock and undrained can of beans to a second pot and warm over low heat. Add a little salt and 1 Tbsp thyme, stir to combine and leave warm until needed.
  4. Add flour to pan of mushrooms and stir to combine about a minute, thickening any juices and clinging to mushrooms.
  5. Add the shallot and garlic to the mushrooms along with the Tbsp of olive oil. Stir frequently over medium-low heat, softening the shallot and garlic without allowing anything to burn.
  6. Put some paper towel or coffee filter in a fine mesh sieve, then strain the liquid from the rehydrated mushrooms into to pan with the mushroom mix. Squeeze to get excess out, then add rehydrated mushrooms to rest of the mushrooms. Reduce heat on mushrooms to medium-low. 
  7. Remove 1 cup of the bean and chicken stock mixture to another bowl or large wide mouth jar. Take 1 cup of the mushroom mix and add to this. Pour 1 cup milk in and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
  8. Mix together all parts--the mushroom mixture, the beans and stock, and the bean/mushroom blend, stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve up and enjoy!
This recipe made a little over four hearty portions. I ate some, stored some in the fridge for tomorrow, and put the rest in a freezer bag, pressed flat and put in freezer to have another day this winter.


Accidental KonMari Part 3

by Sunday, January 06, 2019
The insidious trick of #KonMari is clearly in the little neat folds and beautiful symmetry. Case-in-point: we went to Lowes and found some perfect boxes to replace the ratty shoe boxes we dug up yesterday. But it changed the form factor slightly of what we had organized, so we each reworked our drawers a little bit. Then the last of the laundry came up and I was two pairs of leggings and two tee shirts "too much" to fit in the newly maximized, perfectly symmetrical little space. That meant two shirts and leggings I was "on the fence" about keeping immediately went into the donation pile.

Yes, he folded them specifically so all the logos and words were showing. Adorbs.
Also, I said "thank you" to some old troupe tees and a hoodie I was holding on to for sentimental value--they were worn and don't fit right, so I never wear them any more--they were just sitting in a drawer. Also said "thank you" to a few other schmumfy-but-outdated pieces. It is fascinating to me how different it feels saying "thank you" instead of "good bye". It reminds me of how my efforts to change "I'm sorry" into "thank you" has changed so much of the way I think and speak to others. Using words of gratitude rather than a negative or shame-placed word makes a difference. I am "talking" to my belongings a little differently today.

I haven't even read the damn book, but now I think I might have to.

Accidental KonMari Part 2

by Sunday, January 06, 2019
So #AccidentalKonMari is already snowballing, in a good way. Chris is psyched about this and said he is looking forward to maintaining the clothing situation. He learned the fold in a second and now every tee shirt, pair of jeans, and socks and undies are neat and tidy. We both culled easily 25-40% of our closets between us with just old clothing and clothing we were ready to let go.

Weirdly, saying thank you to several pieces *really worked*. I had a few pieces of clothing I kept tucking back in the drawer for sentimental reasons. I only felt a little silly to hold them, say thank you to them out loud, and throw them on the donate pile. Chris took out an old top he hadn't worn in years and said, "Thank you for reminding me I don't dress like this any more." LOL

Now to see if we do anything with other parts of our home with it in mind.

Today, we go to Lowes to see if we can fill in a couple organization gaps we are missing--we used every unused shoe box and bin we had and it just wasn't *quite* enough to finish the job. Also, I need a separate KonMari day for costuming alone.


You can see what my organization looked like before most days. Things just piled up, super cluttered. I hung a lot of stuff that didn't need to be hung just to keep it in view. And funny enough, I rarely used those drawers for much because I always found stacked clothing (like I grew up with) was too hard to access in a drawer. You can only see a couple top things, and when you try to pull something from underneath, the whole stack becomes a mess. I know I'm not alone in this frustration!

The before: When we decided to rearrange our "closet" wall, everything had to be taken out. I wanted to move my lesser used drawers higher up to a more functional level, and push the shelf down to become better shoe storage (right now many shoes are on a shelf I can't reach and I need a step stool or a hanger to pull the box down.



Taking everything out. And so glad we did! Chris decided he wanted to rework his end, taking out a hanging bar and moving some shelves, and we found a patch of mold in the corner. NO idea how or why it was growing there, but we scrubbed the hell out of it and am so glad we caught it!

The after: Stuff I wear the most--leggings, tees, and skirts I wear for teaching and everyday comfortable clothing.
Next drawer down, sweaters, jeans, and some seasonal and athletic stuff like sarongs and bathing suits. Part of my next step goal is to find a reasonable sized bin to put strictly seasonal clothing in and put in another room, to free up about 1/3 of this drawer for daily-wear items.
Dresses and blouses, plus a couple skirts are all that are hanging here now. The red bin is a temporary solution for my pajamas. Once I move the seasonal clothes to a separate bin, the jammies and go in the drawer. This red bin was holding a bunch of cholis in another room, which are now in an unceremonious pile on my old sewing table until they can go back in here. I really need to cull my costuming, but that's a huge project in itself.

The new closet run. This is IKEA Stolmen, which we got 12-15 years ago maybe (discontinued). We have one small closet in the bedroom so this was the way we addressed the dearth of clothing storage. There are some things on the bed that don't fit into the clothing category that is in a box waiting whatever next steps I am taking.
So that's what we accomplished in a single day, and it already looks and feels so much better. It is SO satisfying to pluck a little clothing envelope out of the drawer to get dressed. The red bin on top can be moved to the bed and I can use the top of my drawers to fold on. We'll see how long this lasts--I am curious if it feels sustainable.

Accidental KonMari Part 1

by Saturday, January 05, 2019
Marie Kondo's little system gets in your system, man.

I have been watching her series on Netflix as "filler" while I would wait for hubby to walk the dogs or whatever before we'd settled into "real TV watching". But I watched another. And another. And then he would come in and we wouldn't change the show over and watch it together. Then we were watching them all together. She's just so damn charming, and while the transformations aren't as "shocking" and meticulously staged as most home improvement/life improvement shows, that is actually an upside to the show. They aren't selling a flashy idea. It's a simple idea. A real one, for a real life, should you choose to try for it--it feels accessible, though still daunting in scope when you see what each step entails.

We made a plan to play games today. I decided I “real quick” wanted to rearrange a portion of my clothes closet. 4 hours later, Chris and I had done a huge clothes culling, reconfigured our modular closet, dusted, cleaned, and folded all our clothes. #AccidentalKonMari

Simple Bolgnese (fast...ish?)

by Thursday, December 20, 2018
My husband turned me onto a channel on YouTube which features prominent Italian chefs watching American cooking videos, and critiquing their versions of Italian dishes. Now, fully knowing there is no one way to do anything, I take it all with a grain of salt, but found I learned a few little things to up my bolognese game. Taking the techniques shown, and their critiques of the work done, here is what I made this past Tuesday--I loved how it turned out!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 slices of smoked bacon of choice (mine was a cherrywood thick cut)
  • 1 lb ground beef (we had 3/4lb of ground Wagyu, I would have liked more, so say 1 lb)
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 a medium-large white onion
  • 1 16oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1/2 cup - 1 cup red wine
  • Fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • pasta of choice



INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Have two pans at the ready--a deep sautee pan and a large sauce pan.
  2. Cut the bacon into 1/4" chunks and put in sautee pan to start rendering yummy fats
  3. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in the large sauce pan over low heat. While it is heating, cut celery, carrot, and onion into big chunks and toss into a food processor (I have a little Ninja that works great for me) and fine chop. Add this to the olive oil in the pan and sweat the vegetables over a low heat until they release a fair amount of moisture.
  4. While the veg sweats, back over in the sautee pan, add your ground beef and brown over medium heat. You want some crispy brown bits in there, so don't be afraid to bump the heat to get the Maillard reaction you want here.
  5. Once beef is browned and veg has sweat it out, add veg to the sautee pan with the bacon and beef, stir to combine. Add in the can of tomatoes and the red wine (I briefly swish the wine around inside the tomato can to get the last of the juices outta there), stir to combine. 
  6. Reduce over low heat as long as you can stand it. I only had 45 minutes to do it, since it was late at night and we needed to eat, but 2 hours is better. I add the fresh herbs about a half hour before the end of the cook, because personally I like it to retain some of its "greenness" in the flavor profile. If you don't care about such things, add it when you add the tomato sauce.
  7. While sauce is reducing, add water to the sauce pan you used for the veg and cook your pasta. A good spaghetti noodle is good in a pinch, but a wider noodle is preferred if you have it.
  8. Drain pasta and spoon a bunch of the bolognese in with the pasta and stir to let the pasta soak up and "finish" in the sauce.
  9. Tong a nest of pasta into a bowl, top with sauce. Add grated parmesan cheese on top if you like (this is blasphemy to some Italian chefs, but hell...we're Americans and we like our cheese).
This made four servings. We ate two that night and then portioned the other two into lunch servings in handy glass containers in the fridge!

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On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:
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