Soup Kind of Days

Nothing particularly bad has happened in our little house lately - unless you count completely forgetting to give my mother-in-law her Christmas present. Thankfully she's forgiven us and we've promised her a CSA membership. And just in time because she offered us a weekend sans kids for skiing and relaxing as our Christmas present. Hubby and I are escaping to Banff this weekend while Grandma and her girls have some serious bonding time.

Sadly, she won't be serving soup. Well, she can grab some but good luck trying to get the girls to eat it. No Borscht, no Chicken Noodle, not even Mama's Tomato Soup. I have no idea what their issue is with soup. From 9 months on they've insisted on feeding themselves and even The Monster hasn't mastered her knife or spoon skills. That might be it, but heaven forbid you try to feed them!

Soup is my go-to meal for a bad day, for providing a meal to a sad friend or new mom, for bread day from Aviv, and for the days that I feel fat or cold. Maybe because toddlers and preschoolers don't have days like those that's why they don't like soup.

Tomato, Bacon, and Blue Soup
Makes 7-8 cups

4 slices bacon (not maple flavoured)
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
2 cups water or stock
1 bay leaf
3 ounces blue cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk

1. Chop bacon cross-wise. Saute in pan on medium-high heat until just starting to crisp up. Remove 2 tablespoons cooked bacon and reserve for garnish. Pour off almost all the grease left in the pan.
2. While bacon is cooking finely chop onion and garlic. When bacon is cooked add the onion and garlic to the pan. Saute until the onions are soft.
3. Add tomatoes with liquid. Stir in water or stock and bay leaf. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Puree with an immersion blender, food processor, or in a blender. Be careful when blending hot liquids.
5. Stir in blue cheese and cream/milk. Season well.
6. Garnish with reserved bacon and crumbled blue cheese, if desired.

Who Moved My Cheese?

If you're ever looking for party ideas I've got a new suggestion for inspiration: the business section of the book store.  I'm serious.  We had a great party in the office today and I came up with the idea after reading this book.

There is no need to bore you with the details of the office, suffice it to say there's been more than a bit of upheaval lately.  We have a good group of people with some pretty strong convictions.  Perhaps more importantly, we all have a pretty wicked sense of humour.  Even the senior folks were entertained by the party idea. A little chat about finding our cheese when it comes to work, combined with an ongoing mouse problem in the building gave us the idea to have a cheese crawl in the office.

People set up a plate of cheese and accoutrements in their office.  Then, individually or in small groups, we wandered the halls visiting and tasting.  And yes, we hid the cheese of one boss so that he was forced to yell, "Hey, who moved my cheese?" Hmm, maybe it's an inside joke.

Quite surprisingly to me everyone totally got in to the idea.  We had a great variety of cheeses from an amazing triple creme brie to a heavenly honey goat. Winner of the most unique cheese was the gjetost, or Norwegian brown cheese.  It looks like fudge and does have a caramel taste to it.  We ate it on mini rye with cucumber.  I don't think it was very popular, but I really liked it.

My contribution was the Seckel pears with blue cheese, honeycomb, and hazelnuts. We were served something very similar on our trip to the Okanagan in September (The dinner is gloriously summarized here.)  The difference was that the pears we ate there were still warm from the sun and the blue was local Poplar Grove. I've taken to eating the pear, blue, honey combo as a frequent snack so I passed that on today. The consensus is that they would also make a fantastic holiday appetizer, or perhaps as an alternative to chicken wings this Sunday for the Grey Cup.

And, of course, there was just a teeny bit of wine. Served in our glorious reusable plastic cups.

Does it count?

Back when I was full of energy and vigor and swiss chard I entered my Frico recipe in the Safeway Cheese Champions contest. To be honest, I saw the ad on Facebook and was bored.  Yup, I actually noticed the ad, that's how bored I was. 

So I entered and found out recently that I won something.  Sadly, it was not the grand prize.  That means no Mama/Daddy time in Lake Louise for free.  But I did get a grocery gift card and it will buy our dairy for a couple of weeks. No complaints there.

And, if you are in a Safeway in the coming weeks, probably only in Western Canada, pick up the Safeway Cheese Champions book.  You will find my recipe and more in there. Oh, and a teeny tiny picture of me and The Monster.