Friday, August 8, 2014

100 Tiny Potatoes

Every week my mom brings me a large haul from the farmer's market around the corner from her shop.

Over the past few weeks, I've accumulated more potatoes than God ever meant for one person to eat. (Also, four onions, about a hundred apples, and countless peppers, among other things.) As such, today I decided to cook some things to freeze or give away to friends and family to use some of it up, as I absolutely cannot stand to see food go to waste.

So, after a lengthy call with my mother regarding what I might do with a million small potatoes, I decided on potato soup, since it can be divided up and frozen quite easily. I am a big fan of being able to throw something together without heading to the store by using what you have on hand, so keep in mind as you read the recipe below that it can certainly be altered as you go.

Here's what I used:

An undetermined number of small potatoes of varying types (Yukon, sweet, and Idaho all included)
3 Large carrots
1 Large Vidalia onion
1 Cup 2% milk
4 Tablespoons butter
Garlic to taste (I used finely chopped from a jar, but fresh would of course work also - but I am lazy)
About half a container of vegetable cream cheese
Lots of water (amount will depend on how many potatoes you are using)
Approximately 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and cheddar cheeses (I would have used more if I'd had more)

Start by chopping up all of your potatoes into small, bite-sized pieces. In a stock pot or dutch oven, boil enough water to cover the amount of potatoes you are using. I let the potatoes boil for about 20 minutes before I threw in my other ingredients, but you can base the amount of time you do so for on how soft or hard you'd like your potatoes to be. I wanted mine to be softer.

This is what three weeks worth of farmer's market tiny potatoes look like chopped into small bits:

And this is a potato that I thought looked like a thumb:

Moving on.

Next I finely chopped one large white onion (I didn't even cry!), and I grated three large carrots. I REALLY hate grating. I believe it is comparable to shaving corn off the husk for me. It is truly impossible not to splatter carrot bits or corn all over my beautiful, clean kitchen when doing so. Hate.

Upon determining that my potatoes were on their way to an appropriate level of softness, I poured out just a bit of the water and reserved the rest. Then I dumped in the carrots and onion. Next went the milk, the butter, and the cream cheese. After the butter and cream cheese have melted, stir everything together. Remember that this soup will thicken, so if it seems a bit watery, you are probably OK.

Once you've done all that, you can use salt and pepper to season to your taste. I used a LOT of both. Potato soup can be a bit bland if you are not heavy-handed with the seasonings. This can also be done after the soup has cooked for a bit.

When it was all said and done, my soup was on the stove simmering with the lid removed for about an hour. I then turned the gas completely off so that it would thicken a bit more. You can base how long you let it cook on the firmness of your veggies and the thickness of the soup.

The only step left is to enjoy! My batch ended up making a little less than what I was expecting, but if you make a lot, this will freeze well for quite a while. I recommend garnishing with green onions and cheddar cheese! I'm now off to figure out what to do with the overflow of apples. Please leave me a comment with any suggestions!

Happy Cooking from my Kitchen to Yours!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back Again

Well folks, it seems that the last time I updated this little blog of mine was May 20, 2013. Something tells me that's not exactly good for my "following."

And so, at the encouragement of several close friends, I would like to make an effort to resurrect this little blog of mine (have I said that before?) and catch you all up to speed. In my defense, it's been quite a wild year. In 2013, I quit my job, got a new job, got a new car, adopted another chow who might actually be a tiger, and... bought a house. Yep, you read that right. Not shoes. Not a bag. (Well ok, maybe I bought some of those too.) But... a house. It's true. I became a first time home buyer on August 16, 2013, at the ripe old age of 26. Real life.

As I am almost at the one year mark of being in my little cottage, I have decided it is time to start recording the tales of woe and wonder (and trust me, there have been plenty) of this journey before I forget any of the moments that have made the house the home it is. And so, upon the resurrection of Tastes of Pink Champagne, I will be adding a section: NestI'll still be discussing all the great things in life that I wrote about before: personal style, cooking, books, pets, and the like. But it must be known that The Cottage now occupies a large piece of my heart.

So, welcome back, old friends. Please share me with your friends, with your grandma, or, if you find this blog to be something irritating that grates on your nerves, share me with that colleague you don't like as a secret form of torture. I'll take whatever I can get.

For now, I'm off to determine which tale to regale you with first...

*Insert evil laugh here*

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mystery and Romance FTW

I have found the perfect summer read. Karen White’s House on Tradd Street incorporates all of the essentials: intrigue, romance, history and comedy into one praise-worthy novel.

Set in Charleston, S.C., this book stars Realtor Melanie Middleton, who lives her life by the rules. She’s logical, organized and disciplined. She can also see ghosts—a talent that tests her patience when one ghost enters her life uninvited. When Melanie suddenly comes into ownership of a house she had only been interested in selling, her life is immediately turned upside down.

To make matters worse for Melanie, Jack Trenholm enters the picture. A gregarious and handsome man, Jack writes historical novels, and the house Melanie has just inherited intrigues him—as does she. Jack is searching for a crop of Confederate diamonds that purportedly lie hidden in Melanie’s new house, and his search for the stones awakes a seemingly evil presence that lurks in the house. Jack has his work cut out for him from the beginning, as he attempts to woo Melanie and the ghost simultaneously. 
Jack’s apparent cockiness is tempered by his charming Southern flair, and his recent career hit over a discredited book earns him sympathy. The relationship between these two is anything but static. From the start, Jack gets on Melanie’s nerves, and she does everything she can to keep him away. Unperturbed, Jack repeatedly saves Melanie from the ominous presences lurking in her living room and eventually earns the independent woman’s trust. Together, they must unravel the mystery of the Vanderhorst family, whose house Melanie is now living in.

White’s characters are dynamic throughout. The novel is riddled with painful notes from Melanie’s less-than-perfect childhood as she struggles to reconcile her past with her present. As she battles the memory of a mother who left, Melanie’s estranged father simultaneously insists on helping renovate the house on Tradd Street as he battles alcoholism and is reacquainted with his daughter.

Background characters including a scruffy dog named General Lee, Melanie’s hippie best friend Sophie and an affectionate housekeeper warm the pages of the book and each add personality to the story. 

Praised for its Lowcountry appeal, The House on Tradd Street is a hit. Luckily for me, there’s a sequel, and my favorite characters will be back for more mystery solving as their romance heats up in The Girl on Legare Street.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Accessory Explosion

Yesterday at work I put one too many enamel bangles in a glass jar.

It wasn't my fault. I was at work by 5:30 a.m., waiting for our shipment (149 boxes of clothes) to be delivered early as promised, in preparation of kicking off our first big spring store set. Instead, our driver decided to be precisely 2 hours and 56 minutes late.

Needless to say, by the time I got around to the tedious task of dealing with tiny things such as bangles and the like, I was feeling somewhat brain dead. I was entitled to a crazy moment.

I thought the jar would be able to handle the overflow, that the last little bangle would sit there on top of the mountain of bangles like a little extra water does on top of a glass cup. But unlike a too-full glass of water, which is bound by some law of science that I never understood to not overflow, the canister couldn't take it, and overflow it did.

The bangle in question slid from the mountain, ricocheting off the edge of the table before tumbling to the hardwood floor. Another bangle followed. And then another, and another, and another. Before I knew it, I was Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter, The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, in the scene where he sets off a brigade of exploding robotic critters to distract a group of Ministry of Magic slaves outside the door of Dolores Umbridge's office. Bangles were reproducing, bouncing around on the hardwood floor, a bunch of unstoppable accessories come to life.

And distract I did, as all of my store set helpers scrambled around, chasing after bangles as I watched in horror as the mess I needlessly created seemed to multiply before my eyes. I myself was seemingly glued to the spot, unable to pitch in and help.

Instead I laughed. Sometimes, when you've been working your butt off (if only this weren't just a figure of speech!) for hours on end and something so ridiculous happens that makes a thought like "bangles come to life" pop to mind, all you can do is stop and laugh.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One for the Collection

I secretly don't like to share my books. Or at least, I don't like to loan them out when I think there's a question of whether or not they will ever make their way back to me.

You see, I like to collect the books I read on my bookshelves so that I have a tangible memory of all that I've read. I often find myself having fallen in love with the characters in a book, and giving away their recorded presence seems too harsh a departure for me to handle. Thus, I steer clear of library books and book trading parties and things of the like. I can recommend a good read until the cows come home, but my collection is mine and mine alone.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy was given to me as a birthday gift, and I devoured it within days. It's one of those books that stays with you long after you've read it, sort of like Life of Pi or Crime and Punishment (if in fact you stuck it out until the end).

There are two important characters. Never does McCarthy bestow upon you either of their names. I always find it interesting when an author chooses to present their characters as nameless. It sort of detaches you and pulls you closer all at once. An interesting writing mechanism, for sure.

There's a father and his boy, and the book is an intimate explanation of how nothingness can become everything and be one in the same. You are presented with post-apocalyptic America- the ruins of which are all around you as read, all the time. It is impossible not to worry as you read that this event is looming in our near future.

Once I got past McCarthy's use of fragmented sentences in his descriptions, I was hooked on his use of language that made the pair's delicate relationship jump from the pages:

"He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke."

McCarthy weaves their journey south using scarce and uneven meals as little mile-markers along the way. As I read, I found myself taking my food with new appreciation. Each morsel was important.

"Are you okay? he said. The boy nodded. Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other's world entire."

This book will take you on a journey- one that you hope will end triumphantly- and force you to question whether or not your problem of the day is truly worth grieving.

I urge you to go buy a copy and read it immediately. Because I certainly won't be loaning you mine- it's already settled into its place among the greats on my shelves.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Holly, I am thankful for you. I am thankful for your poofy hairs and the way you bark viciously at anyone or anything who even thinks about knocking on our front door, right down to the UPS man. I am thankful for the way you bounce out from under the bed and around the room every morning. I am thankful for your sweet brown eyes and your furry paws that look like little boots. I am thankful for the way you eat one little piece of dog food at a time- what a good example you are for your brother who swallows his whole! If only he would slow down long enough to watch you.

Paddington, oh how I say so many thanks for you! I am thankful for your wet nose that is forever and forcefully nudging me for attention. I am thankful for your eye mole (and for the fact that it seems to be staying the same size). I am thankful that your waistline is slightly smaller than it was this time last year (down 3.5 pounds!). And most of all, I am thankful that the vet seems to think we will one day kick these heartworms once and for all.

Your Mom (who you two better be thankful for too! Not everyone would let you sleep ON the pillows, you know.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hell Week Day 1: Splenda


To those of you who actually follow this blog, I apologize for my lengthy absence. In terms of the journalism world, it's absolutely inexcusable to abandon one's writing outlet for such an extended amount of time and expect readers to rejoin you at some undetermined moment in the future. For my laziness, I apologize.

Some of you may know however, that over the course of the last few months, I've had some major life changes: New job, new city, new apartment. Some of you may also know that I am not the best with change. I am a full-fledged, self-proclaimed creature of habit. I have a favorite thing on the menu at each of my favorite restaurants that I order each and every time, without fail. Some may see this as predictability; I see it as stability. You just can't go wrong with what you know is right. (Don't even get me started on the day I got froggy at Starbucks and decided to try the latest of-the-moment fall-flavored drink. Two sips and that $5 was chucked in the trash can. But that's another tangent for another time.)

Having said all of this, it's been somewhat of a tumultuous few months for me, frappucino-related crises aside. However, I am settled, I am decorated, and I am determined to resurrect this little blog of mine if for no one else than my little sister who recently pointed out to my father in a most matter-of-fact manner, "Key has not updated her blog since MARCH."

And what better time to begin (again) than at the beginning of the most interesting retail week of the year? Hell week. That's what we call it, those of us behind the counter. Why? If you have to ask, you must not have ever been to a mall the week of Thanksgiving before.


In keeping with the former tone of my blog, I will suffice it to say without naming any names that I have switched from one brand to another since I've last written. Interestingly enough though, not much in my daily life has changed. I'm still always on the verge of maxing out a store card, I'm still merchandising and styling fabulous clothes and I'm still behind the counter processing returns for a large portion of each of my days.

Sunday of Hell Week began similarly to many others, with productive Sunday errand-runners making their returns to the various locations at which they had online shopped at their desk while at work all week.

I'd like to stop here to point out a phenomenon I can't quite wrap my mind around: the productive Sunday errand-runners. They are a breed all of their own, and I could never be a part of the herd. I dream of Sundays. Sundays were always my favorite day, before I committed to a life without them. Eating brunch in bed, snuggled up with my pets and the Sunday paper and some magazines, taking an afternoon nap... Ah. It just doesn't get better than that. How someone could willingly choose to give up their Sunday for an afternoon of errands is beyond me.

But I digress. Early in the day, a middle-aged woman in a normal outfit approached the desk with a return in a medium-sized shopping bag. I found nothing abnormal about the situation and proceeded with her return, delighted that it appeared to only be a thing or two. However, upon reaching into her bag, I found not only a pair of pants to be returned, but hundreds upon hundreds of packages of Splenda.

I looked up and met the woman's eyes, sure that she would sense my confusion and offer a funny anecdote as an explanation for the contents of her bag. She said nothing though, only looked back at me as if nothing were out of the ordinary.

This reminded me of course of a great episode of Friends in which Monica and Ross' grandmother has passed. In this episode, Ross is helping his mother choose an outfit for the woman to be buried in and in the process gets roped into going through her closet. Along the way, he finds shoeboxes upon shoeboxes of nothing but packets of Sweet 'N Low. He spills one box while pulling it down from a high shelf and suddenly hundreds of tiny pink packages are raining onto his head as he stands laughing, remembering his grandmother's strange collecting habit.

Having nothing else to go on, I was obviously left to assume that this woman is also a collector of artificial sweeteners. I quickly processed her return and rather than throwing away the empty bag for the client as I normally would, I made sure to hand it back to her, the receipt neatly tucked in among the multitude of small yellow envelopes.

As I went through my day, I appreciated the woman for giving me something to smile about this week. I think I'll always wonder what her offspring will find in her closet when her time comes.