Ham and Cheese Soup

hamcheesesouppotLately I’ve been craving ham and cheese.  It’s a comfort combination for me.  We had from-scratch mac and cheese earlier with ham diced into it, and it’s one of the only meals everyone in our family actually eats.  I like to get Beeler’s ham from our coop.  It’s a bit pricey but I’m able to spread it out and use it in salads, on sandwiches, with breakfasts, or just about anything else.  Another bonus- everyone in the family loves it!  Obviously important to me, and rare.

I also like to challenge myself to try to make a soup that Eldest Son will eat.  So far I have had zero success.  Even this soup (which tastes like liquified mac and cheese!) went untouched by the boy.  But Younger Son ate two bowls, which I think is a first. He generally doesn’t like soup either but does not go to the extremes of pickiness that his brother does.

To make this recipe, I looked at a bunch of different chowder and ham’n’cheese recipes and combined some methods and ingredients using what we had on hand.  It turned out really well on the first try!  I made it gluten free because that’s how I roll these days, but you can make it with regular flour too, if that’s what you have on hand.  It was quick, easy, and delicious.

Ham and Cheese Soup  serves 4, takes about 30-45 minutes start to finish 

1 Tbsp bacon drippings

2 1/2 cups yukon gold potatoes, small dice

2 large carrots, peeled and shredded

1 cup broth, any kind

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup cream

2 Tbsp gluten free flour blend (I use Namaste gluten free all-purpose blend)

1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 – 2 cups ham, diced small (fully cooked)

Instructions

Melt the bacon drippings in a large pot over medium-low heat.  After melted, add the broth, potatoes, carrots, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Bring this mixture to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork or knife.

Coarsely mash the potatoes in the pot.  Add the milk, cream, and flour.  Whisk it together until all the ingredients are incorporated and the flour lumps are gone.  Turn the heat back up to medium and stir until it has thickened and started to bubble.

Add the shredded cheese and stir until it has melted into the soup.  Add the ham and continue to heat, stirring and turning the temperature down if needed, until the ham is heated through, 5 – 10 minutes.

hamcheesesoupbowlWe enjoyed this on its own (it was a use-what-you’ve got meal!) but it would have been great with a simple salad. It was voted a keeper by 5/6 members of the family, so in it goes to our rotation!

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Ham and Cheese Soup

On Love and Loss(es) Part I

aandsbeachWhen I met my husband, we decided after about one week of dating that we were exclusively dating each other.  About three months later, right before Thanksgiving, we decided to get married. Eight months after that we were married.

The first child, our Eldest Daughter, arrived in the world *almost* exactly five years to the day from the fateful evening we decided to be together.  We both knew we wanted to have children, but enjoyed our time together alone until we felt ready for kids.  It took exactly one year to conceive that first child.  Pregnancy was so rough for me emotionally; I had tearfully informed Aaron that this would be our only child.  Fast forward to one week after she was born.  In my postpartum euphoria/depression, I wept over the sadness of only having one child. He matter-of-factly stated, “Sarah, this doesn’t have to be our only child.”

Oh. Yeah.

After moving cross-country to live near family, our Eldest Son was born.  He was eighteen months after his sister, but was conceived after only three months.  Undiagnosed acid reflux, hydrocele surgery at four months, constant double ear infections from 6 months to a year, hospitalization for pneumonia, and daily asthma treatments had me knocked down and out.  Not to mention that he wouldn’t sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time.  We seriously doubted we would be having any more children.

As time wore on, it became an issue of constant tension in our marriage.  We had originally dreamed of having four children.  The reality of two kids was so overwhelming, but I had babies on the brain.  A job change for Aaron and improved health of Eldest Son finally brought us to a point of readiness to try for child #3.  Four months later, we conceived; forty-one weeks later, our Younger Son was born.

Younger Son failed his hearing test at birth and we were assured it happened all the time.  After two subsequent tests, failings, and assurances we had the big test done and learned that he had bilateral sensorineural moderate-severe hearing loss.  He was fitted with hearing aids at four months, but combined with his itchy eczema skin he ripped them out all the time and was covered in deep scratches all over his face and head no matter how short I kept his nails.  We were using steroid cream on him daily.  He had many tests and doctor visits that first year to determine if his hearing loss stood alone, and wasn’t part of a bigger syndrome he might have.  He developed asthma that year too.  Around the time of his second birthday, he started vomiting inexplicably 1-3 times a day.  More tests ensued, with the verdict: peanut and egg white allergies.

Things started to calm down as we adjusted to our new normal.  Overall, our children were healthy and happy.  Eldest son began to outgrow his asthma.  We knew how to read labels to protect Younger Son, and he finally realized his hearing aids actually HELPED HIM TO HEAR.  By the time Eldest Son was diagnosed with the same type of hearing loss it was no big deal.  We already knew the ropes, had an audiologist we loved, knew how to change batteries and clean out the aids, and were familiar with the special ed teachers in our school district.

Although there was still a lot of tension over whether or not we would have more children, we finally agreed again that we would love to have just one more child.  Youngest daughter was conceived after six months.  She was born into the world as a calm, beautiful angel.  She slept well, she was healthy, her hearing was perfect, she had (has!) the sweetest disposition.  I grieved over every “last” that happened: last time she slept in the co-sleeper, last time she took her morning nap, last time she wore her 12 month pajamas… I usually didn’t know the exact “last” but I dreaded them.

As marriages do, ours fluctuated.  We started as the typical couple, feeling like our relationship was different and special than the usual relationships.  We wouldn’t have real problems. We could work everything out together. Our love was just so strong.  Life happens though.  Love is tested, and stretched, and bent, and even broken. It offers hope, followed by despair, followed by renewed zeal, followed by failed promises, followed by new understanding, etc. etc.  Amidst all of the real nitty gritty of marriage, we did agree that the only reason we weren’t having another baby was because of fear.  We both felt like children are a blessing from the Lord and we adore our children.  We agreed that whatever would be, would be.  With our history of conception, we had time to change our minds.

It was to our great surprise that we immediately became pregnant.  (Yes, we know how children are conceived.  It had just never happened so easily before!)  To be honest, we had very mixed emotions.  The other children were thrilled and excited. So many of our  family friends have suffered miscarriages, including two in a row of one of my closest friends.  The kids all prayed every day that our baby would live.  At the same time, we weren’t really expecting any issues, as I’d had four healthy pregnancies and never a problem.  At ten weeks I started feeling remarkably better, and in a panic I called my midwife group.  I hadn’t been in for an appointment yet, as my first one was cancelled due to vomiting children while Aaron was traveling.  They had me come in and did an ultrasound right away.  I was relieved when they found the little babe with its heart pumping away on the screen.

Five weeks later, I went in for my first real appointment.  After going through all the questions and concerns, blood pressure, weight, how I was feeling (horrible again), listening to the heartbeat on the doppler was the icing on the cake at the end.  I didn’t have a worry in my mind when it took a while; I had been through this before.  But then there was nothing… followed by nothing… followed by nothing.  Finally the midwife suggested we get in for an ultrasound.

Fortunately Aaron was in the car with the kids because we were heading to Costco after this simple routine appointment.  I scheduled the ultrasound as soon as possible, about an hour later, and went to tell him the news.  Everyone came back up with me, but I went in to the ultrasound alone so Aaron could stay with the kids.  I still held hope that the baby was just tucked away, out of reach of the doppler.  As soon as the image of that little body came up onto the screen, I saw the still heart.  The one that I had seen blinking away just weeks before.  I asked the technician, and she confirmed.  The baby had died one week before.

 

On Love and Loss(es) Part I

Sitting Room Progress

sitting_room_before

This room of our house has had many names.  Dining room, office, library, art room, homeschool room, and now: the sitting room.  AKA my command center.  As such, it had gotten more use than all the other rooms combined.

Lest you think that I just started this project today, let me be clear.  It took me about one week to get the painting done that you see in the above picture.  At 19 weeks pregnant today, I find that the only time I can muster up any energy to even consider a project is in the morning.  All of my best intentions are swept away as my goals simplify: make sure the the family is fed, make sure the littlest gets down for a nap… aaaaaaand that’s about it.

So in an uncharacteristic burst of energy I kept some momentum going to roll the third coat of white paint (gah!) and brush the fourth coat (double gah!) of the edging.  Which is where I landed at the above picture.  Then I surpassed my wildest expectations and actually got some of the things I wanted up on the wall.

sitting_room_wall_1

If you look at the “before”, you’ll probably see that I’ve learned not to be overly ambitious; finishing the paint on one complete wall is a good goal for me at this point. Never mind that I used to paint whole rooms in four or five hours.  Those days are a long way off for me I’m afraid.  So I’ll settle for my little semi-complete corner, and I’ll do a little more tomorrow. After all…

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”         -Lao Tzu

Sitting Room Progress

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a domestic artist

Hello!  This is a place to document and share my creative endeavors, and HOPEFULLY connect with other like-minded people.  Or people that I know.  Our anyone who’s interested in food, painting, decorating, building, drawing (basically making anything), living on the cheap, over-thinking everything, sewing…

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