Saturday, March 22, 2014

Quick Cook: Chicken Tortilla Soup

While I love the days I get to spend hours in the kitchen cooking or baking, there are many more days where I just don't have the time. Busy weekends make for bad food choices (at least for me) and so I love a good recipe that can get me through a few meals. If it is a recipe that is basically pantry items and leftovers, well then even better. Martha once released several books of Quick Cook menus, with the original Martha Stewart's Quick Cook being one of those great tomes shot almost exclusively at her house on Turkey Hill Road. This soup isn't in one from those books, but I think it most certainly falls under the Quick Cook category. Another Everyday Food recipe, it's easy, delicious, and fast.

So fast I hardly took any pictures.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Everything you need. I was about two cups short of the ten cups of chicken stock so I used vegetable stock. I love tomato paste, and opening a can of tomato paste is always dangerous for me. I only needed a Tbs., so there was so much leftover to eat! I love it on toast, on saltines, on a spoon, or pretty much on anything. I struggled, but managed to put it in a container in the fridge. I did lick the spatula, though.

I've already eaten this twice, the second time I added corn and black beans. I think you could also add rice and it would be great. Small adjustments that take no time at all to add when you reheat. I mean, on busy weekends everyone has time to reheat some soup, right?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Fever

I really can't take it anymore. I need to get in the dirt! The warmer weather and the sight of all the bulbs pushing out of the ground, not to mention the longest Winter ever, has given me one of the worse cases of Spring fever in years. There is so much to do, but the weather is still so iffy! I can't work on the fences because the ground is mush. I can't paint the pergola or arbor or fence posts because it is raining.

So I decided to start some things indoors.

It is early, but I don't care. My upright elephant ear does well all Winter, so starting a few now shouldn't hurt. As for the freesia and begonias, I just needed to plant something! The freesia would be planted to bring inside when blooming anyway, and the begonias will be fine. I've restrained myself enough to not start any dahlias until at least the first of April. As the weather continues to be iffy I'm freaking out a little about the sweet peas and peas. We always plant them on, or within a week of, Saint Patrick's Day. There is no way that will be happening this year.

The big old common elephant ear bulbs are on the left. The one is massive! The sort of long one on the right is the upright elephant ear like the one I smuggled home from Charleston.

I grabbed the begonias, and the low, wide pots they like to grow in, just the other day. The freesia I picked up last week from two different places.

I was happy to see some starts (the little pink spots) on this tuber.

No signs on this guy, but I'll hope for the best. The tuber was still nice and firm. Make sure you check for either shoots (once it gets closer to planting time) or nice, firm bulbs. If you are buying lilies they should be pinkish and fleshy, never dried, because lily bulbs never truly go dormant.

The freesias I just packed into pots. It will be a better show that way when they bloom.

Alright. I feel better. Spring Fever delayed again for at least a week and a half.

These guys were on sale, and are a sort of purple raspberry. They also look really healthy. I've only ever seen this variety sitting bare root and leafless on the shelf nest to red and golden raspberries leafing out. I'm hoping for the best. I should be able to plant these without having to pot up ahead of time.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Big Thaw

Last Tuesday, before the snow started to fall on Wednesday, I eagerly pulled on an old pair of Wellies and headed out into the muddy Garden. We hadn't seen a bare patch of earth, let alone any plants, in months! What I saw was both wonderful and awful. Those rabbits have been at it again. Thankfully, after  we get through temperatures in the mid-twenties Sunday, Spring seems to really be on the way.

Stepping gently through the Shade Garden, I spied someone peaking out near a hellebore.
A lovely little duo of teeny galanthus, better known as snowdrops. This, I must say, was almost the only highlight of my stroll.
Squirrels have attacked some of the burlap protecting the boxwood.
And the rabbits! See all the droppings? EVERYWHERE!?! They apparently just sat and pooped and chewed on forsythia branches. They didn't even really eat them, just chewed them off and left them lay.
In the Berry Patch they took care of my spring pruning for me. All of the raspberry cans gnawed off.

They just sat and pooped in the currants. None of the limbs were noticeably damaged.

I'm going to consider this a blessing from Heaven. I mean, it's like fertilizer, right?

I really can't believe they went after the gooseberries. Not only to they have large, sharp thorns. They have a ton of tiny, hairy, prickly thorns all up and down their branches! Unbelievable. I knew a fence would be needed in the Berry Patch, but now it has moved to the top of the list.

To end on a happy note, more snowdrops were poking their way up in the White Garden. At least something is growing rather than being cut down. Hopefully in another week I can get some repair work done.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Playing Catch Up: And Then It Snowed Again

It snowed. Again. On Wednesday. I was ready to post a bunch of pictures I took on Tuesday of the first signs of Spring in the garden, and then we got 6.7" of snow. We had just had so much wonderful melting that it seems like two steps forward and three steps back in this never ending winter. Today we are pushing 50 again, and warmer weather should stick around through next week, but yeesh! Can't we catch a break?

These are just a few shots I took on my iPhone while headed downtown and back, with a little architectural history thrown in just for fun.
This is what I awoke to see Wednesday morning from the Penthouse windows. A very wet, sticky snow had coated the entire world!

Venturing out around noon, I discovered one of the loveliest tulip trees in the neighborhood had taken another hit. Earlier in the Winter a rather sizable branch had broken off. Wednesday an even bigger limb snapped.

Broadway Christian Church, built in 1871 and originally known as West Wayne Street Methodist Church. Very pretty, but very dangerous for the trees.

A tree in front of the 1887 Andrew Ely Hoffman house looks really bogged down by the snow.

Slip sliding my way to meet the gals, Opal and Ruby, for lunch at the Dash-In. The snow was still falling at a pretty good clip.

I've always loved Trinity English Lutheran.

The snow slid off the copper roof as I snapped a few pictures. It made quite a noise. There is a lovely little garden between the cloisters of the church, and behind the short, snow covered trees, that I walk through quite often in the Spring and Summer.

This church (their third) was dedicated in 1925, but the congregation of Trinity has been in Fort Wayne since 1846.

The Klaehn, Fahl, and Melton funeral home has operated out of this Richardsonian Romanesque mansion since 1926. Built in 1893 for attorney and State Senator Robert Bell, I can only imagine the soirees held in this fine house.

Pushing a little closer to the Dash, I ran across my friend John stuck in the snow. Unfortunately I couldn't push him out, although I did try. Sorry John!

After lunch at the Dash we moved on to JK O'Donnell's and had a few pints and, well, a second lunch of fried pickles.

Then another pint and a flight. Good practice for St. Patrick's Day.

It really was rather warm! At the library I encountered some deep puddles and slush. No worry when marching in my Hunters!

A few of my favorite houses stand along the 500 block of West Wayne Street. (Although they are pretty obscured in this picture!)
The Eakins house is a favorite. Built around 1862, it is the only remaining residential Gothic Revival building in Fort Wayne. The high, peaked roof, arched windows, and intricate porch details are all common elements of the very romantic Gothic Revival (or Victorian Gothic) style that was helped to be made popular by Alexander Jackson Davis in the 1840's-1860's. Again, rather obscured. What can I say? I was fighting my way home!