My baked potato soup recipe

This is for my sister! Now you have to learn how to buy potatoes in Korea. :p

My baked potato soup has become one of our favorite meals and the great thing about it is that it stretches REALLY far! I always double the recipe because, living on a farm, we have rather hardy appetites. And it’s SO SIMPLE!! I’ll add my little tweaks, but the base recipe can be found here.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices bacon (I use a package of real bacon bits)
  • 2/3 cup margarine (butter…always butter)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I probably would use a bit more than this because it makes the white sauce thicken faster so you don’t have to stir forever)
  • 7 cups milk (naturally, since I live on a dairy farm, I use raw milk)
  • 4 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed (throw ’em in the microwave right before you start)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (sharp cheddar!)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt (haha…a lot more than that!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (DEFINITELY a lot more than that!)

Directions

  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain, crumble, and set aside. (You can skip this if using bacon bits. Saves a step and a pan and really tastes just as good)
  2. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the margarine over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. (You’re looking for the mixture to start bubbling a bit)  Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly until thickened. [Keep temp on med – med/high the whole time. The original directions say bring to boil. DON’T. It burns] Stir in potatoes and onions.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Another way you can cook this is in a crock pot. You still have to make the white sauce (butter, flour and milk) but you can throw that in the crock pot with your potatoes and onions and let it sit for however long you need and then right before you’re ready to eat it, throw in the sour cream, cheddar cheese and bacon bits. I’ve done it both ways but if you do the crock pot way, bake your potatoes for less time so they aren’t complete mush…unless you like complete mush… 😀 The whole thing really only takes about thirty minutes. We usually get about 3-4 meals out of it! It’s SUPER FILLING. I definitely think it’s perfect for winter, but we enjoy it just as much during warm weather seasons. Have a potato soup party and invite over some friends!
~JoAnna

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Another milestone!

Another milestone in our house today! We have a working stove!! Ben worked on wiring all day yesterday and made excellent progress. Today, he was able to hook up our stove so I can cook in our own house!! Granted, we still lack counter tops, a refrigerator and running water, but dishes can be washed at the in-laws, food can be stored in one of the many freezers and fridges we own on the farm and water? Well I can keep gallon jugs of it stored in our house. The main thing is, I can make simple things. For one thing I can BAKE!! Cookies, brownies, all sorts of yummies and I can make simple meals that don’t require a lot of preparation. Pizza, casseroles, roast chicken, etc. I even have a broiler in my oven. 🙂 YAY!

The other totally awesome thing about our lovely stove is that it only cost us $5 dollars. Yes, $5. There was an auction at our church to get rid of some things that were in the buildings that got torn down before they started construction on our new church building and one of them was a stove. They said the items would go to the highest bidders. Well my father-in-law bid $5 dollars on the stove just to see what would happen and no one else bid so we ended up getting it! It’s a nice electric stove and I am quite thankful for it!

I’m afraid cows are calling me to come and milk them so I shall go for now. I just wanted to share a small way in which God shows us His goodness and blessings. Simple things should be the things we treasure. 🙂
~JoAnna

Monday, Monday

“It must be [Monday]…I could never get the hang of [Mondays].” -Arthur Dent, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

SO true! (Although Arthur says this about Thursdays). I always seem to start Mondays behind and then it seems like it stays that way all day and often into Tuesdays as well. Ugh.

We got up late this morning which means my cows got milked late which means I have to milk my cows later tonight than I really want to…But trying to dwell on more positive things, we had a little lambie born on Saturday night!! She is absolutely beautiful. And ENORMOUS!! haha. 🙂 She’s two days old today and the same size as our little boy sheep who is two weeks old! …She’s actually a bit bigger…

Tunis are SUCH a wonderful breed of sheep. Granted, I’ve only experienced Suffolk sheep besides Tunis, but the Tunis are SO much better than the Suffolk. My Suffolk ladies are high strung and jumpy and don’t do well on an all grass diet or poorer pasture (Which we’ve had since the summer drought). The Tunis are very friendly and curious, do well on poorer pasture and are generally a lot more pleasant to be around and to handle. My three Suffolk ladies are nearly always convinced of my “apparent” intent to kill them. I have one, Parsley, who will come up to me and sniff me and let me pet her a bit but she runs off quick. Hickory is the youngest of my three Tunis ladies and she always comes right up to me and sniffs me and waits for me to pet her. She’s a real sweetie and so inquisitive. Ahhhh. Sheep are a joy. 🙂 …Most of the time…

Weaving, weaving weaving! I am trying to break out of my weaver’s block. Although I’m still working on shawls/shrugs, I got to try out my new toy. I got a warping paddle for Christmas and Saturday was the first I got to use it. I will admit that it took time to get the hang of it and I still think I’m not sure I’m doing it correctly, but I wound a lovely 7 yarn striped warp using the colors ROY G. BIV. Why not? I’ve never used rainbow colors before and I wanted to test a striping pattern with more than 4 ends in it. I thought the rainbow would be a good place to start. Plus it’s not like a typical rainbow all bright and crayon colored. I used a few bright colors mixed with some lovely subdued colors. A bright red which is next to a rust orange, golden/olivey yellow which is next to a lovely mint green which is next to a bright aqua blue that I hand dyed so it has color variance throughout. The aqua is next to a lovely navy which has undertones of violet (we affectionately refer to this color as Blurple.) which runs next to a lovely royal purple. OY! Sounds complicated, but it’s not. 🙂

I am trying to plan other projects for the upcoming Spring TACA Fair in May but I’m still sort of stumbling around unsure of what to make…I think part of it is because my focus in life lately has NOT been on my craft but rather on my farm and animals. I hope I’m able to shift my focus soon back to weaving. I suppose I should be working on that now rather than blogging but sometimes I just want to write something. Writing is always therapeutic and sometimes helps me work through ideas that I have. I suppose I shall close for now. 🙂
~JoAnna

Weaver’s block

Since my focus for the past month has been keeping my animals in good health, I haven’t done much weaving. I also feel like I have weaver’s block! I’m once again in the rut of “Oh I only have a 4 shaft loom…I can’t do anything with that!” What a pathetic pity party! There are SO many things you can do with a four shaft loom. I just need to be reminded of them yet again. There are MANY patterns and variations that I haven’t tried yet. I still have barely scratched the surface of the potential of my loom.

I’ve been mostly weaving shawls lately. Tencel shawls. I tend to be a color weaver and focus more on that than pattern or texture. I’ve been doing a lot of plain weave because I just love how soft and supple Tencel fabric feels in a plain weave. Okay, maybe I like texture too….But I tend to think of smooth as a lack of texture.

I am weaving a set of 6 (possibly 7?) shrugs right now. They are incredibly simple to weave and to sew but I LOVE them. Inspiration found here. I am planning on getting back to scarves pretty soon since my scarf inventory is pretty low (how about non existent??). The other items I’m planning on weaving in the near future are clutch bags (made from felted wool) and slouchy messenger bags. These tend to be good sellers at shows and since I have one of my two biggest shows in about 2 months, I need to get crackin! The annual Spring TACA Fair is happening the weekend of May 6th at Centennial Park in Nashville, TN. I’ll be there and I can’t WAIT! 🙂

I’m also trying to come up with a good summer item. Let’s face it, scarves and shawls aren’t big sellers when it’s 90+ degrees outside…So what to sell in the summer? This question is constantly running through my head. Stay tuned for more details in that department. Or tell me whatyouthink! What kinds of handmade items would tempt you in the summer??

Well I think I shall go for now. I need to actually get to my loom instead of sit here blogging about it all day. My shrug fabric awaits to woven!
~JoAnna

Milestone!

At long last, I have internet in my house!! I am writing this post from the comfort of my own bed. 🙂

It may seem ridiculous, but one of the main reasons I wanted internet at my house (aside from Netflix and the ability to check my email without having to go somewhere) was so that I would be able to blog. It’s so difficult for me to collect my thoughts when there is a lot of commotion surrounding me.

Oh my goodness so much has happened! I suppose an update is in order.
I can barely remember what’s happened between January and now but February was one of the hardest months I’ve had in my entire life. We lost 6 animals to various things.

It began with a mama sheep giving birth to her first lamb. Sadly, the lamb was stuck in the birth canal and did not live longer than 6 hours. Those 6 hours were a complete miracle though because she was dead when she was born. We resuscitated her and managed to keep her alive for an afternoon.
The next animal we lost was a heifer calf, Ellie. I feel completely responsible for this one because she was under my care and I probably could have prevented it. 😦 She was never a particularly strong calf due to the fact that she didn’t get any colostrum from her mother because the mama cow’s udder hangs very low and the calf couldn’t find the teat. One night it got down to 9 degrees and although Ellie was in the barn, she was not strong enough to withstand a temperature that cold. She got hypothermia. We may have been able to save her had it not been for the fact that we were also currently in the process of weaning her off milk. That causes a tremendous amount of stress on an animal’s body and she did not have the energy to stay warm.
Ellie died on a Monday.

Tuesday morning I was milking the cows and Ben comes flying in from work and says that one of our beef cows has delivered a baby and is stuck in the mud and can’t stand up.
Her calf, a bull, was strong, adventurous and curious. We have named him Magellan because from the moment he could walk, he began exploring. 🙂 We spent all of Tuesday (Valentine’s Day) in the field with the cow feeding her grain, hay, water and giving her oral drenches of dextrose, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. We managed to move her to the barn on our farm but she still cannot stand. We are in the process of rehabilitating her using a sling that allows her to put some weight on her legs but not all of it at once.

Wednesday of that week was dealing with the aftermath of the cow and making sure she was sitting upright and comfortably all day.

Thursday was awful. Ben again returned from work having discovered that one of our registered Devon cows had died. We still have absolutely no explanation for this death other than sometimes cows just die. We even did a minor autopsy on her to check her stomach and intestines and she was not impacted or anything. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. At this point Ben and I were completely emotionally spent.

Friday my father-in-law came to me to talk about a sheep that had been sick and I’d been caring for. She had been sick for almost 3 weeks and had lost the majority of her wool. We had begun feeding her grain daily, but she was not gaining weight. We had to put her down that day because she could not stand up anymore and had lost her appetite completely.

Nothing happened again until Tuesday of the following week. I left to make our Tuesday drop off for milk customers and take my brother-in-law to his weekly music lesson. Not ten minutes after I left, one of my sheep went into labor. She labored for about 2 hours making no progress. My mother-in-law went in to feel the positioning of the babies and they were completely breech. The first boy came out completely backwards and the second followed not long after in an equally contorted position. We believe they were stillborn and may have shared the same sack in the womb which is what caused the problem. We lost both twin boys. The mother, however, is exceedingly strong and was up and walking around less than an hour later. She was very sad for a few days. You may not think animals are capable of feeling emotions, but let me tell you that they are. She cried for two days in search of her lost babies. Every time she saw a human she would bleat softly in her “mama voice” as if we had taken them from her and could bring them back. It was heart breaking.

We are beginning to recover emotionally and trying to remain positive and learn from our experiences. It has been a very hard two and a half weeks but God gives us trials for a reason. He wants us to lean on Him and trust in Him for our strength. This is one of those reminders that our God is always sovereign. But we must also remember that He is ALWAYS good. Even when it doesn’t seem like it. Having all these experiences will perhaps teach us how to save another animal in the future. I am thankful that I live on a family farm where we love and support each other through everything. Had we not had Ben’s family here, we may have given up completely. They are a constant source of encouragement to us and are always willing to give up their time to help us when an emergency arises. What a blessing to have them!!

I hope this new month goes much more smoothly than the last. Spring is coming and with it, hope. 🙂
~JoAnna