Cures what ails you (unless it’s a peanut allergy)

I had been on the fence about posting any more recipes because a) this isn’t a food blog because b) I’m really not that creative a cook. However, I have this one simple little concoction that I know will strike a chord with someone, and I felt I would be remiss not to share it.

Crisis Toast

2 slices Wonder Texas Toast

Peanut butter in style and quantity of choice

Toast bread to medium golden brown. Remove from toaster while warm. Spread with peanut butter. Eat for dinner from paper plate so as not to have to deal with dishes.

I know Wonder Bread is not nutritional, and I suppose peanut butter isn’t either, but at this point I don’t care because they make me not hungry and I don’t have to think that hard about them. We’re unexpectedly embroiled in a bit of a situation at my house, and I’ve spent most of the last two weeks at the hospital with my husband. The last thing I feel like doing when I get home is cooking or cleaning up. Usually I deal with the boys and then stumble off to bed.

My poor husband. He had hardly any sleep for the first six days, when he was in the ICU, and then he was switched to a regular room with an extremely noisy frequent-flier roommate who treated it more like a hotel room than a hospital. Now he’s at the acute-care rehab and finally getting more sleep and regular meals, and he’s much more himself, but I miss him and he misses me. He had a minor stroke after a routine surgery, and has temporarily lost the use of his left arm and leg. He is improving rapidly, though.

When I said I wanted more time to knit, this is not what I had in mind. I also once said I wished my life were more interesting, and I unexpectedly got pregnant shortly after that. Take heed. The fates hear everything.

It’s like a sweater for your stomach.

Well, we’re back to March again. It was beautiful on Thursday and I went to work without a coat, but by Friday, it was pretty chilly again, and today I was happy to have my mittens at tour guiding. It’s an aggravating time of year. But yesterday seemed like the perfect day to make the tortellini soup I’d seen on someone’s Pinterest.

I was doomed from the start. I failed to notice that it was a crock pot recipe, and since it was already 4:45, that was out. I didn’t have any white sauce mix because I never do. I know how to make white sauce. Thought I’d improvise those parts of the recipe, but after reading it three times, I couldn’t figure out which parts were about the white sauce mix and which parts weren’t, and finally thought, the hell with this; I can make it up. Which I did. I adapted a little from a recipe for potato-spinach soup from my trusty 1963 Pillsbury Family Cookbook, but mostly for proportions (potatoes have a much longer cooking time). This is better, though. The other was needlessly complicated and had too many packaged ingredients. This can be made either 100% fresh or 100% packaged or anywhere in between, depending on your timeframe and pantry.

Creamy Tortellini-Spinach Soup

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup diced white or yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped.
1/4 cup flour
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups tortellini (I used Buittoni bi-color cheese tortellini; other flavors would be good)
2 cups whole milk or cream
1 cup shredded Parmesan or heel of a wedge in one piece
1 cup frozen leaf-style spinach (or fresh; if fresh, add last and cook little)
1 small can or 1 cup sliced fresh white mushrooms
Pepper to taste

Serves 6 as a soup course or 3-4 as a meal.

Heat butter over medium in soup pot. When hot, add onions, garlic, and celery, and saute until tender but not browned. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add water, salt, and tortellini. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until tortellini are done (frozen or dried may need different cooking time; follow package instructions but undercook just slightly at this stage). Reduce heat to medium. Add milk, cheese, spinach, and mushrooms. Simmer until flavors are melded and adjust seasonings. Cover if holding. Serve garnished with more parmesan and a little fresh spinach, if you have.

This would also be great made with asparagus instead of spinach. Or with sausage tortellini, or mushroom.

It’s a really hearty soup. My husband and I agreed that it almost hurt to have more than one bowl, but it was just that good.

Today between tours, I knitted on my Hudson’s Bay blanket. The colors looked too loud when I got the package, but now they’re working up into a just-right blanket, very true to the original. One of the visitors recognized it right away. Lucky boy, they said, when I said it was for my son. I agree. If he ditches it, I’m taking it back. I love it.

Winter

We’ve only had about three days of winter this year, and this is one. It’s been coming down for over 24 hours, and though melting up from the bottom on the warm ground, is still accumulating at a good clip. Everything was cancelled today, and there has been either an army of small boys in my living room or a revolving door of small boys playing outside until they get too cold and wet and coming in to want hot chocolate that they then don’t drink. I am informed that homemade marshmallows are not good on hot chocolate. How can this be my kid?!

It would be a nearly perfect day if it weren’t for our all having colds, particularly the baby, who is irritable at being tired and snurfly, and not sure why I want so much to clean his poor, crusty face. We are also, naturally, clean out of tissues. Yes, it’s glamorous here. This is the kind of night that calls for some sort of casserole. Haven’t yet decided what it will be. Lasagna, maybe. I bought some ricotta last time I was at the store. I have a terrific no-boil lasagna recipe that I have been saving for my cousin’s cooking blog; perhaps if she doesn’t get going with that, I’ll make it and post here. It’s a good dish for the dinner arsenal, and is nearly endlessly adaptable–can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it.

My sister vacationing in Hawaii is missing this, but it’s hard to feel too sorry for her.

Knitting is going well, but I’m at the black hole stage of both projects. Rocky Coast is down to the hem ribbing, and Hudson Bay is on the third stripe. All the blogs and websites are showing spring knitting already, and I’m not ready! The new WEBS catalogue came yesterday, but I can’t think about linen and cotton. I have some plans for more household items in cotton, and I have the yarn lined up, but I want to press on with wool things that might be too hot to have in the lap once the weather breaks. I finished my Absorba bath mat this week, though, and it’s terrifically comfortable on the feet. Perhaps a little small. I could have gone around once more, but I was getting sick of it and figured it may stretch after some uses, as garter stitch so often does. I don’t really enjoy knitting with cotton, either. It’s held me back from starting more Log Cabin blankets, at least in the way the MDK patterns intended–they’re all done in cotton, and the idea of that makes my hands ache. I have a lot of wool that I could use for blankets, and I just may, but not until next fall.

Mmmm, lasagna….I’m really liking the sound of that today.