Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Recipe of the day: Hearty Beef Soup

One of my favorite things to make and eat are soups. I particularly enjoy a hearty beef soup on a cold winter day. Here's how I make mine:

Saute your stew meat, beef chunks in a pan with about a tablespoon or so of olive oil till brown. Amount depends on how much you want to make. I usually use about a pound or less.
After your meat is browned and cooked add veggies: I like potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions as staples and again, the amount depends on size of pot and size of family.
Add water enough to barely cover the meat and veggies.
Add spices: salt, black pepper to taste and here are my special ingredients I like to add: garlic (lots of garlic) about a teaspoon of cumin powder, a few sprinkles of oregano, more garlic, a beef bullion sometimes, a dash of paprika, whatever else inspires me that day.
Taste it and make sure you added enough of everything.
Now for the part that makes it nice and warm, add about a handful of spaghetti noodles, broken in half. Also at this point I like to add green to my pot and here are some options that make it taste great: swiss chard, spinach, cilantro are some of my favorites. Be creative and use what you have. Peppers taste nice in a beef soup too.
Let it all simmer until the noodles are done and everything is cooked tender and delicious.

You might want to enjoy this soup with fresh home baked biscuits or fresh baked bread if you feel so inspired!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Missing my hometown!

It's winter here and although I live in Texas I still very much miss my home town/farm where I lived for most of my life as a missionary kid. The tropical rainforest of Brazil. This picture was taken on one of my trips home for a visit. It is one of my favorite views of a palm tree, specifically known as a Tucuma tree, right before a thunder storm. I can still feel in my imagination the humidity that weighs so heavy you can almost cut it. The warm air surrounds you like a passionate embrace. The monkeys howl early in the morning or at dusk and the big giant butterflies slowly drift and flutter, looking for their next flower to rest on. The birds fly and call and if you're lucky you might get to glimpse a band of macaws or toucans. These are all things that I grew up with and miss almost desperately especially in the wintertime!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Recipe of the Day! Homemade Tomato Soup.

Cooking from scratch is an almost lost art for a lot of folks now days, especially the younger generation.  However, it is very rewarding and satisfying for the maker and the eater. I'm going to share with you one of my favorite recipes that is a big comfort food for me, quick and easy to make. Also want to note that no recipe is set in stone! I don't like to measure or make things exactly the same every time I make them so when I do make this recipe it is generally just a hint. I like to study cookbooks to see what other people like to add together and create my own dishes that way. Most of them turn out great! Here's my version of:

Homemade Tomato Soup:

Melt 2 Tablespoons of Butter (or olive oil if you don't have butter) in a saucepan.
Chop some onion and garlic real fine. How much depends on your taste. I like lots so I'll use a half an onion and several cloves of garlic. (you can also use dried onion or garlic)
Saute it in the butter. When it's lightly brown add:
2 Tablespoons Flour (all purpose flour works fine)
Stir that into the butter and cook for one minute.
Meanwhile, open one large can of Tomato sauce and add it to the butter, flour, onion mixture.
Stir that up really good, add about a half a can of water. Cook this for 1-2 minutes at slow simmer.
While that is cooking, add some spices: Salt, ground black pepper, oregano, parsley, garlic powder, a dash of cumin,  (all those are good. and I don't measure. I add and taste as I go. But probably I add a half to a full teaspoon of the green spices, just a quick dash of cumin and salt and pepper to taste.)
Also add about a half a teaspoon of sugar. This helps bring out all the flavors.
After your tomato sauce mixture has bubbled for at least one minute or more, then add about 2 cups of milk.
Mix really well, I like to use a whisk to mix it up and get any clumps out.
Bring this up not quite to a boil. Basically you just want to get it nice and hot like a good soup should be but if you let it boil after you ad the milk it will turn out strange.

And it's done! Serve with grilled cheese sandwich, or croutons and cheese chunks!
This is one of my favorite quick recipes in a pinch! Total time to make depends on how fast you chop onions!


Coyotes in the Yard!!

Here at our farm we have a lot of animals and we keep some Great Pyrenees to help protect everyone against the abundant coyote population.  By day the dogs sleep and by night they are barking, patrolling and keeping the general population here at the ranch safe.

One morning, the day after the triplet baby goats were born, and the smell of birthing blood was strong, as I was waking up I heard the gate rattle like when the dog jumps over the fence. Then the sound of growling dogs and fighting. In my half asleep groggy state of mind, I remembered that all the inside dogs were still in and there was no logical explanation for growling dogs and gate rattling except for strange dogs to be in the area. I leaped out of bed with a start and threw open the door. Right there practically on my front porch was a smallish coyote, and the Great Pyrenees had his teeth baring down on the coyote's back trying to get him. I'm not sure if the coyote was actually in the yard or just trying to get there when the dog found him but they took off running at high speed down the driveway and through the horse pasture. The dog chased it off into the distance and I'm not sure if he actually managed to get it.

I never expected to find a coyote like that on my front porch area and am thankful that the dog was able to get it off the property but it was quite a scary event for all the goats and sheep who were watching with great concern!

Needless to say the dog earned his keep for sure and got some extra special treats and goodies that day!