Sunday, January 15, 2012

A BIG birthday surprise and Meatball Soup

Well! This has been an eventful start to the New Year. My birthday was Tues, Jan 10. Last year was THE big one ending in -O and it was a total non-event. (Partly because we were snowed in and couldn't get out for days!) So, I certainly expected this one to just sail by quietly. Not a chance! I've been wined, dined, received cards, e-cards, FB notes, phone calls and e-mails. Last weekend our dear friends/part-time neighbors took us out to lunch. This weekend, my daughter and her husband and daughter (16 month old Emmie) came to the mtns to "celebrate" further.

 Bill gave me a nice card with a gift wrapped box on my birthday. Inside the box was a card with essentially an IOU for a present that he said he couldn't find at Wal Mart and had ordered in hopes it would be here for the weekend celebration. I swallowed hook, link and sinker! I totally expected a crock pot (never mind that I already have 2 - he has talked about nothing else for weeks!).

Kelley and family arrived late Fri afternoon following several frantic calls Fri morning announcing that Emmie had pink eye. My first response was, "Don't come!" By the time I got home from a project at the church, they were definitely coming! Even Bill (who is usually the LAST one to want to be around kids with germs) was insistent that they come. Still, I had not a clue as to what was happening!

If you're on Facebook, you've seen the picture of my surprised face when I opened what was NOT a crock pot but an Ipad! Bill ordered it sent to the Apple store near Kelley, she went over and set it up, bought me a (red!) cover and itunes gift card for aps, and brought it all up for the "celebration"! This was the biggest surprise I've had in many years - maybe ever. What a sweet, thoughtful, kind, generous family. I am sooo blessed - beyond belief!

Now you know what I've been up to for the past week!

I did NOT bake myself a birthday cake. Kelley offered, but what I really wanted  was a Peach Cobbler. Last summer, I put South Carolina peaches in the freezer and Sat. nite we had the best peach cobbler with (Mayfield) vanilla ice cream. Bill also took me out to eat at my favorite local restaurant, The Chocolate Cafe in Hiawassee, GA. It was a rainy night, 4 other tables there and quiet music. They can always be counted on for delicious food and out of sight desserts!

Time to get back to "real life" and cold weather cooking! This soup is one of my favorites because it is loaded with veggies, has a nice light broth and filled with tiny meatballs. Make a pan of cornbread to go with it and enjoy! Take it from an "OLD" person!

Meatball Soup
3/4 cup oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup grated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
1 Bay leaf
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
5 medium carrots, cut into 1 1/2 -inch slices
20-oz. frozen green beans
2 cups sliced mushrooms

Combine oats, milk, onion, salt, pepper, basil and meat. Mix well, but do not overmix. Shape into 24 meatballs. Brown in hot butter and oil in a large Dutch oven. Remove meatballs to platter and drain fat from pan. Combine flour and broth in Dutch oven. Whisk to remove lumps. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Add remaining ingredients including meatballs. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 30 minutes).

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