Tomato-Basil Soup Fresh from the Garden

20170721_140317.jpgDuring the off season, I use the best quality canned tomatoes available to make my grandson’s favorite Homemade Tomato-Basil Soup. That all changes mid-summer, when the vines in my little veggie garden start kicking out mouthwatering, vine-ripened fruits. This week, I fulfilled my grandson’s menu request – and watched it vanish before my eyes. Start to finish, it takes about 20 minutes to make this flavorful soup.

Ingredients (approximate measurements)

  • 1 tablespoon each, olive oil and butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves  chopped garlic
  • 10-12 fresh, ripe garden tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh basil, torn or chopped
  • (Optional) small amount of milk or cream

20170721_140107.jpgIn deep pan, slowly heat onion in olive oil and butter until translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional minute or two. Add salt and pepper.

In separate pan, lower tomatoes into boiling water and heat for 1 minute. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and place in a bowl to cool. Remove cores and skin, discard. Use your hands to smash tomato pulp. Add to onion-garlic mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes. Add basil leaves.

20170721_145656.jpgUse an immersion blender (or standard blender) to mix ingredients to desired consistency. If needed, thin mixture with a small amount of water or tomato juice. Adjust seasonings to suit your family’s tastes. Serve with a sprinkling of grated cheese and/or chopped basil leaves.

My grandson likes a little milk added to his serving bowl to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes. He mixes it into the soup with the bit of cheese I sprinkle on top.

Yield, 3-4 servings.

Goof Balls

The Driving Range

Here it is, the closest flag on the practice green where I am showing off my lack of golf skills. It’s about 120 yards out and with a little luck, I can bounce a golf ball about halfway to the flag. The few occasions when I manage to get near the goal come as total surprises. Those only happen after a lot of misses. I keep swinging through those crummy hits, partly because it felt good to exercise, and partly because I want to see if practice really does make perfect.

Being a writer, my thoughts automatically turn to the discipline of writing. Like golf, or any other learned skill, writing takes practice. Don’t try to write the next great novel on a practice round. Just see if you can improve one technique. Read a book on the topic, or try out some of the techniques your favorite authors use. Allow yourself the simple pleasure of practicing.

Several people have told me they would like to write a memoir for their grandchildren. What’s stopping them? “I’m not a good writer” or “I don’t have time” are the most common excuses I hear. That’s where practice rounds come in. They provide a chance to test out your skills without high expectations. Plus, practice doesn’t require a lot of time.

Try it. When you find yourself thinking about a grandchild, jot those ideas down in a notebook or on your laptop. You’ll gain a sense of accomplishment and might even improve your writing skill. Who knows, you might hit a perfect shot to your goal.

Thank God for Freedom

20170704_143839-e1499258503502.jpgIndependence Day is a cause for huge celebration in the town where I live, where three days of celebrations culminate in an annual fireworks display. People deck themselves out in red-white-blue and remind their young ones that we live in a country where freedom reigns supreme. We celebrate the men and women that fought to keep us free. For some, that freedom comes at great cost.

While watching this year’s parade, I noticed a few participants and onlookers were in wheelchairs. Others wore caps or shirts indicating a branch of service or a specific war. Over time, I have come to appreciate the sacrifices all military personnel and veterans have made on my behalf. In keeping with tradition, four planes flew overhead at the beginning of the parade. During the third pass, one plane veered away from the others, signifying pilots that did not return from their missions.

Our grandchildren need to know the right thing to do isn’t always the easy thing to do. That’s the approach Jesus took when He walked on earth. He spoke the Truth when political and religious leaders opposed Him. But unlike the valiant efforts of our military men and women, Jesus willingly sacrificed His life so all who put their trust in Him could have eternal life. The message is there in John 3:16. If you haven’t already done so, share it with your grandkids.

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