Friday, September 16, 2011

Red Pepper Soup Recipe

It went and got all cold for my birthday, so I am dreaming of soups. Patrick is making chili as I type this, so I am staying out of his way and basking in the warm glow of this computer monitor. I figured, what the hey! Why not type out my Creamy Red Pepper Soup recipe?

What you need

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced (adjust to taste. I heart garlic)
6 cups vegetable broth
3 large red peppers-- roasted! (you can also do 2 jars of roasted red peppers, which is way easier, I guess)
1 baking potato, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste
*Thyme if you like that sort of thing.
**Basil if you are like me and don't like thyme.
**Sriracha sauce if you are like me and put it on everything.


Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion, carrots and garlic and the optional thyme until the onions are translucent. Add the broth, peppers, potato and sugar and get all that simmering over high heat. Once you've got it simmering, lower the heat to about medium and cover it, letting it cook for about a half hour stirring occasionally until the potato is soft.

If you have a fancy-dancy immersion blender, you'll wanna bust that out. Otherwise, a plain old blender will do. You want to blend this soup up. The way I did it before I got my immersion blender was to spoon the soup into the blender with a ladle and blend it until creamy, poor it into a separate big pot and repeat this until all the soup is blended. I made the mistake once of taking it straight from the blender to tupperware storage containers. NEVER AGAIN!! You need to mix the entire contents of the original pot after blending so that you get an even flavor.

OK, so, once blended, you're good to go! I garnish mine with basil and sriracha sauce but I've made croutons and added mascarpone cheese to it, too which is delightful.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pictures around Winchester

OK. So, I suck at blogging. I apologize to whoever may be following this blog (is there anybody out there?). Last time I posted, I promised a picture-full blog with minimal sap. So here goes...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

it's been a while...

Howdy. How've ya been? Anything new going on with ya?

Things are going well here, all in all. I am becoming more and more adjusted to my new life, and falling more and more in love with my new home.

I mean, how can you not love this??

A few events have driven home how much I like it here since last I posted. Firstly, my dear wonderful friend Alana (who writes the delicious blog Pecan Pie) came to pay me a visit in the depths of my loneliness and heartache over missing Florida, friends and family. Her being here did wonders for my outlook. I can't possibly thank her enough. Then, my in-laws came to visit, and showing them the majesty and splendor of the Shenandoah Valley made me realize how lucky I am to be here in a place so beautiful.

But perhaps the most face-smacking of all the realizations came when Hazen and I visited Florida for a week in early June. It was awesome seeing my family again. I had missed them all so incredibly. And hanging out with my friends was fantastic and being in a place where I am utterly familiar, running into people I knew wherever I went, was bittersweet. I had loathed the unexpected social encounters so much when I lived in Florida only to learn how much I had taken for granted the specialness of being a local.

All that said, I was utterly uninspired while in Florida. Despite all the joy in my heart, my psyche was suffering a deep and unshakable ennui. And I missed Patrick more than I can ever describe. I kept turning to tell him something, or counting him when telling a hostess how many was in our party. I felt a gut-wrenching home-sickness and sorrow my first two months away from my family, but it was nothing to the void left by the absence of my husband. It became completely clear that Florida was no longer home. And really, it was only home because it was where everything I loved was. While much of what I love is still there, they aren't Patrick. They aren't my best friend, my soul mate, the father of my child. Before I moved, I was petrified about leaving everyone behind. I had always been so geographically close to my family, that I was afraid that the distance would leave me empty. But I learned that my family will always be there for me, and while I will always yearn to be with them all again, I will be OK 900 miles away from them as long as I have Patrick and Hazen. They are the center of my life now. And wherever the three of us are, as long as we're together, it's home. Kind of sad and silly that it took all of this for me to understand it.

Wow. This entry turned a lot more gushy and emotional than I had originally planned. I promise next time it will be superficial and full of pictures!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A late recap of last weekend

It's been a little while since I blogged. I wish I had a good reason for the break, but I don't.

Last weekend was the Apple Blossom Festival. On Friday, we decided to venture down to the Midway downtown and catch the firefighter's parade. We walked the mile from our house to Old Town and forced our way down Loudoun from Piccadilly to Cork Street, then back up to Washington Street. Not that the majority of you reading this have any idea of where I am talking about. This walk is usually easy and relaxing, but the sea of humans we had to push through made it a little less leisurely a stroll. We made it to Washington Street just before the parade started. Geez Louise was that a long parade! It started at 5:30. After an hour, AN HOUR!!, we decided to go find some grub for our growing-ever-crankier child.

We pushed through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds and, after about a half hour, finally made it back to Piccadilly Street. When we reached Kent Street there was still a line of fire trucks as far as the eye could see. We crossed Kent and wound up at the Chop Stick Cafe and had a pretty decent dinner. The phở was nothing to write home about, and their version of Level 10 Spicy was Pat's version of Level 7 Spicy at best, but the staff was nice even though they were crazy busy and they had a kids menu which is always a plus at an Asian restaurant, and their prices were very reasonable, so I'm sure we'll be visiting them again. As we left the restaurant, after dark, we could hear the sirens at the end of the parade. The whole thing was like 3 hours long. Very very cool parade, but a bit of overkill if you ask me.

Saturday rolled around and, having had enough of the Apple Blossom Festival, we decided to head east to West Virginia (counter intuitive, no?) to see Harpers Ferry. It was a fun trip. We parked by the visitor's center and hiked in to town. Harpers Ferry is a very pretty place full of history, steep grades and old stairs. We didn't bring a stroller, but Hazen hiked the nearly 2 miles into town and up and down hills and steps all day like a champ. It was a great day trip and one we'll probably make fairly often. Despite the tourist traps, it is a beautiful place.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Bloom Looms...

The 84th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival will be in full effect starting tomorrow. The whole town will basically shut down and transform itself into a full on carnival. Not just a part of town... THE WHOLE TOWN. Patrick and I considered getting the hell out of dodge, but apparently it is not uncommon for people to block you in by pulling in behind your car in your driveway! So, I guess we'll be sticking it out! Pictures to come...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

so this is Easter / D.C. recap

Today is a day I have sort of been dreading. My first major holiday away from home. I had big plans to go to Pittsburgh this weekend and spend it with family, but it didn't work out. We went to Washington D.C. yesterday for a fun outing, which kept my mind off of the family celebrations I will be missing. It sucks. There's really no other word for it. So, rather than dwell on that and get all teary and mopey, I will instead share some details and pictures from our D.C. trip. No sense being a downer on a beautiful (and I mean BEAUTIFUL!) Sunday morning.

So, yesterday we drove to the Western-most edge of the Washington Metro's Orange Line and went to spend the day on the National Mall. Hazen was super excited to ride on a train. We got to our destination and headed for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

That place. It was huge and completely crowded. We barely scratched the surface. We basically walked through every exhibit with little time to stop and read the plaques before we were compelled to hustle along by the shifting tide of the crowd. After a few hours of this, the menfolk were getting restless. So, I compromised by getting tickets for the butterfly exhibit for a later time and we ventured back out to the Mall.

There is a serious lack of food on the Mall. You're pretty much relegated to carts. Now, I am not one to turn my nose up at street food, so we chose one of the ubiquitous hot dog stands surrounding the Mall. I bought some dogs and some drinks from a very angry Asian woman and we went to find a bench and relax for a little while.

This little sojourn may have been Hazen's favorite part of the day. He got to run and chase birds and squirrels. He was having such a blast. After he ate and got some running out of his system, he was a new man.

sleepy man

who's watching who?

where'd that squirrel go?

All fed and stretched out, we headed back to the museum to see some butterflies. The exhibit was nice. The butterflies were fluttering around like crazy. That had a giant Atlas moth, first one I've ever seen NOT dead. I love butterfly exhibits and have been to many. This one was well done considering the limited size they were working with. The staff was knowledgeable and friendly. Definitely worth the cost of admission.

So, after I got my fill of fluttering insects, we headed out to see the monuments. This was my favorite part of the day. It shaped up to be a fabulous day weather-wise. Sunny and warm and gorgeous. We wandered from the Smithsonian to the Washington Monument down to the Lincoln Memorial.

Walking back up to the Smithsonian Metro station, we found what i had hoped to find all day! The Tulip Library!! Tulips are my favorite and the stunning variety they exhibit just keeps me hooked. I was so glad to catch them at the time of day did.

All and all, it was a fabulous day. I can't wait to go back! I can't say that I felt all that more patriotic or proud to be an American, but I can say that I had a lovely day with my family looking at beautiful sights and that's really all that matters.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April showers...

...bring depression!

Can I just say that seasons are over-rated? No really, I've been thinking it over. Winter? Snow. Ick. Spring? Sure, there are pretty flowers and the occasional sunny sky under which these fleeting beauties can be enjoyed, but primarily it is grey and rainy. Ick with a side of tease. Autumn? Again, there is a wealth of beauty in autumn leaves, but primarily it's gray with the knowledge of snow just around the corner. Ick. Then there is summer, that glorious time when it is warm and sunny almost daily. It's also the time when you get heat stroke.

Upon hearing of my move to Virginia from Florida, people are quick to gush about The Seasons as if these cyclical events are some kind of Bieberish heartthrob shooting them come-hither glances and flirty winks. To all of these people, I would like to take this opportunity to say, "Hey buddy! Florida has seasons too!!"

the allergic reaction is worth it

Florida Spring: Florida spring takes place from about February to May. It is marked by the return of robins (sound familiar, you northern season enthusiasts??), peaks with the blooming of jasmine and orange blossoms, and ends with temperatures in the 90s. It is a fantastic season, even though it contains the hated Spring Break tourist invasion.

ok, so yeah. it's a little intense.

Florida Summer: Florida summers are intense. I won't deny that. And they're long. Ranging from May (and some years April) through October, it is marked by intense sun and heat broken up by intense rain and intensely humid nights. Temperatures rarely drop much below 80. I know that even natives complain about the relentlessly sweltering conditions, but hear me out. Florida summers are awesome. They weed out the weak. They offer awesome moments of reprieve, like walking into cold air conditioning, or sitting in the shade of a tiki bar with a frozen drink. Since you're never too far from a beach, you have breezes and water and the excuse to wear very little clothing and look at others wearing very little clothing (for better or worse). AND! There's always the threat of a hurricane coming and with it the hopes of a good hurricane party! Florida summer isn't for the weak, but it rocks my socks!

empty beach?! yes please!

Florida Fall: This one is oft overlooked, but anyone who has lived in Florida for any length of time knows what I'm talking about here. The Florida autumn starts in October and ends in December. The fever of summer breaks and the humidity wanes if the heat doesn't. The most spectacular part of this season is, for a few brief weeks, the tourists go home and the snow birds have yet to arrive. The beaches are quiet and traffic is noticeably less stupid. I think this may be my favorite of the Florida seasons.

florida winter

Florida Winter: January makes up the whole of the Florida winter. However, this is a bit of misinformation since typically winter lasts about a week or so. Temperatures dip down below freezing for a few minutes in the wee hours of the morning before jumping back up to the 60s or even 70s. Sometimes, there is an odd couple days when the temperatures stay very low during the day, but years can go by without that ever happening. The good thing about Florida winters is they are short enough and mild enough to be appreciated by the shivering locals. The memory of heat is never far from the Floridian's mind, so even at its most bitter, the Florida Winter is a welcomed reprieve from the ever increasing tropical scorching to come.

* * *

As I look out the window at the low slung grey ripples of cloud and the patches of intermittent white where sunbeams taunt but never permeate, I remember what the little neighbor girl said the other day while observing similar conditions... "WOW! It's REALLY sunny out!" With one grey, chilly, rainy day after another, I find myself missing my Florida home all the more. At least I have the flowers, making their showy, if not vulgar display of vibrant color to add a little zazz to my day, even if it is only through the window.