Sunday, February 25, 2018

Another Lazy Sunday Post - YouTube and Tomato Soup

Hello Everyone!
In Louisiana, the weather has started to warm which has caused my thoughts to wind their way toward  my garden and what I would like to plant this year.

This is one of the weirdest, sweetest Disney cartoons ever.  I hope I'm not breaking any copyright rules by posting this.

To my amazement, despite the hard freezes we had this winter some of my herbs survived.  I still have some oregano - its puny and wimpy because it really didn't like to be taken in and out of doors, but it is alive.  The apple mint can be saved, I think, once I remove all of the weeds.  My Spanish Tarragon has started to grow back, as have my chives and my bay tree is thriving.  And, insanely, my curry plant isn't dead.  My sweet olive has also survived and has started to blossom.  I love that smell so much!!!   If I could find a perfume that actually smelled like sweet olive, I would wear nothing else.  Which means that I only have to replace my basil, thyme, dill and rosemary.  I'm going to call that a win considering the winter my poor plant babies had to go through.

I am also contemplating what I would like to plant for the vegetable garden.  I know that I want to plant the mini cucumbers that I had last year and plum or cherry tomatoes but I am wondering if it is worth the time and effort to try to grow my own potatoes, onion and garlic.  Since the Farmers Almanac tells me that I can plant them, except for the garlic which I would plant in August, during any of the next few months, it will give me time to ponder as I research online whether growing them is actually feasible. 
This means that I plan on spending a day on the internet being lazy, researching gardening, watching YouTube and cooking foods which need to simmer for hours.  So I thought that I would share some of the things that I will be looking at and listening to with you.  I even thought that I would share a recipe.  As per my other lazy Sunday post most of these activities will be free and can found on the internet.

But first, lets pretend that we are being industrious before we start being lazy and start with a recipe.  I am going to give you my recipe for Brown Sugar Roasted Tomato and Vodka Soup.  This soup recipe is perfect for the winter and is what I call a nearly-homemade recipe.  It is perfect for the winter because, rather than using fresh tomatoes which can taste just like water during the winter months, it uses can tomatoes but, because of the some of the cooking techniques that we are going to use, it is not going to taste like we used canned tomatoes.  It is delicious and it takes hours both in the oven and on the stove top so it gives you plenty of time to watch shows, do laundry, paint your nails - however you want to kill the time - while it cooks.

Brown Sugar Roasted Tomato Vodka Soup

What does this poster have to do with soup?  Absolutely nothing! But it cracks me up so I thought I would put it here.

Although it takes a few hours to actually cook this dish the actual prep time is only about 15 minutes max.  It does make ALOT of soup.  It will feed 8-10 people.  I like to make this soup and freeze it in two cups increments to eat at a later date, but I will go over that later in the post.  I'm sorry that I don't have pictures for this, but I find that cooking and photography do not go hand in hand for me.  I promise you that I will work on it.

3 tbsp. light or dark brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt  (you can skip this step if your tomatoes are the kind that come in sea salt)
Pepper to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 scallion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 (32 ounce) veggie broth (or you can use homemade)
2 (28 ounce) Italian plum tomatoes  (I sometimes have trouble finding these, if that is the case whole tomatoes are fine) , drained - reserve the juice
1 (15 ounce) tomato sauce
1 tsp. anchovy paste
1/4 cup vodka
1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill  or  1-2 tsp. dry dill
1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1-2 tsp. dry basil
2 cups half and half

1.  Adjust the oven racks to the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Spray a large, rimmed, baking sheet evenly with cooking spray.  (If you would like to make even less of a mess, put down a piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet.)  Place the tomatoes evenly in the baking tray. 
3.  Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.  (If your tomatoes are the type that are canned with sea salt, do NOT use salt, just do the pepper.  Divide the brown sugar over the top of the tomatoes.
4.  Roast tomatoes in the oven until sugar is melted and tomatoes have shrunken slightly, about 45 minutes.
(Why am I doing this step you may be asking yourself?  The reason is twofold.  Number one, you are using canned tomatoes, by roasting them you are removing the slightly tinny flavor that canned fruit and vegetables can have. Number 2, roasting the tomatoes in brown sugar is adding a lovely flavor to the tomatoes and will make the soup taste better than if you simply added sugar.  Yes, you do have to do the sugar if you don't add sugar in some way to tomato soup, the soup is too acidic and doesn't taste as good.)
Remove from oven.
5.   In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add onions and shallots.
6.  Saute the onion and shallots over low/low-medium heat for 15 minutes.  By this time, the onions should have begun to caramelize but should not be caramelized.
7.  Add the garlic and the anchovy paste, cook for two minutes, stirring continuously.  (You must stir as this will prevent the garlic from burning and turning bitter.)
8.  Add the roasted tomatoes and slowly pour in the vegetable broth while stirring, then add the reserved tomato juice, tomato sauce, and vodka.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
8.5.  If you are using dried rather than fresh herbs, add your dill and basil.  If you are doing fresh herbs wait.
9.  Cover and simmer over medium/medium high heat for one hour stirring periodically.
10.  If using fresh herbs, chop the basil and dill and add to the pot.
11.  Using a blender to puree the soup.  (You can use an immersion blender or a regular blender, if you are using a regular blender.  If you are using a regular blender, blend the soup in batches and BE CAREFUL.)  It is up to you how smooth or chunky you would like the soup to be. I personally like my soup to be smooth with no chunks - but you do you.
12.  Return the pureed/blended soup to the pot.  Simmer 20-45 minutes depending on the consistency you prefer.
(At this point, you have a decision to make - whether you want to freeze the soup now or after you add the half and half.  It all depends on how you want to reheat the soup from the freezer.  If you want to do it fast and quick in the microwave you will want to freeze the soup after you add the half and half.  If you want to reheat the soup on the stove top, then I would suggest freezing it without the cream.  Then, while you are heating the soup over the stove, you can add the half and half then and you can add as much or as little as is per your personal taste.)
13.  Stir in half and half.

Serve and eat.  If you want to freeze, make certain that the soup has reached room temperature before you place it in the freezer.

Now that we have our soup simmering on the stove, we can get down to the task of relaxing!
Lately I have found some things that are currently available on YouTube that I am obsessed with.  I am going to share them here with you but, as you know, things can and will get taken off of YouTube when you least expect it, so if any of these sound interesting to you, you should check them out now while they are still available.  I love to learn and so most of these are going to be historical documentaries, but I also like to be entertained so many of these are funny as well.

This is, for lack of a better term, a history channel on YouTube.  This is what the history channel was before it became nothing but Ice Road Truckers.  Many of the shows that I mention below can be found on this channel  but there are also several more.  If you like history, it is definitely worth checking out.

The Supersizers Go.......

I love this series!!!  I first discovered this series with the WWII episode.  The concept of this show is that the hosts live for an entire week in a house that from the period.  During that week they dress in the clothes of the era and, more importantly, they eat the food of the era.  This show is part history and part food channel and it is great.  I thought they were done with the series a while ago and then, about seven months ago they added another episode The Supersizers Go...... Royal Wedding.  All of the episodes are worth watching.  I have watched many of them repeatedly.

Terry Jones Medieval Lives

I am a huge fan of Terry Jones.  I mean, yes, he is a member of Monty Python and has been in arguably some of the funniest sketches of all time but, more importantly, HE WROTE LABYRINTH!!!!  For this reason alone he has won my undying love.  He also has done several different series on different historical periods- a couple of great ones are The Hidden History of Rome and The Surprising History of Sex and Love.  The newest one, for me, that I have discovered is Terry Jones Medieval Lives.  In this series each episode covers a different "person" who has been myth-ed into something completely different than they actually were in history.  Some of the lives that are covered are:  The Damsel, The Knight, The Philosopher and The King.  This series is part history and part comedy and is thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

The Worst Jobs in History

Have you ever watched Black Adder?  Arguably one of the most hysterical shows ever written and, if you haven't watched it, do,  each season of Black Adder covers another era in British history.  In every era you have two characters: Black Adder, played by Rowan Atkinson and his man servant Baldrick, played by Sir Anthony "Tony" Robinson.  Both of these characters have become icons in Bristish comedy and one of the long running jokes is that Baldrick is consistently given the worst and most disgusting jobs because Black Adder does not want to do them himself.
In The Worst Jobs in History, Tony Robinson embraces his iconic role and goes back in time to work some of the most dangerous or disgusting jobs throughout time.  Each episode he goes back to another era and looks at some of the gross jobs that people have had to do as he looks for the worst job of that era.  This show is part Dirty Jobs and part History Channel and is fascinating to watch.

BBC A People's History Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

I sincerely don't know what is more fascinating about this show, finding out the history of how these three mealtimes came to be as we know them or watching the truly Faustian woman that hosts the show.  This show is a bit like slowing down to watch a car wreck on the side of the road, sometimes you want to look away but you just can't do it. 

So, there you go, day planned.  Day of laziness about to commence.  Enjoy.

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