The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

I’m Back and There’s No Use Crying In Cheese Beer Soup

Honey, I’m home! Home being the dabble and honey being you, cherished reader. Minnesota welcomed us back with frigid arms at a chilly -20 something temperature. I am no fan of not being able to catch my breath and having my nostril hairs freeze when exiting a car or stepping outside. You can imagine some expletive phrases I tried to say-tried because as I said, I couldn’t catch my breath and instead, shivered and merely thought of a slew of words I would only utter in these temps. Ok, I’m a liar, these words I say quite frequently any time.

For any avid readers, you might have noticed that I said I might write a little while I was home. Well that didn’t happen-I was lucky to post random ramblings on facebook, twitter and foodbuzz on a few days of the break. I am a little ashamed that I didn’t take very many pictures. I felt as though this were my personal time and left the pictures for my brain to snap and absorb.

Some of my parent's backyard
Some of my parent's backyard

To keep with my statement, one that I had made before the break, I will share some highlights of our trip back home to Indiana throughout this week. For anyone present on these occasions, don’t think that because I didn’t mention this or that part that I didn’t have fun or that it wasn’t meaningful, I had a great, busy time with everyone. This is a sensitive issue as I am not in a mood to dwell and simply want to move forward so that I don’t realize just how lonely we are here in Minnesota. I will most likely feel melancholy about this subject so here are some maybe seemingly detached and impersonal highlights of the trip (remember you are saving emotional me from tears).

Here we go: first, I want to thank my parents (especially my mom) for caring for us while we stayed (laundry, dishes, cooking, etc.) and for anyone else that housed our butts. On to other points, our friend Jason became engaged to a wonderful girl that we met for the first time, Stephanie. She did an amazing transformation of his bachelor house.

View from my parent's backdoor
View from my parent's backdoor

My sister introduced us to Half Price Books where they “buy, sell, recycle and preserve books, movies and music.” Greg and I bought quite a few books and a Pee Wee Herman Christmas special dvd that I couldn’t pass up for the price….long time Pee Wee fan. (Year was the magic word-ahhhh!)

I bought a series of Food & Wine Best of the Best cookbooks, a book about curry, a Taste of Home 2009 Contest Winning recipes book, one by Anthony Bourdain and much more. (Greg, now growing a beard, bought a wood, design and calculus book.)

My youngest sister gave me a Sweet Life that includes many delicious looking desserts with photography that makes me envious and inspired. My mom let me borrow a series that I intend to begin soon and gave me a large stack of magazines loaded with recipes. My ma-in-law found some recipes she thought I would enjoy (and I do) that have chocolate within them although they are savory dishes. Nice.

Greg and I also gathered more texts that my parents were storing until we could make room in the apartment. I don’t know about room but we were ready to have back some of the old college textbooks, cookbooks that I picked up years ago while in Costa Rica, gardening, nutrition and a Weight Watchers cookbook (since I am known to watch my points). I can’t wait to delve into all of these in 2010.

My dad's greenhouse
My dad's greenhouse

I miss my family and friends big time. Christmas went smoothly and was very relaxing. I didn’t really cook; I made things ahead of time and Greg and I pretty much just drove and hung out. Next year, we intend to do the gift exchange thing. We received way too much (thank you!) and felt like losers not being able to give in return. We received so many things that it makes my head spin still- camping gear, a beautiful scarf, boots, gift cards, cash, candy, words of wisdom and advice, my favorite color blue pie pan, Brewopoly, hot salsa from my grandma, booties from my other grandma, a Wii game from my brother-in-law, a picture of us from my brother and sister-in-law, much more and honestly the best present, precious time with loved ones. (That’s cheesy but sincerely the truth.)

The food, oh the food! I’m in a calorie-induced daze…somebody (pointing a finger at myself) might have gained quite a few pounds and like everyone and their brother, will be working hard to get back on track and beyond in fitness and health for this New Year. I will talk about this a little bit more this week but my mind is beginning to reminisce about home and I really don’t want to be alone in the apartment thinking about all the love back home. Tears…are here…cut to the cheese beer soup recipe. I couldn’t possibly cry in a soup as delish as this. Tears add too much salt.

Cheese Beer Soup
Cheese Beer Soup

Cheese Beer Soup from Savvyhostess on (modified slightly)
Serves 8

1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
12 oz. beer (I used ale but a lager would be fine too)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
¼-1/2 cup mashed potatoes-optional
3 cups milk or half and half
6 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
dash of hot pepper sauce-optional

In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir together carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. Add cayenne pepper, salt/pepper, chicken broth and beer; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat butter in another large soup pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and cook stirring until the flour is light brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Whisk in milk until thickened and remove from heat, then gradually stir in cheese and keep warm. Add mashed potatoes if you’d like, that would be even better in my eyes.

Stir the beer mix into the cheese mix and add the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard. Add optional hot pepper sauce. Bring to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes.

Cheese Beer Soup