Welcome to the twelve days of ZAMfest All you have to do is comment to enter the daily drawing and I'll pull a new name from the hat each night. The TWELFTH day will be Christmas, that's when I'll put the name of anyone who leaves me a comment on all twelve blogs, into a drawing and one very lucky person will win the grand prize-- a $50 dollar Amazon Gift Card. If you're new to the ZAMfest, it's not too late to go back and comment on earlier blogs. Good Luck!
DAY Four's winner is Tara Wojton! I'll be contacting you to see which ebook you'd like!
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RECIPE for a Rainy Day
I live in Southern California, and it doesn't rain often here. There have been several lovely rainy days lately though, and I took advantage of that to make a vast pot of soup for the kids, because they walk home from school (unless their books will get wet) and I have never been one to bring a healthy kid out of the rain.
In fact, when my children were young, I used to dress all four of them in mismatched sweats and rubber rain boots so they could go out and get soaked in the backyard until they were covered head to toe with mud and blue with cold.
Then they'd come in and take turns in the shower. I'd stand there, waiting with towels I'd warmed up in the dryer and we'd make hot cocoa because I'm a firm believer one should run in the rain unless one is likely to be struck by lightning.
There is nothing quite so wonderful as a warmed towel and a cup of cocoa, even if you're only as cold as a you can get on a rainy SoCal day.
My eleven bean soup recipe is more of a procedure than an actual recipe. It varies from pot to pot. I take four cups of eleven bean soup mix (from the bulk section of Sprouts) and use the quick soak method to prepare them. First, I check through for anything un-beanlike. Stones and withered beans must go. Then I rinse and place the beans in a pot, covered by a couple inches of water. I bring that to a boil for a few minutes, then turn off the fire and cover. I let them sit for an hour, and that's what softens the bean mixture so you can cook with it. Some people soak overnight but I never think that far ahead.
Once that hour is over, I drain and rinse the beans, and I clean the pot. Then I put the beans back in with a chopped up onion (large), two bay leaves, some dried Italian herbs to taste, and two 32 oz. containers of chicken stock. At this point, you could use any kind of stock, beef, vegetable, low sodium. I just use run of the mill organic chicken stock, again, from Sprouts. I like the kind that comes in the carton because it's flavorful and easy. (But there's no reason you can't use homemade, or even water.) I like the flavor chicken stock brings to the soup. Later I'm going to add other things, and chicken stock doesn't overwhelm. I don't season at this point. There's plenty of sodium in the stock, and in the later ingredients that I don't season with salt until the very end and then, it usually isn't necessary.
I bring the beans to a boil and simmer them for a couple of hours. Mostly I'm doing this as I'm doing other things, so I just let it go. I have a burner on my stove with a precise simmer setting, but I suppose at this point you could put the whole deal in a crock pot. If you keep the fire too high, the beans will burn and stick to the bottom of the pot. Stirring and keeping a low fire will help you avoid this.
I just simmer it until all the beans are tender, and at that point, I add some other things, depending on what I have around the house. I always add a couple cans of diced tomatoes -- I like the kind that are flavored with basil because I generally use Italian seasoning and add Italian sausage. If I were going to change things up, I could use Mexican spices and a diced tomato product like Ro-Tel that has peppers in it, and go in a whole different direction, maybe add cooked chicken or turkey. Sometimes I use vegetable stock and go vegetarian.
Vegetables are good to add at this point because they won't get mushy, diced carrots or parsnips, mushrooms, spinach, kale, cooked potatoes, squash. What you're adding here has to be cooked already or it has to cook quickly. You're basically finishing the soup and giving it "personality." And no one likes mushy personality. I usually crumble and brown hot Italian sausage (and drain the fat) then I add it in at the last minute. I serve this with fresh baguettes and always have lovely leftovers for lunches, later.
Tasty and alliterative.
The only thing better than a nice hot bowl of soup while rain is pouring down outside is a great book to read. I read A Christmas Carol every year, if I can. I love that book. I love reading it aloud. I love to listen to audiotapes of that book and discovered only this year, that Tim Curry made one!
What's your favorite rainy day thing (snowy days accepted, for those of you who get them!)