tomato soup for the soul.

On this very cold March day, I decided to create a meal that isn’t very diet friendly: tomato basil bisque & grilled cheese with truffle butter. I’ll start planning for bikini season tomorrow.

After a first tasting, I decided I would share my recipes for all to enjoy. They are that good.

I used a crockpot and a Ninja for the soup. A stove with a frying pan for the sandwich.

Spices needed: pepper, sea salt, garlic powder (or save yourself some time and just buy Camp Mix)

When you hit the grocery store, this is your list for the soup:

  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 2 cans of 14oz organic diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes diced that would equal 28oz- if you have the time)
  • 1 CAN (yes, can-not a jar) of organic tomato sauce
  • either a block of parmesan cheese or a bag of fresh grated parmesan
  • 1 container of organic chicken broth
  • butter (I like the sea-salted)
  • 1 small container of heavy cream (I went with Hood).

And for the sandwich:

  • 1 block of cheese (I went with gouda, but you pick the kind you like best)
  • truffle butter (most Whole Food-like grocery stores will carry this, if not, then find a nice truffle oil and we can melt down the butter and mix this in)

    oh hey, little friend.
  • bread (Listen, we NEVER have bread in the house, so you know this is a big deal. Anyway, I went with a gorgeous Tuscan Pane White)

    best thing since betty white.
  • Optional ingredients I know my husband will request: tomato and/or any kind of meat.

As far as how much of what to add for the soup- I never follow recipes to a T. I always wing it for taste. Gordon Ramsey would be pleased. The only ingredients I actually “limited” before throwing into the crockpot were of the dairy and spice categories. I used 4 tbsp of butter and a good pour of the cream that probably amounted to 3/4 a cup.  The parmesan cheese I did a healthy handful…and then added some more. As for the spices, just add to taste.  It’s all up to you, really.  

To cook soup: add ingredients to the crockpot and set on high for 3 hours. I went ahead and blended all the ingredients (to make it a more smooth consistency, but you can keep it chunky if you like) in my Ninja after about an hour, and then added it back to the crockpot to continue to simmer. Add fresh basil on top to garnish.

For the sandwich, I would start by truffle-buttering one side two slices of bread. I might even use the truffle butter to oil the pan. Hey- I love truffles and butter, don’t judge. I think by this point if you don’t know how to make a grilled cheese from here then I certainly would be delighted to help you: butter-side-down bread to pan, cheese (add as much as you like), bread-butter-side-up. Heat on medium. I would do 3 minutes and then flip, making sure the butter side is again down (but you keep checking to make sure it gets a nice brown, not black). My husband would have me add two slices of tomato with the cheese, but I go with the basics.

to answer your question, yes, he wanted tomatoes. told you.

I suggest making more than one sandwich. Don’t worry, it will get eaten. Now serve, dip and enjoy.

 

2016.

I haven’t written in a while. Sure, I have sat down to write many times, but just couldn’t formulate my thoughts enough to do them justice. Until today.

If you could put a medical diagnosis on a period of time I would classify 2016 as bioplar.

bi·po·lar adjective
1.having or relating to two poles or extremities. “a sharply bipolar division of affluent and underclass”
2. (of psychiatric illness) characterized by both manic and depressive episodes, or manic ones only.

 

Seriously. You. Have. No. Idea. Or perhaps you do in your own world. If so, you are not alone in thinking that 2016 was bipolar.

I’ll begin with a bit of history, 2015.

2015 Seemed like the upswing of amazingness; bought a house, went on an amazing and romantic West Coast trip, got engaged, work was successful, my father was seemingly feeling better from his treatments, and I can actually remember being in the car smiling- thinking THIS IS AWESOME.

I remember immediately thinking after that- this will all come to an end soon. Well, then we welcomed 2016. Oh hello.

Here are some of the lows and highs of the year from my imperfect point-of-view.

Low: Terrorism is at an all-time high to where I am actually afraid to go anywhere.

High: I started planning our wedding! Date, venues, vendors, priests, wedding party, favors and dress. Check.

Low: Our political system went from stupid to something Cypress Hill would sing about- and now the writers of SNL have fallen into a deep hole of the same boring shit every week. We get it. You are bummed Hillary lost and you like mocking Trump. Can you please move the fuck on and bring back Justin Timberlake or Andy Samberg? Or both? Thanks. 

High: The Ice Bucket Challenge actually made a breakthrough in ALS research!

Low: We lost so many people in 2016 that TIME MAGAZINE’s Person of the Year is the Grim fucking Reaper! I mean we lost the ultimate creator of the chick-flick, Willy Wonka, the crazy heiress who slapped a cop and married nine men, Professor Snape, the guy who invented that ice tea & lemonade drink that Gunnar and my father loves, the boxer who makes the argument in Coming to America’s barbershop scene come to a close, Dr. Jason Seaver, the Russian dude from the new Star Trek movies, an astronaut, “The Artist,” Patty Duke, Scrooge McDuck, Janet Reno, Natalie Cole, Grizzly Adams, Miss Cleo, Punky Brewster’s dad (on the show), the mayor who famously says “Bring me the Ghostbusters!”, the man who wrote Hallelujah, the guy who wrote Hotel California, Mr. Hockey, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Larry Sanders, R2-D2, Mrs. Brady, Bowie, the man who made the sentence “I want your sex” actually make sense, Princess Leia AND her mother, and SO MANY MORE. We have been depleted of so much talent. I fear for the tasteless and vulgar “comedy” stylings of the Amy Schumers of the world that we are left with.. I miss the time when there was a little mystery and grace. 

Side note: yes, I know I swear a lot, so I’m not saying that I am graceful. At all. I digress.

trust me, I know.
trust me, I know.

Moving on.

High: I got accepted into the MBA program at UNH for Spring 2017 and Brad got commended for saving a man’s life!

Low: Hatred of EVERYBODY is at an all-time high. I have never before seen anything like this and it scares me every day my husband puts on his uniform. People are being killed for the sake of being killed every single day. In America! I understand that comment might come off ignorant, as people have always died every single day, and now because of social media we are more aware of it, but it feels like its gratuitous sport at this rate. IT NEEDS TO STOP. 

High: We got 10 chickens! I was told not to name them, but I did. I mean, I had to have a Cocky. Don’t worry- I kept Brad in mind as I named the biggest yellow one Clay Matthews. 

Low: We lost all but one of our chickens to a jerkface fox.  You don’t know sad until you see 9 piles of feathers all over your yard. 🙁  RIP Chicken Cocky and Chicken Clay Matthews. That one remaining chicken now lives with our neighbors- who also have chickens. I suggested bringing him in the house to be domesticated, but I guess that isn’t a thing. I tried.

High: Brad finished our beautiful home inside and out. We bought a house, but Brad made it a home with his talent and craftsmanship. Work was good for us and our relationship has been stronger than ever.

Low: Brad lost the two women in his life who raised him. First his mother, Barb. Her failing health just overcame her very slim frame and she took her last breath in February. Then, in July, her younger sister Joanie followed. I don’t know exactly what took her from this life, but I truly believe it was a broken heart. They were best of friends. They were crazy, silly, Wisconsin-salt-of-the-earth women, with good hearts and bright red hair. They raised one of the most amazing men I have ever met in my entire life. Celebrities had nothing on these two women.

red and barb.
red and barb.

High: I got a job offer from an amazing company, Lindt & Sprungli. It was a hard decision to leave the Boston Globe, but the close proximity to home (for my father) and dream position of finally being able to create something had me hooked.

And now for the finale:

Lowest Low: My father’s seemingly dormant prostate cancer came alive and his failing health took an evil turn for the worst as it hit his liver. This was an extremely rare cancer, as apparently prostate cancer metastasizing to the liver doesn’t happen often (so I was told). The real hit was that he kept the actual state of his health from me- so I wasn’t prepared. I never really knew the whole truth. “All you get to know is that I am sick” was what he said to me. Finally, without wanting to be a burden on anyone, and with the full knowledge that he was losing his freedoms with every moment, he took his own life on June 16th. He was only 68. What I do know from this horrible loss is that my father loved Brad and Gunnar. He blessed our upcoming marriage. He blessed Brad as a son. He let me know how proud he was of me and that he loved me very much. He taught me to be confident within myself vs. seek approval. What I wouldn’t give to have him randomly show up, too early in the morning, for pancakes, bacon and orange juice- with pulp. We miss him every single day. I have now made steps to join the Death with Dignity movement. You should too because you never know what hand you’ll be dealt later. 

my father's first (and only) selfie.
my father’s first (and only) selfie.

Highest High: Brad and I got married in the most wonderful celebration I have ever known in Portsmouth, NH. Aside from the lows of the year, we were able to put it aside for one day and celebrate our love. We had friends and family come from all over the country to join us on this champagne and blush, with a touch of Tiffany blue day. We marched down the isle to the most beautiful music of Craig Armstrong (I walked in around the 6 min mark). Gunnar gave the most amazing best man speech on the planet. The music was fun and lively, by the talented Julie Kramer of RadioBDC. The event planner Casey at our reception space  managed our small group of 100 like a pro. Holy good food! Just go there for dinner and imagine that quality of food-multiplied. Nicole Friedler couldn’t have taken better pictures. Everyone got along and laughed the whole day. This might have had something to do with the open bar, but I’m going to take it. And sure, our wedding party was of comical size, and the flower girl refused to turn around for pictures, but we got it done….in a blue 488 Ferrari (Thank you, Ezra!). Our honeymoon on Key West and Little Palm Island was warm and offered the spoils we needed to congratulate us on our nuptials. We did it!

my favorite kiss.
my favorite kiss.

If you can believe it, there are some more lows and highs that have happened this year, but I’m a little spent rehashing all of it. I’ll leave it with what I have recorded and save the rest for another time. You get the picture anyway.

OH! Almost forgot- did I forget to mention today Brad and I have been together five years? Yep! Five years since that first day he opened the gate in my Chicago apartment, touched my hand and changed my life. We are spending the evening at a resort in Maine, and then back home to celebrate our first Christmas as husband and wife.

Mr. & Mrs. Von Haden
introducing the Von Hadens.

2016: So much loss, but so much love. 

 

the first 24 hours.

The first 24 hours of owning a home were certainly not boring. I’ll explain in 6 instances.

1. It rained the morning of the close. I had this theory, like some people do with weddings, that if it rains, that must be good luck! Well, it rained. It eventually cleared up, but it was a wet start to the day- which ruined my “really good hair” I had planned on sporting when signing the dotted line 50 times- and also put a little damper in not getting our stuff wet. Bring on the good luck!

2. Most the documents had “Kathleen Schmidt” on them. I pointed out that it wasn’t my name, and I guess this was a big deal. So, other than the fact the closing went smoothly, there was a small delay as they fixed the name. Apparently, Siri has a cousin in PC computers, making typos for all the world to enjoy. 

3. There is a random sheet you have to sign that lists your public aliases on it. Interesting. I signed, but I am pretty sure that I am not the only “K Schmidt” out there, nor did I know I went by “K.” Guess my Men in Black career is done. They know who I am. 

Okay, I will stop boring you and get to the good stuff:

4. The oops I made. We ALL have dealt with service providers before and the complete road-rage-esque feeling when you have to get an actual human on the phone, a bill to be correct or an appointment to be on time. I’m always the one to set up utilities, so let’s call me a pro at dealing with these people and getting a desired result. OR I just yell until they fold. I was on the phone with 3 different people, 2 different times to get my wifi/cable/landline set up, initially. I thought it was set. Done and done- got an appointment for the next day between 8-10am. I was mistaken (kinda).

Fast-forward to next morning. I decide to call and make sure that we were on schedule. I call and get some guy who can’t pronounce my name, barely speaks English, and has no clue where New Hampshire is on a map.  He couldn’t find my phone number in their records, so I gave him the address- while also going up one side of him and down the other with frustration. I’m right, dammit! This is preposterous! There is a pause and the man on the phone gently states, “ma’am Time Warner Cable actually does not service that part of New Hampshire.”  Oops.

I’m quiet. “oh. Time Warner Cable, you say? Ha! I have the wrong number.”  I hang up, feeling like an asshole. Why, you ask? My appointment was with Comcast.

oops o͝ops,o͞ops/ exclamation informal
  1. used to show recognition of a mistake or minor accident, often as part of an apology.
    ““Oops! I’m sorry. I just made you miss your bus.””

5. Karma in the form of the totally paranoid and insulting Cable guy. Now, while I will forever and always immediately say the title “cable guy” in my head exactly as Jim Carrey says it in the movie, I don’t ever expect Chip Douglas to be standing at my door. That being said, I also don’t expect the super insulting, paranoid Comcast man either. Where do I begin? Well, he walks in and only actually seeing the staircase and one room states “Well, this house looks a lot bigger from the outside.” Thanks, jackass. You have seen one whole room, but I appreciate the judgement. He said some other comments while he was there, but I am withholding those, as I am still wounded. Bottom line: he was rude.

“Joe” goes to install the cable, wifi and phone. When he is done, he gave me this very long and angry nervous schpeel about how if I have an issue PLEASE call him and not Comcast. Something about how they dock his pay and black marks on his file. I got the feeling this guy gets more than a few complaints about him. He went on and on and on and on about it for a good 15 minutes. “Put my number in your cell phone” he commanded. “Uh, sure…” I put it in the “notes” section and not the address book. Take that, JOE. 

this concludes our broadcast day. click
this concludes our broadcast day. click

6. The million dollar dog strikes again.  This is how it went: I got home from bringing Brad a snack and running at the gym. All good. I let the dogs go out to pee. All good. I let the dogs in. All good. I fixed the dogs dinner. All good. I poor myself a well-deserved glass of champagne. Alllllllll good. Buddy starts doing the throw-up dance. Not good. I open the door to let him out. Not good. He comes back in. Better. He starts scratching something on his person. Not bad, but not better. I check him out, nothing. Better. I look at his face. Shocked. HOLY SHIT WHAT HAPPENED TO BUDDY! REALLY BAD. His face looked like he was the victim of getting hit in the face during a baseball game.

his modeling days are over.
his modeling days are over.

I race to the store to get Benedryl because Brad thought he must have been stung by something. I look like I’m abusing him in the parking lot, as I am not only trying to hold him down, hold his VERY swollen head, but also open his clenched jaw to put pills down his throat. Took me about 10 minutes, but I was successful. Poor Little Buddy.

In conclusion: I’m having friends over for dinner tonight to show them the new house. Let’s hope the next 24 hours go a lot smoother. Can I please have a glass of champagne now?!

By the way, does anyone remember which boxes I put my clothing in? 🙂 

not for the faint of heart.

This might be a long one, but if you are a 30-something woman reading this, bear with me because you just might relate.

Through the years, I have always tried to stay fit, but occasionally, I will spice up my routine with a new fitness craze. I’m not trying to channel Patrick Bateman or anything, I just get bored with my usual running/bike/elliptical routine. I’ve tried barre, spin, step, Tae Bo, plyometrics, YouTube videos for problem areas, weights, zumba, and yoga. Well, today I tried something new: bikram yoga.

i mist say i was a little surprised with his choice of the tighy-whitey.
i mist say i was a little surprised with Patrick’s choice of the tighty-whitey.

Note, I will NEVER do the following trends: Cross Fit, Strip-aerobics, jazzercize, aerial yoga, or any kind of a boot camp. This list will probably grow in time.

Barre was awesome in theory. Every article I had read basically told me I would look like a supermodel by the time I was done. So, I went three times, until plantar fasciitis made its home within my foot. Anyone who has had the pleasure of that ailment knows the pleasure it brings. NextI’ll be a supermodel another time.

Spin I love. I began my love affair with spin in Chicago. It was the teacher, really, but I also liked the physical results. Then, I found a teacher here who used weights during, and was equally as fantastic and energetic as my Chicago spin instructor- so I was hooked again. Lately, I have not been because I’m just too damn tired to get up for the 7:30am Saturday class. I attempted to go this weekend, but having just got back from a trip- I opted for laundry instead and hit the gym around 11am. Hi treadmill, I missed you.

Step was a college thing. I used to do the advertising for Campus Recreation, so I took the classes of my friends who were studying to become instructors. It was fun. I fell a lot.

Tae Bo I don’t even remember when I did this, I think also college. Double and triple time killed me. Where is Billy Blanks these days anyway?

Plyometrics was awesome until a friend of mine broke his foot mid-class during one of the jumps. Yep, next.

YouTube I still do sometimes. I’m most recently in some pain because of this inner thigh workout. I did it twice this last week. Try it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Then try it two days in a row. Ouch. I will probably do it again this week once I stop limping.

Weights are an “every once in a while” thing. I know I should do them more, but I also know that when I do them too much my arms make some smaller men jealous. No, thank you.  But yes, I can probably beat you in an arm wrestling match. Sorry, I’m German- it’s natural.

Zumba: I was laughing at my lanky body in the mirror the whole time. Seriously. I just kept laughing. There are mirrors everywhere! While I did find this fun as hell, I don’t think I would waste another hour of my life humiliating myself with just how white I really am.

Yoga was something I REALLY wanted to get good at. A lifetime of running without stretching has left my body a knotted mess of lactic acid. I have tried with individual instructors, small classes, beginner and advanced teachers- I just don’t think my body was meant to bend that way. I also got really creeped out when they touch your feet. I’m all set with their bendy ways. That is awesome that you can touch your toes- show off.

TODAY was going to be different. Today was the day I was going to do BIKRAM YOGA and be good at it! I would go to the whole 90 minute class, love the heat, sweat and feel amazing. I even convinced my friend Beth to go with me- which is a feat, getting her out of bed early, on her one day to sleep in. Sure, she gave me a few caveats: “Katie, it’s really hot.” “Katie, it will smell.” “Katie, when I pass out, you are carrying me.”

I lasted 34 minutes before starting to see stars and black out.

We left. Fuck you, Bikram Yoga. 

Guess I better update my iPhone with some new songs cause tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.  So true, Bruce, so true.

 

time travel thursday.

Okay, so I don’t have an ongoing theme for any particular day of the week, but the title seemed to fit what I wanted to write about, so I am sticking with it. Work with me on this one. Welcome to #timetravelthursday.

I work about an hour from where I live in Maine. I drive everyday up I-95, passing nothing, but trees, for most of the journey. Well, as luck would have it, it’s fall in New England. I don’t know that I remember paying attention as much as I do now, but damn; I have never seen such natural vivid colors in all my life. The trees are the brightest reds, oranges and yellows I can remember.  I tried taking a picture, but my iPhone didn’t do it justice, so I used Google for this post. Anyway (I’ll get to the point)- all these leaves reminded me of something from my youth: field trip day.

now imagine a highway straight up the middle.
now imagine a highway straight up the middle.

Close your eyes and remember this with me, as it was an awesome trip down memory lane this morning. You remember those days: It’s back to school. You have new clothes, new school supplies, new shoes, new haircut, and that feeling of “it’s a whole new year” ambition. Can’t you smell fall in the air? I realize some people had different experiences of this, but this was mine. 

my mother use to sing to me "school days, school days, deal oh golden rule days..." to get me out of bed in the morning. best alarm clock i've ever known to date.
my mother use to sing to me “school days, school days, dear oh golden rule days…” to get me out of bed in the morning. best alarm clock i’ve ever known to date.

Well, having been raised in New Hampshire, fall is something we NHites have come to look forward to, as do the school districts. Whether it’s apple picking, visiting a local farm, or going for some sort of a nature hike up the White Mountains– we visited it at some point.

Remember? Your mom packs you a lunch. You’re excited to be able to bring a brown paper bag lunch vs. eating the gruel in the cafe. Mine was usually PB&J  (that will end up smooshed), an apple, Fritos in a little plastic baggie (not the cool ones with the zip-lock, the ones that you tuck into itself that usually opens), chicken noodle soup in a thermos (whatever happened to those?) that would stay warm all day, and a Twix bar.  Side note: I often forget how much I love Twix until I see them. I remember when peanut butter Twix came out it was a revelation, but then a super problem because I could never decide which one I wanted more- and I wasn’t allowed to have both! Oh, how I LOVED Twix.

i still can't decide to this day!
i still can’t decide to this day!

Once you’re at school- you don’t have to actually go in school, which was awesome.  School buses would be lined up out front. There was usually a list telling you which bus you would be on- which would be your group for the day. In this group you would either be without your friends, or with them in an odd number. The odd number is important to remember because it would mean that someone would be without a “buddy” or someone to sit with on the bus. On top of that- WHERE you sat on the bus was just as important as who was next to you. I look back now and recall the sheer panic I would feel, as I was looking for my best friend and a seat in the back of the bus. I guess it helped strengthen my independence, but GOSH did it suck at the time.  I could talk about as I got older, when boys and bullies were a factor, but I will keep it innocent.

i'm thankful we didn't have social media.
i’m thankful we didn’t have social media. could you imagine how much worse this experience would have been for us?

the feeling of relief when you find a place to sit.

Once you were on the bus your journey began. Sometimes there were parents on board, but mostly it was just your teachers and the bus driver. A half hour drive felt like a lifetime- and it didn’t really matter where you were going, the excitement of going somewhere was enough to make a little girl smile.

Do you miss those days of new and unknown? What was your favorite field trip?