Pages

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Signed Up For Cathy Zielske's Design Your Life

Yup, I signed up for another online scrapbooking class. This one is also taught by the humorous Cathy Zielske over at Big Picture Scrapbooking. It's called Design Your Life, my interest was piqued by the email announcing the class it was titled "Earn Your Scrapbooking Design Degree", but it was looking at what was covered in the Class Syllabus that made me really want to take this class. I was in high school yearbook, some --- well I'm not going to tell you how many years ago that was... but I learned JUST enough about page design to know I enjoy understanding WHY things work and WHY things don't.


I tried very hard to resist this class... but the deck was stacked against me. Foremost was I really wanted to take the class. Next was Twitter-pressure. That's kinda like online peer-pressure, but a positive thing. I heard from a number of scrapbooking Twitter friends who took this class last year & raved about it... and those who will be taking the class along with me THIS year. I even heard from the course teacher herself who had this to say...

The great thing is that is what everyone who took the class last year has to say about it.

So another class... it's almost like making a new years' resolution to keep up this time. Julie Johnson, you're on! We're now Don't Fall (too far) Behind Buddies. How'm I doin' so far? Well it's day one and I already went into the classroom and looked at the materials & the first assignment... however, it turns out there was a pre-class assignment... so I'm starting out already behind. I feel RIGHT at home. LOL!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Spinach Hater's Creamed Spinach

My recipe card calls this recipe Gulliver's Spinach Souffle, but this is not a souffle, it's creamed spinach. Gulliver's is a Prime Rib House in Orange County right across from the John Wayne Airport. I have very fond memories from there concerning prime rib, creamed spinach & Yorkshire pudding... I don't know if this really is their recipe or someone just put their name on it to insure we would all try the recipe. BUT this spinach is really good. My child loves spinach because this was his introduction. I've served this recipe to spinach haters & THEY love it. The only people who don't enjoy this recipe is vegetarians and boy do they WISH they could eat it because it has a heavenly aroma. The key to this amazing goodness is BACON! This is another recipe from my mother, Cathy Black - a veritable treasure trove of exemplary quality recipes!

So you can get a respectable pre-made creamed spinach at H.E.B. over next to the rotisserie chickens... but my Ethan - a 3rd generation bacon aficionado, specially requested MY homemade creamed spinach... I admit I'm a little bit glad mine is better than H.E.B. If you want to teach a child to love spinach... this is the way. We are such fanatics I usually make a double batch. I have also used this as a filling for homemade crepes. Mmmmmmmm.

Spinach-Hater's Creamed Spinach
1 lb frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup fine chopped bacon
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 garlic clove chopped fine (more is better)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp course ground pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour (original recipe was 1/2 cup but that's too pasty)
(my addition) a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg

Squeeze spinach as dry as possible and reserve. Squeezing out in a thin kitchen towel makes this an easier task... but it will most likely stain your towel green, so don't use your favorite fancy decorative towel.

You want these bacon pieces small, you can cut them small from the get-go or chop it fine after it's crisp, I think that's easier... but you want the bacon fat for this dish, so make sure to cook your bacon in the large saucepan you'll use for the spinach. The recipe says cook the bacon slowly, do not brown HOGWASH! If you don't get this bacon crisp it will get flabby when you add it back into the spinach at the end. Crisp away! Remove bacon from pan, reserve.

Add chopped onions, cook until translucent. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and flour. Adding the flour will make a paste, traditionally called a roux. Stir continuously for about two minutes. Stir in the reserved, finely chopped, cooked bacon.

Add milk & whip (or stir continuously) until smooth. Stir and cook for two more minutes. Add spinach, use the spoon to keep breaking it apart until it's evenly mixed. Cook for 5 more minutes with the spinach, stirring occasionally. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg if desired. Serve, or refrigerate and reheat on the stove top, stirring often. This recipe can be made a day ahead and will keep for a few days. If it gets too thick you can stir in a little milk as you reheat.

Note about roux:
Learning how to make a roux is one of the most useful techniques I have EVER learned in cooking. You can use this info to make gravy, white sauce (also known as B├ęchamel), Mornay sauce, macaroni & cheese, a manner of Alfredo, curry and an unlimited number of variously flavored, thickened sauces of your own creation.
A roux is made from mixing together equal amounts of fat (usually butter) and flour. Melt the fat, add the flour and cook for several minutes, mashing around in the pan with a wooden spoon. The purpose of this is to thoroughly combine the fat and flour and cook off the raw flour taste. Once that is done you add liquid according to what you want to make(chicken broth, milk, cream, wine, coffee - whatever is called for) and flavorings (anything from tarragon, to cheese, lemon juice, parsley not all in one recipe of course, but you get the idea.) It's a great thing to know how to do it's probably the single most valuable technique I know for breaking out of recipe box bondage.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chicken & Asparagus Risotto Skillet

This is one of my favorite all time recipes. It's ridiculously easy and yet so good. It's not a true risotto, it uses canned soup and, HORRORS! minute rice. A product I do not think my mother allowed in her kitchen. All the same this recipe is delicious and even though I now know how to make "real" risotto I am STILL also making this delicious recipe. You can double the asparagus if you want to. More asparagus is never a bad thing! This recipe originates with The Pampered Chef and dates from the era of my life when I was a consultant... It comes from the Main Dishes cookbook (which I suspect is no longer available.) You need a really big skillet, a deep 10" or even better 12 incher, with a lid.

Chicken & Asparagus Risotto Skillet

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts about 1 per person, split in half on the horizontal (to make them thinner & cook more evenly)
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped very fine
3 garlic cloves, pressed with a garlic press, or minced
2 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, grated, (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, zested
2 cups milk
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 bundle fresh asparagus spears, washed, trimmed & cut into pieces
2 cups instant long-grain white rice


Add olive oil to pan & heat to medium heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add to skillet cooking until no longer pink (about 6 minutes on each side.) Remove chicken from pan and reserve.


Add milk, soup, asparagus, onion, garlic, cheese, lemon zest and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan (I start with the onions & garlic so they can start cooking and dump each ingredient into the pan as I finish preparing it.) Stir everything together, bring to a boil & let simmer 3 minutes.


Stir in rice; top with chicken & any collected juices. Cover pan; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.


Note Preparing Asparagus:
One of the reasons that a lot of people don't like asparagus is that it is so often improperly trimmed. It's really easy, my mother taught me how and this method has never done me wrong. Rinse the asparagus under cold running water and shake dry. Grasp the asparagus near the top and the bottom and bend until it breaks. The asparagus will break where the woody part of the stem ends. I don't know why or how, but Mother was right. Discard the end, sometimes a lot breaks off but trust me, you don't want to eat that part it will be woody, sinewy and unpleasant, toss it. Mother knew best! If you do it this way you need not mess about with vegetable peelers or any of that nonsense. (I wish I could show you a demonstration picture, but it takes both hands to bend the asparagus & I don't have a tripod for my camera phone.)

Note on Lemon Zest:

There are at least 2 ways to zest a lemon & either one will do, but the amount of zest you use may vary according to which method you use. If you use a rasp or micro-plane grater, you will get a powdery light zest. If you use a traditional lemon zester you will get larger strings of zest and generally it takes less zest for more flavor. In some cases if you have a very good zester which makes long strands you may want to cut them into shorter pieces with a knife. For this dish I used my micro-plane zester because - I don't know the mood struck me.... but when I am making zest for baked goods like cookies... I used my trusty lemon zester!

Now a story about zesters:

I worked for about 5 years in housewares in a major department store (The Broadway if you live on the West Coast & want to know) when I was about 20. It was very funny to observe how customers would wait for the older ladies in the department in order to ask their advise on pieces of equipment & see their astonishment as a lady of more-than-50 referred the customer to me as having more experience in that kind of cooking. Te-he-hee that was always kind-of fun.


Well anyway, I did quite a good trade in selling lemon zesters as tie-ons for Bridal Shower gifts. The Henckles gadgets were near the cash register & ladies who came in registry shopping as a group would often amuse themselves by playing "name that gadget" which each other as I was ringing up... many of them had no idea what most of the tools were (this was before The Food Network.)


The one that always stumped them was the lemon zester. Again it was fun to watch their surprise when the young whippersnapper (me) knew what it was and could tell them 3 different dishes in which they might USE a lemon zester (a credit to my wonderful cooking/baking, mother.) After 2 different groups bought zesters in order to play "stump-the-bride" at the shower... I began suggesting them as an add-on to many of my registry customers. (FYI even now, my spell-checker doesn't recognize the word zester.)

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

IMG_0448.JPG
OK, I had to get this recipe up before Christmas in case anyone wanted to make these. I got the recipe from Stacie at work. I made them last year on Christmas morning, but Stacie told me they're even better when you make them ahead, especially if you get a chance to freeze them. Any holiday preparation I can get done a few days ahead is a HUGE help in this one-woman-family, the buck stops HERE. Everything that's gonna be done has to be done by me. So this year I made 'em on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving & stashed them in my freezer. Per Stacie's instructions I took them out and set them on the counter as soon as I got up Thanksgiving morning and baked them when the Turkey came out of the oven.

She was right, they were good before, but made ahead and frozen they were FABULOUS! We hardly even needed any gravy. They got nice and golden on top with lovely brown edges, so very yummy.

I don't know if I will have any photos to share Because Hubby owns the good camera in our family & after I took Thanksgiving photos he re-claimed it. But trust me these are good potatoes, give 'em a try!

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

8 to 10 potatoes
8oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
4 to 6 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Peel potatoes & cut into uniformly sized pieces.

Put the potatoes in a large pot & add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. NOTE: starting with cold water helps the potatoes cook more evenly, if you add the potatoes to already boiling water the outsides of the potatoes will overcook before the middles are done. Bring the water to a boil, you can add salt to the water now if you want, and cook until a knife inserted into the potato slides in easily with little resistance. Test a few pieces to make sure they're all done to the middle. Drain potatoes.

Note: I like to use a potato ricer instead of mashing for even fluffier potatoes, but my ricer requires strong-man power so when I don't have a man standing around willing to help me out, I use a regular potato masher. Mash potatoes while hot once you get the big lumps out add cream cheese and sour cream. At this point I like to switch to a hand mixer. Beat potatoes until fluffy and smooth add salt and pepper to taste.

Place in a 9" x 13" baking dish dot with butter cover with foil and put in the fridge overnight (an overnight stint in the freezer makes them even better.)

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 min with foil, then uncover and bake 20 more minutes
serves 10 to 12

CookSmart Tip: I often make this recipe using the full bag of potatoes (so it makes a little more) then rather than place in a baking dish, I divide the potatoes into two gallon size freezer bags. I seal the bags, flatten them out and freeze. Then I have mashed potatoes ready made in my freezer for an easy weeknight side dish. I defrost the potatoes, place in a baking dish, and bake until hot. You can re-heat them in a microwave but texture will be nicer if you bake them as intended.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Silly Critters

Yes I am making little stories & putting words into the mouths of my dog & cat. It amuses me.

"You Can't see me"


No!
I have NOT been eating the Christmas Tree!















Why do you ask?


Well at least I have the dog to match.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Damask Photo Box

Look at this beautiful photo box I found yesterday... The decor in my stamp room is coming along nicely. If I ever get organized enough to get back in there.

I don't think I ever mentioned that I decided to go with blue walls and black & white Damask & a Parisian theme. Hey, were else in a house of boys am I going to get to do that?

You'd be surprised how hard it is to find damask in black & white fabric for curtains.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cricut Cookies

Leave it to a scrapbooker to figure out how to use papercraft tech on Christmas cookies! I'm going to have to try this with my Cricut and my Nana's prize sugar cookie recipe!

Brilliant idea Erin!
Head on over to Erin's Blog Procrastination Station to see how she did it. http://erinlincoln.blogspot.com/2009/12/sugar-cookie-how-to.html

P.S. This is my first time blogging from the car rider line at school. I love my new DROID phone <3 (of course now that I am home I had to add a picture to really let you know what you're missing over at Procrastination Station.) And thanks to Julie Johnson over at Just Our Story for the heads up!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Got a DROID - Apps

last updated 10:45 Wed. June 30, 2010


I got one of those new DROID phones and I loved it immediately. I got it on November 7 so I have had it for awhile and the longer I have it the MORE I love it.

I had a Palm Treo previously (It was a 3 year old model) and I hated it - it was the stupidest smart phone ever. It didn't have basic functions that I had on basic phones in the past... but I also didn't get the Internet hooked up to it. So the DROID is my first Internet surfing, emailing - all around phone.

I feel like I have a computer in my pocket, I'd say I spend less than HALF the time I used to on my laptop. Motorola DROID is on Verizon and uses the Android Operating System (developed by Google) I'm not going to be a DROID commercial... but I have wished I could find a resource for recommendations of applications to use on my DROID so in hopes other bloggers will begin to do the same, I am going to list the apps that I like and use....

Apps I Use


Pandora - Internet Radio
A streaming custom radio station - how did I not know about this, before?! I haven't bothered loading any music on my phone because Pandora is so great and so EASY to use! Robert has satellite radio in his car & he gets a little annoyed that I would rather listen to Pandora over the car stereo (linked thru the headphone jack) than his fancy satellite radio. You can also use Pandora on your PC http://www.pandora.com/


update 12/22/09
I like Shazam for helping me identify and tag songs that I hear when I am out and about (or on TV.)


BeyondPod
BeyondPod is an app for listening to podcasts. I set up the podcast subscriptions right on my phone and Beyond Pod can pull direct to my phone right thru the Internet. It's set me free from iTunes sync bondage (and also freed me from having to wear headphones!) I tried a few different apps for this (including Google Listen) before settling on BeyondPod. Ultimately it came down to a few podcasts I listen to which require a user password for access to the feed and Beyond Pod has the ability to handle that in the setup. It also pauses the podcast when I have an incoming call. BeyondPod can also sync with Google Reader, but at present I have only used it for podcasts. This is the only paid app I have right now.There is a free version but I bought the unlock code for the full app on Black Friday when it was half price.

Ustream Viewer Beta
I just loaded this today and it WORKS! Yay now I can take my ustream live shows with me! Search for the show name instead of putting in the website address. It stops the stream (doesn't close the app) if you try to do another task that takes you away from the screen, or if you put the screen to sleep. I'm not sure if its meant to work this way because it needs the resources to run, or if this is because its Beta.

Barcode Scanner
Incredible app uses camera to scan barcode & gives you comparison prices on several websites also can use to search some books will give page # of content you searched for - has been wonderfully handy for Christmas Shopping --while in Target - Ooo! Walmart has this for $5 cheaper!

Update 1/4/10



Seesmic
Today I tried out Seesmic a Twitter app that also has a desktop Twitter Client that is well spoken of. I LOVED it. It has a wonderful interface and I could do things with lists and profiles, and search for users so much better, even better than the desktop Twitter Client I currently use (TweetDeck.) I'm still using Twidroid for day-to-day tweeting because Seesmic does not yet have the ability to remember my place with the last tweet I read... this feature is supposed to be coming soon- when it does I expect to switch over completely. I didn't uninstall Seesmic because I will still use it for lists & the user searches. Here is an article that does a wonderful job of describing all the features complete with screen shots. http://blog.appboy.com/2009/12/seesmic-finally-makes-twitter-usable-on-android/
Would it make you discount my opinions if I say that I'd so much rather look at Seesmic's cute Icon than Twidroid's ugly one?


Update 12/22/09
Twidroid
I'm now using the free version of Twidroid instead of ITweet because it allows me to view lists. It also has a "conversation" option on Tweets which shows me a threaded conversation. This is real handy when sometimes I can not figure out which tweet someone was responding to! I think I prefer this to Tweet Deck because of this feature! I wish they had a desktop version!
http://twidroid.com/features/

ITweet! (see note above about Twidroid & Seesmic)
The twitter app I'm using it works well enough. It allows me to see my full feed, just my tweets, just replies, just sent direct message, just saved direct messages.... I liked this app as I wanted to be sure to see @replies and direct messages as I follow a lot of people

Facebook
came loaded on the phone

Update 12/23/09
Fandango
- I think this is a recent release... Fandango showed me which show times of Avatar were playing in 3D and which were on IMAX - the Flixter app below did NOT show me that and we ended up seeing it in a normal (not even 3d theatre.)

Movies by Flixter (see notes above in Fandango)
Find local movie times, read reviews, watch trailers. Also section for Coming Soon & DVD. Trailers are great for entertaining my child in restaurants.

Yelp
for finding restaurants & businesses in your vicinity - I like this better than "Where"

Star Wars Sounds and Ringtones
Like a soundboard, fun to play with - could occupy my 11-year-old all day long

Google Sky Map
Fun to play with hold it up and move it around, screen displays star chart based on phone location so you can identify stars, planets etc... Have also used it to find the moon during the day. Also displays stars you can't see because they are below the Horizon.

The Weather Channel
See current weather conditions option to add several locations - see current, 36 hour and 10 day forecast - I used this to monitor the snow forecasts for flight day and on my trip to Oklahoma City. It was very handy!

Note pad
Would like to find a better one, if screen times out before I back out... it won't save edits - very annoying as I keep grocery list on my phone!

Evernote
I have this one installed but so far it hasn't worked for any of the things I wanted to do from my phone (I couldn't edit my grocery list on my phone to mark off stuff as I shopped. And I couldn't save a web page that I wanted to go back to later.) I'm new to Evernote... so perhaps I'll figure out some things its good for... my Twitter friends rave that its wonderful, just seems like the mobile version can't do any of the things I want it to do.

SuperYatzy
Addicting. You can play 2 player with a friend or play against the phone

WordUp!
A word scramble game

Word Search
Word search game

Tetrads
Tetris type game.

Apps I want to see developed for Android: (so I can use them)

Update 6/30/10 Kindle for Android released today!!!!! I have it loaded, and plan to play with it while I eat breakfast!

Kindle for Android
My greatest wish is for a KINDLE app that will allow me to read my Kindle books on my phone. I really hope that Google's association with the Barnes & Noble Nook is not going to get in the way of Android having an Amazon Kindle app. I own a Kindle, I love it - I'd love to be able to access the Kindle Content I own, from my phone.
Kindle for PC is available Now: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311


Tweet Deck for Android (no longer wishing for this see Twidroid & Seesmic above)
My 2nd greatest wish is for a better Twitter App. If Tweet Deck would come out with an app for android that would remember which tweets I have already marked as seen and cleared from my desktop - that would be WONDERFUL. I'd settle for an Android Twitter app that would allow me to make columns or groups so that when I'm busy I can just view updates of my best friends... at this point I am sometimes missing them in the crowd.
Tweet Deck for PC Now: http://www.tweetdeck.com/features/index.html


Update 6/30/10 This app is now available in the Android Market. It is $29.99 and I plan to get it! (but due to some home network internet issues, I need to reconfigure my Sling box - as soon as I have it set up again I will be getting this app!)

Slingbox for Android
We have a slingbox. It's hooked up to our home DVR/cable box. Basically a slingbox makes it so that I can watch my home TV content over the Internet. I can watch shows recorded on the DVR, I can watch live TV, I can even watch programs on demand. This makes Robert a rock star when he is watching... say, the NBA finals on his laptop in the airport. It's very cool for a business traveler... and it would be very cool for a Mom stuck in traffic to hand off on her phone to an antsy child in the back seat.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cricut Creations

There has been a lot of interest lately in Cricut machines, so I'm posting Cricut artwork that hasn't previously been on my blog. Most of these are things I posted to the Cricut Message Board before I had my own blog. I'll give a link to project details on that board when possible.

Click Artwork for Larger view

Harvest Layouts http://www.cricut.com/messageboard/tm.aspx?m=408620

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recipe Systems - How I handle Magazines & Cookbooks

I love cooking magazines! At present my favorites are EVERYDAY with RACHAEL RAY and Cook's Illustrated.

In the past I have had trouble remembering to try the recipes that looked good in magazines. By the time I thumb thru them and find a recipe to make, my window of grocery shopping opportunity is over. After having this happen repeatedly I've devised a method for working with cooking magazines.

When I am ready to do my first reading of the magazine I sit down at the table with my magazine, a lined post-it tablet, a pen & a cup of tea. As I go thru the magazine I note recipes that I think I might like to try in the future. I write one on each line. I include Page Number then the name of the recipe.

When I have gone thru the magazine I stick the list to the front cover of the magazine, then when I am doing my menu planning & grocery list I can quickly find recipes I'm interested in, without having to read the whole magazine. As I try the recipes I star or highlight recipes I like, and mark out the line of any recipe I didn't like so I don't forget and make it again.

My method for cookbooks is similar except that I use a regular tablet instead of post-it style and I tuck the paper into the pages of the cookbook. I update the list with new recipes because I find new things appeal to me on later readings (and I seldom make my way thru the whole book in one sitting.) After I have made a recipe I star or highlight recipes on the list & in the cookbook index. I also write comments in the book next to the recipe such as "Great, Ethan love this one", "This is nice with Asparagus" or "Ick, Never Again!" When I mark in the book I use my scrapbooking journaling pens, I learned my lesson on this one as I have had ink bleed over the years some of my cookbooks when using regular pens. To my way of thinking, a well marked Cookbook is a well-loved cookbook.

How do you do it... I'd love to hear your methods!

Ethan's Birthday Celebration

We celebrated Ethan's birthday last Saturday. We ate at a local pizza place

opened presents, then went to Laser Tag & played a LOT of Rampage (it's a video where you get to be a giant Ape and destroy a city.)

Then we went home and had birthday cupcakes, then Ethan played his new Wii game, Toy Story Mania.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thankful For Moments Like These

Today I keep remembering another day... There was a really big box, an Uncle, a little boy, and a treasure map. The grown-ups came to visit and the little boy thought they all came to see him. He could not wait to show off the treasure map. One grown-up was game.

Becki you are such a blessing to us!


I've made this blog into a scrapbook layout if you'd like to see http://thefragranthand.blogspot.com/2010/03/one-about-big-box.html

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Think I'm In Love

My favorite chip is the last one on the plate, the one that sat next to the dill pickle spear for the whole meal.
I am in love with these chips. I haven't had anything this good since I quit working in that office that was on the Charles Chips delivery route (and these might be better.)

Alas they are not easy to come by.... but I can imagine going thru a case of them over the summer, what with sharing and some hamburger cookouts!

Here is how Route 11 describes themselves on the back of the bag, "Relative to the rest of the snack world, we are still small potatoes. And that's exactly how we like it. This small size affords a chipper attention to detail."

Here is a link to the Route 11 Website http://www.rt11.com/ where you can see all their flavors, look for stores that sell their chips in your area and contemplate ordering a case if nobody in your area sells their chips (I tell you I'm really considering it!)
And I find this flavor really intriguing!
Mama Zuma's Revenge Green Chile Enchilada (Mild) I wonder if I can track down a bag of this flavor to try?

Update: 11/14/09 I found these at a World Market store. It isn't listed on the website of companies that carry them, so I don't think it's something they carry all the time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zucchini Soup

This is an easy soup and it goes together real quickly. It's delicious & has a velvety, smooth texture. I had a bowl of it for lunch, today, with half a chicken salad sandwich. It's been raining all day so I'm planning Zucchini Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for tonight's dinner. This recipe came from my Mother, Cathy Black, her recipe notes say she discovered it in 1996 and credits the recipe to Marlene Sorosky. I have a number of Sorosky's books in my cookbook library. For years I made this soup with 2% milk before I realized it called for half and half. I bought the ingredients from memory, so today I used cream instead of half and half. Today I prepared a half recipe.


Zucchini Soup
3 lbs Zucchini
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (white pepper is wonderful in cream soups!)
2 (10 3/4 oz) cans Condensed Chicken Broth
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups half & half
Salt & white pepper to taste
chopped chives (optional garnish)

Wash and cut the zucchini into 1 inch pieces. Place in a saucepan or pot 6 quarts or larger. Add all ingredients up to (not including) half & half. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes.

Blend (by batches) in a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade. A blender gives a silkier texture, but beware blender lids can fly off when heated by hot liquid... to avoid burns and mess blend in small batches and hold down the blender jar lid with a folded kitchen towel, this will protect you from explosion & scalding splashes.

Return to the pan and stir in half and half. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Stir over moderate heat until heated through. Can be refrigerated or frozen at this point.
Serves 8