Friday, October 28, 2011

hostesses with mostesses

If you come and stay at our house, you WILL eat well.

Watch. Out.

We had some Romanian missionaries staying at our house. Obviously. Because we are heathens. I jest! Because my mom had read about their work through our church (rest assured, that if your opinion of missionaries has been culled, like mine previous to this, from reading The Poisonwood Bible, these are nice missionaries. Non-forceful, non-judgmental, helping-orphans-and-alcoholics missionaries), and had supported them for a long time, and invited them to our house.

And they were completely lovely and, as with any houseguests, I had to make sure they ate better food at my house than they ever had at anyone else’s house because I have to be the Best Hostess In The World. (We’ll call it the Martha Stewart complex)

Like so much of life, I have decided to begin this post with dessert first.


It all began with my megabag of apples from apple picking. I tend to become daunted when there is a large quantity of any one food item in my house, because I fear things going bad and food getting wasted. Food cannot be wasted.


So I cut up some apples… pretty red apples, adorably tiny green apples…


I mixed together the wet and (half whole wheat!) dry ingredients for Lots O Apple Cake, a recipe I’ve made before and loved.


Like last time, the batter was wiiiiiiiiiiicked sticky.


And the combining of the batter with the apples left me wondering, like last time, whether I was really going to pull this thing off.


And lo and behold, just like last time, they did indeed come together, and quite beautifully.


And two delicious apple cakes emerged from my oven. I actually froze them prior to the arrival of our guests, planning them for some sociable future occasion, which indeed emerged.


I highly recommend this recipe. It’s reasonably healthy, reasonably easy, a great way to use up a glut of apples, and a big hit.

Now, as it turns out, our church event attracted a rather tiny crowd (weeknights are tough), but as is typical for Greek women who see people going away hungry from a place in which we served food as the ultimate evil in the world. So I also made a double batch of my chocolate truffle brownies.

No, they didn’t mold. That’s white chocolate up top. Just for kicks.


We ended up serving NONE of those at the event (there were leftover sweets from a lunch at the church earlier in the day) so we sent some on the road with our missionary pals, I took some in to work to feed my grateful coworkers, and I froze the rest. I’m choosing to forget that for the time being. I’ve been on a real sugar attack lately.

As for dinner- a real treat!

My mom made my grandma’s sausage soup, mmmmmmmmmmmm.


This thing is so simple and so the ultimate in winter comfort. I don’t know what it is, but she chose to use BREAKFAST SAUSAGE in this soup (those little links with no particularly distinctive flavoring), and with the tomatoes, beans, potato, and pepper-onion flavor base, as well as a tickling of fresh and dried herbs, it is SO UNBELIEVABLY DELICIOUS.

So satisfying, too :D

Guests were also treated to pieces of my pumpkin spelt bread. To die for. Excellent for soup dippage.

(I was also carrying on a tradition, because my grandmother- a seriously amazing bread baker- always served this soup with her homemade baguettes).


Though I didn’t take pictures at the dinner table, since I try not to impose my awkward blog photoshoots on houseguests, I had the leftovers for lunch the other day, so I got to ogle at the gorgeousness of this soup.


I will gladly post the recipe, but please don’t make any healthy substitutions. My grandmother lived to be 87 and she attributed much of her longevity to eating chocolates in bed :D

She was a healthy person and ate a mostly Mediterranean diet, but also ate food that was SATISFYING. And sometimes that means full-fat pork sausage. You’ll drain it. Get over it.

My Grandmother’s Sausage Soup

1 pound pork breakfast sausage, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 14-ounce can sliced stewed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 large onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 teaspoon dried thyme (can use a mix of fresh and dried)
2 tablespoons dried basil (see above)
1 large potato, diced (we use red potato, unpeeled)
salt and pepper to taste

Brown sausage in a 2-quart pot and drain off fat. Deglaze the pan with the stewed tomatoes, then add water, onion, and green pepper. Bring to a boil.
Lower heat, return sausage to pan and add beans and herbs, with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 45 minutes.
Add potato and cook covered for 20 minutes or until potato is tender.

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