John had his own little romance going on a few feet away...
We could have spent hours in the old barn, photographing the weathered wood, windows, rusty hardware, chaps and hats hanging on the walls, and tack.
These are two of my favorite necklaces, made by Jodi Rosano out of her home here in San Diego. She uses tips from naturally shed antlers, shells, crystals from antique chandeliers, gemstones, pearls, and antique chains, to create her pieces. Jodi's tag line is Glamour Comes to the Ranch, so I thought it would be fun to photograph my necklaces in the barn.
After having our gloves off for an hour, our hands were numb and it was time to gather in the dining room for a bowl of hot soup. At least two different homemade soups were offered for lunch every day, in addition to salads, hot entrees, and dessert.
Since we've back from the ranch, I've made a couple of big pots of soup for us and mom. Last weekend, I tried Dave Lieberman's Split Pea with Smoked Ham Hock Soup (with Whole Foods' Wellshire Smoked Ham Shank), and Azorean Kale, Sausage and Bean Soup, from David Leite's My New Portuguese Table. Both soups warm you right up, are ideal for a quick lunch or dinner this time of year, and freeze well. If you have enough freezer space, make double batches!
I made some slight changes to this soup, using cannellini beans instead of kidney beans, and chicken broth instead of beef. David adds an additional step to give the soup a little extra body. While the soup is simmering, he suggests spooning a third of the beans and a bit of the soup broth into a food processor, pulsing to make a loose paste, then, if desired, passing the paste through a sieve, and adding the paste back to the soup. I was lazy and omitted this step, but I'm sure it does add body and creaminess. The original recipe is published here.
Azorean Kale, Chorizo and Cannellini Bean Soup
Adapted slightly from The New Portuguese Table, by David Leite
1 pound dried cannellini beans, picked over, rinsed, and soaked overnight in water to cover by 3 inches
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
8 ounces chouriço, linguiça, or dry-cured smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch coins
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 Turkish bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups homemade chicken stock, or low-sodium store bought broth
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 bunch kale (about 1/2 pound), thick center stems and fibrous veins removed, torn into pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Drain the beans, dump them into a medium saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender but still hold their shape, about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Toss in the chorizo and saute until browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat from the pot, or if the pot is dry, drizzle in more oil so you have 3 tablespoons. Add the onions and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until the onions are deeply golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the onions from burning.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock and 5 cups of water, add the potatoes, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
When the potatoes are cooked, stir in the kale, chorizo, and beans. Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for 10 minutes to marry the flavors.
Remove the bay leaf, season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and ladle into warm bowls.
Serve with crusty bread and a nice bottle of wine.