Archive for September, 2010

Beef Vegetable Soup

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Soup’s On!!

No, I am not going to give you a recipe for scorpion soup. Is there such a thing? Could be. It would make sense. I mean, just think about it. Who was the first person who dragged a lobster out of the sea and said, “Wow. I bet this thing would be good with drawn butter!!” For every thing that is edible, there is someone who considers it a delicacy. But no, today I will not give you such a recipe.

In Oklahoma, we do have scorpions. They scitter across the floor, clawed appendages extended like a mini forklift, making a clacking sound that just gives you the creeps. Seeing them is a good thing. Not seeing them results in pain that could not be reproduced if a 2000 lb wrecking ball was dropped on your foot. If one of these things gets into your clothes overnight, putting on a pair of pants the next morning can leave sting after sting as the awful critter wages fierce battle with your thigh. You hop around the room, screaming, swatting your pants and crashing to the floor as you struggle to get out of the offending garment. There is no good thing about a scorpion. Yes, God put them on this earth for a reason, but I will wait until I am before Him to ascertain that purpose. Until then, the only good scorpion is a dead scorpion.

I am certain that it is an interesting study into the macho masculine psyche of the average American male when it comes to crawly things. The most manly of our species is reduced to hopping from one tip-toe to the other when startled by a spider, snake, centipede or scorpion, while emitting high-pitched squeaks and other manner of unidentifiable sounds. Such was the case with my macho man as he spotted the first scorpion of the season creeping from under the stove and attempting to navigate the kitchen floor. I heard my name called in a higher than normal squeal, a command to appear and I arrived in time to find my husband hopping up and down, splayfooted (shoes of course) on the flattened remains of the struggling scorpion. Now, I might add in all fairness, that I can’t make too much fun of the opposite sex, since I and others of my ilk have been known to reach even higher decibels of screeching at the sign of a mouse, or in my case, a flying bat, in the house.

Oddly enough, the first sign of a scorpion in our home has turned into a ritual of planning for us because we have noticed, over the past many years, that with the appearance of the first brave critter, cooler weather is soon to follow exactly three weeks later. No joke. It was this year, however, that I decided to test our observation and theory most scientifically. As soon as the prehistoric-looking and dead, yucky bug was deposited in the yard for disposal, I grabbed the calendar and counted twenty-one days forward to August 24. I wrote on the calendar “Cool Weather??” With that bit of scientific notation accomplished, I promptly forgot about my experiment and continued to survive the 100++ degree heat that we had been experiencing much of the summer. Of course, you might think that I was seeking something on which to hang my hopes of some kind of relief from the dry inferno that is August in Oklahoma, however, would you blame me?

Last week, we of Central Oklahoma woke up to a day of normal heat, but joyfully watched as a front moved into the area around noon, dumping rain and 80 degree temps. I was ecstatic and noted that the forecast showed ever cooler nights with daytime temperatures ranging from the 80′s to mid 90′s ahead. The heatwave of Summer had broken. I flipped open my calendar, as I remembered my note, and checked the date on which I had scrawled my question. August 24th. And what was the day’s date? August 24th!! I am calling my discovery “The Scorpio Buggus Phenomenom” and I am hoping to win a Nobel prize in science for my diligent research. I need someone to nominate me. Hint. Hint. You can include in your nomination my theory as postulated thusly: “The season change from Summer to Fall is dependent solely on the appearance of Scorpiones Paruroctonus and occurs exactly 21 days from a first sighting. Summer cannot change to Fall without the sighting of these tiny arachnids.” I am expecting a government grant. I figure that this is much more critical to the issue of global climate change than the mating habits of the humpback whale.

Biology and Physics aside, the snappy feeling of Fall is in the air. Sights and sounds predict state fairs, pumpkin patches and a winter not too far away. It puts me in the soup mood and I have been canning my share. There is nothing more wonderful than opening your own jar of homemade soup, on a cold evening, to be enjoyed with cornbread or fresh homemade bread. If winter is a beast and ice storms steal your electricity, you can pop open a jar of your soup, put it into a pan over the fire, heat it and warm your insides. This is my own version of beef-vegetable soup and is a hearty blend of lean meat and vegetables galore!! It is easy to make and easy to can.

Beef Vegetable Soup

3 lbs meat
1 cup onions
1 cup celery
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups corn
2 cups peas, canned or frozen
2 cups green beans
pepper to taste

2 cans ranch style beans
1 can whole or chopped tomatoes
12 cups water
10 tsp. or 10 cubes of beef bouillon
1 tbsp minced garlic (or more if desired)
2 cups diced carrots
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 tsp thyme
I use a nice, lean, rump roast and cut it into little cubes Brown the meat in two tbsp. of olive oil in a large stew pot. Add onions and cook.
Add chopped carrots, celery and green beans. (Hint: I cheat and chop the carrots and celery in the food processor) Add corn. This is corn that I cut off of the cob and froze earlier in the summer.
I like to add new potatoes from the garden. These were harvested in June and have been boxed in a cool, dry place. You can use Russets too. Ranch style beans give it just that little extra kick.

Continue cooking meat and veggies together. Add garlic and thyme.

Add tomatoes and stir

Add water, bouillon and pepper and let simmer for an hour. Add barley and simmer for 30 minutes longer.

Ladel into warm, sterilized jars to 1/2″ head space. Place lids that have been warming in nearly boiling water onto jars and screw on rings, but not too tightly. Place jars into pressure canner that is filled with warm water about two inches deep.
Pressure according to canner directions at 10 lbs for 70 minutes.
Remove jars from canner and allow to cool. Listen for popping of the lids as they seal. Lids should be flat across the surface with no bulge in the center.

You can add anything else you like to this soup.
The sky is the limit – well, that is, except for scorpions.

Happy Cooking!!~~~~MB