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Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

Flowers bloom in parts of Minnesota this year, despite some nighttime frosts. The weather this November has been unusually balmy, at times shirt-sleeve weather. Today, November 10th, it reached 66 degrees Fahrenheit – a sunny, warm day.

begonia

Bright in the sunlight, a frost-tinged begonia, today at my Minnesota home.

This is not normal for us. In fact, when I was a child and heard about the Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940, I could hardly believe the roses were still blooming (according to accounts I’ve heard) the morning of November 11th.

People were outdoors, ready to enjoy a lovely national holiday before winter came. Duck hunters were out in droves, perhaps with only a light jacket, if that. The weather started nice and then turned deadly.

Rain fell and temperatures plummeted. Throughout Minnesota and other Midwest states, the rain turned to sleet and snow, then into a raging blizzard, according to a National Weather Service account. It happened seventy-six years ago, and there are people among us who can tell their own stories of that storm. People like me, of the next generation, have heard about the Armistice Day Blizzard all our lives.

In North Dakota, my grandparents and their two young daughters (my mother and aunt) drove out of town and down a rustic road, so that my grandfather could walk into the countryside and hunt pheasants or partridge for supper. My grandmother stayed near the car, enjoying the outdoors with her two little girls. When the weather turned nasty, the three of them holed up in the car, nervously waiting for my grandfather to return. He eventually did, and they drove home through the blizzard.

Many stories didn’t end so well. Around 150 people died as a result of this storm. Today we live in a different era of weather forecasting, thanks in part to this event.

 

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Ahh, Sunday!  I started the day watching one of my favorite shows: CBS Sunday Morning.  If you watch this show, chances are you love it (per my highly unscientific survey method of talking to other fans). If you don’t know what I am talking about, check it out sometime.

When Bill Geist came on the air, I saw the frozen ice and snow surrounding him and said, “He’s in Minnesota.” I was right. It turns out he was reporting about the feud between Embarrass, Tower, and International Falls over which Minnesota town gets the coldest weather. They all get VERY cold – the official state record is -60 degrees F.!

Believe it or not, some of us Minnesotans wish this weekend would have been a little colder (but not record cold, please!) We are currently having a January thaw, complete with rain and freezing rain. Yesterday as I drove home from a neighboring town my car was pelted with slush balls falling from the sky. The roads were very icy. I would have much preferred colder temperatures and precipitation in the form of soft, lovely snow.

This is a round-about way of saying that this is perfect soup weather! I have vegetables on hand to help me eat healthy in 2010. Putting them together in soup is a delicious way to get a nice variety of flavors.

Today I cooked a Southwestern-style chicken and bean soup. When my husband ate it his eyes lit up and he told me to write it down. I did, and I’m sharing it with you (recipe below). One of the best things about a throw-together soup like that is, other than a few of the basic ingredients, you can put in whatever is on hand. I could have added corn or various other ingredients. But it turned out good just as it was.

In fact, I’m making soup again tonight. We’re having supper on TV trays as we watch the Vikings play (and hopefully beat) the Saints in the playoff game. This time I am adding leeks, tri-colored mini-peppers, and grated cheese to last night’s potato soup for a new take on it.  I’m baking bread, too; using one of the recipes from one of my favorite books Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Is there such a thing as too much soup? I haven’t reached that point yet! Enjoy!

Southwest Chicken & Bean Soup

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts – cut into about 1” cubes

About 3-4 cups total fresh vegetables: chopped onion,  thinly sliced tri-colored mini-peppers, minced garlic, cut pieces of sugar snap pea pods

2 cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 small can tomato paste

1 can black beans

1 can kidney beans

Dehydrated chopped onion

1-2 packages taco seasoning

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (hot; season to taste)

Fresh spinach (optional)

Sauté the chicken pieces in olive oil in a large pan for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is opaque and nearly cooked through. Add the chopped vegetables and cook a few more minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked and vegetables soften. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 15-20 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Optional: While soup is cooking, wash & shake in a colander to dry: 2-3 handfuls fresh baby spinach. Break up coarsely into soup bowls. Spoon the hot soup mixture into the bowls over the spinach; let it set for a minute, then stir. This cooks the spinach without losing the nutrients. I learned to pour any kind of soup over spinach from a friend of mine who does it all the time.

Garnish soup with grated cheddar cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

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