Recipe: Potato Soup, Sanity Optional

Sometimes, the only thing that will do is a big ol’ bowlful of warm carbs and calories.  Potato soup is my favorite way to fill that bowl.

This recipe is pretty simple, though circumstances often add extra ingredients and steps that aren’t in the original.

Yesterday, in fact.

I’ve placed the original in bold—feel free to leave the rest out.

If you can.


—two long carrots or the equivalent in baby carrots
—two ribs of celery
—six medium all-purpose russet potatoes or the equivalent in whatever size tubers you have handy
—a couple cans or containers of chicken broth, or veggie broth if you prefer (either way, don’t bother with the good stuff)
—a cat with separation anxiety

—one or two onions
—two bored children

—6 Tablespoons butter/margarine
—6 Tablespoons flour, combined with:
—1 teaspoon salt
—½ teaspoon pepper
—garlic powder to taste

—1 ½ cups of milk (I use 1%, because that’s what we have)
—a cell phone, sans headset, with your parents on the line

—shredded cheese (optional)
—cooked, crumbled bacon (optional)

Chop the carrots up small, because they’re only a gesture to nutrition anyway, and toss ’em in the pot before marauding children can steal them all off the cutting board.   De-thread the celery—is there a real cooking term for that?—and do likewise, though there’s no rush because the kids hate celery.    Drown ’em with the chicken broth—the veggies, not the kids—because you have several potatoes to get through and you don’t want the first two to go purple on your cutting board while you deal with the rest.  One or two at a time, peel all the vitamins off the potatoes, chop them into bite-sized pieces, and add them to the swimming party.  If it looks crowded, add a little water to cover, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer.

Meanwhile, chop the onion into small pieces and call your parents because it’s been about two weeks since you’ve talked to Dad and you keep missing Mom.   Talk for a couple of minutes about hot dog calamari and why grandparents should really be the ones to introduce children to the real deal while parents record the event for engagement parties and blogs.  Step on the cat’s tail.

Check the veggies after ten minutes—the potatoes are done when they’re soft enough to squish between your fingers, if you were dumb enough to try that with a hot piece of potato, which you won’t be because I am a walking cautionary tale with two burnt fingers.   Agree to make Hot Dog calamari for the children because you feel guilty for saying that Bad Word that you aren’t sure if they heard.

Talk to Dad about why the scenes he likes in your WIP he’s reading were edited out in the new draft.  Tell your children to stop throwing the ball in the kitchen, please,  and if they want to help, they can stand over there and assemble their own dinner.  Smile as they evaporate and discuss your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which is coming up way too soon.

Put your colander over a saucepan, because you’ll need the cooking liquid later, and drain the veggies.   Put the empty pot back on the burner and toss in the butter or margarine  to melt it, which it will do quickly, so be ready with the onion, which you will saute until it goes translucent.  Alternate stirring with jamming spaghetti into pieces of hotdog, while telling your children again not to play catch in the kitchen and remind them in a tone you will later wish you hadn’t used in your parents hearing that you are on the phone. 

Apologize to your parents, pick up the bowl with the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic and step on the cat again.  Sweep the spilled flour mixture off the counter and dump it in the potStir until you’ve make an oniony roux and slowly add the milk , stirring constantly until it makes a lovely sauce.  End your phone call because you need both hands now.  Fold in the cooked veggies, but don’t worry about being careful, since the potatoes are supposed to disintegrate.  Much like your sanity.

Add a little of the reserved liquid to the pot to until the soup is the consistency you want and turn the heat as low as it goes.  Carry the half-full saucepan to the sink and trip over the cat, drenching yourself in warm chicken broth and  hollering at him to get the hell out from under your feet, as he leaps away and crashes into the cabinet.  Look up to see your younger child staring at you in disbelief and try to explain that you hadn’t kicked the kitty, honey, you just tripped.

Decide to leave out the bacon because in your current spiral, a house fire or third degree burns seem inevitable.  Fill a small bowl with shredded cheese and use a few shreds to bribe the cat into forgiving you before he does something unspeakable somewhere unthinkable.

Clean up the kitchen as the now subdued children set the table, more or less.

Serve the soup, and psuedocalamari, with potato rolls and fresh carrot sticks.

Enjoy a bowl of well-earned comfort food, knowing full well that if you hadn’t decided to make it, you wouldn’t need it so much.

But it’s still worth it.


Why I’m mainlining ibuprofin today

Janie and Sunny have a playroom.

The natural state of this playroom is complete and utter chaos.

This is neither cliche, nor hyperbole.

Until yesterday afternoon, despite their parent’s numerous requests, pleas, bribes, outright threats, and one of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s patented cures*— the room looked like this:



I would have taken an image of the closet, but I couldn’t get to it.

I’m not a big fan of housecleaning,** but there is a line, and this room crossed it.  So my husband took the kids to the family museum, and I grabbed a roll of garbage bags, clapped on my headphones, and got to work.

Three hours of high-octane music later, The room looked like this:


Never underestimate the power of my Adrenaline Playlist.

I pitched two full garbage bags of broken or damaged toys, orphaned game bits and puzzle pieces, desiccated art supplies, dismembered dolls, crumpled paper, old workbooks, and plenty of etcetera.   Doll clothes were sorted by baby, American Girl, and Barbie.  Barbies and Barbiesque dolls, who were mostly naked, were given their own bin in which to party and Sunny’s baby dolls were put to bed or to snooze in the stroller.  Sunny’s collection of Odd Creatures*** were incarcerated in their own pale-pink bin. I separated and isolated three sets of blocks and a Jenga set, and needless to say, the books were rescued and rearranged.

There’s even room for future Christmas and birthday gifts in there.

There’s a garbage bag of plastic toys^ and two of stuffed animals waiting for someone to miss something.  Anything that isn’t claimed after a week will go to our area’s domestic violence shelters.

Oddly enough, the kids love it.  They could find stuff.  They played in there until bedtime and put everything away when they were done.

We’ll see how long the honeymoon period lasts—but I’ll tell you one thing:

Never. Again.

Except for this weekend, when I start on their bedroom.^^

Wish me luck.


*The one that claims if you refuse to put away your child’s toys, he or she will eventually have to put everything away to either find a particular toy or get to the door.  And just in case you’re wondering, I’m fully aware that Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is a fictional character, but it sounded logical at the time.

**To the same degree that Don Juan was not a proponent of monogamy and the Marquis de Sade did not delight in Sunday School picnics.  Which should have been my first clue that the Piggle-Wiggle cure wouldn’t work.

***True story:  I’d warned the kids I was doing this and told them to remove any toys they absolutely wanted to keep, because I might not know.  Sunny ran to the room and came back with a long, stuffed pink leopard-spotted snake looped twice around her neck, carrying Itch, an orange plastic stegosaurus, two matchbox cars, the ugliest stuffed bat I’ve ever seen, and a handful of mini-rubber duck in various outfits (a doctor, a football player, and a Chinese duck complete with traditional headgear and “mandarin” jacket—rubber duck puns are weird).  Her Bubbleguppy was already under her pillow.  Jane, who was playing a computer game, decided to trust me, though it’s possible the question didn’t register.

^Most of these  go beep, baa, vroom, r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r, or belt Hannah Montana tunes—I’m pretty sure it’s not necessary to explain that this is not a coincidence.

^^ If I can bend enough to pick things up by then.  My back thighs feel like someone took a baseball bat to ‘em, which makes sense—I did the equivalent of five thousand toe-touches, standing and sitting.  My sinuses have yet to forgive me, either, but that’s a given.