Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter is coming...Take 2...Action!

Winter is bound and determined to make an appearance this year.

End of last week, we had weather in the 70's. It was so nice I turned the heater off, opened up all the windows/doors, and let the house air out.

This made for happy kitties.

Now, we're supposed to have high of 16 degrees Fahrenheit tomorrow, with sleet/ice tonight turning into snow tomorrow. Of course, we're right on the line between two different predictions of snow accumulation, so we could theoretically get anywhere from 4" to 12" of snow.

As has already been discussed on this blog, winter has threatened to come by before and then didn't actually do anything, so I'm a little bit skeptical it will be as bad here as all the weather gurus keep predicting. On the other hand, I did go through the Christmas Blizzard of '09 in this area, so anything is possible.

To be on the safe side, my Sammy is going to come on home early this afternoon and keep working on the store website from here, just in case things actually go the way they're predicting.

Let the games begin!

You can tell that Tiger is so worried about the possibility of snow.

Monday, Monday, can't trust that day...

Mondays are usually my "catch up from the weekend day."

You see, Sam and I are very much what we like to call "quantity time" people. We don't really care what we're doing, we just want to be in the same place doing it together. Sometimes that's with us doing two completely different activities, but usually it's something together.

Because of this, when the weekend comes along I mentally declare a moratorium on things like surfing the internet, dishes, playing piano, laundry, blogging, and other "individual" type activities. So after two days of just playing and hanging out with my husband, by the time Monday rolls around there are a lot of things Demanding Holly's Attention Right This Instant.

So, while I'm in the midst of catching up on all of those things I was ignoring all weekend, I thought I'd show off something I came across during my lunch break. Hopefully you'll find it just as Awesome as I do.

Courtesy of Ezra Klein and TED:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cheeseburger Mac

Back when Sam and I first started dating, it was explained to me multiple times by more than one person in his family that Sam was a Very Picky Eater. Especially when it came to food that had Pieces And Parts. This was not a man who would eat a casserole, even if he might die of starvation otherwise.

In the nearly two years since we started dating (!), his diet has undergone a series of changes, and he now will at least try anything I make for him. Because of this, his father often refers to me as the Miracle Worker.

There are two things in particular that I can trace this change in his attitude to: the Japanese Steakhouse and the entrĂ©e I call Cheeseburger Mac.

The only "pieces and parts" food that his mom made that he was willing to eat was Chili and Rice. (It's exactly what it sounds like--warmed up chili served atop rice.) When I learned this, I decided to make for him Cheeseburger Mac. After he had it, he was a convert. Or, at least, he began his trek down the dark path.

And thus, I somewhat proudly present (with assistance from the wonderful Sam):

How to Make Cheeseburger Mac

To start off with, here is our cast of characters:


Pictured here are mustard, mayo, ketchup, Velveeta Cheese, shell pasta, sweet relish, 1/3 pound of hamburger, 3-5 cloves of garlic, and 1 slice of red onion.

(The reason it's only 1/3 pound of hamburger is this meal is intended for 2 people with enough for leftovers the next day if you serve it with side veggies.)

Also needed for this meal are these spices:


red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, marjoram, ground sage, black pepper, paprika, salt, rosemary, and thyme.

Yes, I like my spices. So sue me.

To start off with, we'll need to prep everything. 

First we'll need to chop up about a 1/3  of a cup's worth of onion, or one slice's worth, as pictured here.


Go ahead and dice it up, as we'll sautee it and the garlic before we cook the meat. Once it's diced up, it should look about like so.


Set that aside on a plate, and then proceed to peel 3-5 cloves of garlic. 


Normally I just use 3 cloves of garlic, but because these were so puny looking, I went ahead and did five in this instance.

Once you have them peeled go ahead and dice them up like so...


...and set them aside on the same plate as the onion you previously diced.


For those of you keeping score at home, that plate is older than I am. It's entirely possible that that's a plate my mother inherited from her mother, which I in turn inherited. (Mom? Grandma Nena? Buehler?)

Ahem.

Next we'll need to turn our attention towards that lovely block of Velveeta.


Originally I started using Velveeta because, at one time, we thought that dairy may be contributing to Sam's migraine issues. We'd later learn that it was caused by the growth hormones in certain dairy products, and we're now able to enjoy a much wider array of milk and cheeses. However, back when I first started doing this, it was Velveeta or nothing.

All I can say is that I love that man--it's the only reason I was willing to give up cheese.

But I digress.


You'll want to cube up the Velveeta, otherwise it will take FOREVER for it to melt. Trust me on this.



After you have it all cubed up and move it to its own plate, it should look like the above. 

(I don't know why it looks so much more orange-y in that picture compared to the previous two, but we'll just roll with it.)


Some of you may have thought to yourselves, "Self, that did not look like a full block of cheese." You would be right--I'd used a small portion of it the other day for my Loaded Potato Soup, because I was out of sliced cheese. But normally, normally I'd be using a 16 oz. block, like the one pictured above.

Now that we have our onion, garlic, and cheese all chopped up, we're ready to move to the stove.

First, fill up a 2- or 3-quart sauce pan with water and set it to boiling on high so that it'll be ready for the shells when necessary. Next, throw a couple tablespoons of  butter into a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.


While the butter is busy melting, pull out the hamburger from it's packaging to get it ready to throw in the skillet. (This is also known as killing time until the butter melts.) In case you wondered what a 1/3 of hamburger looks like, it looks like this:


Yes, we live on a budget. It works out though.

Once the butter has melted, throw in the onion and garlic.


You'll want to stir this until the onions start to turn translucent. Once it has, it's time to go ahead and throw in the meat.


You'll then want to start breaking up the meat with your spoon.


Once you have the meat fairly broken up, you'll want to add in 1/2 a teaspoon of each of these spices: onion powder, garlic powder, marjoram, ground sage, black pepper, paprika, salt, rosemary, and thyme.

Note: do NOT add red pepper flakes at this time.

About this time, the water for the shells should be at a boil. We'll want to add about 2 cups of shells.


(I know there's a bit more. I was excited.)

Keep an eye on the meat while you're doing all this, and stir it occasionally so you don't accidentally burn the meat/make it stick to the skillet.


Once the water is boiling again after you added the shells, kick it down to medium to medium-high to let the noodles cook.


By this point and time, the meat should be mostly cooked and ready for you to add in the Velveeta.

Please feel free to do so.

(And if you decide to steal a cube of it to munch on, I won't hold it against you.)


 Here's what it should look like just after you add the cheese.

While stirring the cheese (to make sure it doesn't burn) you'll then add 3/4 cup of ketchup.


(I know it looks kind of sickening, but it gets better, I promise.)


As well as 1 large dollop of mayo, 1/4 cup of mustard, and 1 tablespoon of sweet relish.


You'll want to keep stirring it until it melts, which should take about 3-4 minutes or so.


Here it's getting closer. You can tell that I haven't been stirring it as much I need to because of the traces of ketchup juice that's floated to the top. That's okay if it happens--just jump in there and start stirring it again. (I believe this was because of either the green beans we were making or because Sherri and the cats were entertaining us.)

After the sauce was completely melted, I'd normally add the last batch of spices, which consists of 1/2 a teaspoon of onion powder, garlic powder, marjoram, ground sage, black pepper, paprika, salt, rosemary, and thyme, as well as 2 pinches of red pepper flakes.

For some reason, Sam and I missed it at this juncture and added them in later.


Once the sauce has completely mixed/melted and you've stirred in the remainder of the spices, allow the sauce to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Around this time the shells should be done, so drain the shells and  throw them in, as shown above. Stir them in until all the shells are thoroughly coated, as shown below.


(This is where we went, "Ah crud, we forgot the second batch of spices. Go ahead and throw them in!")

After the shells are coated, allow the casserole to simmer for another 2-3 minutes while you set the table/finish the green beans/get drinks/entertain the cats, remembering to stir it occasionally.

Lastly serve on a plate and sprinkle with dried parsley and paprika. Voila!


Recipe

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Size: 2-3 people
Ingredients:
   1/3 cup of diced red onion
   3-5 cloves of diced garlic
   16 oz of chopped Velveeta
   2 tablespoons butter
   1/3 lb of hamburger
   2 cups of pasta shells
   3/4 cup ketchup
   1/4 cup mustard
   1 dollop mayonnaise
   1 tablespoon sweet relish
   1 teaspoon onion powder
   1 teaspoon garlic powder
   1 teaspoon paprika
   1 teaspoon ground sage
   1 teaspoon marjoram
   1 teaspoon black pepper
   1 teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon rosemary
   1 teaspoon thyme
   2 pinches of red pepper flakes
   1 pinch parsley

Instructions:
Dice up red onion and garlic, then set aside. Next, chop up Velveeta into 1-inch cubes and set aside. 

Fill 2- or 3-quart sauce pan with water and place over high heat to boil. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add onion and garlic and sautee them. After onion is translucent, add hamburger. Next, add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, ground sage, marjoram, black pepper, paprika, salt, rosemary, and thyme. Mix thoroughly.

Once water comes to a boil, add pasta shells and reduce heat to medium to medium-high. After the meat has browned, add cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and sweet relish. Stir continually, adding 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, ground sage, marjoram, black pepper, paprika, salt, rosemary, and thyme. Add pepper flakes. Once cheese has melted, allow to simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After shells have finished boiling for 8-10 minutes, drain and add to sauce mixture. Stir shells until completed coated. Allow casserole to simmer another 2-3 minutes, stirring as needed. Serve and garnish with parsley.

Jerry the Great

Admittedly, I was only a passing fan of Seinfeld when it was on television--most of my comedy-watching was from an older generation, a.k.a. M*A*S*H.

However.

That being said, the illustrious Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing directed the internet's attention to this absolutely fantastic fake trailer about Jerry the Great and his pursuit of world domination:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

....it would be something else.

My Grandma Nena has been in the hospital for over two weeks.  Just before my parents came down to visit during the Water Line Episode, in fact. There'd been a stomach flu going around her town, and so it was assumed that her issues were related to that.

By the time Sam and I went up to visit his sister and family, my grandmother had been transferred out to Wichita, because her local hospital thought they had found a large tumor on her colon when they did their CT scans. So while we were up in KC, my grandmother was getting settled in in Wichita.

It was a blitz trip up to KC and back, and we stayed the night at my parents Saturday with the plan being to come on home on Sunday. However, because of everything going on with Grandma Nena, I opted to stay in Kansas while they did the biopsy on Monday morning.

It's always difficult to visit someone you love when they're sick, especially when they're hospitalized. However, I'm very glad I decided to stick around--I like to think my parents and Grandma Nena were glad to have me around making inappropriate jokes.

It's a living.

Sammy went on home Sunday, which commenced the 48 Hours of No Spouse. My poor husband had no clue what to do without me around.

I was a little lost myself.

Anyway.

Monday morning they went in and did a biopsy on Grandma Nena's colon. To their surprise, there was no cancerous mass like the original CT scan had indicated. Instead, her colon was highly inflamed due to a lack of blood flow to that area, and part of her colon was starting to die off.

Not good news, but better than another go 'round with cancer.

I stayed that night and went up to see her again Tuesday morning. She was in much better spirits than I had seen her, because she knew it wasn't cancer. Then one of the doctors explained what all was going on, and indicated that what they believed had happened was that the main artery that fed blood to the colon was collapsing, so they were planning to go in and put a stint in place in order to increase blood flow.

At the time they did not know for certain when they would do the procedure, so I decided to come back home, with the caveat that if things suddenly got worse, I'd be back north in a heartbeat.

Yesterday was the first day in a week that I hadn't spent a minimum of two and a half hours in a car, so I was lazy and spent most of the day napping. Today's been my catch up day, and my house, clothes, dishes, and cats are thankful that I'm back taking care of things.

Meanwhile, this morning they went in and did the angioplasty on Grandma Nena's artery, and discovered that the artery was completely blocked. They did something else--I'm not completely clear on what--and now they're in a waiting game to see if this fixed the problem. If it worked, then she should heal up fine. If it didn't, then they'll have to go in and actually remove part or all of her colon, which is a bit of a risky surgery.

Obviously we're hoping and praying for the healing up fine.

Grandma Nena will likely be home in the next couple of days, and then begins the waiting game. They'll know one way or the other after three weeks. If she can go that long without any bleeding, she'll be free and clear. If not... well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

I'm telling you all of this so that if for some reason I go MIA again, you'll have a rough idea as to why.

Down the Yellow Brick Road


Last Christmas, Sam and I had originally planned to drive up to Kansas City on Christmas Day and visit his sister and family. However, due to the bad cold I'd caught, we decided to postpone our trip until some later point in time in January or February.

Well, this past weekend was that later point in time.

Our plan was to leave leave town Thursday after Sam got off work and go up to my parents. We'd stay the night Thursday, then get up Friday morning to go on up to KC, spending Friday night in KC. Saturday we'd spend the day with the family, and then that afternoon/evening go back to my parents, so Sunday we could go on home.

Of course, like all plans, things didn't happen quite like that.

Late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, we got a bit of snow in our part of the country. While it wasn't bad in our town, the parts of the state we had to drive through to get up to Kansas had been harder hit. As the day progressed, everything started melting, but it wasn't melting fast enough for our tastes, and we knew that, with our luck, it'd all refreeze and we'd have icy roads to drive on if we left that night.

So we decided to leave town midday on Thursday, with Sam taking some extra time off work.

This allowed for more detox time when we got up to my parents, which was good because A) we weren't as tired the next day and B) my parents were needing some relaxation time as well what with everything going on with Grandma Nena.

The following morning we had breakfast with my parents and their friends, and then we made our way on north to KC.

(Side note: There was a time in my life when I could drive for hours on end and only stop whenever I needed gas for the car.

That time is now behind me.

After about an hour, hour and a half, my hips and back start vigorously demanding a chance to get out and stretch. Thankfully, my husband is of a similar inclination, so we travel well together.)

By late afternoon, we'd checked into our hotel room with the incredibly floppy bed, and then we went over to Sam's sister's house.

It's a cute little house, filled with books, movies, and music paraphernalia. And, since there is now a three year old and a three month old living under the roof, there's also tons and tons of toys everywhere.

I love kids.

There were belated Christmas presents for the Pretty Pink Niece and the Nom Nom Nephew. (Seriously, the cute little guy is three months old and has already outgrown six month old clothing. He likes him some noms, I'm telling ya.) We also had a couple of presents for my brother- and sister-in-law, which Pretty Pink Niece had to help unwrap.


It's one of the special benefits of being three, don't you know.

Pretty Pink Niece is crazy about her Uncle Sammy, and insisted that he play with her pretty much nonstop. This was cute and awesome, especially because it meant that I got in more baby snuggles with Nom Nom Nephew.

And that right there was the highlight of the whole trip for me. I got in numerous snuggles with my three-month-old nephew while we were visiting. In fact I got to hold him almost throughout dinner at the Steak'n'Shake, (except when Uncle Sammy had to hold him so that I could eat my chicken fingers).

That's not to say I never let him go--I was more than willing to give him back to Mama when necessary. But I did get a substantial amount of cuddling.

Of course, the flip side of all of this is that I now have a bad case of baby fever. Okay, a worse case of baby fever.

By the time Sam and I left Saturday (after being introduced to both Jelly Telly and Chicken Little, the latter of which Sam hadn't seen), Nom Nom Nephew seemed quite content to sit in my lap and watch everything going on around him. Which was good, because Pretty Pink Princess was doing a pretty good job of snuggling with the napping Sammy.

Water works

"Um, honey? I think we may have a leak in our front yard."

At Sam's declaration, I looked up from where I was reheating some potato soup for the two of us.

"What do you mean our front yard has a leak?" I asked, humorous visions of old Daffy Duck cartoons popping into my head.

Or maybe it was Donald Duck.

"Well, come take a look."

With a sigh I set the two bowls of steaming soup aside, already knowing that my day was about to become substantially more hectic.

Looking out of my front door, I could already see that there was a river of water flowing down our driveway. While not unheard of, in the past it was always proceeded by a goodly amount of rain, and we'd been dry (except for the non-stick snow storm earlier in the week).

"At first I thought maybe the car had sprung some kind of a leak this morning, because when I left there was a huge ice patch under the jeep. But that's obviously not the case," Sam said.

"Why didn't you mention it earlier?" I asked, watching my foot slowly sink in a particularly muddy patch next to the rock garden.

"To be honest it slipped my mind until I pulled back into the drive. I need to give our landlady a call," and suiting words to actions, Sam pulled out his cell phone.

I had to reheat the soup again before we had a chance to eat it.

*   *   *   *   *

"You've sprung a major leak--you can see the indicator on the meter spinning out of control. I can leave the water on if you'd like, but that'll result in an astronomical bill."

Unthinkingly I reached up and pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to stave off the impending headache. Our landlady and the gentleman from the water department stared at me, waiting for my reply.

"Go ahead and turn it off. We can find somewhere else to stay if necessary," I decided. After all, one of the major reasons we'd moved back here was to be closer to friends and family. If this had happened when we'd been in the city... well, some things are better not contemplated.

While the water worker went to shut off the water, the landlady said, "I'll send my son and my carpenter out to track down the leak. We'll get this fixed for you as soon as possible."

"It's alright," I reassured her. "It's just one of those things that happen."

*   *   *   *   *

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how much we rely on indoor plumbing. Still, we'd managed to make it through one night without it, and my parents had come on down to keep us out of trouble for the weekend.

As my parents and I pulled back up to the house after lunch, we saw the landlady's son digging up a portion of the yard.

"Well, I found the leak," he told me as I walked up. "First spot I decided to check and there it was. Unfortunately, I cut your cable line."

"It's okay, we don't watch TV," I explained to him, looking down at the split cable sticking up out of yard.

"We'll be back out tomorrow to lay a new line for you. This old galvanized pipe... well, it's amazing it lasted as long as it did. We'll just go ahead and lay whole new PVC for you. You should have water back by tomorrow evening," he said.

"That'd be fantastic!" I told him, then left him and my father discussing how to lay the new pipe. It was pretty cold outside, and I was eager to go inside with my mother.

Mom asked me something about the weather, so I went to the computer to pull up the weather report.

Nothing. No response. Just 404.

With a look of dread I turned to the modem. Sure enough, looking back at me was a flashing red light.

He'd accidentally cut our DSL.

*   *   *   *   *

Mom and Dad had gone on home a couple of days earlier, and, indeed, they'd managed to get the water back on to the house by the end of the weekend. Sam had gotten up to go back to work, and I was trying to persuade myself that, yes, it was time to drag my lazy bones out of bed.

Sam sat down on the edge of the bed, lightly poking me until I rolled over and looked up at him with one cranky eye. "Yes?" I asked.

"Um, honey? You need to get up. We've sprung another leak in the front yard," Sam explained.

Suppressing the desire to start cursing, I proceeded to get up and dressed before heading outside to see the latest carnage.

This time the driveway was dry. However, the rock garden all along the side of the house had standing water, and right next to the hatch to underneath the house, we could see the water pouring out.

Sam called the landlady and explained what had happened before going and turning the water off himself.

*   *   *   *   *

Later we found out that when they hooked up the new line, apparently they'd left one of the pipes running back to the garage uncapped, which was what caused all of the leaking. By lunch that day they had everything fixed, water wise anyway.

The DSL... well, that took another week.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Disjointed Update

I'm writing this in my parents' car and will post this once we get to the hospital.

Have I got your attention? Good.

Grandma Nena's been pretty sick the past week or two. At one point we thought it might be cancer again, but it's looking like that instead it's colitis.

Not great, but a damn sight better than colon cancer.

A lot has happened in the past two weeks, between losing water, losing Internet, traveling to KC, Grandma Nena, and other interpersonal drama. My hope is to start unpacking all of this and writing again starting tomorrow.

Since Grandma --is-- doing better, my parents are taking me home this afternoon. Sam went home on Sunday.

It's been a long couple of days.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sitting in Kansas...

...using my parent's Internet. AT&T still hasn't fixed our DSL. They "lost our ticket."

Yeah, I know.

We're going to be out of town until Monday. If we're lucky, we'll be back online by then.

I haven't forgotten you, promise!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mayday, DSL is down. Repeat, DSL is down. Mayday, mayday!

When repairing the water line, the workers accidentally cut the DSL line. Supposed to be back up by tomorrow evening.

Sorry for the radio silence. Be back soon.

I hope.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Parents still aren't here....

And Boing Boing provided me with another fun video.

Last one!

(I think.)

SNES theatre...

This is freaking awesome, and totally made my day look better.

So, one last thing before I disappear.

If it wasn't for this...

I mentioned yesterday that my front yard had sprung a leak.

I know, it sounds as humorous to me as it does to you.

The land lady finally got the city out to look a the main sometime around four. They could definitely tell that there was some type of leak, as the dial on the meter was spinning like crazy but I had no water running in the house. Because the leak appeared to be more than three feet away from the street, it was not the city's responsibility.

So we told him to go ahead and turn water off to the house, otherwise there'd be an astronomical water bill to take care of.

Our landlady called a few people to come and take a look at things, and they quickly determined the leak was somewhere in the vicinity of the sidewalk leading up to the house. They were able to push a post down three feet with relative ease in that area. They also discovered that it was old galvanized pipe in the ground, instead of PVC.

Sometime this evening a couple of guys are going to be over to start digging up the line, and hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we can have the water turned back on.

Needless to say, I'll probably be out of communication the next couple of days, especially since my parents are visiting.

See you on the flip side!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unfocused

My brain is going in twenty different directions today, for some reason I can't figure out. I've started to write about three different things since I sat down to do so, and then my thoughts just peter out about half-way through.

Part of it is that my front yard seems to have sprung a leak. I know that sounds funny, but it's true. We've had no loss of water pressure in the house--none noticeable, any way--but our drive way has a little river running down it. The strange thing is, there's no watery spots near the house. It's not until you get out into the front yard it appears.

So we're waiting to hear back from our landlady about that.

Also, I received word today that my Grandma Nena is in the hospital due to dehydration. Since going in she seems to be getting much better, but that's worrying. My parents are still coming down to visit, but our thoughts will be on Grandma Nena.

There's also other drama going on amongst friends of mine, and the consistent worrying and praying for will and Kim and their boys. While these have been going on for a little while, they've been weighing on my mind all day. Also, haven't seen much on the internet today or yesterday to share with the masses, so I don't have that to distract me.

So, instead, you'll get this little blurb. If my mind settles down later this afternoon, I might post again. If not, well, here's a picture I thought I'd share, because I like the way it turned out:

Nala and her amazing whiskers!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Loaded Potato Soup

As I think I've mentioned a time or three this week, it's gotten pretty cold here abouts. Today's high is supposed to be a grand total of 26. Now, for many of you out there, that sounds like a fine, spring morning. I, however, am from Two Rivers country, not the Borderlands.

(Not that we have much in the way of woods around here, mind you. Actually, we may be closer to Ghealdean... If you do not get the reference, it's okay.)

Anyway, this time of year Sam and I have a tendency to have lots of soup: potato soup, chicken noodle soup, tomato soup, chili, stew... et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Yesterday evening I decided to make us potato soup, and on a lark I decided to pretend I know what I'm doing and took photographs of the process.

If you want to skip the inanity to follow, I totally get it and understand. You won't hurt my feelings. Honest.

*watches the stampede for the door*

Jerks.

Just kidding!

For the three of you who are still here, I somewhat prouldy present:

How to Make Loaded Potato Soup.

First we need to gather our cast of characters:


Half & Half, Milk (2% in this house), 6-10 Golden Butter potatoes, scallions, sour cream, bacon, butter, and 1 slice of Velveeta cheese.

Trust me, you will love the Velveeta cheese. You can substitute any cheese you like, really, but Sam is a huge fan of Velveeta.

Not pictured but also needed will be garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sage, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. For the purposes of this demonstration, we will be using dried spices, 'cause that's just how we roll around here.

(I do have high hopes for planting an herb garden this spring. We'll see how that works out.)

To start off with, we'll need to mash all of those potatoes mentioned above. This recipe was originally meant for using up leftover mashed potatoes, but we rarely have any leftover, so I always end up making some just for this soup. If, however, you have any on hand from the previous evening, then spend this time warming them back up.

For the rest of us folks, lets get on with the washing and dicing.


As you finish chopping up each potato, toss the chunks into a 4-6 quart stock pot, until it fully covers the bottom. In my case it took about 8 potatoes.


About like so. Once you have that, fill the pot with water until it covers all of the potatoes, then throw in some salt and place'em on the stove on high. You'll need to boil them for 10-15 minutes, or until tender enough to poke easily with a fork.

While that's going on, it's time to prep the bacon and scallions. First, wash your 4-6 scallions and lop off the roots. Then, go ahead and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces, like so:


Once you've done that, set them aside for the moment.

Next, pull yourself out a skillet, put it on medium heat, and toss in about 2 tablespoons of butter to melt while you're prepping the bacon.


Last night for this soup I used 1/2 pound (8 oz) bacon, which I chopped into roughly one inch pieces.


By the time that's done, the butter in the skillet should be melted down. Throw in a handful of the scallions...



...and all of the bacon.


Stay with the bacon and scallions, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is good and crisp and that poor handful of scallions are pretty much wasted away to nothing.


Set aside the skillet with all of that bacony goodness, and let us return our attention back to our potatoes.

By this point they should be more than ready to come off the fire if you haven't already removed'em. Drain off all of the liquid so that you have a steaming pile of potatoes.


They were steaming. Trust me.

Then throw the potatoes back into the original stock pot and proceed to mash'em.


Once they get to looking like the above picture, add in 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk, until you can just start to see it amongst the potatoes.


Once you've added the milk, add in 3 tbsp of butter, then finish mashing the potatoes until they look like this:


Now we're ready to actually commence with the soup. Woot!

Place the stock pot back on the stove on medium-low heat. Next add in first 1 cup of 1/2 & 1/2, then 2 cups of milk.


Once you've added in all of the milk and 1/2 & 1/2, put in your first round of spices.

Typically, I don't measure out the spices I put in things--I eyeball it and taste as I go. For an idea of about how much I put in for each "round," here's a view from a little later in the process:


Pictured here is marjoram, sage, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and salt. Again, taste as you go. There have been times where I've put as few as two rounds of spices in, other's I've put as many as 5. Also, you may find you need just a little bit more of one particular spice, so that's all you add instead of a full round.

In this case, however, we're just now adding in our first round of spices.

Stir up the soup, and once thoroughly mixed it should look something like this.


Next add in the bacon, 2 tbsp of the grease, and the rest of the scallions you cut up.


Stir until thoroughly mixed. Next, do another round of spices, and then again, thoroughly mix together.

Now if you wanted you could stop here, and it would be a decent potato soup. However, we're going to add a few more things to make this a great potato soup.

First tear up a slice of Velveeta cheese and add it to the soup. Stir until the cheese has completely melted.

Next, add in one dollop of sour cream.

"What's a dollop?" you ask?

This is a dollop:


Now, the thing with the sour cream is you cannot let the soup come to a boil. If you do, it will start to separate in the soup and it's just not nearly as tasty. So kick the heat down to low, and keep stirring after you've added the sour cream.

Do one last round of spices (if you think it needs it) and also add in just a pinch of red pepper flakes to give it a bit of a kick. Once it looks like the sour cream has melted into the soup, make one last taste test to see if you need to make any adjustments to the spices. If not, you're are ready to serve and enjoy!



Recipe:

Cooking time:  1 hour
Size: 6-8 people
Ingredients:
   6-10 Golden Butter potatoes
   5 tbsp butter
   4-6 scallions
   1/2 lb bacon
   1 cup Half & Half
   2-1/2 cups milk
   1 tbsp marjoram
   2 tsp sage
   1 tsp thyme
   1 tsp rosemary
   1 tbsp paprika
   1 tbsp onion powder
   1 tbsp garlic powder
   1 tbsp pepper
   1 tbsp salt
   1 pinch of pepper flakes
   1 slice of Velveeta cheese
   2 tbsp of sour cream

Instructions:
Wash and dice up potatoes. Put potatoes in 4-6 quart stock pot and cover in water. Boil potatoes on high for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

Chop scallions into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside. Chop bacon into 1 inch pieces and set aside. Melt 2 tbsp of butter on medium high, then sautee tbsp scallions and all of bacon. Once bacon is crisp, set aside, saving 2 tbsp of bacon grease.

Once potatoes are tender, drain of water and then mash using 1/2 cup of milk and remaining butter. Once creamy, put stockpot with mashed potatoes back on the stove on medium-low heat. Add half and half and remaining milk to soup. Then add spices. Next add scallions, bacon, and 2 tbsp bacon grease.

Next add 1 slice of Velveeta. Once the cheese has melted in, kick temperature down to low and add sour cream. Once sour cream has melted in, taste test then serve.