Tuesday, May 4, 2021

That Darned KNEE and Another SOUP! - Tomato Cheddar Dumpling Soup (Two Ways!)

My posts have been kind of spotty lately, partly because I've been working on my so-called "home office" and just this past weekend because The Uncooperative Knee went rogue again and Somebody had to have surgery on it.  That's NINE since March of 2019.  So it's going to be back to home nursing once again.

Oh well.  It is what it is.

ANYWAY!  I thought I had already written a post about this particular soup, but I was WRONG.  So here it is!

I found this soup recipe when I was browsing the internet.  It sounded tasty and easy (two reasons to like it), so it was put into the soup rotation.  It's a pretty basic recipe - tomato soup with cheddar dumplings, and really easy, no matter which way you decide you make it.  It's just super fast and convenient one way, and not so fast the other.  Mostly common pantry staples either way.

Tomato Cheddar Dumpling Soup (Two Ways)

The Original Way

For the soup:
2 T canola or olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped red bell pepper
3 T flour
28 oz whole canned tomatoes, undrained
2 c water
2 T minced celery leaves
2 T sugar
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t dried basil

For the dumplings:
1 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T shortening or butter
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c milk

In a 4-quart pan, heat the oil, and saute the garlic, onion, and bell pepper until fragrant.  Blend in the flour and let it cook about a minute.  Add the tomatoes and break them up.  Add the remaining soup ingredients.  While it is heating to a simmer, mix up the dumplings.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in the shortening or butter to make loose crumbs.  Add the cheese and milk and mix until all dry ingredients have been moistened.

By this time, the soup should be at a simmer.  Drop the dumpling batter into the soup by tablespoons, or use a sprayed cookie scoop.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

The Convenient Way

For the soup:
Use your favorite shelf-stable tomato soup and prepare enough to make about 2 quarts of soup. Heat it to a simmer.  You might want to add some garlic powder and basil.  It's up to you!

For the dumplings:
1  7.75-oz box of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit or similar mix (Aldi has a good one)
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 T melted butter
1/2 c milk

Mix all the ingredients together, including the contents of the entire seasoning packet from the biscuit mix.  Treat the batter the same way as the Original Way, above.  By this time, the soup should be at a simmer.  Drop the dumpling batter into the soup by tablespoons, or use a sprayed cookie scoop.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.


1 c Bisquick or similar baking mix (Jiffy makes a good one)
1/2 c shredded cheddar 
1/3 c milk

Mix all the ingredients together.  Treat the batter the same way as the Original Way, above.  By this time, the soup should be at a simmer.  Drop the dumpling batter into the soup by tablespoons, or use a sprayed cookie scoop.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

That's all there is to it!  

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Follow by Email is Being Discontinued!!! AARGH!!!!

This is a public service announcement for those of you who receive my blog posts directly in your email.  That service is being discontinued as of July 1, 2021.  

I am SO SORRY.  Because of the way Feedburner is set up, I don't have a list of subscribers' email addresses, so I can't shoot out a post via email myself.  I guess you'll all have to watch for the updates on Facebook or Twitter - of course, that can be pretty hit-or-miss.  

As an alternative, you can subscribe via an RSS feed.  There is a place on the full desktop site blog page to subscribe to posts and/or comments using NetVibe, MyYahoo!, or Atom.  If you click on Atom, you can choose to see the feed using MyYahoo!, Newsblur, Feedly, Inoreader, and The Old Reader.

So...I'll just keep plugging away.  If I decide I have to move to a different platform, I'll try to get the news out there to you.

Anyway, here's the notification I got a couple of weeks ago:

 FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner) is going away

You are receiving this information because your blog uses the FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner).
Recently, the Feedburner team released a system update announcement , that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021.
After July 2021, your feed will still continue to work, but the automated emails to your subscribers will no longer be supported. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Reworking Apple Jelly - Is That REALLY a Thing?

Back in December, I made a batch of apple scrap jelly.  I cooked up the apple scraps (peels and cores), strained out all the solids, and used the resulting juice for the jelly.  After letting the jars sit and cool overnight, I removed the rings and had a look at the amber goodness inside.  Perfectly transparent!  Gorgeous color!  All the lids sealed!  YAY!


When I picked up a jar and tipped it a little, the "jelly" slopped to one side.  Like a liquid.

What the what???

It's not like apple jelly is difficult to make or anything like that.  I mean, apples are packed FULL of pectin, which you usually have to add to get jams and jellies to set nicely.  I always add pectin, just to be absolutely sure it jells (hence the trademarked name "Sure-Jell" for powdered pectin), but you can easily make apple jelly without adding pectin.  So what went wrong?  No clue at this point. 

What do you do with apple jelly that didn't set?  I guess you could use it for syrup, but would you?  I sure wouldn't!  HA!  I know sometimes jams don't set up right away (I've had that happen) and if you let them just sit a couple of weeks or so, they will eventually set enough to pass for jam.  Orange marmalade is like that, and you expect it.  But jelly isn't supposed to be soft like jam; it's supposed to hold its shape sort of like molded gelatin.

If you've looked at the picture closely, you will have noticed that the date on the label is 3/14/2021 - definitely NOT December, and no, I didn't throw it all out and start over.  In fact, all those jars sat on the kitchen table that whole time, while I hoped they'd firm up.  No dice.  So...

I reworked the jelly!

Inside the Sure-Jell™ package is a sheet of instructions and recipes for jams and jellies.  I've made jam or jelly often enough (I THOUGHT) that I knew the ropes well enough.  Well...hmmmm.  I'd stopped reading ALL the directions.  Not a good thing when you're dealing with something finicky like jelly.  

You're supposed to:

  • make your juice - check
  • measure the juice exactly per the recipe - check
  • use only pure cane sugar, such as Domino or G&H - WHOOPS!!!

I had used plain old store-brand generic SUGAR.  Look at the ingredients:  "SUGAR" - no "cane" in there anywhere, which means it's probably beet sugar or a blend of beet and cane sugar.  There's nothing wrong with beet sugar for cooking or baking, but if you want your jelly or jam to set up correctly, pure cane sugar is the way to go.

The instructions are right there in the Sure-Jell™ package, so I won't go into all that.  But the "jelly" came out of the jars as mostly syrupy liquid with some partially-jelled lumps of different sizes.  You're supposed to do a small test batch to see whether it's worth your time to rework all the jelly that didn't set up.  I did, it did, and so I went ahead with the full batch.  

And...it worked!  I went out and bought a bag of Domino Pure Cane Sugar and used it for the test and the full batch.  It really did make a difference.  The reworked batch isn't quite as firm as it could be, but it's definitely JELLY now, and totally acceptable.

So I've learned my lesson (the hard way):  When making jelly, DON'T BUY CHEAP SUGAR!  

Friday, April 9, 2021

#ArtWorkLivingChallenge 2021 - Day 5 (The Final Day!)

Well, I made it through the 5-day painting challenge.  My results were...mixed.  I took too much time on
about half of my paintings, but I painted five days in a row, didn't worry about a finished product (for the most part), learned some things, and had fun!

I may redo all my paintings, but in a bigger format, just to see what difference it makes to me, and to see what I've learned about critiquing my own stuff.  Painting such small things (3.5" x 5.5") is limiting in some ways, but freeing in others.

So anyway, this is a great blue heron with a snack.

Same stats as the other Challenge paintings:

Watercolor on Canson XL 140-lb watercolor paper.

The first thing I'm going to change is the paper I use.  I really, really, REALLY like Arches cold press watercolor paper, so I'm going to stick with it instead of trying to use up the wood pulp papers I still have on hand.  I can use them for things other than watercolor.

As a reward for finishing the Challenge, I ordered some tubes of better quality watercolors, so I'll be playing with those.

I've about half finished clearing out a bedroom that I want to use for all my artsy-fartsy-craftsy stuff, and for working jigsaw puzzles (it's a cat-free zone).  It's amazing the stuff that can be shoved into a room.  But I'm far enough along that I think that in about a week I can start moving furniture in and out and around.

Woo hoo!  I'm gonna have a STUDIO!!!  It's almost real!