Friday, January 7, 2011

A busy week and a really good soup recipe

Dear Mom,
It has been a busy, satisfying, productive week with the kiddos back in school. The house is pretty much back in order. I've managed to stay very organized, cook good meals, knit a bunch and take action on some ideas I've had brewing in this busy brain of mine.
I sold a record number (for me) of patterns to 2 local yarn shops, and let me just stop right here and say I love the ladies at the Village Yarn Shop.
I published two new patterns. They can be found here and on the Warm Thoughts blog.
After finishing my Daybreak scarf, I experienced a knitting.....fog... I guess that would describe it. I wasn't sure what to knit next. I have plenty of ideas, but couldn't get excited about any of them. I went back into the yarn/guest room (which had been recently purged and re-organized) and rediscovered a sweater that, when I looked back at my ravelry project page, I started in February 2009. I do not know why I set it aside. Possibly for a magazine deadline. I don't know if is scarier that I started it and let it languish for almost 2 years, or that I clearly remember buying the yarn and starting the sweater like it was 2 weeks ago. I would never have guessed that it had been in standby for so long. I hope I can finish it before its second birthday!

I have some random thoughts and things to share that will never fit into any one blog, so I am going to share them all here, all at once.
Books. I have had the absolute pleasure of reading some really good books lately. The bad thing about a really good book is the let down when it is finished and then the scramble to find another book that is just as good. Well, I've been on a streak. These books have nothing in common with each other, other than the fact that I like them.
The first took me months to read. Not because it is 900+ pages, but because I read at night before I go to sleep and some nights I only read about a page before I fall asleep. It is the new book by Ken Follett, Fall of Giants. This is the first of a trilogy, so we have more good books to look forward to! I have never been dissappointed by a Ken Follett book. The trilogy will cover the 20th century, following the lives of several families from the UK, Russia, Germany and the USA. I'll say no more.
I finished this next book last night. It is the second Flavia De Luce mystery, written by Alan Bradley. Flavia is our 11 year old heroine and the books are set in the 1950's, English countryside. I am charmed by Flavia, her spirit and her love of chemistry!! These are not scary mysteries and they are not bloody or gruesome, so they wouldn't give you bad dreams or anything. Just good entertainment. The first is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and the next (and the one I finished last night) is The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag.

Why I feel compelled to share this next bit of info with you I am not sure, except that these are two things in life that give me a disproportionate amount of joy.

#1. Dog paws.
I love them.

#2. The sound of a dog sniffing something thoroughly. Like they can't get enough of whatever it is they smell.
Like a sniffly giggle.

After that, do I dare give you a recipe?

I made this soup last night, and it may very well be the best ham and bean soup I've ever tasted. It'll be even better today after all those flavors have blended.
It is not complicated or fancy. I am just not that kind of cook. But is is GOOD. Served with a spongey, fresh white bread to clean up the bowl and it is heaven. Especially on a snowy day like today.

The Best Ham and Bean Soup I've Ever Tasted
makes a bunch

1 1/2 cups dry mixed beans ( I used Hurst's 15 bean soup beans, but didn't use the seasoning packet)
5 cups water
1 meaty ham bone
1 cup chopped celery  
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onions
( confession- I did not measure the celery, carrots and onions. I used 3 carrots, 3/4 of an onion, and about a 4 inch section of a whole celery bunch and chopped them all up really fine)
2 cups water
1 t. salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried thyme
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes ( I used a pint of the tomatoes I canned from the garden and put them in the blender)

Combine the beans, 5 cups water and ham bone in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let them sit for 1 hour.
In another saucepan, combine the celery, onions, and carrots with 2 cups water and cook until soft.(About 20-25 minutes) Mash slightly. ( I gave them a quirk burst in the blender.)
Combine all ingredients in a crockpot. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours then on low for 2 hours.