“The simplest things are overlooked. And yet, it is the simplest things that are the most essential.” 

― Thomas Lloyd Qualls

What strange times we are living in. For many months I have sat poised at my computer attempting to write with a huge question mark looming over my head. I am sure you have had many of the same emotions.

As a teacher, this school year I am taking things day-by-day. Each day at the end of 7th hour I say a little prayer of thankfulness that I was given another day of face-to-face instruction with my students. Before I leave for home, I collect any items I might need in the event we receive notification that we are moving to distance learning. I knew it was inevitable and yesterday morning we received news that we are moved to Distance Learning for the next two weeks. We are slated to return for face-to-face instruction on November 30th. My fingers are crossed that it happens.

While I try not to let my heart and head grow anxious with a web of uncertainty looming, I find that it is the simple things that keep me grounded. This fall I planted over three-hundred tulip and daffodil bulbs, I decided that my pandemic hairstyle needed a stylish change, and I subscribed to a couple of home delivery meal kits to glean new ideas for our menu. While I love to cook and plan our family dinners, the school year during the time of Covid-19 has had me frazzled. The meal kits have been a refreshing option in our meal rotation and I am gathering some new ideas for our table. Roasted carrots are now a regular feature on our plates, my husband does not despise ginger as much as he thought he did, and my step son is wild about steak topped with goat cheese butter. 

In times of uncertainty, such as during a pandemic, relying on wholesome, home cooked food is both comforting and nourishing. When I plan out our weekly menu, I plan a few quick meals for spontaneous changes in our schedule, work days that turn into work nights, and evenings when I do not have enough energy to prepare entire meals. On these evenings, soup helps fill in the cracks. A bowl of soup can help stretch leftovers (especially with a pre-teen in the house) and it can be partnered with a salad or sandwich for a meal.

I can eat soup year round, but during chilly winter months, a steaming bowl of soup is especially satisfying. My husband and step-son prefer a creamy and hearty soup and they gave two thumbs up to the recipe I am sharing with you. 

My inspiration for the soup is in the name: a mushroom swiss burger. However, I wanted to create a recipe that was not as calorie laden as a greasy burger and the side of obligatory French fries that usually accompanies it. While this soup is more indulgent than a broth based soup, you can slim it down with your choice of ingredients.  It can fit well into lower carb dining and if you do not eat meat you can add extra mushrooms (they are a great substitute for meat) and use a high quality vegetable stock. 


*1 pound of ground beef
*4 cups of beef stock/broth
*8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
*½ cup of chopped onion

*3 ribs of chopped celery
*2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
*2 Tablespoons of olive oil
*8 ounces of Swiss cheese (and more to top the finished soup. I used a Swiss gruyere blend)

*4 Tablespoons of butter
*½ cup of flour

*1 cup of milk (I used 2% but you can also use cream)
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Optional – 2-3 Tablespoons of tomato paste (I did not add any to this batch, but it adds a depth to the body of the soup)

*Optional – croutons to top the soup

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes and add the ground beef to brown. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes. Make sure that the mushrooms, ground beef, and onions are brown and caramelized. Add the broth and bring to a simmer.

In a separate saucepan melt the butter and slowly incorporate the flour. Whisk well for 2-3 minutes and be careful not to burn. Add the milk into the butter and flour mixture (roux) and whisk well so there are not any lumps. Add the swiss cheese into the roux until it’s melted. Spoon the roux into the soup pot and mix well.

Simmer for 10 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with a sprinkle of cheese, a few croutons on top, or a toasted baguette. Enjoy!

Mushroom Swiss Burger Soup

As chilly weather and snow accumulates outside, this soup will help keep you and your loved ones warm and nourished. Making food for others is a simple act of kindness that reminds us that many of life’s greatest pleasures are simple. I find cooking extremely grounding during these challenging times. Make sure you check out my soup tab for over twenty other healthy soup recipes.

November is close and as we welcome the holiday spirit into your heart, I wish you health and happiness. Take care of yourself and take care of each other. Eat more homemade food, eat your vegetables, and wash your hands!

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan in fall splendor.
Find the beauty in your backyard.
Photography and enjoying nature is one of my simple pleasures. Along with cooking, of course.



“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell

If someone had told me a few years ago that I would look forward to winter, I would have adamantly denied the assertion. However, I must admit that this year I could not wait to buckle up my snowshoes and blaze trails in my backyard. Yet, I admit that this year during my first thirty minutes of heading out, I may have whimpered a bit. What a workout! Thankfully I have a spirited German Shepherd named Apollo who enjoys bounding through the snow with me. Since he spends a lot of time cooped up inside while we are at work, he depends on me to help him burn energy at night and on weekends. Apollo is the best personal trainer and nature is our gym!

One thing is for sure, I never regret a snowshoeing session. Especially at night when the moon is out and it is peaceful. I put one foot in front of the other – a primal rhythm – a magical blend of inertia and determination. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop.
It is easy to get lethargic in the winter and I need to move. Snowshoeing gets my heart pumping, but it’s probably more important for my head. It clears my thoughts and gets rid of stress. After all, self-care is supremely important for our health.

Yet, as much as I love snowshoeing I still love to curl up and be cozy in the winter. There is nothing better than a hot sauna before bed, a fire in the wood stove, and crawling under our electric blanket and flannel duvet.

Speaking of cozy, what is better for a cold winter day than a bowl of piping hot soup? Though, I am a soup girl (regardless of the weather) this recipe is one of my favorite winter warm ups. It is healthy, full of vegetables, and can be tweaked to fit your personal tastes.

My original recipe is plant-based, but you can use chicken stock and even add sliced chicken or pork if you want to. While I use thinly sliced cabbage to bulk it up, it is also wonderful when filled with rice noodles.


  • 4-8 cups of vegetable stock (depending on how much broth you want)
  • Two 8 ounce packages of chopped fresh mushrooms 
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips (½ cup)
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped (or one bunch of green onions)
  • 1 can of bamboo shoots
  • 1 cup of cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil (you could also use coconut oil or your cooking oil of choice)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce would work as a substitution)
  • Chili garlic sauce (to taste. I used two Tablespoons because I like my soup extra spicy. I find this sauce in the Asian section of the supermarket)
  • 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/2 a bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in oil until soft. Add the mushrooms and lightly saute for approximately ten minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for thirty minutes. Before serving add a dash of rice vinegar, sesame oil (I highly recommend sesame oil since it imparts so much flavor), tamari, and chopped cilantro.

My advice to you is to make a pot of this delicious soup and head outside in the sparkling and beckoning snow. Whether your outdoor session includes snowshoeing, shoveling the driveway for a neighbor, or making snow angels — warmth will greet you when you come inside. While food may not be the answer to life’s problems, trust me, this soup comes close.


“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

We had an ice storm in early February and it turned our apple orchard in a series of crystal chandeliers.

Even though I grew up in the Upper Peninsula, I always was a fair weather Yooper. While I loved to spend every waking hour outside in the summer, in the winter I could often be found hunkered down with a good book and a hot beverage. That all seemed to change when I met my husband John who is an avid outdoorsman. His simple belief is that you can withstand any weather if you have the correct clothing. Needless to say, over the past four years I have acquired quite the collection of boots and attire for all seasons. I have the right gear to pan for gold in an Alaskan glacial stream, the proper boots to hike the mountains in Montana, and even the outerwear to withstand all the frosty weather that Marquette County can dish out.

Yet, I must admit that I still found myself dealing with winter outdoor adventures with a heaping dose of dread. So this year when I told my husband that I was finally serious about snowshoeing, he called my bluff and hauled me to a local sports store and bought me an early Christmas present – boots that were made for snowshoeing. Since we already had the snowshoes and twenty-seven acres of snow-laden property, I had zero excuses. John joined me in blazing the first trail and I have been crushing my goal of snowshoeing at least five times a week one snowy step at a time. An added bonus is that to date I have lost 13 pounds and have toned up my legs and core.

I cannot believe I didn’t start snowshoeing sooner! If you have never been snowshoeing before, give it a try. I find it both relaxing and exhilarating and it gives me time to reflect and ponder. My favorite way to round out my excursion is a pot of soup simmering on the stove followed by a hot sauna before bed.

John and our pup Apollo helped me blaze the first trail on our homestead in December. We have received several FEET of snow since this photo was taken.

The trail that I melt all of my stress away on.

Our Golden Retriever Gracie loves to frolic in snow! Look at that smile.

The recipe that I am going to share with you today is a refreshing twist on a traditional chicken soup. It combines the accompaniment of tangy lemon and dill and, instead of rice or noodles, gives an extra boost of protein with cannellini beans (white kidney beans). If you are a vegetarian, you can easily make this soup vegetarian friendly use a quality vegetable stock and replace the chicken with extra beans.

As with any flavorful soup, I think that the most important ingredient is a superior stock or broth. When you start with a good broth you reduce the cooking time of your soup because the flavor has already been developed. In recent years I have read a lot of information on the health benefits of bone broth. While I was a vegetarian for over eleven years, after being diagnosed with Hashimotos Disease (thyroid disease), I slowly started reintroducing meat (chicken and pork) that my husband and I raise ourselves – as well as small amounts of locally raised beef.

Whenever I roast a chicken I make sure to utilize 100% of the animal and always make broth (I can or freeze what is not going to be consumed within a day). Chicken broth is simple to make and my go-to method is to use my pressure cooker.


  • 8 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 medium chopped onion (1/2 cup)
  • 3 ribs of chopped celery
  • ¼ cup of chopped carrots
  • 2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cups of chopped roasted chicken
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 3-4 lemons (juice and zest)
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh dill
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • *Optional – flour and butter or cornstarch for a thickening agent

Sauté the onion, celery, garlic, and carrots in olive oil until soft (approximately 5 minutes). Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add chicken meat, beans, and reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest, dill, parsley, salt, pepper, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

If you want to thicken the soup you can use flour and butter. I combine three Tablespoons of flour with two Tablespoons of butter in a pan on low heat. When it forms a paste-like texture I add a ½ cup of hot broth and whisk until smooth (you can add more stock until there aren’t any chunks of flour) and then add the mixture to your soup and stir in well (you can simmer for a few minutes). You can add more the mixture if you want the broth to be thicker, but I prefer this soup to be thinner.

Another healthier option to thicken this soup is to puree the beans and incorporate into the soup. This is a good way to “hide” beans from small children who won’t eat them. I have found that this a healthy alternative for cream-based soups as well. You get the same creamy consistency without having to use heavy cream.

Not only do I hope you try this soup, but if you are craving winter adventure, I hope you log a few miles on a pair of snowshoes soon. If you are not athletically inclined (as I am not), snowshoeing is not a difficult activity and it is said to burn twice the calories as walking. I find that I do not have to over-dress, but rather dress in layers. I usually wear a pair of thicker leggings with knee high socks to protect my calves from any deep snow that finds its way into my boots. I layer a t-shirt with a sweatshirt, a lighter winter shell jacket, a scarf, a knit headband to protect my ears, and a flexible pair of gloves. I also apply a generous layer of moisturizer on my face and balm on my lips. When I snowshoe at night I wear a headlamp to light my way (though sometimes I just let the stars guide me). I recommend bringing a camera to capture nature’s beauty, a bottle of water, and follow the invigorating activity with a hot shower or a sauna.

I promise that you will find yourself craving the outdoors. In fact, I am heading outside now. Our 90+ pound, 10 month old, German Shepherd Apollo enjoys the exercise as much as I do. Nature calls – make sure that you answer – and don’t forget to warm up with a hot bowl of healthy soup!

Hurry up, Mama!

My beautiful snowshoe trail.

Apollo my personal trainer


Cabbage Soup ~ Wholesome, Plant-Based, and Weight Watchers Friendly

Weight Watchers Friendly Cabbage Soup

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”-Andy Goldsworthy

It would be a lie if I said that I did not do a jubilant snow-day-dance in my kitchen this morning when I got the call that school was cancelled due to inclement weather. I tapped on the window and mouthed the words to Mike, “SNOW DAY.” It may have been an act of unkindness considering the fact that he was brushing my Jeep off at the time. He scowled up his face in mock disgust. About forty-five minutes later he was headed out the door to work. He grabbed his Arctic Carhartts, planted a kiss on my mouth, and left the house with a smile plastered on his face from ear-to-ear. Mike is so thankful to be employed right now and loves his new job. We are so fortunate and will never take for granted the opportunities that we are given or our network of support. Last year at this time Mike was a full-time college student and we were stressed about our finances. It feels wonderful to have two incomes again and to be catching up on our bills.

Athena absorbing the snow day magic from her chair.

Athena absorbing the snow day magic from her chair.

This morning I enjoyed a silent house and the company of our furbabies. I had a bottomless cup of tea and felt my energy levels restore. While I spent my afternoon working on lesson plans (yes, a snow day really throws things out of whack) this morning I allowed myself to be steeped in the bliss of writing in my journal, yoga, and brainstorming future blogs.

Today’s recipe is one that I have been meaning to share for quite a long time. It is an old healthy favorite that my mom and I loved making when I was in high school and college. In fact, I talked to my mom today and she said she was getting ready to make a pot. I have seen recipes for many different versions over the years and this is a recipe that I often share with my Weight Watchers members.

I am going to share a basic recipe and you may decide to bulk it up with pasta or beans and flavor it with your favorite spices. You can also add other vegetables (I have added zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale or whatever I have on hand). When I ran it through the recipe builder it came out to 1 PP per cup but I do count it as 0 when I follow the Simple Filling Technique (even though juice is not a Power Food).
Cabbage Soup by Produce with AmyCABBAGE SOUP

*1 medium head of chopped cabbage
*1 medium chopped onion
*4 ribs of chopped celery
*3 chopped bell peppers (I use one green, one red, and one yellow. I really like the flavor that the bell peppers bring to the soup)
*2 cups of chopped carrots
*6 cups of tomato juice
(You may want to buy a low sodium version since tomato juice is often high in sodium. Sometimes I use 3 cans of tomato juice and 3 cans of vegetable stock depending what I have on hand. I especially love this soup with my mom’s “homemade” tomato juice from her garden tomatoes)
*2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
*1 Tablespoon of coconut oil
(or your oil of choice)
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Lemon juice to taste
*Worcestershire sauce to taste
*Hot sauce 
(Optional. I recommend adding it to your cup or bowl before serving. If you like some heat you could also add a diced jalapeno pepper to the pot)

Sautee garlic, onion and celery until soft and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer 45-60 minutes.

Printable Recipe: Cabbage Soup

That is it. It is a simple and versatile soup and it is packed with flavor and nutrients. While it is wonderful hot, I must say that I even enjoy it cold (similar to a gazpacho). One of my WW friends, Linda, tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago and she said she swapped out the tomato juice for fire-roasted tomatoes. One of my other friends Theresa said that she loves to have a cup of vegetable soup at night for a filling and healthy snack.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and please share your feedback. I always love to hear the tweaks and additions that people make to dishes to suit their tastes. If you are interested in other soup recipes, please check out my Soups tab.

Pin recipe HERE.

Have a wonderful and healthy week my friends and thank you for sharing my recipes with the world. Make sure you find my page on Facebook and stay tuned for more fruit and vegetable filled dishes. In the next couple days I will be sharing a new Mason Jar Salad that features blue/purple fruit and vegetables and a homemade tangerine dressing made two ways. Thank you for sharing this journey with me!
Cabbage Soup for Your Health

Cabbage Soup for a Cold Day

The Antidote for Seasonal Amnesia ~ Soup

Butternut Squash Soup by Produce with Amy

Winter in Upper Michigan Photo by Mike Laitinen

Winter in Upper Michigan Photo by Mike Laitinen

“Take a little backache
Melt some snow from the year of your birth
Add the lump in your throat
And the fear of the dark

Instead of oil a pinch of chill
But let it be northern
Instead of parsley
Swear loudly into it…

…We’ll dive into the soup
With a grain of salt between our teeth
And won’t come up
Until we learn its song…

…We arouse the sun’s curiosity
By whistling for the soup
To be served…”
~Charles Simic (from “Soup”)

I have had amnesia for the past six months. When traveling, and asked to describe Upper Michigan, I tell people that the summers are so breathtaking that they have the capacity to give residents of the Upper Peninsula amnesia. Mike and I (and our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Phoebe) enjoy four fleeting months of gorgeous weather. (Sometimes longer depending on the temperament of May and October)   We love to pass our time hiking the Iron Ore Heritage Trail in Negaunee, spending time on the Paint River in Crystal Falls with my brother Jamie and my dad Jim, and packing up healthy snacks for picnics and photo shoots along the glittering waters of Lake Superior and other local destinations. Our summers are drenched in beauty and by mid-July we forget how fierce of a punch our winters can wield.

Savoring Summer in the U.P.

Savoring Summer in the U.P.

We have been fortunate in the U.P. and have experienced a very mild winter. That was until the past week. One step outside yesterday and my amnesia came to a screeching halt. Before I even went to bed last night I received an automated call from the school district that I teach in that we would be closed today due to inclement weather. Our local television station was reporting -16 with wind chills of -31 and classes at nearly every school in the U.P. was cancelled. I will not deny that not having to warm up my Jeep and brave the numbing cold was celebrated. The prospect of a day off was a glorious treat and I knew I would spend time in my robe with a hot cup of tea and a purring kitty on my lap before I hit the treadmill.

The plunging thermometer did not let our January Green Smoothie Challenge slip away. Our Day #22 Green Smoothie combination was red leaf lettuce, wheat grass juice powder, parsley, cucumber, avocado, mango, strawberry, chia seeds, lemon juice, and water. Not only are the green smoothies packed with nutrients but Mike and I both notice that they give us a burst of energy to fuel our mornings. It has now become part of my routine to make extra to pack with my lunch and drink on my commute home from work. Last week I picked up some Powdered Wheat Grass JuiceWheat Grass from our local food co-op to add to our smoothies. So far for the new year I am down 2.8 pounds and next week will be starting a 12 Week Challenge with my Weight Watchers members. One of my goals is to invest more time in planning my lunches and trying one new recipe a week. Often I am guilty of buying the ingredients for recipes that I spot in Vegetarian Times or on Pinterest, but rarely do I go through with actually making them. Last year when I made the commitment to follow plant-based eating I fell into a food rut and I am determined to not allow that to happen again.

Last weekend I was submerged in grading semester essay exams but still made time to cook for the week. Since Mike is still eating meat in moderation, I made a vegetable marina that we both could enjoy and meatballs on the side for him to add to his plate. I started Weight Watchers six years ago and ever since have been in the habit of making a pot of soup on Sundays to eat during the week. There is something poetic about the process of making soup. Chopping vegetables has a therapeutic magic to it and the house fills with magnificent aromas. A cup of broth based soup is satisfying and filling and allows Mike and I to eat a smaller amount of our main entrée.

I also love the freedom that cooking soup offers. It is one of those dishes where a recipe is optional and I enjoy flinging whatever vegetables I have on hand into the pot. Though, of course, as a veteran Weight Watchers member, when adding ingredients that are not 0 Points Plus vegetables, I am careful to keep track and run the recipe through eTools.

When I buy organic vegetables I made sure to save the scraps in a bag in the freezer to make my own vegetable stock. This works especially well with onion and garlic skins and cuttings, celery, carrots, parsley and other herbs. A friend also taught me the trick of adding extra water when I cook dried garbanzo beans for hummus. Once the beans are finished cooking you can drain the water and use for soup stock. I cook garbanzo beans in bulk and freeze both the beans and the stock.

Last week I knew that the end of the semester would find me in a time pinch so I tried an alternative route for my weekly soup ritual. The Marquette Food Co-op carries soup mixes in the bulk section and I decided to try the Spicy Southwestern which consists of a medley of beans, corn, peppers, and spices. Since I did not have any stock in the freezer I picked up a carton of that as well and used it along with water. The co-op prefers that owners bring their bags or jars but it had been an impromptu trip. I like to save my bread bags for bulk items and made sure that I tucked some into my shopping totes for next time.
Spicy Southwestern Soup

I think the first "mix" is a typo and should read "water"

I think the first “mix” is a typo and should read “water”

I ladled us each a cup and added diced raw onions and campari tomatoes, fresh cilantro, cubed avocado, a squeeze of lime juice, 1 tsp of olive oil, and Himalayan pink salt. Mike opted to leave off the toppings and he had leftover shredded chicken. The soup was spicy and warm addition to the blowing snow outside.  The next time I make the Spicy Southwestern Soup I think that I will add a jar of my mom’s canned garden tomatoes to the pot. My friend Lisa said that the Curry Lentil mix is very good and I will be trying it next weekend.

Spicy Southwestern Soup

Spicy Southwestern Soup

Today after my smoothie I was in the soup mood but wanted to try something different. I wanted to come up with a single serving recipe that would have all of the convenience of opening up a can of soup but without the sodium and additives.

Spontaneous Soup

I started off by sautéing minced garlic, chopped onions and celery, and chunks of red bell pepper in 2 teaspoon of coconut oil for a couple of minutes (I wanted them to retain their crunch). I turned off the burner and folded in a handful of spinach and transferred to a bowl and added a dash of rice vinegar.

Vegetables Sauteed in Coconut Oil

Vegetables sautéed in Coconut Oil

To the same pot I added one cup of vegetable stock and added rice noodles and brought to a boil. Once the noodles were done (only takes a few minutes) I added the broth and noodles to the vegetables. The soup was finished with a dash of soy sauce and fresh cilantro. Simple and satisfying.

Final Project SoupClose up of finished product

Rice noodles are great  for Stir Fry, curry, Vegan Pad Thai. They have great texture and visual appeal.

Rice noodles are great for Stir Fry, curry, Vegan Pad Thai. They have great texture and visual appeal.

After this morning I am imagining all sorts of single serving soup combinations.  I think that the onion, garlic, and celery gave the soup a lot of body and a rich stock is also essential for flavor. Instead of spinach one could add kale or other greens or cabbage.
How about tomatoes with fennel, and lemon juice? Or ginger with lemon grass and carrots? Basil and tomatoes would make a terrific combination and if you are so inclined you could even add meat or shrimp. Though, of course, I would recommend a 100% plant-based version.

Since the weather is blustery and I am in the soup mood I thought that I would also share my healthy version of Butternut Squash Soup. I made a couple batches this fall and found it hearty and it froze well for future meals. A friend tried the recipe and said it was so creamy she was shocked that the recipe did not contain cream.

I  used two fairly large butternut squash for this recipe and it rendered 18 cups.

  1.  Pierce Butternut Squash and place in a baking dish (add a couple of cups of water to bottom of the dish)
  2.  Roast squash for 30-45 minutes at 400-450 degrees.
  3.  Peel squash and remove seeds. The two squash that I roasted rendered 4 pounds of squash.
  4. Saute 1 cup of onion 2 Tablespoons of garlic, 2 cups of celery, 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger, 3 Granny Smith Apples (I kept the peels on).
  5. Add five cups of water and the four pounds of squash and simmer for 30 minutes.  The water could be swapped out for vegetable stock.
  6. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste..
  7. Puree in blender
  8. *Optional. Sage (When I made in the fall I added a large bunch of sage from my garden. I removed the sage before pureeing.)

    I use a Pyrex Glass Baking Dish

    I use a Pyrex Glass Baking Dish

    One cooled the skin and seeds are easily removed

    One cooled the skin and seeds are easily remove

    Peeled Butternut Squash

    Peeled Butternut Squash

    The final product with swirls of cinnamon and nutmeg

    The final product with swirls of cinnamon and nutmeg

    While winter lingers I will make countless pots of soup to help us warm up. Today when I looked out the window I could not help dreaming of being outside tending to my flowers and tomato plants. This time of year I really miss fresh garden produce. Since I eat a lot of salads, I especially miss fragrant tomatoes still warm from the vine. Nothing can compare to a tomato from one’s own backyard, but I have found a fairly decent tomato that can really perk up a winter salad. They are rather expensive but when sprinkled with sea salt they give off an essence and hint of summer that is priceless.
    CompariIt appears as if the cold snap is going to continue in the U.P. and we are under both a wind chill and snow advisory. Tonight I will drink hot tea and nurse my amnesia with fantasies about what I will grow this summer in my garden. Tomorrow is Day #23 of our Green Smoothie Challenge and maybe I will concoct something with a tropical flair.  It may be only January, but so far 2013 has been both nutritious and productive.

    Summer Garden

    Athena and Pandora snuggling to keep warm

    Athena and Pandora snuggling to keep warm

    Amy enjoying sunshine on the Paint River in Crystal Falls.

    Amy enjoying sunshine on the Paint River in Crystal Falls.