Archive for the ‘saturday soup & sewing’ Category

We woke up this morning to another windy and rainy day here in E-town. Thankfully, I had a yummy soup and long anticipated project all lined up and ready to go. So, while the weather may have been less than ideal, J and I had a lovely little domestic day in.

When J and I got married I hated mushrooms. As a young child I apparently loved eating raw mushrooms, but from adolescence onward I viewed mushrooms as gross, slimy things to be avoided at all cost. (I had a particularly awful sautéed mushroom encounter in Santiago, Chile when I was 17…) However, J grew up loving mushrooms and his family had them often, so as a new member of the family I decided to just go ahead and give them a try. And guess what? They weren’t bad. In fact I really liked them raw, and as the years have gone by my love of mushrooms has only grown. I now love them in any form and J and I enjoy them so much we are gearing up for this next fall, and once we return to the states plan to buy a couple of these. I know there must be others of you out there scarred from early childhood experiences of poorly cooked mushrooms, or even worse mushroom soup from a can (bleh!). I promise you this recipe is so much better than any other mushroom soup you’ve tried that it may just be able to win over even the most skeptic mushroom-haters. So, don’t hate, cook! I think you’ll be really glad you did.

Mushroom Soup
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home


  • 15 ounces fresh mushrooms (try a combo of whatever is fresh at the farmer’s market, or a mix of shiitake, portobello, and cremini… really any mixture will do, you could even use dried mushrooms in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, thoroughly cleaned (2 leeks)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • lemon


Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don’t wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water. (I know this step seems like a lot of effort, and if you really have to you could use store bought vegetable stock. However, this stock is absolutely gorgeous and is a large part of what makes this soup so delicious, I highly recommend trying it!)
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two more. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot and garnish with the following: Mix together a pinch of salt and pepper with the zest of one lemon and the juice of half of it. Drizzle the soup with a drop or two of truffle oil and place a slice of grilled crostini topped with a bit of the lemon zest mixture on top of the ladled soup. Delish!

Laundry Sacks x 2!

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will be well aware that space in our little flat is at a premium. For a long time now J and I have been trying to figure out a better way to store our dirty clothes as there isn’t room for a proper laundry basket. The default became an awful florescent pink Rubbermaid tub that we used for shipping stuff over here when we first moved. A complete eyesore. But thanks to an easy pattern out of this book, the Rubbermaid is no more! (This book has lot’s of great ideas, but I’ve found the directions a bit cumbersome… better for those with a bit of sewing experience.) Our laundry has now found a nice new home on the back door to our wee box room. And our bedroom just gained back some highly prized floor space. Success!


Read Full Post »

(I made this soup and sewing project last Saturday, but didn’t get around to posting it. As I’m off to Geneva tomorrow, I thought I’d post it now in my absence… Have a great weekend!)

Edinburgh has been so blustery and stormy the past few days, that I knew I had to make up a big pot of warming soup to fuel all our weekend adventures. So, I went to our fridge, grabbed all the veggies we had and threw them in my much loved pot and started sauteing. While I was busy stirring I happened to look over and spy a pumpkin I’d bought several weeks ago to and a little autumn flair to our flat. I decided it would be the perfect addition, and quickly chopped it in half and popped it in the oven to roast. This is a really simple soup that is perfect for using up less-than-perfect produce. This version had a pumpkin, half a winter squash, a carrot, a parsnip, one onion, four garlic cloves, and a handful of cauliflower left over from earlier in the week. Truly, any vegetable would do. Once everything was nice and soft, I added 1/2 tsp thyme, a little salt and about 4 cups vegetable broth and then simmered for a good 45 minutes or so. To finish things off I gave the whole batch a whirl with my hand blender and then added some creaminess with about 1/4 cup creme fresh. I also roasted the pumpkin seeds in a little olive oil, salt and paprika and they added a pretty garnish and gave some good crunch to the soup. So easy, so nutritious, and seriously good.

I love having good bread to serve with soup, and as I also had some cheese and green onions to use up, I decided to make some Cheese and Green Onion biscuits. Yum. I created these by combining several different recipes, and thought I’d share the finished result with you here. Hope you enjoy it!

Cheese and Green Onion Biscuits

makes about 8 biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used Manchego)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 cup buttermilk
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and paprika. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixtrure resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese and green onions. Pour in the buttermilk, and stir with a fork until mixture just comes together to form a sticky dough. On a lightly floured work surface, with lightly floured hands, pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round.
    2. Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out the biscuits as close together as possible. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
    3. Bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Travel Wallet

    This weekend I’m off with my dear friend Ashli for a fun getaway to the lovely Geneva, Switzerland! J and I normally carry an Eagle Creek travel case with us to keep all our papers, tickets and passports neat and tidy. But, as J is off at a conference in Atlanta with our trusty travel case this week, I decided it was time to make one of my own. I used this tutorial, which was great. The only trouble I had was sorting out the zippers. I just couldn’t seem to figure out how they were attached from the tutorial, so I ended up making that portion up on my own. I think it worked out great, and my travel wallet is now all filled up and ready for its first big adventure. Hurrah!

    Read Full Post »

    The following salad is one we made for a going away party, and I think it might just be one of my new favorites for the summer. Beans, corn, tomatoes, onion and garlic… honestly, how could this not be good? Also, you can make a lot of it ahead of time, so it’s great for busy weeknights. I made this recipe with store bought, pre-shucked corn and it was still quite tasty. I can only imagine how delicious this would be with some of the farm-fresh Idaho corn you buy out of the back of a farmer’s truck on the way home from work.

    Green bean, corn and tomato salad

    (adapted from Martha Stewart)

    • Coarse salt
    • 4 ears corn, husks and silk removed
    • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, stem ends snapped off
    • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
    • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3-4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
    • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 1 medium yellow tomato, sliced 1/2-inch thick (or use a Roma if yellow tomatoes aren’t available)
    • 2 cups of small, mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved (think grape, cherry and pear tomatoes… small and sweet!)
    • 1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese


    1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove corn with tongs and set aside on a cutting board to cool. Using a strainer, remove any corn silk remaining in the pot.
    2. Add the green beans, return to a boil, and cook until very tender, about 8 minutes (timing may vary depending on the size of the beans). Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels off the cobs and put kernels in a large bowl. Drain the beans in a colander, shake to remove excess water, and put in bowl with corn. Add garlic and 3 tablespoons of oil. Toss well and let stand at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend; refrigerate if longer than 30 minutes.
    3. If necessary, bring beans and corn to room temperature by removing them from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, remove the garlic and add the remaining tablespoon of oil along with vinegar, onion, and tomatoes. Add salt to taste and top with parmesan cheese and lots of freshly ground pepper. Serve at room temperature.

    Gathered Clutch

    This week I decided to whip up a lovely clutch based on a tutorial found here. This blog is great, and there are loads of great tutorials… you should definitely go have a look. The tutorial for this clutch is really well done and easy to follow. And I love the pockets! So fun and practical. I think the whole project took me about 45 minutes from start to finish. Not bad for a laid back Saturday morning.

    Read Full Post »

    Before I begin today’s post, let me start by saying thank you to everyone who has left such loving comments on the blog, sent emails, and been praying for my family as we mourn the loss of my dear Grammy. Your thoughts and prayers have been so kind and meant so much to my whole family. Thank you. Thank you.

    I thought it only appropriate to share a soup and sewing post today, as Grammy loved sewing so much, and would have enjoyed today’s project in particular. So this post is for her. I’m so thankful that today was a wide open Saturday with a yummy pot of soup on the stove and time to work on a project that I’m making for our new home. Just the sort of day I was in need of.

    First, the soup. This soup is great because it makes a TON and freezes really well. Also it can be easily adapted to fully vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using veggie cubes/broth instead of chicken. We’ve made it both ways and I think they are equally good. The original recipe comes from one of our all time favorite cookbooks, River Cottage Family Cookbook, which is part of a series created by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, an amazing chef and writer committed to local, sustainable, and ethically produced food. He is probably best known for a television series he created about life on his small holding in rural England. It is absolutely brilliant and if you get the chance be sure to pick up one of his cookbooks or watch some of his tv shows. They are so lovely and quite entertaining!

    The following is my version of this amazing lentil soup that we’ve adapted from the original to suit our tastes. I hope you love it as much as we do!

    Lentil and Bacon Soup

    Adapted from River Cottage Family Cookbook

    This recipe makes quite a lot of soup, but it tastes even better the next day (and freezes well, too).

    To serve about 12


    • 3 onions
    • 3 to 4 carrots
    • 4 to 5 celery stalks
    • 4 bacon slices
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp butter
    • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
    • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
    • 3 quarts water (or homemade chicken, or vegetable, leave out stock cubes if using)
    • 3 to 4 organic chicken stock cubes
    • salt and black pepper
    • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme sprigs
    • 2 Tbsp. tomato purée
    • a few good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
    • shredded cheddar or grated Parmesan


    First, cook the bacon. The following is the method I like to use when cooking bacon. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet or baking pan with sides with heavy-duty foil.  Arrange the bacon on the pan, side-by side, being sure not to overlap the pieces. Bake the bacon for 10-15 minutes for thin-cut, or until desired doneness. Set bacon aside to cool. Once cool chop into little pieces.

    Peel the onions and chop them finely. Peel the carrots and trim the celery stalks (rinse them if they look muddy). Finely chop the carrots and celery. You’re aiming for equal quantities to match the amount of onion that you’ve chopped.

    Heat olive oil and butter until melted in a really big soup pot with a lid – enough to cover the base completely. Turn the heat to low. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and bacon. Put the lid on the pan and let the vegetables cook very gently, for 10 to 15 minutes. They mustn’t burn or brown too quickly, but should just become tender and slightly shrunken down in the pan. From time to time, remove the lid and stir the vegetables. Fill the kettle and put it on to boil. Add the lentils to the pan.

    Heat the 3 quarts of water in a large saucepan. Put the stock cubes in a bowl and add 1 quart of the hot water. Stir gently to let the stock cubes dissolve, then add this stock to the lentils in the pan. Add the remaining water to the pan. (Or skip this step and simply use chicken or vegetable stock. Generally I’m a big fan of homemade stock, but this recipe still tastes delicious using water and stock cubes.) Turn the heat to medium.

    Now stir in lots of freshly ground black pepper, a little salt (the stock will be quite salty), and the oregano and/or thyme. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce.

    Bring to a boil, turn the heat down again, and simmer the soup gently, with the lid not quite covering it, for at least half an hour, until the red lentils are soft and the green ones are cooked but still with a bit of bite to them. It really doesn’t matter if it cooks a bit longer. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with some good crusty bread.

    Hourglass Quilt

    I knew when we moved to Edinburgh that I wanted to make a quilt for our new bed. I ordered the fabric for the quilt before we left, and it has been a great project to help keep me busy while J is off at school everyday. The style of quilt I decided to make is called an hourglass quilt because each square looks like the shape of an hourglass. This past week I finished getting all my square sewn together and today I completed all ten rows for the front of my quilt and then got about half of those rows sewn together. Progress! I’m hoping by the end of the weekend I’ll have the quilt top done and then I can get the back finished this coming week. I really love how it’s coming together, and I’ll be sure to do another post once it’s completed. You can click here, here, here, or here for some other fabulous hourglass quilts… so pretty!

    Read Full Post »

    Oh my, do I have some fun to share with you today! It has been cold and snowy here all week in Boise which makes me want to hunker down by the fire with a hot cup of cocoa, a warm soup on the stove and a cozy sewing project to while away the hours. Lucky for me I have just the line-up for a truly perfect afternoon. First, the soup. I love bean soups, but I think that a creamy white bean soup is my favorite. For my birthday J got me a lovely hand-blender that I had been eying for quite some time, and this is just the soup to put it to good use. This soup is not only delicious, but it is also really good for you, full of fiber, iron and protein it is the perfect hearty winter soup to warm you up on a cold day. Also, you can use canned or dried beans in the recipe, but if you use dried beans be sure to soak them overnight and then bring to a boil and simmer them for an hour or two before adding to the soup. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! It’s great served with a crusty loaf of bread.

    Creamy White Bean Soup


    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    4 (16 ounce) cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    3 cups homemade or good quality chicken broth
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced

    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1 handful fresh chopped parsley
    1/4 c good quality extra virgin olive oil


    1. In a large saucepan, heat oil. Cook onion and celery in oil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds, continually stirring. Stir in 3 cans of beans, chicken broth, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for 15 minutes.
    2. With slotted spoon, remove 2 cups of the bean and vegetable mixture from soup and set aside.
    3. Using a hand blender, or in stand blender at low speed, blend remaining soup in small batches until smooth, (it helps to remove the center piece of the blender lid to allow steam to escape.) Once blended pour soup back into stock pot and stir in reserved beans and final can of beans.
    4. Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring. Stir in spinach and cook 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Stir in lemon juice, parsley and olive oil. Remove from heat and serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top.

    Felted Stuffed Animals

    The sewing project I’ve been working on today is so fun and perfect for any little munchkins in your life that you need an adorable Christmas gift for… this will not disappoint!

    The Martha Stewart website has a great section of projects to make with felt and today I’m going to show you the most adorable felt animals that I made using this template from her website. The first step in creating these little lovelies was to felt my wool sweaters. When wool is washed and dried, it is transformed into felt. Some of you may have accidentally discovered this transformation when a favorite sweater comes out of the wash as a miniature version of its former self. While this outcome can be very upsetting when unplanned, an old sweater that you no longer wear can be given new life once transformed into felt. So gather up your old sweaters or stop by your local thrift shop and pick up a few to make some great holiday gifts.  To turn these sweaters into felt you simply need to machine-wash a woolen sweater in hot water, and toss it in a dryer set to a high temperature.  Once you can snip the fabric with scissors and it doesn’t fray you have successfully turned your sweater into felt! You may need to wash and dry it more than once to achieve your felted results.

    How fun that this sweater was made in my soon-to-be home! I think I may need to try out some more felted wool projects... Scotland has wool in abundance!

    What could beat an adorable barnyard of stuffed animals? Old MacDonald has nothing on these sweet little lambs, chickens and piggies! I was able to whip this project together over the course of the weekend, but if you were really focused it could easily be done in an afternoon. So fun!

    Read Full Post »

    It has been far too long since I had a Saturday I could spend sewing and cooking, but a few weeks ago I had a Saturday that was wide open and I got to sew and cook to my heart’s content. (Unfortunately, I’m only now getting around to blogging about it!) It’s a little ridiculous how happy these types of days make me, but the weather outside is cool and blustery and I’m tucked in our warm little home with the fire going and plenty of time to let creativity roam. Perfection. Today’s project is a gift for my sweet grandma who is moving up to Boise in just a few weeks into the most adorable little bungalow. She’s just had the whole place remodeled and it looks amazing, all light and airy, there is even the neatest little atrium right in the middle of the house. It’s really unique and quite a special place.

    Broccoli Cheese Soup


    • 2 cups organic chicken broth
    • 4-5 cups fresh organic broccoli
    • 1/4 cup chopped organic onion
    • 1-2 cloves organic garlic
    • 1 cup organic milk (I used 1%)
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used organic quinoa flour and it worked great, that way the soup is gluten free)
    • 1 cup shredded organic sharp white cheddar cheese (optional)
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried organic oregano
    • salt and pepper to taste


    1. Bring broth to a boil. Add broccoli and onion. Cook for five minutes, or until broccoli is tender.
    2. In a separate bowl, slowly add milk to flour, and mix until well blended.
    3. Stir flour mixture into broth mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until soup is thick and bubbly. Add cheese if desired; stir until melted. Add seasonings and serve.

    Seat cushions, a table runner and some napkins to match!

    The project for today was to help decorate my grandma’s new kitchen. She picked this adorable table out, and without even measuring the space new it would be prefect… and it is! I hope these little accents make her feel right at home.

    Read Full Post »

    It has been hot. I mean really, really over-100-degrees- F-hot here in Boise for the past few weeks. So, hot soup has not sounded appealing in the least. But salads have become the go to dish to beat this summer heat, and today I want to share with you one of my favorite chicken salads with a twist. This recipe has been passed around Regent, reinvented, passed again, tweaked, added to, passed some more, and at some point I ended up with the following version that we just love. I hope you enjoy it too, and feel free to add/subtract and substitute to your heart’s content!

    Curried Tortellini Chicken Salad



    • 1 1lb package fresh tortellini (use any flavor you like)
    • 1-2 grilled chicken breasts, shredded or cut into 1/2 inch cubes (adjust amount of meat to suit your preferences, this is also a great way to use up leftover chicken.)
    • 1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
    • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (or any other type of nut you like, we also really like pecans, almonds, or cashews)
    • 1/2 green onions, sliced into thin rounds (both green and white parts are fine)
    • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped into small pieces
    • 1 smallish granny smith apple, chopped into small pieces
    • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 – 2 tsp curry powder
    • 3/4 – 1 c mayonnaise


    Put on a pot of salted water, bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook until just al dente. Drain and set aside to cool. In a small bowl whisk together black pepper, salt, curry powder, and mayo. Place all other chopped ingredients into a large bowl, including cooled tortellini and mix (you want to be sure and coat the apples with the lemon juice as this will keep them from browning). Pour curry mixture over salad and toss to mix. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Chill salad until ready to eat. This salad can be made one day ahead as the flavors get even better if they get to hang out together a bit before eating. We like to serve this on a bed of lettuce, but it is great all on its own. Enjoy!

    Saturday Sewing Project: Amy’s quilt!

    My sewing project this week is a quilt a friend commissioned me to make, (you can see the beginning stages here) and I recently finished and got it shipped off to her. It was a really interesting project because I was working with so many different types of fabric. I learned a lot through this process and quite liked how the finished quilt turned out. It is nice and cozy and I hope it keeps Amy warm and toasty for the cold Scotland winter ahead! (She’s moving to Scotland this fall too, how fun is that?!)


    quilt (1)

    quilt (2)

    quilt (3)

    quilt (4)

    quilt (7)

    quilt (5)

    quilt (6)

    Read Full Post »

    Older Posts »