Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reflections of winter and a warm mug of potato soup

Winter is hanging on in Iowa. Gray skies, cold nights, snow and wind alternating with hints of the spring to come. Shoveling and snow plowing. Browsing through garden and seed catalogs. Time to grab an afghan, a warm kitty for my lap and a good book. Hoping......

The view outside is pretty....well, grim. Barren trees, a frozen lake, brown grass where there is no snow. Not a very pretty spot this time of year. The wildlife, however, can be quite amazing. We have lots of regulars around here, deer, geese, foxes. It's not unusual to find a raccoon grubbing in the trash for a snack.

This year the lake has seen a lot more American Bald Eagles than I can remember in a long long time. They are majestic birds, so strong and graceful. Some days we had so many eagles fishing for lunch it looked like an eagle refuge. It would be wonderful if they would settle here and build a nest.

This is one of those times of year that I really appreciate a few instant things in the cupboard. Instant cocoa. Instant cappuccino. Instant soups. There is something so comforting about sitting down to a big mug of hot soup, or filling a thermos with piping hot soup for lunch later. We don't buy many pre-made mixes at the store and most of them have way too much salt and preservatives for my taste anyway, so making my own instant mixes is the way I prefer to go. 

This instant potato soup is my favorite. I use a dehydrator so when I make it I like to use my own dehydrated scallions (green onions) that have been pulsed in the food processor to make a powder, my own dehydrated herbs from my garden and if I have it around, dehydrated cooked potatoes instead of store-bought dried mashed potatoes, but those work just perfectly and don't cost much at all. When choosing a chicken bouillon to use, I prefer the dry powder type. Granules tend to settle at the bottom of the jar and of course the moister types won't work at all in a dried mix. This is also a great idea to keep in your desk drawer in the office for a quick and easy lunch, and makes a great homemade gift too. Just write the instructions on a cute card and add a cute soup mug and you've got a thoughtful homemade gift.

Instant Potato Soup

2 cups dry instant mashed potato flakes
1 1/2 cups dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons instant chicken bouillon (I like the powder best)
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch ground white pepper
1 tablespoon dried chopped chives

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Scoop into 1 quart jar or container. To make a serving of soup, place 1/2 cup mix in bowl or mug and add 1 cup boiling water.

NOTE: If you are a dehydrating person like I am, you can make your own instant mashed potatoes too, by cooking potatoes til tender, then flaking or ricing onto waxed paper of fruit roll up trays and running in the dehydrator until completely dry. A quick buzz in the food processor and you're all set.

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