Very Veggie Soup –

I have been making soup every weekend – I buy some veggies (whatever strikes my fancy and look good) but there is always 1 leek (white and green part all the way up to the top, rinced well, sliced thin), an onion (diced), 2 or 3 carrots (diced), a potato (diced) – and then whatever – today it was a huge head of brocoli and a leftover tomato at the bottom of the bin. Next week I plan to add sweet potatos, you can use anything you like: parsnips, squash, pumpkin – add more of anything and it becomes that soup – add more tomatoes, or leeks, and you get it!

Cook in butter and oil until all the veggies are wilted and starting to soften, but are not yet browning but things are starting to smell good and it’s sizzling. Add broth (vegetable or meat – I used beef bullion cubes today) and cook until the veggies are completely soft. Let cool and mix in the blender – add water if too thick. Put back in the pan and heat, and add some cream or milk  if you like it creamy soup. What I do is make a pot of vermicelle on the side (angel hair pasta, or sometimes rice) and add them to the soup (never cook the pasta in the soup!) I usually make enough soup to last 2 – 3 days – we have it for dinner with fresh baguette and cheese.

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Banana Bread

Every time I make it is is different. This time, I spent a hour cracking walnuts, then toasting the walnuts with oil, sugar, salt, thyme & a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Once toasted, I put them in the banana cake mix with a handful of raisins. Oh. My. God. Not only does is smell divine as it’s cooking, but the toasted nuts give the banana bread a little crunch –

Banana bread batter: 2 very ripe bananas (they can be rotten, there can be 2 or 3 bananas…) a cup of sugar, (I use half white, half brown) 2 cups flour, a tablespoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1 cup milk with half a lemon squeezed in it (let the milk sit until it’s curdled – about 15 minutes), 2 eggs, 3 or 4 tablespoons melted butter. Raisins, nuts (optional). Put everything but the raisins and nuts in a mixing bowl and blend with your hand-held blender. Just do it. When the batter is smooth, stir in the raisins and nuts and pour into a greased cake dish and bake at 350° for 30 – 40 minutes. Add cinnamon if you want. A dash of rum, coffee or coconut liqueur works too.

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Rice Pudding –

I had leftover rice. This is what I did: I put a pan of milk to heat on medium heat (the same amount of milk as there is rice) and added 2 teabags of strong, black tea, 5 cardamon seeds and a  half cup of sugar. Stir well – don’t let the milk boil! When the teabags start to color the milk caramel and the cardamon releases it’s scent and flavor, take the teabags (& cardamon, if you want) out, and then add the rice. Now bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Add more milk as needed to keep the rice creamy. After the milk boils, turn the heat down and add a handful of raisins if you like. Now, keep stirring for about 15 minutes – you really want the rice to be as soft as possible without turning completely to mush. Do add more milk to make sure the rice doesn’t get sticky. It should stay creamy. You can eat it hot, or cold – I like to eat it for breakfast with even more milk on it, a dash of cinnamon, and heated up in the microwave!