Mom’s Favorite German Vegetable Soup

The weather is turning chilly and it’s time to break out the soup recipes! Keep your bellies warm and mouths watering with this delicious traditional German vegetable soup–a particular favorite of my mom’s.

German Vegetable Soup

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1.5 liter water
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube
  • (Alternatively, if you have stock in a brick or homemade broth, use that–but you will need to check your salt levels)
  • 1 tsp dill seed
  • 1 tsp caraway seed
  • Cream to taste
Slight changes: I only had small carrots and onions, so I used more.

Slight changes: I only had small carrots and onions, so I used more.

Grab a big soup pot (I like my trusty le Creuset). Heat some oil in your pot and sauté the onion and celery (I tend to use olive oil because that’s what Chico likes).

Onion & celery go in!

Onion & celery go in!

Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes and carrots into bite-size pieces. Once chopped, add them to the pot and sauté about a minute or two.

Anyone else hate chopping carrots?

Anyone else hate chopping carrots?

Add the water & bouillon (or stock or broth, whatever you’ve got), dill seed and caraway seed. Bring to a boil and cook until the veggies are done (probably about 15 minutes–but check with a fork).

Mmmmm... The spices smell wonderful.

Mmmmm… The spices smell wonderful.

Add cream to taste. I like to add enough to make it a bit milky-looking.

Mmmm... creamy goodness!

Mmmm… creamy goodness!

Fun tip: If you want an even creamier consistency, but still like to have chunks in your soup, transfer half the soup to a large bowl. Using an immersion blender, whizz it until it’s nice and smooth, then transfer back to the main soup pot.

Blending half the soup makes its texture even creamier.

Blending half the soup makes its texture even creamier.

Voilà! You’ve got a nice creamy soup with some chunky texture.

Bon appétit!

(I’m not sure what makes this soup German. Anyone have a clue?)

Trendy Triangle Baby Blanket

Triangles are all the rage these days. Just a glance through DIY décor ideas on Pinterest will tell you that much.

Seeing as our friend Perrin PimPim has been bitten by the triangle bug, Taloline and Clelola decided a homemade triangle baby blanket would make the perfect baby shower gift for her. They weren’t wrong!

Picking the Pattern

Photo credit from MorganOurs.com

Photo credit from MorganOurs.com

Taloline and Clelola sneakily made use of Pinterest’s secret board feature and created the distractingly named “Choco” board just for us. From there, they went a-searchin’ for triangle patterns.

They decided to go for crochet because it seemed quicker and simpler than knitting for making triangles.

The pattern they decided on is an easy step-by-step tutorial by MorganOurs they found on Pinterest. The slight modification we made was instead of simply not crocheting the last stitch on each end, we decided to do a decrease stitch on the ends for a cleaner look.

Choosing the Yarn

Berroco_vintage_yarn_crochetThe girls decided on a color scheme of 7 complementary colors and visited Mouliné Yarns here in Montreal to pick out the best yarn.

The yarn had to be, of course, machine washable for practicality! So they picked out an old, reliable option: Berroco Vintage yarn. It’s a wool-acrylic blend and it comes in a wide variety of beautiful colors.

To Work!

We each had to do at least 4 triangles, and those of us with more experience crocheting did a couple more. The pattern said to use a 4.5mm hook, but since we were three different people with three different tensions, we all ended up using different sizes to get the final triangle size right.

After a couple of screw-up attempts (Taloline and I found ourselves decreasing too quickly), we finally got the hang of it and started producing our beautiful triangles.

I crochet in the back, while the girls crochet in both.

I crochet in the back, while the girls crochet in both.

As we worked, though, we realized our triangles looked different! Mine had more of a textured look, while Clelola’s and Taloline’s were smoother. A little investigating soon told us why:

I learned to crochet in the back loop only (see figure) rather than in both loops. The others crochet in both loops.

We decided, though, rather than have me do my triangles over again, that the different textures looked quite nice when put together. We would just have to be sure to mix my triangles in well with the others’.

Placement of the Colors

triangle_crochet_blanket_schema

Color coding the blanket

In one evening, after finishing up our last triangles and deciding who was to make which half-triangles and in which colors, Clelola set about placing the colors in the right order.

This was delicate because we didn’t want colors to repeat too frequently within a row or a column. Clelola spent quite some time placing the triangles on the floor, trying to decide what would work best.

We probably could have used some kind of Excel spreadsheet to place them so that they were mathematically correct, but whatever. It looked fine to us.

Blocking the Triangles

I was given all the finished triangles to block, and took this responsibility very seriously!

Some people block simply by ironing the piece with a towel placed between the iron and the crocheting, to avoid squishing the pattern too much. I learned, though, that the best way to block is to fully wet an item and pin it out to dry.

So that’s what I did. Using my new washing machine’s delicate wool cycle (how I love it!), I washed all the triangles and pinned them out on my bed over some towels. It was a tedious process, and I had to do a lot of stretching and measuring to try to get them all the same size.

Blocking_crochet_blanket

 

In the end, I finally also ironed them for good measure. Oh well.

Assembling the Rows

We were each assigned a row or two and our homework over the next couple of weeks was to sew our designated rows together. I, of course, finished mine just before the girls came over to assemble all the rows together (whoops! Procrastinator!).

Building_Perrine_Blanket

Sorry, the photo’s a bit blurry

But finally, once we had sewn it all together (with only one restart), and Clelola had added the border, it looked stunning:

Finished_Triangle_Crochet_Baby_Blanket

 

Optional: Sewn-On Backing

To add a touch of class (and to incorporate another craft) to the project, we visited Effiloché and picked out a great fabric to add as a backing to the blanket.

Normally, if sewn correctly, there is neither a “right side” or a “wrong side” to a blanket like this (it’s a bit like a granny square blanket). But we liked the idea of making it feel like a quilt-crochet combo.

So Taloline broke out the sewing machine and added the cutest fabric to the back:

triangle_crochet_baby_blanket_backing

Perrin PimPim’s other half is a photographer, so we thought he’d enjoy this fabric on the baby’s blanket.

Needless to say, we were all mightily pleased with the result, and Perrin PimPim was delighted, both by her surprise baby shower and by her homemade gift for her little bundle of joy.

Thank you to Taloline and Clelola for organizing the gift idea and for a fun time putting it all together!

Oh Great, It’s Sexy Halloween Costume Time

Hooray! Halloween is coming! That means an over-abundance of candy, lots of carved jack-o-lanterns and, of course, Halloween costumes of extremely questionable taste.

Case In Point

One year, I wanted to dress up as the Queen of Hearts for Halloween. The idea I had in mind looked something like this:

Real_Queen_of_Hearts

You know: the Queen of Hearts character from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Pretty awesome, right?

Well, when I searched online for inspiration and materials to prepare this costume, here’s what I found:

Sassy_Queen_of_hearts

This specimen was labeled as “Sassy Queen of Hearts.” Okay… It looks NOTHING like the actual Disney Queen of Hearts, but whatever.

To my dismay, though, this was not the most provocative version of the Queen of Hearts costume. Oh no. A bit further down the Google search results page, I found this:

Sexy_Queen_of_Hearts

Excuse me, WHAT? What does THIS have to do with the first image? I guess the yellow and the stripes vaguely recall elements of her Majesty’s wardrobe, but the rest? I mean, is this for SERIOUS??

Finally, unable to assemble the parts necessary for the real costume, and disgusted by what I was finding available for purchase for the Queen of Hearts, I settled for dressing as one of her minions:

alice_in_wonderland_Halloween_costume

I know, I’m pretty darn cute.

 

The experience left a bitter taste in my mouth, though. And I asked myself…

Why Does Everything Have to be “Sexy”?!

I realize that some people like to use Halloween as an excuse to dress in a way in which they’d never normally dress. Suddenly, usually modest ladies are breaking out the mini-skirts, form-fitting spandex and/or leather, and plunging necklines (please note that the original Queen of Hearts doesn’t even have CLEAVAGE).

What gives?! Why does “dressing up for Halloween” also mean “dressing like a street-walking prostitute”?

A simple Google search of “women’s halloween costume ideas” comes up with images like the following:

womens_halloween_costume_ideas

How do they trick-or-treat in those heels?!

Okay, I get it: if you’re proud of your body and want an opportunity to show it off a bit more than you would normally, perhaps a slightly suggestive Halloween costume is a solution.

But what happened to creativity?! What happened to coming up with the best costume idea? And why, oh why, do women feel more pressure to look “sexy” on Halloween than to come up with the best costume?

Bring Back the Good Halloween Costume Ideas

I don’t know if I’m living in a fantasy world where once upon a time the most important thing about a Halloween costume was how creative it was, but I say, bring that time back.

To me, the whole fun of dressing up for Halloween is planning the perfect outfit. One year, a friend threw a cross-dressing Halloween party; everyone had to go dressed as someone of the opposite sex. I won’t include photos or go too far into the details (this is a family blog, after all–I think), but I will say that I dressed as a flasher. No, it wasn’t sexy. It was simply brilliant and hilarious. It was the night of my greatest triumph.

Other greatest hits include dressing as a laundry basket (truly terrifying) and as the woman from “Psycho” who gets stabbed in the shower.

psycho_halloween_costume

See? A potentially “sexy” costume idea made simply brilliant (and appropriately warm for Northern England on the 31st of October).

Dressing “Sexy” Is a Cop Out

Frankly, if you have no more creative ideas than to prance around in your underwear on October 31st, then you have missed the spirit of Halloween.

Halloween is a family holiday. Yes, there are often “grown ups only” parties, but the whole trick-or-treating thing and dressing up is all about fun for the kids.

Plus, what kind of example are we ladies giving to young girls who want to dress up for Halloween? With all these sexy firewomen, sexy policewomen, sexy nuns (yes, NUNS), etc., what message are we sending to girls?

We’re basically telling them that Halloween is about dressing in skimpy outfits to try and attract as much (I would argue negative) male attention as possible.

No. Just, no.

Go Out and Get Creative

Halloween is about fun, creativity, and having a good laugh. If you want to dress in a sexy Halloween costume, go ahead. But at least make it inventive. This year, make an effort to come up with a brilliant Halloween costume idea. After all, having the best and most creative–not the sexiest–costume is what usually gets you the prize.

And just for a giggle, here’s this: