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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writing Imaginary Blogposts....and Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana

Every day I write a blogpost in my mind.

It just doesn't make it onto the blog.

A few days ago, I wrote "Boston-Speak."  (Yeah, I even give TITLES to the imaginary posts.  Is that a problem?)

You see, we were gathered at my sister-in-law's house, and someone mentioned a new reality series that is set here in Boston, and then someone else said that it was ridiculous that they used subtitles, "as if people can't understand English when it's spoken with a Boston accent."  And I had to speak up (I am the only non-Boston/non-Massachusetts native in the family)...."I had trouble understanding the Boston accent for at least a year when I first came up here."

And as the looks of "really?" "are you serious?" "for real?" crossed their faces, I wrote the blogpost in my mind.

I remembered my first night here, when a girl in my dorm said, "We need to find a paahty" and I pointed her to the bathroom as I'm thinking how strange it is that an 18-year-old still calls a toilet a potty.  And when she questioned, "in the bahhhthroom?  It cahhhn't be in there" (hint: bahhthroom rhymes with "mothroom", and cahhhn't rhymes with "want") I said, "where else would it be?"

And she looked at me as if I'd lost my mind and I looked at her as if she was speaking in tongues (which she WAS) and then at the same time that I realized that she meant "party," she realized that I thought that she meant "potty."

And that was just the beginning of my navigation of the Boston lexicon.  There were many misunderstandings (on my part) back then.  About a year after I came here, I started dating my husband, and he said something that I didn't understand (I can't recall what it was), and I unleashed my pent-up frustration, "For crying out loud, when you were in first grade and your teacher was teaching your class how to sound out the alphabet, did she say, 'oh, don't worry about that one, you don't ever have to pronounce it' when she taught you the letter 'R'? "

Well I think I will stop right here, because after 31 years in Boston I have a lot of accent stories to tell and I will save them for another time.  The point of my rambling is that yes, there might have been a lot of people watching that Boston reality show that needed those subtitles in order to understand what was being said.

Another imaginary blogpost that I wrote a few days ago was "Ode To Gayle."  Like Oprah, I have a friend named Gayle.  You DO know that Oprah has a friend, Gayle, right?  Anytime I watched her show, Oprah was always talking about Gayle: Gayle this, Gayle that........well, I am blessed to have amazing friends and my friend Gayle is right at the top of that heap.

Last week, Gayle was feeling guilty about not having room in her schedule to help someone and as I was telling her that she had no reason to feel guilty, I was mentally writing my Ode To Gayle blogpost, thinking about how many times she has managed things for me, during the 4 1/2 years of my daughter's illness there were many hospitalizations when Gayle made sure that my family had meals and my kids had rides and she sent out countless emails and regularly communicated status and health updates to my family and friends.  If it's possible to bank karma through good deeds, Gayle has several lifetime's worth!

Today's recipe is the soup I prepared when Gayle was over for lunch last week.  It's from the book "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes" by Todd Wilbur (seen in my past post for Outback Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken).

And before I's the usual gratuitous doggy photo:

Clyde is getting so big!  I can't believe he's already four months old.

Before long, he will be bigger than Gus.

Today's Playlist

  • "Darktown Strutter's Ball (Italian Style)"....Lou Monte
  • "Come Fly With Me".....Frank Sinatra
  • "Sway"......Rosemary Clooney
  • "I've Got The World On A String"....Michael Buble
  • "Twist And Shout"....The Beatles
  • "My Boyfriend's Back".......The Chiffons

Olive Garden Toscana Soup 
(adapted from "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes" by Todd Wilbur)
Serves 2
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 medium russet potato
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Gather your ingredients.

Halve the unpeeled potato, then slice the halves into quarters and slice into 1/4"-thick pieces.

Combine the chicken broth and cream in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the potatoes.

Add the salt.

 And the pepper flakes.

Saute the sausage.

Here's where I get all weird on you.  I get really squeamish about sausage.  I can't help it.  

As a teenager I had to read "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair and let's just say that hot dogs, sausages and any other such sort of meat give me the heebie-geebies.

I bought this sausage at Whole Foods, thinking it must be the most unsausage-like sausage in existence.  If you read The Jungle, you know what I mean.

I also didn't buy the full half-pound that the recipe calls for.  I'm trying to get away with adding the flavor without really adding sausage.  Which is impossible, of course.  You have to add sausage to get sausage flavor.  But if you ever figure out how to add the flavor without adding sausage, please let me know.

I'm glad I shared that with you.  Thank you for your sympathy, or your pity.  Now back to our cooking.

Chop the kale.

Stir it into your soup.

Remove your sausage from the pan.  Okay, you've outted me.  I removed the "natural casing" (I'm trying to block out what that means) from the sausage before I sauteed it, so instead of a sauteed piece of sausage we have lots of little pieces.

If you're a braver soul than me and your sausage is intact, cut it into 1/4" slices, otherwise chop it into pieces.

Add the sausage into your soup.

The recipe book says to let the soup simmer for about 2 hours.  I only let it simmer for an hour, and it was fine.



  1. Oh Fran, I was literally laughing out loud about your "Boston Speak" true! I sometimes do blogs in my head too. Do you think it's a bloggers plight? LOL!

    Oh, your cuddly guys, sooo cute! Clyde is getting huge, and sweet Gus looks so proud, like he's taknig credit for his young protege.

    Wish I had some of your soup for lunch! Hope you don't get snowed in, and if you do...that you don't lose electric! :) Pam

  2. PS/ Forgot to add! Yes, I remember having to read The Jungle in school. It made an impressioin that stays with me today. I've considered re-reading it, it was so powerful.

    1. Oh, you are SO much braver than me!! I don't think I could read it again! And I'm happy to know that you sometimes write blog posts in your head, too :)


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