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Recipe: Gnocchi Soup

Now that colder weather seems to be on its way, I am looking for some soup recipes to cycle into my routine. I just love a good, hearty soup on a cold day, don’t you? My favorite is my mom’s beer cheese potato soup, but since the boyfriend isn’t a fan of cheese, I’ve been looking for another version of potato soup that we’ll both eat. 

Gnocchi soup seemed like the perfect opportunity so I found a recipe online and tweaked it to suit both our tastes. I get the creaminess I love without the cheese he dislikes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs olive oil or butter
  • 1 c red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbs fresh basil
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 c chopped spinach
  • 1 16 oz package of gnocchi
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Add the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute. 
  2. Slowly add cream and chicken broth until it starts to thicken. Add the thyme, basil, rosemary, spinach, and gnocchi. Simmer 5 minutes or until the gnocchi is cooked and the soup is thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. 

*If you want a thinner soup, add more chicken broth to taste. You can also add cooked chicken for a heartier soup. 

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Good food isn’t hard to find

If you’ve noticed a pattern on my blog lately through the last few posts, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been eating a lot of fresh local food, mostly from the weekly farmers market. This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the past few weeks or so. 


The boyfriend and I discussed our basic goals for the lives we want to lead, and they boiled down to:

  1. Eating well (healthy food, local food)
  2. Moving more (exercise, taking walks, bike rides)
  3. Being earth conscious

This has led to some very nice new habits like choosing the paper bags over plastic at the grocery store, sorting out recyclables from the garbage, turning off the a/c when we don’t need it (like when we leave the house), making our own bread, and buying fresh food for the day we need it and not overstocking the fridge with food that we’ll forget about and eventually have to throw out. 


I’ve also been doing a lot of reading and listening to podcasts about the food habits of different cultures. Mostly the French actually. Their mentality of eating as a pleasurable activity, never depriving yourself but making compromises that suit your desires, and eating fresh, seasonal food makes a lot of sense to me. 


I also luckily live right behind a local used bookstore that has some truly amazing bargains if you’re willing to sort through everything they have. So I’ve gotten a few books that are relevant to what I’m interested in without breaking the bank. Seriously, none of these books cost me more than $3! I love good deals, especially when that means I can buy more than one book at a time. 


So here I am on this food journey, and I’ve been making a lot of new recipes that will be stored away for future use. And I’m happily eating fewer processed foods and more vegetables. I feel better, I’m sleeping better, and I feel like I have more energy than I used to. 

I’m hopefully going to be posting a recipe or two here every now and again because they’re just too good to keep to myself! 

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My Second Library Card

Since I failed to post something yesterday, I figured I would share about my Saturday with you all. 

As with most Saturdays, the boyfriend and I wandered downtown for the market. It’s been grey and drizzly all day, but the temperatures are feeling like autumn, so I am in my happy place. We invested in a small potted lavender plant, and I found a beautiful new coffee mug. 

Our next stop of the day was the public library. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a library other than the campus library at my university. The first library card I ever had, I got when I was 5 years old. My mom sewed a honeybee bag for me to carry all my library books in. I still have that actually. 

So the boyfriend and I signed up for our new cards and we wandered through all the sections. I found a few books to read. I’m deep into my French obsession right now my new reading list includes: Vegetables by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, The Vagabond by Collete, and French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guilano. The boyfriend found a couple movies to check out and a copy of The Atlantic to read. 

So now here we sit, watching the rain fall beyond of the ceiling-high windows, enjoying the vast bounties of the local library. 

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Market Day

Saturdays downtown are my favorite. As the farmers market season is coming to a close, we’re doing our best to show up as often as we can and invest in the local families who grow this beautiful food. Our favorite finds from last Saturday were some purple tomatoes (sweet and flavorful without being too sharp) and some okra (I haven’t tried them yet, but the boyfriend approves). I also found a big bouquet of flowers for myself, and the boyfriend purchased a small potted English thyme plant to add to our patio garden. 

We spent the rest of the day cleaning up the apartment, and then we went to Clinton with my mom to browse through their antique stores. Some are better (more relevant and less pretentious) than others, but if you look hard enough, there’s usually something for everybody. 

I walked away with a handful of old photographs, some from as early as 1912 and others from WWII. I love these things that I can hold in my hands, knowing they once belonged to someone else, knowing that they’ve found a home again. 

The last part of the day, the boyfriend and I drove into this old historic neighborhood here because they have a beautiful park down by the river that makes for a great evening walk. As we walked along the trails, we were greeted by lots of happy dogs and their owners, and we got to enjoy the sunset lowering over the calm of the water. At one point, we even saw a man take off on his parasail which was amazing. Once again, it was a Saturday well spent. 


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Constellations and Cocoa

In keeping with the celestial theme this week, the boyfriend and I went to a local nature center here the other day to attend a class called Constellations and Cocoa. It was just as sweet as it sounds. They handed out some star maps and we went through a small slideshow showing some of the more well-known constellations before heading outside with coffee and cocoa in hand.

They have this huge clearing that’s perfect for stargazing. And being just outside the reach of the city lights, it was a great spot to enjoy the night sky somewhere that felt both serene and far away from the city.

As our eyes adjusted, and as the sky grew darker, the stars became brighter, and we were able to find and identify 7 constellations from the star maps they gave us.

I feel so lucky to live somewhere with a place that offers such great programs. And I’m especially lucky I get to do all of these things with my person.

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Total Eclipse

If you live anywhere in the U.S., I’m sure you heard about the solar eclipse that happened yesterday. I decided to not risk the traffic (and risk missing the eclipse), so I stayed home and made my own eclipse viewing contraption because I procrastinated and didn’t buy those nifty eclipse glasses. I honestly didn’t trust them anyway because of all the rumors about fake or faulty ones. So just an hour before the event, I whipped together a mini projector from a piece of cardboard, some tape, and a pair of binoculars. It worked really well, and I got to watch the whole eclipse on a piece of paper. No burnt retinas here!

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Several of my neighbors were outside on their balconies and patios as well. One of the families on the building across from mine were really hilarious and kept shouting, which is how I knew the event had started. With a loud “It’s happening! It’s starting!” I knew it was time to head outside. The man who lives next door told me he bought some of those paper glasses for $20 from some girl at a gas station, and we discussed how some (smart? evil genius?) people were probably making some big bucks today. He let me look through his glasses a few times, and he admired my funny binocular contraption saying, “Well that’s cool as hell!”

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The last few minutes were the most wicked thing I have ever seen. The streetlights flicked on. The birds began their evening songs. The cicadas’ humming grew loud. The crickets began to chirp. The light peaking through the trees turned into repeating crescents. And the sky got dark as the horizon turned into a 360 sunset. I heard my neighbors shouting about the ring around the run, but since we weren’t directly in the line of totality, it didn’t show up on my paper. I’ve never experienced anything like it.

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This whole universe is just amazing, isn’t it?

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Farm Fresh and Fancy Free

Every week, I usually can get my hands on some farm fresh veggies, and they are so good. It makes everything a little better knowing I have something good just waiting to be cooked up for dinner at the end of a long day. 


And most evenings, the boyfriend and I hit up the local greenway for a run (well, I bike alongside him because this girl doesn’t run). It’s so beautiful around here at sunset. And this greenway is especially well taken care of, and we’ve been here long enough that we see lots of the same faces on the same trail. 


Life is really truly good. 

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Fountains where they shouldn’t be

Water is amazing isn’t it?

It’s our life source. It’s quiet. It’s loud.

It belongs in the ocean. In the sky. In the rivers and creek beds. In our eyes and our bodies.

But it certainly does not belong on the bathroom floor.

I’ve never seen so much water shoot out of a sink before, out of the place where the hot water handle is supposed to be. I’ve never had that kind of adrenaline run through my body before. And I’ve never felt so frozen and so unable to do anything in such an awfully panic-inducing moment.

In just an hour,  we dumped bucket after bucket of water from the sink to the tub. I made shouty panicked phone calls at people who put me on hold and told me they couldn’t help me at all. I looked in the water closet 4 times before my eyes finally separated the white shut-off valves from the white water pipes and got the river to stop.

The boyfriend and I wrung out towels into the tub and a plastic bin, hunched over for another hour, trying to clear the water from places it didn’t belong, until our hands felt too crooked to continue. We made nervous, adrenaline fueled conversation. Or at least, I talked to fill the strange silence in the wake of the roaring sink fountain.

After the pool in the bathroom looked like a tile floor again, we assessed the rest of the damage. My stacks of books found hurried refuge on the bed, as the sea had spread into the carpet, slowly seeking every corner it could find.

We laid in the middle of the floor and let the nervous laughter escape in manic bursts.

I’m eternally thankful for moments of clarity and humor amidst the madness.

And I’m very thankful I never have to go through it alone.

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Southern memory

We Southerners have a way of holding onto things.

Stories. Memories. Grudges. Old photographs. Stained recipes cards. Traditions. Wedding China. Old tea towels. Rusted oil cans. Books. Politics. Yes ma’ams and no sirs. Gossip. Our vowels.

We talk and talk and talk with cups of coffee in hand out on the back porch, remembering and rewriting our stories. We wave to our neighbors. We hold onto our ancestors, inviting them to dinner every night, as we talk about what they were like and that time when Aunt X said this or Great Grandpa did that.

We listen to the rise and fall of the cicadas in the tree tops, recalling the last big hatching and how it was almost like the plague.

We say our niceties on Sunday morning at church and break out the latest gossip over lunch.

We take family time seriously, and we know that our cousins are our true allies in this life.

We gather. We reunion. We remember.