It's rainy and dismal on the mountain top today, but I don't really mind.
Yesterday was such a busy day, it's nice to have an excuse to spend time indoors today, puttering around my little house.
I do love to putter, that's for sure!
It's the everyday domestica that feels so calming and grounds me after a busy day, week, month.
The smell of the laundry as the sheets are tumbling in the washer.
The sound of the dishwasher as it goes through the cycles, cleaning up the breakfast dishes.
Freshening up the house for fall, bringing in little touches of autumn with candles, throws, pillows.
It's time to be cozy and embrace the interior once more.
I realize I never did tell you what happened with the Amara awards. I wasn't one of the select few who made the shortlist, unfortunately, but that's ok - I am truly so honored that I was even nominated, and I sincerely thank all of you who voted for me, for your belief in my little blog.
The folks that made the shortlist are incredibly talented bloggers - you should go check them out when you have some free time to bounce around - here's the link to all the shortlisted blogs: Amara Awards - Shortlisted Blogs.
On a completely separate note, do you remember the other day I told you I was going to make a nice pot of beef and vegetable soup? Well, I did....and it was one of my favorite soups ever, so I am so glad I took photos during the process, so I could share it with you!
As per usual, my 'recipes' are really more of a tutorial and less of an exact science. My cooking style would be called 'winging it' for sure!
Ok, here we go - Mountain Mama's Tuscan Beef & Vegetable Soup.
I started off with 3 chopped onions, rough chop, in my large LeCrueset dutch oven, over a medium flame with a drizzle of olive oil.
While they were sauteeing, I chopped 3 carrots and 3 stalks of celery. They were added to the onions, and all got sauteed for another 5 minutes or so.
When they had softened, I made a hole in the center of the veggies, and added 2 heads of garlic, minced, in a tbs of butter.
When the garlic was nice and fragrant and golden, I stirred all the veggies together and made a new hole in the center for a lb of organic grass fed ground beef, 90 percent lean.
After the beef was nicely browned, I stirred everything together and added in a zucchini, diced small. I wanted all the veggies to be about equal in size.
I sprinkled some dried thyme leaves over the zucchini - about a half teaspoon or so. I've noticed that zucchini and thyme really work well together and I've been using thyme in all my zucchini recipes.
At this point, I added in 2 containers of Swanson's Low Sodium Beef Broth.
Next I popped a tray of cherry tomatoes into the oven at 425 degrees for about a half hour.
I added a can of crushed tomatoes with basil to the simmering soup.
I seasoned the soup with some dried basil and my favorite all purpose seasoning, Vermont Country Seasoning. I would guess about a tablespoon or more of basil, and a little less than a teaspoon of the Vermont Seasoning.
I put the lid on the dutch oven at this point, turned the heat to low, and let it simmer for about a half hour, while the tomatoes roasted in the oven.
Oooh, it's starting to look really good already - but I'm not done yet! In went a half package of imported pasta - the shape I used is called Trofie, and it's made by Pirro, one of my favorite pasta companies. Amazon sells it here, but I purchased it in a local Italian specialty market, the same place I buy the Tuttorosso canned tomatoes.
The cherry tomatoes were absolutely gorgeous when done roasting, and I dumped the whole tray with the juices right into the soup. I used a potato masher to 'pop' the tomatoes in the soup, as I didn't want any tomatoes left whole in the completed soup.
I also added two cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.
The finished soup - oh my gosh, I can't even describe how heavenly this soup was! The roasted tomatoes gave the soup such a fresh taste, far superior to any soup you will ever, ever eat out of a can!
I have been ruined forever for canned soups - I haven't touched them in years, once I realized how much sodium was in them. I guess that's when I started experimenting with making my own soups - and once I did, there was no return.
I served the soup with a hearty sprinkle of shredded 6 cheese Italian blend, by Sargento.
Can you just see all that amazing goodness in there?
We enjoyed the soup with a warm, crusty whole grain baguette.
Heaven, right there.
And guess what? 5 quarts for the freezer - you know how happy that makes me!
This is just one of the three freezers that I have - this is the freezer in the downstairs fridge. Not much room left, that's for sure - and the other two freezers are worse!
I don't know what I'm going to do with all my produce when I run out of freezer space. I guess I'll have to send home containers with Sweetie - he's got two empty freezers just waiting to be filled!
It's a good problem to have, for sure. And all these amazing meals will be so very welcome in the long winter months, when all our fresh home grown produce is nothing but a memory.
But we'll be eating well, that's for sure - after all, isn't that what all this hard work right now is all about? Preserving the bounty?
We are so blessed.