I made a new lunch bag to use for work. I’m currently rotating three little tote bags that I got at Target maybe two months ago for a quarter each, and I’d like to have more so that I can have some in rotation even while others are in the laundry pile. I have yet to wash them and I’m grossed out by myself, they’re sticky from maple syrup and have a certain aroma by evening.
Yesterday I brought a cloth napkin in my lunch bag and I realized that I could make an entire collection of lunch totes in addition to reusable napkins. They don’t need to be especially sturdy or secured with velcro or insulated or anything, simply small tote bags to corral my food, which is usually in plastic Gladware containers, until lunchtime. Until I bought the current tote bags I was using a plastic grocery bag, which caused problems when I would forget which fridge I used and had to go searching among all the other plastic grocery bags to find my food. (“Why am I pawing through your lunch, you ask? Um, because I thought maybe it was mine…?”) A distinctive cloth bag helps me locate my lunch even when I’m not able to put it in “my” spot: middle fridge, bottom right at the back.
The simple tote bag tonight took me an hour, I’m sheepish to admit, although the next one should take half that now that I’ve figured out a design. I was going to find a tutorial like this one and then realized, “How hard can it be? And if I start looking for tutorials I’ll never get it done, I’ll spend three hours reading blogs and viewing step-by-steps instead and then call it a night. I’ll figure something out, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll do it different or use a tutorial next time.” And there will be a next time — I want half of dozen of these!
Unfortunately, the camera ran out of batteries after I took a picture and before I uploaded it to the laptop, so I’ll have to add a photo after I locate the charger.
Update: Charger located!
Soup is simmering on the stove, filling the house with a delightful aroma. It’s drifting out to the street, too, because I opened the garage door in order for neighbors and passers-by to say, “My goodness that smells good! Whoever lives there must be skilled at cooking in order to make such a delicious-smelling dinner!” I like a lot of positive reinforcement.
Here’s an approximate recipe recreation of how to make it. Change the vegetables based on what you have on hand or what’s on sale at the store, adjust spices to your taste. Next time I’ll add a can of pumpkin. Tonight’s batch doesn’t have any cumin because I used it up last time and forgot to add it to the grocery list. I’ve really enjoyed this soup with sourdough bread, and it was great to take to work for lunch with a salad of spinach, cucumber, tomato, and avocado.
Let me know what you think if you try it. Did you make any changes? What do you serve with it for dinner?
Curried Cauliflower Sweet Potato Soup
4-10 cloves garlic
2 yams or sweet potatoes
2-3 carrots, or 1/2 pound baby carrots
1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth
~2 cups water
1. Chop onion and cauliflower, mince garlic, dice carrots and potatoes. It doesn’t have to be too small, it’s going to get blended up later. I cut baby carrots in half, and slices of sweet potato into 2-6 pieces depending on the diamater of the slice.
2. Saute vegetables in oil over medium high heat in large pot until there’s some light browning, adding spices during last 2 minutes. You can saute and chop at the same time, adding each vegetable as you cut it. With chopping, this step was about 15 minutes for me. I added about 1/2 tsp salt too to make up for the low sodium veggie broth. Others might want more, I don’t like my food very salty.
3. Stir in broth and water. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add more or less water depending on how many vegetables you used and how thin you want the final product. Vegetables should be fully covered with some floating-around-room.
4. Cool 5 minutes. Blend soup in batches in food processor or blender until smooth-ish and creamy. I blend one batch, pour it back into the pot, stir, and then put more in the blender. It takes about 4 times for it to be the texture I want.
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
11 oz can condensed tomato soup
Soup can of water, or milk for creamy soup
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
Small bit of dried basil
Small bit of dried oregano
Pepper to taste
1. Mix all ingredients in saucepan or bowl big enough to hold it all with some room leftover. Simmer on low for 10 minutes to combine flavors. (Or microwave until it starts to boil.)
2. Delicious served with grated cheese and cornbread.
I make this with water instead of milk. If you want to get fancy, sautee the garlic first for a minute or two before adding the rest of the ingredients. If you’re using chopped fresh herbs, add them first with the garlic.
Easy Beer Bread
My younger brother gave me a variation of this recipe several years ago after using it during a long trip to the Minnesota Boundary Waters. This is a real recipe, unlike previous gourmet cooking lessons.
3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder (1 tbsp & 1 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
12 oz. beer (standard can or bottle, any kind)
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1. Heat oven to 350. Grease standard loaf pan. (I use non-stick cooking spray.)
2. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Stir in beer until fully mixed and no longer foaming.
3. Spread in pan. Bake 45 minutes.
4. Melt butter. (I microwave it in a coffee mug.) Take pan out of oven. Pour butter evenly over bread. If desired, first poke small holes in the bread using a knife or chopstick, to create places for butter to pool.
5. Bake 15 more minutes. Best served warm. Cover leftovers with foil or plastic wrap to prevent it from getting hard (unless you want that for putting crisp bits in soup). Ok to store at room temperature.
We eat this bread with homemade split pea soup, chili, and tomato soup. It’s also good with jam or cheese. I recommend warming leftovers in the microwave before eating.
The original recipe called for just four ingredients: self-rising flour, sugar, beer, and butter. I don’t have self-rising flour so fiddled with different ratios of the Emergency Substitutions listed at the back of my Betty Crocker cookbook until I found my preferred combination. Increase sugar and decrease salt to make it taste almost like banana bread, or add more salt and skip the baking soda & cream of tarter to make it more biscuit-like. It does not actually taste like beer.