• Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
  • Sunshine and Unicorns
sunshine & unicorns: a blog about love, learning, and life in the upper midwest

15 December 2009

another semester complete

I turned in my last papers of the term today, and Pink Hubby has his last final tomorrow. I wish I could say it means we now get to chill out and relax and just do whatever, but that isn't quite the case - we still have jobs, after all.

But at least for the next 3 weeks, we get to taste the sweetness of not having to spend every night studying, doing homework and reading. We get to taste that delicious freedom before being having it jerked away from us once again in the 2nd week of January. Woop!

It's been really cold here the past few weeks. I don't know that I've mentioned it because it's kind of cliche to have a blog in North Dakota and be all "Oh wow, its so cold here." No shit, Sherlock. I know that everyone's definition of cold is different, and here's mine: I don't know if we have seen a positive temperature in the past two weeks. No, I take that back - I think it was 4 degrees on Saturday. And in my head I caught myself thinking: "Wow, it isn't very cold today!" When I talk about numbers, I am talking about Fahrenheit, by the way. We may be 90 miles from Canada, but we're not dealing with Celsius here. 0 degrees Celsius is the equivalent of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Big deal. You might need a jacket. Oooo. 0 degrees Fahrenheit, on the other hand, is around -18 Celsius. So anyway: our highs have been in the negative single digits -- lows in the negative teens -- for a couple of weeks now.

Today on my way to work it was -11 F. The high expected is -3 F. So! Fun times with frozen pipes. That's an issue we've been dealing with for a week or so. Pink Hubby finally got our kitchen water pipe to thaw, but now we have to leave it running all the time (at a very slow rate) in order to keep it that way. Of course, the freeze happened in a place we can't reach. I need to crawl in as far as I can and see what can be done. The notion of getting under the sink (where the garbage is!) and shoving my arm in to a space I cannot see really doesn't fill me with excitement, so I haven't done it yet. For now we just leave the water trickling. There are a lot of reasons renting was easier. However, I am quite sure the benefits of owning are still far outweighing the inconveniences of having to be your own handy[wo]man.

To me, cold weather equals soup. Hearty soup. Chilis, cheese soups, and potato soup.

Potato Soup

A few weeks ago, I found this recipe and decided to give it a go. I seem to have lost/deleted all of the prep and cooking pictures, but it wasn't that interesting really. Picture this:

1) Lots of potato-peeling.
2) Raw potatoes floating in the crockpot with some spices.
3) Cooked potatoes floating in the crockpot with some spices.
4) Smashed up cooked potatoes and spices floating in the crockpot. (I used my hand-held mixer - just a 3-speed KitchenAid - to smash it all up.)

Honestly, after I finished preparing the soup, I was not impressed. It was really bland and it was obviously missing something. I love potato soup and clam chowder (which is basically potato soup with seafood in it), so I feel like pretty much know what I want to taste. This was not doing it for me - this was not satisfying me, nor was it making my chapped and wind-burnt cheeks feel any more 'warm and fuzzy'.

So I doubled the spices. More salt, more pepper, more Lawry's, more garlic (I just threw some garlic powder in it to supplement the real stuff I had added that morning). And, did I mention that for "red pepper," I used Chipotle? That is some potent stuff. Everybody's tastes are different though: I recommend making the soup as directed, seeing if you like it, and then adding more spices if you deem it necessary.

The soup tasted a lot better, but it was still kind of watery and Just Not Right. It was lacking the creamy aspect my chilled-to-the-core ass was craving. And finally it occurred to me: Butter.

No butter in a potato soup recipe? What the hell? I tossed a half a stick of butter (4 tbsp) into the pot, and: Perfecto. It was awesome. Amazing. Add some clams and it'd rival even my favorite chowder (from the Chowder Bowl in Newport, OR).

We ate it with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon (which I fried up quickly on the stovetop).

Bacon

Potato Soup

This made a ton of food. I have a 6-quart crockpot and it was nearly full to the top. I love making soup for this very reason: I can freeze it. We got another dinner out of it (this time with grilled cheese sandwiches on a night with a low of -15 or so) and I then froze several individual containers for lunches. We could have easily gotten three dinners and still 2+ lunches from this massive recipe. All that food for probably about $10 worth of ingredients.

Another reason I'm glad it made so much is that potatoes are a pain in the ass to peel the night before. Since I wanted this to cook all day while I was at work, that was my only option. We had to peel them, slice them, rinse them, and then immerse them in a large pot of water, which was then refrigerated over night. That was an inconvenience, but it was worth it for this tasty soup! It also helps that Pink Hubby took over the peeling process after he noticed I was slicing off more of my own skin than the potatoes'; I'm uh, not that good with sharp objects. I suppose if I made it on a weekend, we wouldn't have to do this... But when I find foods that don't burn when left for 10+ hours, I try to reserve them for weekdays.