“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything is different.” Bill Watterson

What do you do when you’re tired of the same old but everyone around you still insist on it. Make it different and wait for the backlash, or make it the same in a new way? After a summer of BBQ, (actually it’s a way of life around here), I get bored of the classic baked potato yet everyone still expects it to make a showing on the table.

Loaded Baked Potato SoupFall has hit quickly in Toronto and the chill is on us. The baseball season is at end and the playoffs are in sight. So using a ball euphemism, I decided to develop a baked potato curve ball.

Taking the task partially outside I created a Full Loaded Baked Potato Soup. Yes extreme, yes filling, and yes wonderfully satisfying. Each year we celebrate a Canadian Thanksgiving outside and on a farm in Northern Ontario. My responsibility, the tailgate! With the temperature dropping I think that this will make a good addition to the food so I decided to experiment first.

When making soup, I prefer to roast off my vegetables first instead of just sticking them in the stock to cook. To me it brings out more of the natural sugars and taste in the base flavour. So not to break my tradition, I roasted off 6 Russets and the carrots for my stock first. When they were soft and ready, I sautéed half an onion and celery in a large stock pot with olive oil until they were soft and translucent. Rough chopped 4 of the potatoes and the carrots and Added them to the pot with, garlic, salt and pepper and 3 bay leaves. Topped the whole thing off with 2 liters of chicken stock and let it simmer for an hour. I threw in two tablespoons of a BBQ rub that I had made to bring some of the outdoor spice and aroma to the soup.

After the hour the stock was blended down to a smooth consistency ( after taking out the bay leaves), placed back in the stock pot and put on low.  The remaining two potatoes were rough chopped into bit size pieces and joined the other happy elements in the soup.  Keep extra chicken stock around and if it’s too thick for you, thin it out to your liking with some extra.

Finished with sour cream, crisp fried bacon, chopped green onion, and shredded cheddar for the fully loaded part.  Take a look. It feels like soup to the mouth but tastes like a baked potato.

Putting a different spin or preparation on an old favourite is a way to break from the norm but still fill the need of the comfort you and your family get from the staple.

I remember a teacher from high school giving me instruction on how to look at a situation.

  1. Leave it the same.
  2. Remove it completely.
  3. Rearrange it.
  4. Take away from it.
  5. Add to it.

That’s how to keep an old favourite from creeping into mundane territory.

What can you do to your standard and give it new life?

Be well and eat well

Scott

PS. I think the family will like this at Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

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“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” Jane Howard

Turkey Shoot 2013A Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Canada comes a month early compared to our friends in the US. Origins can be dated back to 1578 and the voyage of Martin Frobisher searching for the Northwest Passage.  Samuel de Champlain held many festival of celebration of thanks and established the Order of Good Cheer  in sharing their food with the First Nation.

At one point Upper and Lower Canada celebrated Thanksgiving at different times. After the American Revolution, refugees that remained loyal to Britain brought customs and traditions north to Canada. Its date fluctuated until 1957 when the second Monday in October became a national statutory holiday.  The theme became a celebration of the abundant harvest and thankfulness of all we are blessed with.

Our family gathering’s origin comes from an event long before my participation. During the 1960’s, my in-laws would have a fall party they entitled The Turkey Shoot. The day long party centered around the men target shooting for bragging rights and the prize of a turkey for

Thanksgiving. Its day had long passed and would have probably remained a memory if not for the creativity of my brother-in-law. We decided in 1989 to make Thanksgiving our event and resurrected The Turkey Shoot. Christmas would be for our immediate nest, but Thanksgiving would be the whole family, extended, girlfriends and boyfriends, friends, dogs, basically everybody that makes us who we are. There would be no presents and no expectations other than being together to be together. We would eat, and eat well, have drinks, tell stories and rehash laughs and tears, sit up too late around the fire and just be us. I have to say in 24 years I have no memory of disagreements, attitudes or fights. I am very proud of us all. Understand that some years have been good with new arrivals and life events; others have not been so good.  People, important people, loved ones that have been with us and should still be with us are gone in body but still sitting around the fire with us. Our Thanksgiving is about family.

We have our target competition, horseshoe pitch, archery, and have even taken to setting Chinese lanterns into the sky late at night with messages to those that we wish were there.

I can talk about the food but we’ll let the pictures do that. There’s not a lot of late evening photos because no one really wants to see us dancing to Journey or rolling downhill off an unbalanced chair. Actually you probably do but what happens at the farm stays at the farm.

To all my friends, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. To all south of the border and anticipating yours, I wish you happiness and the warm embrace of your family and friends.Fall in Northern Ontario

The Farm
Juuust a bit outside!TailgateFire Good!Turkey Spit

Beautiful

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” Cesar Chavez

I’ve always believed in the family dinner.  Taking time from the week to bring everyone together and just be together. Our lives are too full these days and we have become a self-society.  When you have children your focus changes, or should change.

Ever since life dealt us a hard hand and we became 3 from 4, dinner and food has been a binder for us. Sharing and talking or even just being together in the same room has bound us through difficult times. This effort has even spread to friend, boyfriends, girlfriends, and new partners. Funny how a simple basic need imparts love when you take time to put your heart into it.

As I stated before, soup is one of my favourite meals to put together on the #BGE. Roasting off vegetables in the oven imparts more flavor, but roasting outside over some sweet wood takes it up to a new level. Smoke is like a kiss from the gods.

This time it was Corn and Sweet Potato, roasted of course.  Pulling back the husk of the corn but leaving the husk intact and then pulling all the silk out, as best you can. After that push the husk back into place and soak in water for at least an hour. The water soaked husk will create steam and hold back the leaves from burning right away. Oh they will burn just not as fast.

While the corn is soaking, prepare your stock. If you have bones in your freezer and make your own great, if you’re using a store bought stock, that’s ok too but add your own twist to it. Some bay leaves, garlic, whatever will make it your own.

When your grill is ready put on your sweet potato. I half mine and rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. When its 50% there, I start my corn. Husks intact and laying over the coals. I keep turning until the kernels are golden. You won’t get all the husk covering the corn so you can peak and watch.

Take the roasted corn from the grill along with your sweet potato and let cool till you can handle it. Remove all the corn from the cob and place half in your stock along with the scooped out sweet potato. Keep the other half aside. Don’t forget to put the stripped cobs in the stock too.

After 20 minutes of the warm sweet stock cooking, take it off, take out the cobs, and blend till smooth in a blender or food processor.   If you want a very smooth soup, pour through a strainer and work it through with the back of a ladle. If you like a little more substance to your soup, skip the strainer.

At this point add the reserved corn to your soup and return to the heat for a few minutes. The corn was already roasted so all you’re doing is heating it up.

A little cream or sour cream to the bowl and garnish however you like. A little red pepper flakes make it happy, happy, happy!

Soup is like a warm loving blanket and a great conversation starter at dinner time. Make some bread too. It’s not that hard.

Be well and eat well

Scott

"I live on good soup, not on fine words." Moliere

“I live on good soup, not on fine words.”
Moliere

“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” Paul Prudhomme

I know, I know I’ve been absent. Life happens when you’re busy doing other things. I need to read emails better. My dinner last week with the 2 ladies is actually this week. It’s been raining on and off for days and although I don’t mind getting wet, after a while it gets old. So the #BGE has been still. Except yesterday!

The smoke billowed to roast off sweet potatoes, garlic and red onion for the base of #sweetpotatosoup.  I had been craving a basic, uncomplicated meal and soup hits the buttons. I started the day making a shallot and parmesan #focaccia to accompany it. Something about soup and fresh bread is so comforting when life around you is so uncertain. Pureed and served with a dollop of sour cream in the middle to cream it out and the focaccia to dip.  Soup is not just for the fall. The BGE with a little oak wood for smoke enriched the flavor. Not too smoky, just right! Why roast in the oven when you can add a little of the outdoors too it!

Tonight, Tequila lime pork roast.

Be well and eat well.

Scott

Sweet, sweet, sweet potato!

Sweet, sweet, sweet potato!