He Is Strong, and Hulk Smash Split Pea Soup

Dear Joey,

We spent the first autumn season in our new home watching more than just leaves fall.

We watched Emery fall a lot, too.

Kids run and jump and trip and fall every single day. Bumps and bruises happen. So do skinned knees. Our boy was just as rambunctious and active as any other, until somehow he wasn’t.

When Emery started walking funny, we paid attention. Soon he couldn’t run, really. He shuffled and cried. He couldn’t jump or climb. Next he told us his fingers were tickly.

We never saw it coming.

Read More


No Mistakes In It, and Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” – Philippians 3:13

Dear Joey,

After weeks on end of so much gray, color finally started to come back. The snow has melted; temperatures are cold but not freezing, and flashes of green wink at me from in between the brown blades of old grass, like Addie flashing me a smile and calling me to come out to play for awhile.

Today I joined her: we rode bikes and drew with sidewalk chalk and drank in the sun even as a cold breeze reminded us it isn’t quite springtime yet.  For a moment I was a little girl again, wind tickling my cheeks while I plucked a handful of sour grass and pretended to be Anne Shirley making a flower crown for Princess Cordelia, her imaginary persona that embodied everything Anne wished she herself was: beautiful, important, and loved.

IMG_0456

Anne Shirley didn’t have the luxury of parents to invest in her tender heart. Addie does, but I catch myself wondering if she doubts she is the remarkable girl we know her to be. She asks us all the time: am I beautiful? Important? Loved? She asks it in her own way, of course, and we do our best to answer her in a way she understands. Still, I wonder how much of it is sinking in.

Read More


What Soup and Silence Have in Common, and My Mom’s Taco Soup

Dear Joey,

I keep trying to come up with something to say, something whimsical and deep about how moved I am by the sound of raindrops outside our window and how it makes me want to make a big pot of soup, just like my mom used to do.

img_7420

The words just aren’t coming today. I am met with silence instead. And so, instead of forcing words to bend to my will, I will bend to theirs and go lay down for a few minutes.

img_7423

I will not worry about a dinner yet uncooked (and, ahem, unplanned). I will not let mental list-making hijack the quiet. I will not feel guilty about leaving the laundry alone for a few minutes, and I won’t beat myself up about the Goobie girls spending a little time on their Kindles. I won’t pester you while you watch football or The Martian or whatever it is you currently have on the TV, and I will not feel like a bad mother for not having a pot of soup simmering on the stove on a rainy, gray day like today.

img_7424

Instead, I will rest. We will all be in our separate corners for a little while, recharging our batteries in our own little ways, and we’ll all be a little better for it.

img_7431

Though nothing soothes like homemade soup, a little peace and quiet can be powerful in its own way–maybe even just as healing.

Love,

Scratch

My Mom’s Taco Soup, Reimagined (GF/DF/NF)img_7437

This is one of the tastiest, easiest, I-don’t-miss-the-dairy-one-bit recipes I’ve got in my arsenal. I based the recipe on my mom’s recipe for Taco Soup,  one of my all time favorite meals — when served with gooey cheese, sour cream and corn chips, of course. My mom’s original recipe relied on condensed tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup (both allergy offenders in our house), a big can of Ranch Style Beans, and a packet of taco seasoning. The perils of pre-packaged, overly processed foods weren’t nearly as wide known when I was a child, but gosh did those ingredients make this soup an easy one to throw together (which is why I imagine this recipe calls for them–it was a quick-to-throw-together crowd pleaser). I craved the soup a few months ago, so I set out to recreate my mom’s recipe on a rainy Sunday afternoon much like this one, using ingredients my whole family could eat. The recipe that follows is dairy and gluten free as written, but of course shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream takes it from delicious to YUM. Throw in some corn chips if a little junk food doesn’t bug you–that’s the way we ate it when I was growing up, and my oh my, how I loved it.

Ingredients:
  • Grape seed oil (or refined coconut oil or canola oil)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (or ground beef. Either works.)
  • 1/2 cup homemade taco seasoning (like this one from Heavenly Homemakers)
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 cup unsweetened, unflavored rice milk (or dairy milk works too)
  • 2-13.5 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cans black beans, drained (or pinto beans, or great northern beans– whatever you have)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
Method:

Over medium high heat, gently warm up a couple tablespoons of oil or so in a big soup pot or large dutch oven. Add the diced onions and bell pepper and cook until softened but not carmelized, about 5 minutes. Add the ground turkey (or beef) to the pot, right on top of the veggies, and then toss in the taco seasoning. Stir the veggies, meat and spices together, cooking as you go. When the meat is no longer pink, add the broth, rice milk, and tomato sauce, along with the red wine vinegar, salt and sugar. Stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer about 30 minutes or so to let the flavors mingle. When just about ready to serve, add the beans and corn and simmer for five more minutes until they warm through. Top with cheese and sour cream if you like. (Emery particularly enjoys his with shredded Daiya cheddar style shredded vegan cheese.)