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Blue says "hi"!

Blue says “hi”! The “red eye fix” in iPhoto doesn’t work well. His eyes are like liquid, dark chocolate.

If you’ve been reading for a bit, you’ll know that for about a year I lived on salads, Trader Joe’s Caesar salads to be exact. I’d buy three at a time plus a bag of three heads of romaine and a package of “Just Chicken” which is their pre-cooked chicken to add to the salads. This worked out very well since prior to following this regimen, it’d suddenly be nine at night and I’d realize I hadn’t eaten anything. All day. Plus I wasn’t drinking much water. Not good.

Looking back I now know that I was still in shock from the divorce being finalized. It took a greater toll than I realized. Well, after a year of salads, boredom set in. So I changed to frozen food like chicken pot pies, pork shu mai, and Celeste “pizza for one”. During the six or seven months this went on two things happened. First, the good, I discovered Trader Joe’s “A Taste of Alsace” pizza-like tart. OMG. It was heaven. Carmelized onions, cheeses, ham bits, all on a super thin, rustic-looking, crisp crust.

Second thing that occurred started after about five months of these types of meals, my ankles began swelling like balloons, twice their size. I’d never experienced this before. (I use very little salt, only Celtic sea salt in a grinder if I do.) This was not a good thing. After awhile it hit me, salt or better yet, the amount of it in these processed, prepared foods. So I have cut out prepared food and and now am cooking. The urge to cook has finally returned. Yay! Of course, while cooking’s like riding a bicycle and you never forget the first few times out, you’re quite wobbly and might fall, which I did.

So a week ago I made a minestrone-like vegetable soup cobbled together from about five other recipes. It was so much better than my earlier stab at Panera copy-cat Cream Cheese Potato Soup. I wound up with 4.5 quarts of soup so I was set for the week. Good thing was, my ankles returned to their normal size. The only salt used was that in the stock, can of cannelloni beans (rinsed) and can of tomatoes. Finished the last smidgen off yesterday for a late lunch.

So today I have a pot of Danish Kale/Caldo Verde Soup in the works.

First stage, kale, onions and garlic in stock/water.

First stage, kale, onions and garlic in stock/water.

Cinnamon added, about 1 -2 teaspoons.

Cinnamon added, about 1 -2 teaspoons.

Makes great stock for this particular soup. Just add water.

Makes great stock for this particular soup. Just add water.

Half a rope of turkey kielbasa sliced up and added to pot.

Half a rope of turkey kielbasa sliced up and added to pot.

The potatoes.

The potatoes.

The final mix.

The final mix including my messy stove top.

As you know I don’t try to be a pro photographer, just want to give you an idea of what I’m making or looking at, so please don’t be overly critical of the photos. Anyway, that’s my dinner for tonight. It made a good three plus quarts of soup. Yum. Only salt added was Wyler’s chicken crystals and the kielbasa. So my ankles should be safe 🙂

I’d swear I posted the recipe in the past but can’t find the post so here it is again:
Danish Kale/Caldo Verde Soup
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 – 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 lb. or bunch kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
6 – 8 c. water
3 T. Wyler’s chicken crystals
1 large or 2 medium white rose-type potato, peeled or not, large chop (see photo below)
1/2 rope of smoked sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds (i.e. Keilbasa, Linguica, etc.)
Salt & pepper, to taste

In a five quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onion: cook 5 – 8 minutes.  You want them translucent, not brown. Add the garlic, cook 2 minutes longer. Stir cinnamon into onion mixture. Add the kale, tossing to coat it well. Add the water and Wyler’s crystals. Heat to boiling, reduce the heat. At this point add the potatoes to water in a small pot and cook. Add sausage to soup. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes.

Drain cooked potato cubes and add to the soup mixture. Heat until uniformly hot, then serve. Note:  I never add salt since the chicken crystals and sausage provide enough for me.

On another note, today I said goodbye to P and A who lived in the other house on this lot. Since the landlord raised their rent $100 per month, they’re moving in with her parents for a few months in order to save some money and putting their stuff in storage. They really want to buy a house and start a family. They’re in their mid-thirties and the extra rent would scuttle plans to accomplish their dream, so I can’t blame them. I’ll miss them dearly, they were the best neighbors in the six years I’ve lived here.

There is something to be said for not moving far from your family like I did. They must have had 15 people helping today, all family. I do wish them well, hope they’ll stay in touch and hope the new tenant(s) will be as nice. Fingers crossed. If you crossed your fingers too, it wouldn’t hurt! 🙂

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