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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Say this one five times real fast.

 So we are three days past Thanksgiving and I know some folks who already have their Christmas tree up,decorated and all lit up.I applaud you folks and hope one day to be as focused as you. For now this is the only lit tree I've see and it's a pretty nice view.
   I spent the Thanksgiving weekend with my husband's family outside of Tupelo,Mississippi . They have a lovely home with an even lovelier deck out back. I love this deck. I love this deck and the nature that surrounds it. It's gorgeous. The trees surround the deck and nature is alive.In the summer,you can watch the hummingbirds take flight and scrap over each feeder that hangs from the covered portion of the deck. They are fast I tell ya and no camera can catch those buggers.In the fall,the leaves are everywhere and the crisp cool breeze is just enough to remind you winter is just around the corner.It really feels like home.If you want to get specific,the deck chairs with a pile of magazines and a cup of coffee really feels like home.I mean really folks,perfect.
  We get down there when we can and spend the weekend enjoying all the blessings of life we can.I look forward to getting up early on my day off and taking root on that deck.I pack a bag full of magazines and cookbooks.I set my alarm to wake up around 7:00 am. Yep,I know crazy,but it's worth every second of sleep missed to have a little extra peace and quiet. In the morning,I get up,grab my reading material and my big ol' cup of coffee and head to the deck.I get a good two hours in with nature and some cookbooks . It's the best ever.
  This past weekend it was a bit chilly,like 35 degrees chilly. Now look I'm committed to this whole peace and quiet business(I even have my trusty quilt to warm me in that deck chair),but it was dang cold and I headed for the living room instead.I was way warmer and still got to wrap up with some good recipes and a hot cup of coffee. It's the life I tell ya.
   The colder nights are on their way and when it comes to dinner ideas a hearty soup is almost as good as that quilt on the deck.I have fallen for this rich bowl of dumpling goodness after a recent trip to Kentucky. My sister and her husband live up in Kentucky and it's just enough north to be a little bit colder at night and well let's face it,a little cooler in the day too. I'll tell you this,if you want something to warm you up after a long day of planting bulbs in your sister's garden,like actual shovel-digging, workin'-so-hard-you-actually-sweat gardening those chicken and dumplings will do the trick. The next soup on my list is one from Giada de Laurentiis's cookbook Everyday Pasta and it's got warmth stirred all up in it. It's called Ribollita .  Ribollitta(say that name five times real fast why don't ya) is a thick tuscan soup and usually has pieces of stale bread in it. Giada said her family used odds and ends of pasta in it and for me,that adds some character. Soup and pasta,and two for one,score!

adapted from Everyday Pasta
by Giada de Laurentiis
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion,finely chopped
1-2 carrots,peeled and diced
4 ounces pancetta,chopped
 (I used 4 pieces of bacon,it works just fine.)
2 garlic cloves,minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 TBL tomato paste
1(14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes,with juices
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach,
    thawed and squeezed dry
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans,drained and rinsed
2 tsp herbes de Provence
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
   ( I would recommend using 8 cups,the pasta will
     use up a lot of that liquid.)
1 bay leaf
3 inch piece of Parmesan rind
1 cup spaghetti,broken into 1-inch pieces
Grated Parmesan,for serving
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the bacon in batches until crispy.(If you cook all the bacon at one time,it will wind up steeping in it's own juices and not get crispy.Oh I love crispy bacon.) Add the carrot,onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is browned on the edges and softened. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add the tomatoes and stir,scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
2. Add the spinach,beans, herbes de Provence,broth,bay leaf, and the Parmesan rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boil,then add the spaghetti,reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes,or until the pasta is al dente.
3. Discard the Parmesan rind and bay leaf, and ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

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