Signs of Spring

Greetings, all!

Old man winter's been a cantankerous grouch and it's time for him to take a hike. This weekend most of us "sprang ahead" - that annoying, antiquated, pre-spring equinox custom of losing an hour's sleep so we have enough light at the end of the day to plow the fields. But that got me thinking about signs of spring:


Maybe the tropical temps tomorrow will melt the
screen icicle...
Not quite ready for a margarita on the arm.

A mere nine days ago, both of these objects were completely encased in snow. Their reemergence is filling my head with such thoughts of green grass, garden and grilling (the three G's)!


DISCLAIMER: The one bathing suit I own IS a Victoria's Secret bikini. As a company they have spectacular sales and superlative customer service, which is why I shop there. I have noticed, however, that their clothing selection has been cut dramatically! No denim, no fancy dresses, no suits - just yoga, workout, pajamas and undergarments. I digress....

I don't know about you, but I know warmer weather is just 'round the corner when a catalog of scantily clad Angels cavorting and pouting their way across tropical beaches is delivered from my mailbox by my ten-year-old (eleven in MAY - WHAAA?!) son.

Let's be clear - the merchandise within these pages may be for the fairer sex, but the catalog is most certainly not photographed and compiled with the female mind in mind. The only thing I see in those shots are dirty, well-formed, gluteus maximuses (maximi?). Oh, and at least three Angels have wedgies. I am not at all enticed to purchase the fabric barely covering their bums, but instead want to hand them a towel so they can wipe the sand off.


I am NOT a regular purchaser of candy. I don't drool over the rows of Snickers, Peanut Butter Cups and Paydays in the checkout line. Only spring brings with it the clucking bunny who lays the chocolate eggs that are my candy kryptonite! To be honest, I've yet to purchase the creme egg this year, but am on the third bag of Mini Eggs. My offspring are particularly annoying about the eggs - so much so, that for the briefest millisecond I considered not purchasing. But my desire is too great. I store them in the highest cabinet in the kitchen and Isaac & Shiloh are allowed - at MOST - one serving per day, which is 12 eggs. I sent Isaac off to school with a half a serving in his lunch. If I can sneak off this week by myself, I may sneak some of the creme eggs just for me!


I belong to a FB page for my township, and three weeks ago a "5 Day Clean Eating Challenge" was posted, and I joined. At the end of that challenge (which I didn't make all five days..) an invite for a 21 Day Fitness Challenge was posted. There is a large group of us, and we're all separated into teams. You earn up to three points a day by posting one photo of a physical activity you do (pic of a DVD, sneakers, yoga mat, etc..). That's worth 2 points. A photo of a healthy meal is worth 1 point. Do this Monday - Saturday and earn up to 18 points. My total last week was 14. I am in the second week, and have my three for yesterday. Even though my fabulous jeans fit again (hooray!!) they are a little too snug, so it's time to whip out MFP and reign in the calories if I want them fitting perfectly by the end. Today's recipe is yesterday's healthy food photo. A participant asked for the recipe, which I'm only too happy to oblige!



I discovered this gem between Christmas and New Year's LAST year. Slate's food editor shared this as detox option that isn't carrot sticks and yogurt. Since I've made it five times since this past Christmas, it could have rightly gone with the Favorite Things post, but works just as well here! Not too much tweaking to be done, except I use chicken broth because my views on vegetable broth are hilariously articulated here. And since I simply couldn't run out and purchase a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano after using my frozen supply, I added a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce for a meaty bite. This soup is hearty, filling and guilt-free!


1 lb dried white beans (such as cannellini, Great Northern, or navy), rinsed and picked over
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and black pepper
6 cups vegetable stock
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
One 2-by-1-by-¼-inch Parmesan rind, cut into bite-sized pieces, if desired
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1½ pounds kale
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup roughly chopped basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)


Put the beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover them by 2 to 3 inches. Cover and bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the water simmers gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on their size; season with salt. (You can do this step a day or two ahead of time: Cool the beans, transfer them to an airtight container with their cooking liquid, and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the soup.)

Put the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the drained beans along with the stock, tomatoes, Parmesan rind, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup simmers steadily, and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the thick stems and ribs from the kale and discard them; roughly chop the leaves. Stir the kale and soy sauce into the soup, cover, and cook until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the thyme stems, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind (if desired). Stir in the basil and taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot, garnished with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. (Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to several days.)


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