Monday, January 18, 2010

I Have a Lava Lamp and I'm Not Afraid to Use It

Lydee! Where have you been?!

Watching my lava lamp.

Really, that can suck away hours of your day.

Years ago my mom gave me a lava lamp. And I still have it in our bedroom, ooh la la. My kids find it fascinating, even better than tv. And watching it is what they're doing right now, so i have some moments of quiet. What a great mother i am!

Actually, life has become a busy endeavor. By the way, I hate being busy. I really do, almost as much as I hate driving in the snow. I'd rather watch the lava lamp.

Some things are a good kind of busy: I have been writing here , I made a quilt (and inadvertently dyed it red by using a recycled red flannel sheet as batting, don't do that, ever), we put up the girls bunk beds, hoping to bring a sense of order to their tiny room, I've made bagels, and have been refining my italian bread recipe.

Now, I need fuel. I need comfort food. Yea! for a long weekend! Today I am making Italian Wedding Soup. It's no coincidence that Pioneer Woman is making Italian Meatball Soup, (because it's cooold!)but her soup is more of a vegetable soup, whereas mine is all about the pastina and the tiny meatballs.

Italian Wedding Soup is the stuff of comfort. I am not italian, and I'm no expert at italian food, but I know what tastes yummy! I took voice lessons as a teenager. One of the unexpected benefits of voice lessons was this little Italian restaurant called Hills (not sure about the very un-italian sounding name) close to my teacher's voice studio. After a lesson, my mother and i would eat dinner at Hills. Mmm, my memories of Italian Wedding Soup stem from there: tiny meatballs, escarole, carrots and pastina floating in a flavorful chicken broth, warm crusty italian bread on the side, smeared with Real butter, yum. (Their Gnocchi was amazing too, but that's for another day, it's a wonder I didn't weigh 300 lbs.)

I started my soup and crusty italian bread yesterday. Actually, I started it earlier this week when I cornered two lovely italian ladies I work with and threatened them until I got their family's Italian Wedding Soup recipe out of them. Ha! I kid. You should never threaten an Italian lady! Especially when it's about food! I just asked nicely and got two recipes with a lot of good stories tossed in for flavor. Thank you lovely ladies!

My recipe is based on theirs, and what i remember from the soup I ate all those years ago.

Italian Wedding Soup (a very loose recipe based on multiple sources)

So, yesterday I tossed a whole chicken, with an onion and garlic and salt and pepper in a pot of water to cook until the meat fell off the bones. I strained the broth and separated the meat from the bones and all of that other disgusting stuff. Picking meat off of bones is one of my least favorite activities. Ah, what i will do for food.

I shredded the chicken and put in fridge. I will add some of it back to the soup, and freeze the rest for another recipe/cassarole. I put the broth in the fridge too. Today I will skim the fat off the top and heat my broth to boiling on the stove.

In a skillet I will brown tiny meatballs (which I still need to make, I'm going to use last week's crusty bread as bread crumbs) and remove when they are done. Next I'll saute chopped onion (you can add pepper flakes and celery, optional), and carrots sliced thin. I'll add the meatballs and veggies to the pot of broth and simmer. I'll add a cup of chx broth to my skillet and heat to boiling, scraping off the goodness on the bottom of the pan. I'll add that to my pot as well.

Add some of the shredded chicken from yesterday. Add as much as you want. I'll probably use 1/2 to 1 cup of chicken. (Freeze the rest of the chicken for another use).

Next I'll add 1/2 cup of pastina or so. You can cook it ahead of time, but I take the lazy route and just add to my pot of broth with everything else.

Add 1/2 lb of spinach (fresh, or use frozen-thawed and drained) (spinach is easier than escarole)

Scramble 2 eggs and add to the soup, stirring with a wooden spoon the entire time.

Cover soup and let stand for a couple of minutes. Serve with grated cheese and italian bread.

Italian Bread

2 Cups of warm water
1 T sugar
1T oil
1 1/2 t salt
6 C of flour
1 T instant yeast

Mix and knead dough in your favorite way. I use a bread machine.
Allow to rest in a greased bowl for 1 hour. Punch down and allow to raise for another 1/2 hour.

Shape into a long loaf on a greased surface. (some people use a floured surface. I like my bread well hydrated, so i use a greased surface instead, whatever your preference). Shaping: I pat into a rectangle and fold over 3 times, and then began to shape into a long loaf, pinching the bottom, do whatever works for you and whatever stretches the "skin" taunt without breaking it.

Place on greased (couple of spritzes with a Misto) parchment paper fitted to a baking sheet.

Allow to raise for 20-25 minutes.

Cover with a damp towel, or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. This helps the loaf hold it's shape and gives it that crispy crust.

The next day, heat the oven to 500 degrees F. Take the loaf out of the fridge and allow to rest for 1/2 hour while the oven heats up.

Spritz the loaf with a water mister, and slice diagonally along the top with a sharp knife. Bake at 500 degrees F for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 450 degrees F and finish baking for 10 minutes until the loaf is golden brown, and an instant read thermometer inserted into the loaf registers 190 degrees.

Allow to cool and slice.

3 comments:

Patty January 18, 2010 at 7:32 PM  

Yumm! I might be trying this soon too! Looks lovely. And, it's been -12 C here today. That classifies as cold enough for your soup!

Jesslyn January 21, 2010 at 6:02 PM  

I have a lava lamp in my bedroom too! Hubby bought it years ago. :) We love it.
You visited my site in Dec. and I'm finally getting the chance to return the favor of a comment.

歡樂 January 28, 2010 at 4:05 AM  

春冰薄,人情更薄;登天難,求人更難。..................................................

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About This Blog

Hmm, seems somewhat redundant. I'm a mom of 2 lovely ladies. I'm the wife of a triathlete machine. I'm a general music teacher in a public school. I like to take pictures of things, especially things i consider beautiful. I like to share. As long as it isn't food. Enjoy!

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