Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The bigger the pot, the more soup you have to give away.

It has been snowing for a few days here in God's Country, which tends to bring snowmobilers and skiers to the B&B. 

  It's beautiful because we haven't had a lot of snow this year, so we haven't got to the point where we go outside and scream at Old Man Winter to go back to his seasonal home and leave us alone.  There is a tiny town a little north of us, Gold, that used to have a celebration on Feb. 21st, when they did exactly that.  On the stroke of noon, they all went outside and yelled, "Hooty Hoo," at as many decibels as they could muster as a group, which is said to scare winter away. After the deed was done, they all went inside the old country store, shared a picnic lunch, played music and danced. People came from a wide area to celebrate Hooty Hoo Day in Gold.  I don't know if it was solely their doing, but winter has always gone away.

But for today, winter still has a kick in it, so I made some of my Italian Tortellini Soup.....In a big pot....More to give away.  Having raised 6 kids and some transplanted ones, I just cannot get used to cooking small amounts.  I thought my mother-in-law, Fern, was crazy the day she gave me all her big, heavy stainless steel pots and pans, only keeping the small ones for herself.  Her explanation was that if she didn't have the means to cook big batches, maybe she could get used to cooking for two.  She had raised nine kids here on the farm. Many years later I can totally see her point, but not to the point of giving my pans away! Not yet.

Anyway, here's the soup recipe.

Gail's Italian Tortellini Soup

In a large stock pot, over medium heat, brown together:
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 pound of hot Italian sausage
1 large cooking onion, diced

Then add:
6 cups beef broth
12 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans cannellini beans, (white kidney beans) drained and rinsed

 Simmer the soup to give the garlic time to cook, about 20 minutes.  This gives a different flavor than if it was browned with the onions and sausage. At this point, I take some of it out and add it to some cooked brown rice pasta for our daughter, Tracy, who has celiac disease.  Then I throw some of the rest of the ingredients into that pot, as well. It makes a good gluten-free meal for her.

 Add 1 bag of Barilla dried 3 cheese tortellini. (I have tried frozen and fresh, but there hold their shape better.)
Cook the tortellini for about 5 minutes and add:
1 bag triple washed baby spinach or a 14 oz bag of frozen chopped leaf spinach

 Simmer until spinach is wilted and pasta is done. 
1/3 - 1/2 cup of pesto, to taste. Don't worry if you don't make pesto as it is readily available in supermarkets.  Many markets carry pesto paste in a tube in with the fresh herbs in the produce section.  If using the tube, cut the amount to 2-3 Tblsp. as it is very concentrated. If you can't find or make pesto (soooo easy) buy the fresh chopped basil in the little glass jars in the produce aisle and add more Parmesan.

 Ladle into bowls and grate fresh parmesan cheese over.

Garnish with garlic croutons or serve with a nice garlic loaf and a salad.
This recipe will probably serve 8 people. OR three or four people can clean out the pot and run off with soup in jars, so if you want to take a picture of a nice bowl of soup, attractively garnished, you had better act quickly.  I should have taken my own advice! It's gone.

So here is my rant for the week. For years I have been proudly declaring how beautiful Pennsylvania is,  that there isn't an ugly part of our state.  I go on and on about the mountains and the wide, rich valleys.  I have even been known to throw in a little tutorial about Pennsylvania's nine geographical regions, more than any other state in the union, if anyone shows even the slightest interest in such things. Few do, but I usually tell them anyway. I have pride in my state, my county, my town and in our property.

Well, I have to take back my proclamations of such beauty. Let me tell you.....there is an ugly part of Pennsylvania!  It's Philadelphia! Our daughter and son-in-law took Joe and I to the Philadelphia Flower Show on Monday and I was floored, which I seldom am. We hadn't been there for many years and we surely will not be going back unless we are bound and gagged and chucked headfirst in a burlap bag in the trunk of a car!

Ok, so here's my question.  Don't the residents of Philly have even a minimal amount of pride or any sense of responsibility in or for their surroundings?  Not even enough to carry an empty water bottle just a few more feet to a trash can? Can't just 3 or 4 people on a block go out once in a while and pick up the trash on their block or spray some Windex and wash a window? I know that pride is supposed to be a bad thing, but geez, oh, Pete!  Have a little bit in where you have to spend the majority of your time. If not for yourself, for your kids sake.  Where is the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce?  Why can't they start with the kindergarten kids to get families involved in cleaning up the trash.  They should send someone over to Lititz or up to Wellsboro to see how it's done on a small scale and adapt it to a city.  I'd better quit before I get in trouble.

But while I am on the clean-up wagon, why is it that if a property owner improves his/her house, the assessor will come and reassess and the taxes go up?  But someone can let things go till the roof is falling in and that's fine.  Let the rats move in, never mow the grass and that's alright.  If there is a tax hike for improving property, there should be a tax hike for letting it go to ruin.  Sometimes, it just a matter of a some time, not a lot of money. 

As soon as the snow melts and we get a warmer weekend, I will take the grandkids on the 2 miles of Rte 44 that we live on and pick up the trash.  Practically before we are done, someone will throw something out in that short of a distance.  Too bad property owners can't take care of their own road frontage.  It would help a little.

Enough with the ranting.  If everyone would listen to me like Joe does, life would be easier.  

Have a neat, trash-free day!


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