Monday, October 2, 2017

RECIPE: Tomato Feta Soup (Instant Pot)

It's been a long time since I've posted a recipe. While we were traveling, we stopped at a Trader Joe's and they were sampling their Tomato Feta Soup. We all liked it, even Ashlyn, who typically doesn't like tomato soup. So when we got home, I went online looking for a copycat recipe. And couldn't find one. I did, however, find the list of ingredients in their soup. I love using my Instant Pot for lunch. I can get everything in and then go back to doing school with the girls while it cooks. So I looked at different recipes and combined ideas and tweaked things, and considered the ingredients in Trader Joe's Soup and here's what I came up with.  I'm not going to call this a copycat of Trader Joe's because I honestly don't have a very clear memory of what it tasted like (and since there aren't any Trader Joe's stores anywhere near here, I can't buy some to compare), regardless, we all liked this soup and I'll be adding it to our lunch rotation!

1/4 c butter
1 lg onion,chopped
handful of baby carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes*
1 Tbsp each: dried basil, dried parsley, dried oregano, chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 c whole milk
salt to taste
Crumbled Feta cheese

* I substituted 4 c cubed fresh tomatoes for one can

Place butter in instant pot and push the Saute button. Once butter is melted, saute onions and carrots until soft. Add garlic and tomatoes (If using all fresh tomatoes you might need to add up to a cup of water or broth. The canned whole tomatoes had plenty of liquid in them, and we prefer thicker soups). Add seasoning and bay leaves. Press cancel to turn off the saute feature. Lock lid in place and make sure pressure valve is closed. Turn on manual for 5 minutes (high pressure). Allow to pressure to naturally release. Puree soup until smooth with immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Stir in milk and salt to taste.

To serve, top each bowl with a spoonful of crumbled feta.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Last Day in St Louis

Today we went to the arch.

Between chance of rain and the weekend's protests being in that area we weren't sure we were going to be able to but today was sunny (and HOT) and things were quiet in the area, at least during the day, I haven't looked at news to see if there were any more protests this evening.

When my parents were here this summer there were long lines and you had to order tickets ahead but with school started, we had no waiting other than the unavoidable wait so everyone can board the pods at the same time.

Waiting to board

We rode up in a little pod. Little Bit was rather freaked out. Lexie and Ashlyn loved watching out the window at the infrastructure of the arch. They decided it would be the perfect setting for a Cyberman attack on Dr Who.

I thought Little Bit would be over her nervousness once we were at the top but she was still nervous. Her sisters were great at distracting her by pointing out various things out the windows but as soon as she wasn't distracted she was nervous again. The views were awesome:

I wasn't concerned she'd really freak out when we went down because it's faster. Takes 4min to go up and only 3 to go down. But she actually liked the faster speed, whew!

Once we were back down, the museum is closed for renovations but Little Bit and Dad got their passport stamps

And we watched the video about how it was built.

After lunch we went to the museum exhibits in the Old Courthouse to finish the Junior Rangers. One option was to stand in the middle of the rotunda and look up, then draw what you saw.

The girls and mom all earned their Junior Rangers.

We finished our day, and our time in St Louis, with supper at the Old Spaghetti Factory! Yum!!!

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, September 18, 2017

U S Grant National Historic Site

Today we went to US Grant's National Historic Site.

This site is the farm that was owned by Grant's wife's family, the Dents. Interestingly the house is called White Haven after Julia's father's family home in MD. Apparently the house was never white, but the awful green approximates the color Grant chose when he took over ownership.

We toured the house and out buildings including the summer kitchen

And chicken coop

The winter kitchen was in the basement. While the main living spaces were all plastered and finished, the ceiling beams in the kitchen were logs with the bark still on.

The large horse stables that Grant designed and had built is now a museum. This quote amused me.

And, of course, the girls and my mom earned their Junior Rangers.

We were planning to also visit "Grant's Farm" across the street from the historic site. It has the Anheuser-Busch Cleidsdales and other animals. But unfortunately, is only open weekends this time of year, so we'll have to skip it.

Next we enjoyed a yummy "lunch" of frozen custard from Ted Drewes. YUM

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rocky Ridge Farm

Today was our last little house site of the trip.

Rocky Ridge Farm is the farm Laura and Amanzo bought when they moved from De Smet, ND to Mansfield, MO when their daughter, Rose, was 7. They lived here for the rest of their lives.

Today was Wilder Day, so it was a lot more crowded than any of the other sites have been. As I suspected, the museum here has most of the actual things that exist from her life. Unfortunately, they don't allow pictures inside the museum. So I'll just tell you about the things I was most excited about lol.

Pa's fiddle, obviously!!!! After all the entire point of our timing ever since Labor day has been based on being here TODAY to hear the fiddle!

Ma's pearl handled pen.
The lace that Ida Brown slipped into Laura's hand as a wedding present.
The little china box Laura got off the Christmas tree on Walnut Grove.

Also was fun to learn that Rose shared my love of BIG coffee cups and see a couple of hers.

After the museum we went up to the farm house to tour it.

When they first bought the farm there was a one room cabin. They lived there the first winter then added a second room. The following spring they moved to new room to it's current location and added a second room and an attic bedroom. That became the first phase of this farmhouse.

Again, no photos were allowed inside. The original 2 rooms eventually became the kitchen, with counters built extra low so they were easy for 4 ft 11 in. (or 5ft depending what you read) Laura. And a dining room with built in storage and a pass thru window from the kitchen. Later they added a bedroom, music room, and parlor with a very cool library nook to the main floor and a proper staircase and another bedroom upstairs.

After we toured the farm house a shuttle took us to the rock house.

After Rose was grown and successful she purchased a house plan or kit (depending who you ask lol) from the Sears catalog. She had the rock house built for her parents because she thought they needed a more modern house.

Again, no pictures allowed inside. It's a cute little house. Love the big living room windows and there are great built in shelves and wall niches throughout. After about 7 years Laura and Almanzo moved back to the farm house because this house didn't feel like home. I can't say that I blame them. The farmhouse has a bigger, nicer kitchen and the awesome library nook. And while they were living in the rock house Rose lived in the farm house and added a bathroom on so now it had indoor plumbing too. They spent the rest of their lives in the farm house. They used the rock house as a rental for awhile then sold it.

(Random picture of Little Bit)

Next we took the shuttle into town where there were street vendors and other festivities going on. Nothing too exciting . . .we did go to the town historic society museum. Saw a few more of Laura's things there, again no pictures allowed. As Ashlyn pointed out, while I totally understand no flash, the Smithsonian allows pictures why do all these little museum think they're more important? I especially found it absurd at the historic society where they provided free coffee that you could drink while wandering through the exhibits. So obviously the no pictures rule wasn't to keep from damaging historic items. Anyway . . . Lexie ended up talking to a lady whose parents knew the Wilders. Her mother worked at the bank. Said Laura took care of all their financed. And her father did some electrical work for them. Said Laura tried to tell him how to do the wiring and he said later that if he'd done what she said it would have caused a fire.

After lunch we went back to the farm house to see Pa's fiddle played! The man who played it said it was what was known as a seed fiddle because Pa won it for buying enough seed. Another site we were at, I don't remember which, said nobody knows where Pa got his fiddle, so nice to hear at least one theory lol. Obviously it wasn't a very fancy fiddle but it's held up well. He said the only thing they've changed is putting new tuning keys on it. I assume they've also replaced the strings, probably multiple times.

I also took a video of him playing but the app I'm using won't let me add a video so I'll do it as a separate post straight in blogger.

After he played Pa's fiddle they had the final part of the fiddle-off that had been going on all day. That was fun to watch.

And thus ends our Little House tour. The one major site we didn't go to was the Wilder home in NY. We're hoping to hit it during another trip to Boston and/or PEI.

In the morning we'll start heading north east with stops along the way.

posted from Bloggeroid

Video of Pa's Fiddle

Friday, September 15, 2017

Little House on the Prairie

This morning we went to the site of the Ingalls family's cabin near Independence, KS.

In the book, Laura says it was 40 miles from Independence but actually it's only 12 miles. She also says she was 6 when actually she was 3.

The only thing original to the site is the well that Pa hand dug. They "capped" with concrete. I really wish they had either capped it with plexiglass or just put a fence around it, or both, so you could still see in it.

The original cabin is gone. Something I read earlier this week online indicated that the reproduction cabin is built on the original footprint of Pa's cabin but the lady there today said she thinks it was actually closer to the well, so who knows. This trip is definitely making me want to read Laura's autobiography, Pioneer Girl, because so much information seems contradictory.

The cabin has been damaged to the point that they don't let you in it but you can look in to see it set up like Laura describes it in the books.

An old post office building was moved to the site and is set up like it would have been in that era.

An old school house was also moved to the site. This sign describes it.

Inside the school.

The quilt pattern on the barn is, "dove in the window" the pattern of the quilt Laura made for her hope chest and Amanzo made up the bed with when they got married.

There were donkeys by the barn. This one was super friendly and came over to be petted.

This afternoon we're driving to Mansfield, MO to go to that site tomorrow. Little Bit entertains herself while we drive.

I was amused to see pay phones at the MO welcome center. When I pointed them out to Little Bit she said, "you mean like the TARDIS?!?"

posted from Bloggeroid

Fort Scott

Yesterday we went to Fort Scott, Kansas. I ended not taking many pictures because I was busy helping Little Bit with her Junior Ranger.

It was an interesting park, and the Junior Ranger did a good job of making us go over the whole thing.

I think we would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't SO hot! There's something more . . .intense about the heat out here. And the northern part of our trip got us ready for fall, making the heat here seem even worse.

The volunteer at the desk made the kids happy by just giving them their badges, and Civil war trading cards, without making them say the pledge. He also took time to go through the trading cards with Little Bit and tell her a little about each one.

posted from Bloggeroid