ORANGE & HONEY CARROT SOUP

October 15, 2018

Okay there was a moment when I was cooking this when I was like, this right here is what people wax poetic about when they speak of a love of cooking. One main thing being AROMAS. It was about when bacon was starting to crisp up. And the smell of bacon cooking is not like much else.

And then also the part with onions + olive oil + garlic. Another of all time favorite most popular scent.

For feeling lots of the good feels cooking can bring, this soup brings a little something special to a weeknight dinner. Such a complex flavor that feels a little high end but with crowd (and kid) pleasing ingredients. Also tomato soup has the reputation for what to eat when you’re feeling sick but this is even better!

Orange & Honey Carrot Soup
Serves six

1 onion, chopped
2 pounds carrots, chopped (about 8 carrots)
6 cloves garlic, smashed
3 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 orange, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 batch bacon fat croutons

Saute onion and carrots with olive oil in a stockpot over medium for 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add broth, ginger, orange zest, orange juice, honey, salt, and pepper to pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.

Transfer mixture to blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Top with bacon and croutons.

ORANGE & HONEY CARROT SOUP
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds carrots, chopped (about 8 carrots)
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 and ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 batch bacon fat croutons
Instructions
  1. Saute onion and carrots with olive oil in a stockpot over medium for 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  2. Add broth, ginger, orange zest, orange juice, honey, salt, and pepper to pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Top with bacon and croutons.

 

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DESIGNING AN IKEA KITCHEN ISLAND

October 10, 2018

The previous owners used our set up as an eat-in kitchen. Those can be nice for a lot of reasons, but I knew I’d be happier if we erected an island in the middle and rounded everything out to make it feel like one big kitchen, and not a partial kitchen and then something else combo.

I planned to use ikea cabinets because it worked so well with the office standing desk we built.

The ikea kitchen planner software is kind of crazy, but you can make it work. I feel like I need to do some of it in person because those workers use the software effortlessly to apply exactly what I’m wanting and it’s easier to get a complete or complex answer from a real person. So, here’s the functionality I wanted for our island.

Hardwood Floors in Kitchen

First, MICROWAVE STORAGE. My very ideal for a microwave would be if I had a wall oven and then I’d put a built in microwave on top. Then it looks sleek, custom, and kind of like you just have a double oven. But, I don’t have a wall oven, so my other microwave requirements were NOT ON THE COUNTER, easily accessible, and not too hard to install while still being hidden or minimized.

The other place I could have placed it would be inside the cabinets we are putting in our mudroom, but that would have been a lot less convenient, although more hidden. This was a time where I wanted to make sure it worked for our day to day life, and so right in the kitchen island was a good spot, and I am happy with how not central it is, especially with planning to buy a white unit to match the cabinets. Also my research indicated that many people who have this set up really like it!

Goal two for the island was TRASH. When we were newlyweds I was annoyed by how ugly most standing trash cans options were, and when I realized we could get away with just a mini trash under the sink, I was a lot happier. It’s not visible, you never have to buy trash bags (just use grocery bags), and it doesn’t have time to get odorous before it’s emptied. Now that we are a family of five all those pros are kind of cancelled out by our simple need for bigger trash containment!

And lastly, I wanted to have as many stools as I comfortably could in the seating area.

So with that last goal in mind we set out to make the island as big as possible without compromising the flow and comfort of the whole kitchen. Right away we knew the space from counters to island would have to be 43 inches minimum. I was checking out a friend’s kitchen of comparable size who just renovated and added an island and they used the spacing which makes it feel very nice for appliance use and traffic.

With the 24 inch deep counters from ikea and a 15 inch bar overhang, from the window wall to the stools is about 41 inches. That is still spacious, and did not need to be the full 43″ like the other walkways. With that spacing, even while people are sitting in stools someone could walk behind them.

All those sizing decisions felt like obvious choices that clicked into place. The only one that was more up for discretion was how long the island would be toward the living room opening. If we did three 24 inch cabinets the island would be 72 inches long and if we swapped one cabinet for a 18 inch it would be 66 inches.

After some makeshift simulating the all three large cabinets felt good in the space, and I would prefer it for having uniformity and also being able to seat four stools instead of three.

With all those decisions I put together the ikea design. The first cabinet is an open shelf for microwave and a large drawer. The second cabinet is two large drawers. The third cabinet is trash (Yay!)

I intuitively just placed the microwave on the left, but once we had the cabinets I started wondering if I’d be happier with it in the center. After some discussion on instagram stories I re-affirmed the left placement because people pointed out the two main reasons that 1) the microwave is able to be used when someone is standing in the middle doing prep and 2) microwaves aren’t as special a focal point as an oven or sink which would merit being centered in the island.

That covers just about everything for the island design. Now we build it!

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BACON FAT CROUTONS

October 8, 2018

WELL THE WORDS OF THAT TITLE CAN SURE STOP A GIRL IN HER TRACKS. Making homemade croutons is not hard, and it therefore has a very good ratio for difficulty versus how special of a touch it feels. Also like what even are the storebought croutons other than powder bombs? (We still buy those sometimes. But they are almost a different food than homemade croutons.) With the old storebought compared to homemade decision for different ingredients, I compare cost and quality and amount of work to make it myself.

HOMEMADE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER FOR SOME THINGS. For example, balsamic reduction is super annoying to make yourself AND the pre-made ones taste amazing. And a bottle that lasts a while is like six dollars. Also Ina Garten says canned pumpkin is as good as doing it yourself so I will not question that.

I’m sharing the recipe for that pretty carrot soup pictured next week!

Bacon Fat Croutons
Serves about four cups

1/3 cup bacon fat
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups bread, cubed

Heat bacon fat, garlic powder, oregano, basil, thyme, and pepper in a skillet over medium heat.

Add bread to skillet and brown for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally.

BACON FAT CROUTONS
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup bacon fat
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups bread, cubed
Instructions
  1. Heat bacon fat, garlic powder, oregano, basil, thyme, and pepper in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add bread to skillet and brown for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

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