Hadley
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My favorite soup that my husband and I sort of came up with ourselves is a chicken tortilla soup.

We use blended zucchini as a thickener.

I always tell myself to write down the recipe, but it hasn't happened yet. Hopefully this is enough info:

Cook up a chicken breast or two. This works well with either chicken that has been lightly browned and then poached in the soup liquid & shredded or with chicken that is grilled all the way through and then chopped & added at the end. Up to you.

Sautee a yellow onion, a few carrots, 2-ish zucchini, and a bit of garlic with some cumin, coriander, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add a big can of whole tomatoes. Add some chicken broth (I usually do 4-6 cans).

Add a mix of peppers (I use poblano, red bell, anaheim, jalapeno...but it's kinda up to you how much spice/sweetness you want). You can roast these or not. I always used to roast them, but now I'm not so sure that it makes a huge difference.

In any case, simmer all of that together for a bit. Then blend until smooth (not the chicken!). Add chicken after the rest of the ingredients have been blended. Simmer a bit more. Serve with a small amount of crushed tortilla chips, a squeeze of lime, some cheese (cotija or queso quesadilla, preferably), a bit of avocado, a dollop of greek yogurt, and some cilantro.

Hadley
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I will whip up a quick batch of cream of mushroom soup for my husband and myself when we're hungy. It is such a simple cream of mushrooms soup and yet it is so yummy!

Makes 2 portions:

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 or 4 cups sliced mushrooms (I used white button mushrooms and chestnut mushroom)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • punch of nutmeg
  • ground black pepper
  • 2tbsp heavy cream

Fry onion for a couple of minutes in a little oil or butter. Add mushrooms and stir until they're soft and have released liquid. Add the stock, nutmeg and black pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Use immersion blender to blend about half of the soup, then add in the cream (or you could use cream cheese) and stir.

Done!

You will be enjoying the soup in less than half an hour!

Hadley
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A lot of people try and fix their roses and only end up making things worse. Then they need to bring it back. This can take a lot of time, and it might not always work. We tried to kill our roses bushes but failed, so rest assured unless there is a problem, if the bush is healthy it should bounce back.

Here are some of the things that you need to look at if you think your rose bush is right for the grave: If the rose branches are crispy, brittle, and brown, and you can snap them like twigs, it's dead, Jim, and it's not coming back. If the branches are flexible, and you can see green if you scratch it a little bit, it's not completely dead.

Did you snap it? Green?

So far so good!

Some types of roses don't hold up well under benign neglect, other types of roses flurish, but especially with competition from weeds and lack of fertilizing they will die. Roses need a lot of food. And if they don't have it they can die.

One thing that we like to do is get rid of weed competition is to plant something that is equally beautiful to roses.

Tulips.

They are wonderful because once you remove the weeds you can lay down about 2-3" of loose mulch and plant the tulips. They will keep the weeds out and you will avoid using things like landscape fabric which you will just have to remove later anyway.

See, all is not lost.

Hadley

When the coldest day of the year comes around I will usually make us a nice warm chicken noodle soup and it always hits the spot.

But don't take my word for it, try it yourself.

You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, chopped
  • 48 ounces chicken broth
  • 14 ounces vegetable broth
  • 6 ounces egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

You'll Then

You will then get busy and cook up a nice meal the whole family will love. The directions are so simple:

  • In a large pot, begin to melt the butter on medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and onions, sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Toss in the green onions, celery, and carrots.
  • Continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the chicken and egg noodles.
  • Pour in the chicken and vegetable broth, add all spices.
  • Combine Ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Continue to stir and simmer for 20 minutes on med/low heat.
  • Serve hot and you’re good to go!
Hadley
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I tried a cream soup yesterday, and well, I was short on cream. But I did have half and half in the frig. And while I will admit, fat free half and half is not cream in any way (I am not even sure that it is even food after this) I decided to give it a go.

What I am about to say may surprise you. Don't use it to cook.

I would say it's never a good idea to add anything pretending to be cream without containing any fat. Half and half has a tendency to separate in soups and sauces, especially fat free half and half, which has a lot of additives to make up for the lost fat content.

Honestly, I would have used straight heavy cream had I had any since I am not overly health conscience.

If you keep the fat content down in other areas of the meal and forgo heavy starches, it's really not that bad for you. I add my cream at the very end of cooking, and heat it just long enough for it to warm.

You can also try tempering the next time you cook with cream, especially if you want to keep working with fat free half and half. In tempering, you put the cream in a separate bowl, and slowly add a small amount of hot soup whisking constantly. This brings the cream up to temp. When you add the cream/soup mixture back into the pot, it's less likely to break because it's closer to the temperature of the liquid in the pot.

And while I know people fear fat. People assume fat = weight gain when that is not the case. That is why you find most everything in diary claiming to be fat free, low fat, reduced fat etc etc are popular because of this.

My soup was okay, though it wasn't as yummy as I wanted. But I should have expected it, low fat creams have a tendency to do that, especially at higher temperatures. I'd recommend either using a cream with a higher fat content (you can get away with using a lot less of it in soups that low/no-fat creams so the impact won't be huge), or be very careful with the temperature and only add low-fat cream to finish or while the soup is on a low simmer. Once it's incorporated it's usually safe to heat a little higher but it will split if it gets too close to boiling.

Next time I will just use milk instead.

Hadley
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I found this very interesting. And since it has to do with grafting you may as well. If you plant an apple seed, the resulting tree will not produce the same kinds of apples, they may even be unsuitable for human consumption.

The reason is because apples seeds are "'extreme heterozygotes', in that rather than inheriting DNA from their parents to create a new apple with those characteristics, they are instead significantly different from their parents."

If you want an apple to be the same as its parent you need to plant a branch.

Grafting

The reason is because the offspring of an apple tree are naturally diverse.

Root stock can have an effect on apples, but generally it affects the growth of the branch and shape of the tree, not the apples themselves.

I don't know about all cultivars, but there are definitely some cultivars' apples that aren't affected by root stock at all. There was a study done back when I was in the schools that details a specific kind of apple and rootstock had no effect.

With some trees, as well as with most grape vines, the rootstock is necessary because the desired fruiting plant is incapable of surviving in the ground due to mites, or acidity, or some other factor.

Walnuts are a good example of that.

Why do I know all of this? Because, apples are in the rose family, and roses are my little hobby.