Archive of 'Otis Chronicles'

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Tuscan Kale & Sausage Soup — A Perfect Lazy Winter Afternoon Meal

This is the perfect meal to make on a lazy winter afternoon. It is also the perfect meal to make when you have told your husband that you will make him lunch, you really do not want to go grocery shopping, and you discover that what you have in your fridge is: ground pork, chicken broth, celery, and half a jar of home-canned tomatoes from a friend.


Okay, so you don’t have to be in that exact situation, but it does help. Especially if your husband has low expectations for what lunch will be, so when you serve him this he is amazed that you created something seemingly so complicated. Except: it isn’t. Our little secret.


These are the approximate amounts that I used for each of these ingredients. I was winging it a bit, and I recommend you do the same. Bring all these flavors to the party and I guarantee it won’t go awry if you change the ratios a little bit.

  • 1 lb. Ground Pork
  • Spices: A generous shake each Parsley and Salt, 1-2 tsp. Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, and Paprika, and a pinch of Red Pepper Flakes. (You could also throw in some Fennel seeds for true Italian sausage flavors, but personally I hate them so I abstained.)
  • 15 oz. Whole, Canned Tomatoes
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 bunch Celery
  • 1 bunch Tuscan Kale
  • 1/2 cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk (If dairy is not an issue you could just as easily use milk or cream.)


1. Clean and chop your kale. Grab the bunch together and slice it into broad strips. Set aside.

A note on kale: there are several different kinds of kale, but my favorite, and the one I’ve selected for this soup, is Tuscan kale. It is also sometimes known as Italian kale, Lacinato kale, and Dinosaur kale. (I am not making this up.)

It looks like this:


Keep in mind that you will receive bonus points if you harvest this kale from your own garden.

Unfortunately, you will receive negative bonus points if, while harvesting the kale, you discover that your dog has learned how to jump over the fences you placed around your garden boxes EXPRESSLY TO KEEP HIM OUT.



2. Wash your celery, snap off the little leafy bits, and chop into narrow half-rounds. Set aside.

(Regain your bonus points when you throw extra bits of celery down on the ground and your dog sneaks away with them like they’re a treat. Clearly you must be doing something right.)

3. Place your ground pork in a large skillet, and throw all the spices (listed above) on top of it. Over medium-high heat, use a wooden spoon or thick spatula to stir and chop the pork for about five minutes until the spices are thoroughly combined and the pork is somewhat browned on all sides. (It’s okay if it’s still pretty pink at this point.)

4. Add the canned tomatoes to the skillet, stir to combine, then cover, lower the heat to medium, and let steam for another five minutes.

5. While the pork is steaming, combine your chicken broth, celery, and kale, in a large soup pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

A note on chicken broth: homemade is best, not only because it is awesome for you but because, c’mon. Delicious.

6. Turn the broth down to medium heat, add the sausage/tomato mixture and the milk or coconut milk, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (You may stir occasionally if you wish.)

You are looking for the liquid to reduce significantly and for the celery to be very soft; if you do it the same way I did, you’ll end up with a very large meat-and-veggies to liquid ratio.


Ta-da! Yummy. This soup should serve two people if one of them is Gil, and three to four people if none of them are. That’s just how it is.

Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about making soup. All I know is that I made this one and it was awesome. If you read this and think to yourself, “I know a way better way of making something this awesome with the same ingredients,” have at it. And by all means, let me know!

In the mean time, all I have to say is: Enjoy.

(Oh, and any advice on dog-proofing garden beds?)

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Shopping, Scheming, Cooking, Walking – Typical Thursday Fare

Despite the fact that I never (ever) get done everything that I want to on my days off from work, the rare day does roll along where I do so much (or at least enjoy what I’m doing so much) that I don’t care.

Today has been one of those days.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to:

- Organizing Scheming

Although I didn’t make any real headway into any one organizing project today, I did continue my thought process on all of the various areas I’m dealing with. I set out today looking for two very particular items; one, I found:


Well, okay, I wasn’t looking for exactly this. But I was looking for some way to hold 4-5 binders neatly on my desk. This will definitely do the trick, and I found it for $8 at a local recycling center. Also, I think it looks pretty cool. (And it’s not dirty, just wet. That’s a trick of the light. I will still probably give it a good cleaning, though.)

The other item was a clear plastic shoe organizer, but not one that I intended to use for shoes… I’ve ended up deciding that may not be exactly what I’m actually looking for, but I have other ideas. Stay tuned.

- DIY Makeup Scheming

Have you noticed how expensive makeup is? If you wear it, and you buy good makeup, you probably have. Have you also noticed how many scary ingredients are in it, even (and perhaps especially) the so-called “natural” mineral makeup brands? I have noticed both, for some time now, but felt like there was nothing I could do about it unless I wanted to stop wearing makeup altogether (which, silly as it is, I don’t).

Anyway, I did some furious googling today, and several hours later have pieced together what I hope will be a workable recipe for foundation; I’m going to try it out in a couple of weeks and let you know how it goes.

- Walking the dog

So this actually isn’t normal Thursday fare, which is why it’s noteworthy. I’m ashamed to say that I do not walk Otis with the frequency he deserves, and that’s a topic for a whole other post really, but suffice to say: today we went on a walk. Hooray!


- Cooking

Among other things, tonight we are making this coconut milk ice cream recipe, and if you have an ice cream maker, you should too! We tried it last week and it was simply wonderful.

Hope all of you had a good Thursday as well!

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Happy Monday – Sickness, Health, and Otis

It’s been a sicky few days for us.

On Thursday Otis was continually hacking, like he had something stuck in his throat. Except when I looked up what to do if my dog sounded like he had something stuck in his throat, I discovered that that’s what dogs sound like when they’re coughing, and that he probably just had a little doggie bronchitis. Sure enough, it cleared up within a couple of days. Poor Bobo.


Then, on Friday, I started getting a very acute sore throat; at first I attributed it to all the dust I was kicking up as I reorganized my closet, but sure enough by Sunday I had all the other lovely symptoms: hacking, dripping, aching, etc.

So yesterday was all about bone broth and sleeping, (and watching my husband play mice and mystics, this new adventure board game he got) and today I feel well enough to go in to work again. Well, at least I don’t have a fever. It’s a start.

Here’s hoping your weekend was better than ours, and that your week isn’t starting on a sicky note! And if it is, watch these. You’ll feel better, I promise. ;)

Monday, January 7th, 2013

5 Steps to a Satisfying Moose Hunt

STEP ONE: Realize that you are lying next to a moose.

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STEP TWO: Pretend like you don’t notice it.

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STEP FOUR: Keep attacking!

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STEP FIVE: Rest. You have triumphed.

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You’re welcome,

- Otis

(P.S. That moose was Otis’ Christmas present from us. He loves it. We love that he loves it. Too fun.)

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

When a Dog Loves a Baby

I wrote a few weeks back about meeting our nephew, Owen.


I have to confess, that as excited as I was to meet the youngest member of my extended family, I had some trepidation about the introduction between Owen and the youngest member of our little family: Otis.

I think I’ve mentioned that although Otis spends a great deal of his time being incredibly laid back, there are a few things that bring out his hyper, jump-up-and-down-and-lick-you side. One of those things is meeting new people (or really seeing anyone again after more than five minutes apart), and another is small humans.


So, sure enough, the first several times Otis came over with us to see Owen, we had to keep him on leash to keep his enthusiasm in check. But as he began to calm down, a sweet new side to Otis’ relationship with Owen started to show itself: we could call it “protectiveness” (or we could call it “obsession”), but either was it was pretty adorable. When someone was holding Owen, more often than not Otis was following that person around and sitting at their feet. When Owen was sleeping in the other room, Otis was often lying outside the door keeping watch.

And when Owen was lying in the pack-n-play in the living room, checking out the world, Otis sat by his side and checked on Owen. It wasn’t all perfectly smooth sailing–sometimes Otis would get it in his head that he was going to go through the mesh side of the pack-n-play to get at that baby, and once he started barking at me when I was leaning over the side and talking to Owen.


But all in all, Otis was a very good boy. And it will be sweet someday to show Owen these pictures and tell him about the first doggy who loved him.