Oma’s Tomato Soup in a Flash

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There are days when I crave french fries, when all I want to do is stop by Yats, this yummy Cajun-Creole restaurant in town, and pick up some chili cheese etouffee. I have weeks where jet lag is clearly a real thing, but I refuse to admit it exists. I will not be weak. Winter starts to creep in, days get shorter, and by the time you get home, the sun has set, the dog still needs to be walked, and despite the fact that it’s only 6 p.m., it’s much too dark and late to make real dinner.

Do not give in to the urge to get french fries or your city’s equivalent of chili cheese etouffee from Yats. Instead make tomato soup. I bet you have all of the ingredients in your house. If not, this weekend stock up on canned tomatoes, buy a spice container of cloves and a jar of Better Than Bullion, and make a habit of always having an onion or two and some garlic in your house.

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This tomato soup is special. Twice a year we would see my grandparents who lived in Holland. My grandmother, Oma, would make this soup with little mini meatballs floating in it. I remember her standing over the stove in her green kitchen making this soup. We would have it or her chicken noodle soup before every lunch in wide bowls with wide rims. My grandfather would pick up his bowl and always slurp out the last drops. I looked forward to Oma’s tomato soup every time they visited us in Indiana. She’d make a big pot first thing and we’d have it before dinner every night.

Even now that Oma is gone, Opa still eats soup every night. When he was here over the summer he gifted me Oma’s cookbook. It’s an old green, hardcover notebook with pages of handwritten recipes. Oma took a cooking class when she was young. Each night she would come home and tell Opa the recipes of the day. He then carefully wrote them down in the notebook.

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This tomato soup is a cinch to make. It requires maybe 10 minutes of hands-on time and 40 minutes of simmering, flavor melding time. This tomato soup has been my go-to meal this fall on nights when I can’t muster up the energy to make a full-on dinner. Plus I happened to be given the glorious gift of a HUGE amount of tomatoes at the end of the summer, which I canned into 10 quarts of tomato awesomeness. Make a pot of this. Double the recipe. Triple it. Curl up with a bowl of it as the days grow shorter. For me, it tastes like childhood. I hope for you it tastes like an easy and healthy dinner on a night you just couldn’t squeeze out one more drop of energy.

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Day 3 – Grilled Cheese and Nail Polish

We are on day 3 of 30 Days of Creativity.

What happened to day 2 you ask? Well. Day 2 I created the September/October 2011 issue of Jack and Jill. By that I mean I decided what was going in it and the order it would all go in. To me this part of my job has always been like organizing a paper and its argument. I love doing it. I also used my creative juices to edit the story, articles, and poem for the issue. No picture.

Back to day 3.

I created watermelons on my toes with nail polish in my living room. I also created dinner with homemade bread, cheese, basil, oregano, tomatoes, and mayonnaise. Yes, that’s mayonnaise. Don’t slather the outsides of your grilled cheese bread with butter. Use mayo instead. Yum. I did not keep my feet near my dinner for very long. My feet are incredibly gross. Well, really only the right one. It’s an embarrassment.

OK, now, finally, I have a garden update for you! I know, you’ve been just dying to know.

black cherry tomatoes

zebra tomato

prudins purple tomato

rosemary and basil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been watering. Think I need to get some fertilizer. I can wait to see if I’ll actually get some tomato growth!

Gardening Tips

I have always wanted a garden. Unfortunately, I’ve always also been lazy. This spring, I will not be lazy. I will have that garden. But I need some help. I don’t have the greenest thumb. Here’s my situation.

I would like to plant tomatoes, but I would prefer to plant them in pots since I rent my house and don’t want to dig up the yard. I have a porch. It faces north and is screened in and covered. It doesn’t get much sunlight. I have a small strip of grass on the side of my house facing east. My backyard is a nice size. It faces south. A family of rabbits hangs out there often. Where would my tomatoes be happiest? Does anyone in Indianapolis have suggestions on where to get seeds?

I would also like to grow some herbs. I have a crate, 2 or 3 inches high, that could work as a planter. What do I need to do to make my herbs grow tasty and tall?

I’m definitely going to do some research online, but just thought I’d tap into another resource here. Because my readers are awesome!

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

I was about to spin this recipe as a good end of the summer dish. Then I realized that it’s almost October. Not so much summer anymore. When the hell did that happen?? (sidenote, I’m incredibly excited about October. Three concerts this month!!!!)No worries, I have plenty of fall recipes in my queue already (think apple pie and pumpkin bread). I love autumn for two primary reasons: scarves and comforters. My scarf collection is very large and awesome and cozy. I pulled out my comforter last night and my sleep last night was also very cozy. Anything that encourages coziness as the weather cools off makes me happy.

So a week and a half ago (even last week really) summer was still clinging on desperately in the form of 90° weather. I certainly did not feel like making fall-like dinners.

This pasta is easy and yeah, you have to have the stove on, but not on the kind of heat that heats up your kitchen.You most likely have everything you’ll need in your cabinets and fridge now.

It’s kind of a pumped up pasta with tomato sauce. And by pumped up, I mean awesome. And isn’t everything from Ree, the Pioneer Woman? Sexy cowboys, adorable kids, delicious food, and horses. Yes. Please.

OK, so make this pasta for dinner one night during the week. And, as usual, I used soy milk, but clearly, as the word “cream” is in the title, you can sub in cream.

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North Carolina feasting

Last weekend I went to North Carolina. Oh yeah, I already told you that. I’m obsessed with North Carolina, particularly the mountains. Hm, told you that already too. Oh well, it’s good to reiterate the important things. I drove down to Tryon, NC, this magical little horsey community just almost tipping into South Carolina. Ivey, one of my best friends Bette’s mom, has a house there. The front porch looks west towards the mountains and sunsets. There’s a three stall barn next to the house where Bette’s retired horse Johnny, Ivey’s superstar Joseph, and her newest addition Gus, live.

Renée picks tomatoes for gazpacho

And this summer, Ivey’s planted a little garden filled with okra, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds, too.We spent many of our days off from camp at this house. It’s like my summer retreat. I love it. So I could hardly wait to spend four days there with Bette and Renée, a fellow Green Cove counselor, and Bette’s friend Jennifer. (There was a fifth girl, but I’d prefer not to mention her as she put a big fat blotch on the weekend.)

We rode ponies, went to Bele Chere, visited camp (where I got to hug Lee, the riding head, and my summer momma), and cooked so much good food.

I’ll go in the order we cooked these items.

blackberry peach pie

1. Porch Swings, our beverage of choice. Pimms (a tradition for us in Tryon), gin, cucumbers, 7Up, and lemons.

2. Gazpacho. Tomatoes from the garden, cucumbers, avocado, spices, jalapeños, green peppers.

3. Blackberry-Peach pie. Peaches and blackberries in a buttery crust. Oh and a little vodka.

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