In My Life, I've Loved Them All

Playing in the Kitchen: Cream of Broccoli Soup

A bulk bag of frozen Broccoli from our latest Sams Club adventure got put in fridge instead the freezer… not good. With pounds of broccoli needing to be eaten ASAP, I though making a batch of soup would be the best way to go. A quick google search brought me to this recipe on AllRecipes.com. Best Cream of Broccoli Soup it says… we shall see…

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 8 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • I also added in garlic and salt

Directions

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium sized stock pot, and saute onion and celery (and garlic!) until tender.

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2. Add broccoli and broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree* soup and return to heat.

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*Based on many of the recipes comments, I decided to not puree the soup, Instead, use a potato masher and mash it up. This leaves some big chunks of broccoli in the soup, which is fine by me :D Also, I probably used closer to 10 cups, just eye-balling it, lots of broccoli to use up and all :|

3. In small saucepan, over medium-heat melt 3 tablespoons butter.

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P.S. Melted butter may be the best thing you will ever see and taste in a kitchen. Just sayin…

Stir in flour* ...

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*I stirred in the flour and cooked it for a little bit before adding the milk. This gets rid of the “raw flour” taste

...and add milk. Stir until thick and bubbly…

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...and add to soup. Season with pepper (and SALT) and serve.

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Ta Da!

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It was a little bland when I first tasted it… so moved the finished soup from the pot to our Croc Pot on low for about an hour or so. My family topped our bowls with grated cheese and bacon bits. Turned out pretty good, considering how easy it was to make. So I’ll be keeping the recipe on file, maybe tweeking it next time by adding more heat somehow or using cream in place of 1/2 the milk. Luckly, it’s turning into soup-making weather outside :D

Fun with knots! All you need is a roll of Hemp…

I’ve been cleaning my room and sorting out all of my craft stuff… which of course includes several 1/2 finished projects… and I came across this:




It’s a cool hemp macrame piece, about 1” across, and I think originally I wanted it to be a belt…. but the remaining cord doesn’t seem like it will be long enough to fit around my waist :/

I was thinking, maybe a bracelet/cuff instead?




Or maybe keep going and use it as the strap for a bag… I’m not sure yet. I really like how its turning out and want to make something useful with it.

A friend who saw this asked for the pattern… I’m not sure where I originally saw a pattern, but it is so easy that after the first couple rows, you wont need a pattern. I used a basic macrame square knot for all of the knots. For the instructions below, the strands are “re-numbered” after you complete each row.




I started with 6 long pieces, using the larkshead knot around the ring, to create 12 strands even in length

Row 1 & 2: Use strand 1 & 4 to tie a square knot around 2 & 3; tie 5 & 8 around 6 & 7; tie 9 & 12 around 10 & 11.
Row 3 & 4: Ignore the 2 outside strands on either side (1, 2, 11, 12). Use strand 3 & 6 to tie a square knot around 4 & 5; use strand 7 & 10 to tie a knot around 8 & 9.

Keep repeating those steps over and over until you reach the length you are looking for. Sorry, I am not quite sure how much length of hemp goes into each row (how much you need to start with the get the finished product you want :/)

I hope you find that helpful and not too confusing! The pictures above can help you visualize whats going on. :D


Playing in the Kitchen: 5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

A single serving of chocolate cake, made in 5 minutes w/o having to turn on the oven?? Sounds Fabulous. And wouldn’t a mug with a baggie of ingredients & recipe card attached make a creative Christmas gift for friends?

5 Minute Chocolate Mug CakeMy mom and I decided to try the recipe before investing the time and money in Holiday Mugs pounds of sugar and flour… which was one of the best decisions we have made. The following is possibly the worst thing every created in a kitchen trying to pass itself off as “cake” or “edible.” Oh, and as it cools, it turns into a brick. So, in your disappointment/rage at the so called chocolate cake, please do not throw it at a window or anyone you care about. Just sayin’.


5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake
Here is the “recipe” that has been forwarded via email to all ends of the Earth, somehow making its way to me:

1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons flour (that’s plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional) some nuts (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Directions
Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.
Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (This can serve 2 if you want to share!)
And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake any time of the day or night.

I followed the directions exactly. You have to stir it because there are not a lot of liquid ingredients and all of the dry ingredients are at the bottom. You’ll end up with a think brown paste. Yum.

I figured it would probably turn out soufflé-like, since there was no real levening ingredients included. Too bad those missing ingredients help make things light and airy; instead, I got a dense, rubber-ish, disastrous excuse for food. It also could have used a tad, say a pound, more sugar to make it taste a little less bland.

The presentation is a bit lacking too. PS “Tipping” it over on a plate makes it look even less appetizing.


5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

You may see this recipe in your inbox. If you do, delete it immediately.

You have been warned. :|

Barnes & Noble Deal of the Day

Using Social Media As Resource, Not a Distraction

How do you judge the stressfulness of a website? A standard in the online advertising industry is to view how much “traffic” a website receives. This is how many unique computer users are choosing to view a website, and how many are choosing to return. The goal for website owners, from individual bloggers to multinational corporations, is to steer as much traffic as possible in their direction.

The mere existence of a website is not enough. Just as the most beautiful song ever written would have no meaning if no one heard it, a perfectly constructed website would be meaningless if no one chose to look at it. Just like a fine work of art, a website needs to be seen; it needs an audience. Unlike a Picasso in a museum, websites are not a static work of art. They are dynamic. Growing, adjusting, and adapting to keep viewers captivated, websites depend on traffic to stay alive.

$1.99 Website Hosting- Go Daddy Proud Sponsor of Danica PatrickAfter working in internet ad trafficking for a large media corporation, I know first hand how difficult it can be (and how hard a company has to work) to drive traffic in their direction. It’s serious business. Traffic numbers are the tangibles pieces of data businesses count on to prove their popularity. Thus, lots of traffic can be a powerful bargaining chip when trying to sell ad space for their site. Programmers and writers are working constantly to create new (hopefully original) content to entice viewers and keep their viewers coming back.

This is why I think the large social media outlets (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter etc.) are so lucky. Ok, it’s not luck, they are just so smart, dare I say genius. Why? Because they have figured out a way to keep traffic up while maintaining up-to-the-SECOND current content; content that is provided for free by people like you. Yes, they are letting you keep track of your friends and share your photos for free, but is it a fair trade off? Not only are you updating the content for them and helping maintain a high traffic flow, but also you ARE the traffic… that tangible number they are using to get companies to advertise on their sites. You are clicking on the ads on the website you are maintaining. It is all a bit convoluted.

I hold no ill feelings towards Facebook or MySpace. They are great websites that help me keep in contact with all of the friends and colleagues I have met over the years, the people who have made an impact on my life in one way or another. I’m on Twitter pretty much to satisfy the curious marketer in me. I’ve found it’s an excellent tool for small businesses and entrepreneurs to get the word about their shops and personal blogs.

What gets me is the people who spend hours of their valuable time without being adequately compensated. The people writing lengthy Facebook “notes” and the ones trying to recruit everybody and their brother to grow imaginary corn. There are so many free/low cost options where you can develop and maintain your own blog, and then use social media as a means to drive traffic to you. Your time is valuable, and so are your thoughts. You should be compensated for both. Find your own space on the web, and put some ads on it. Like the one below. Click on it if you like.


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