Friday, February 01, 2008

Some New Books, Roasted Tomato Soup, and The Stopper Family

So I've been sitting at home for nigh on two weeks due to illness (mine, then everybody else's). It is mentally unhealthy to go straight from the excitement and pleasures of New York City to sitting at home all day, with only grumpy, ailing children for conversation. (To be fair: last week I was the grumpy ailer.) One minute Tommy is his usual pleasant self, bringing me his high top Converse shoes as a goodwill, olive branch-y sort of guesture. The next, while I'm trying to wedge one on his fat foot, he grabs the shoes and chucks them at me, then throws a complete tantrum with arched back and all the trimmings, because he thinks I'm dressing him against his will. Schizophenia is rather tiring. Is like living with Sybil.

The best news is that Ross actually appears to have brought home an entirely new bug (we've grown immune to and tired of the old one), because yesterday morning he 'played well' (opposite of 'playing sick') so he could go to school, but threw up on the playground before he even made it to the classroom. This is the first day of school Ross has missed in three years. In addition to a strong constitution, he really, REALLY wanted the medals they give out at year's end for perfect attendance. He has two already. I guess he can give it another go in fourth grade.

So I tried reading to fill my time: started Love in the Time of Cholera. I starts out pretty boring, but I can handle all kinds of boring. I have a special talent for sticking with stuff that's boring. (Enjoying it, even. I like to luxuriate in pridefulness, telling myself that very few readers could force themselves as far into this snoozer as I did. I feel like member of a very elite, tenacious clique.) Soon enough, though, it also got creepy and nasty. So I put it down, regretfully. There were some nice images of intense romantic pining that would have been very tintillating back in my single days, when I was was like a professional piner. Also read The Deception of the Emerald Ring. I had high hopes for this one because a reviewer called it "History textbook meets Bridget Jones." But I think the reviewer should amend it to say: "History textbook meets Bridget Jones and Danielle Steele." You get the picture. I also read Letters from Pemberley, which was better than watching reruns on Tivo or a poke in the eye. Last night Jake and I resorted to watching two episodes of the British Office on the internet on a laptop computer.

Tuesday I cleaned my house. That's what I do on Tuesdays. If you want a real eyeful, you should stop by unannounced on Monday afternoon. Actually, you shouldn't.

Wednesday I started FamilySearch Indexing, which is sort of addictive and I did 84 names from the 1850 U.S. Census from Royalton, Niagara County, New York. It took me a really long time because I kept stopping to look people up on the already searchable 1880 census to see what became of them. One German family named Stopper had recently arrived from Bavaria in August 1850, and their last child had been born only 5 months before, here in America. The father was a shoemaker, and didn't yet own any property. In 1880 they had all moved to Wisconsin where apparently there were fortunes to be made in shoes. There they welcomed many American grandchildren, one of whom was named after son Peter, who doesn't show up on the 1880 census. I daydreamed that Peter the Elder met his untimely end trying to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, and so his brother named his first born after his brave but stupid brother. It seems more likely that Peter thought the American dream included more than shoes and living under the same roof with four generations (grandma came, too) in the cold, and tried his luck elsewhere.

Thursday, I thought: If I'm going to be home all day, again, I should cook up something really tasty. So I spent the whole day making roasted tomato soup and making 8 loaves of bread. Then I presented the feast to my sickly crew, who didn't eat any of it. They were too sick.

Today all the kids are home. Today is blogging day.
I thought I'd write this recipe down this morning so I won't forget it again next time.

4 14 oz. cans of tomatoes (mine were tomato halves from Costco). I use the ones already canned with basil, onions, garlic, etc.
salt and pepper
1.5 -2 sweet onions, diced
4 carrots, diced
3-4 stalks celery, diced
6-7 cloves roasted garlic
olive oil
2 14 oz cans chicken broth
bay leaf
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
heavy cream (add about 1 cup or more if adding before. I like to leave it out and let people add it themselves.)
Grated parmesan cheese

Drain tomatoes and reserve liquid. Spread tomatoes evenly onto jelly roll pan coated in olive oil. Drizzle with more olive oil, then add pepper and a little salt. Roast in 200 degree oven for 5.5 hours (or longer, just don't let em turn black) turning mixture once during cooking. Put a whole head of garlic with some olive oil in a little aluminum foil and let it roast, too. At the end, you can turn up the heat to 350 degrees or so and roast the garlic longer if it isn't soft enough.

Sometime during the 6 hours you've got to kill before dinner is ready, chop onions, carrots, celery. Cook them on low in butter until they are just soft.

You will also have plenty of time to make bread and read a book. Nurse (care for, not suckle at your breast, though I guess that's okay too) any small, sick children you might have lying about.

Place tomatoes and veggie mixture into large stockpot. Add reserved tomato juice (I cooked out some of the water just for something to do), chicken broth, roasted garlic (squeeze out some softened cloves), bay leaf, butter. Simmer on low about 20 minutes. Let cool a few minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Using a blender or handheld immersion blender, blend to your desired consistancy, from very chunky to super smooth. I like it well blended but with a few chunks. I add more pepper to taste and salt if needed (probably doesn't if you used canned chicken broth instead of homemade). Stir in lots of finely chopped fresh basil or serve it on the side with parmesan cheese and heavy cream.

Seriously, don't forget the heavy cream or the basil. You will regret it.

My soup is creamy, licorice-y. It tastes like it is full of sin, but really it is full of healthy veggies. And cream, and cream = sin.

I'm getting hungry. I am going to go have some leftovers.


Jolene said...

I am loving doing the indexing too. I just know that someday I am going to come upon the missing link in my own family's geneology.

Your soup sounds so delicious! Of course this stupid diet means no cream for me. I am getting pretty desperate - I can't watch the food channel anymore. And I can't believe I am going to admit to you that I almost took two pieces of sacrament bread because it tasted so good last week.

Molly said...

Tommy and Sam were great when I watched them! Tommy put his shoes on and everything, and I dont think he ever cried! Sam did though, but only when Ross and Jane were home! Todd and I took Sam and Tommy out to lunch and they were very good! Oh P.S, did you want me to come nanny for you sometime during the week? I have Fridays open if you need me!

Kelly said...

Yes, Molly. Could you come right now? I need you.

Gini said...

I'm so sorry you are sick. One time in Gibbon we were all so sick the neighbor had to bring us some popsicles.. that's all anyone could keep down. Just think.. as soon as you are all just about well someone else will get sick and start it all over again. BUT.. spring is coming!!

Kristen said...

I am so glad you posted that recipe b/c ever since New Years I have been craving it again. It was soo delish!