Monday, February 27, 2012

Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

This recipe comes from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.  I made it for the first time this week end and it was very good.  I made a few changes.  Potato soup is one of those things that is easily adaptable.

Start with 5 lbs of russet potatoes.

Wash, peel and chop potatoes into 1 inch cubes.  Put them in the crock pot and add enough water to cover them.  I used part chicken broth.

Cook on high for about 5 until the potatoes are cooked and falling apart.  Turn the cooker to low, add 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), 1 cup half and half and 1/2 cup sour cream, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook for 20 more minutes.  The recipe didn't call for it but I blended mine smooth.  

Serve garnished with crumbled bacon, grated cheese and sliced green onions.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012


We had some friends over for supper tonight and I made gumbo.  I love gumbo but I don't make it very often.  When I do make it, I make lots of it so we will have plenty of leftovers and some to freeze also.  This is the recipe I use.  I do add about a pound of okra and I think next time I won't add so much oil.  I end up skimming alot off the top.  The recipe comes from

Perhaps the simplest of the gumbos, but a hearty one and a classic combination. If you can't find andouille, use a local smoked sausage or kielbasa or whatever smoked sausage you like. This one's easy to knock off quickly for a great evening's meal.

  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large chicken (young hen preferred), cut into pieces
  • 2 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped
  • 2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Filé powder to taste
Season the chicken with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning and brown quickly. Brown the sausage, pour off fat and reserve meats.

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium, peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you're nervous about burning it.

Add the vegetables and stir quickly. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.

Add the stock, seasonings, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.

Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and heat for 5 minutes. Serve over rice in large shallow bowls. Accompany with lots of hot, crispy French bread.
YIELD: About 12 entrée sized servings.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Co op

Tuesday is co op day.  This is our first year for our homeschool group to have a co op.  Our group started when son was in first grade.

When we first started homeshool, I really wanted to connect with other homeschoolers but the only group I could find in our area at that time was a co op.  It just seemed too much for kindergarten.  I thought maybe later.  When first grade came the co op was teaching ancient history and I wanted to teach American history.  The whole reason we homeschool is teach our children the way we want to teach them.

I met another mom and we started getting together with two other families.  All their boys were older than mine.  They let him play but he was always the little kid tagging along.  He didn't like that.  He always wanted to hang with the older guys. (I'm so proud of him now when I see him including the younger guys in football and other things at co op.)  The other mom and my husband got the idea to start another group. We didn't want to compete with the existing co op but we wanted a group where homeschoolers who didn't want that commitment could get together.  Wonderful Idea!

We started out meeting at night with a speaker for the parents once a month and someone to watch the kids.  It went well at first but started to slack off at the end.  It seemed like I was the only one who could line up a speaker and organize things.  It became my group. The next year we decided it would be better to meet in the day at the park.  We did that for years and it worked wonderfully.  We made great friends and some fun activities.

About 4 years ago another mom had the idea to meet at a church and have some fun but educational classes once a month.  That worked well too.  But last year the older kids let us know that if they were going to do classes, they wanted serious classes.  You can't do serious classes once a month so we went to a weekly co op.  The high school students are taking Biology, Communications and doing some Junior Achievement programs.  We also have a Chemistry Club.  It's only half a day.  The kids love it and they are learning.

I teach the communications class for the high schoolers.  We have been looking at ways to write persuasive speeches.  Today they read speeches they wrote on Why Homeschool is the Best Way to Learn.  They all did so good and I was so proud.  I also divided them up into teams had had them write a commercial for a product.  Next week we will start story telling and after that we will do some informal debate.  They can't wait for that.  They all want a chance to get a good argument going!