Karina’s Gazpacho Soup

 

Gazpacho Soup

Each month I get together with an amazing group of women. We have been meeting monthly for nearly seven years now. The group expands and retracts, one woman quits coming, another begins;  but the core group remains the same. We laugh, we talk, sometimes we cry,  we discuss, and we always eat amazing food (more about that later).

We are a book group, The Book Group, is, in fact, our semi-official name. Perhaps our most unique attribute is that you don’t necessarily have to have read the book to come. (Most of us usually do, but it’s not a requirement.)  Over time, these ladies have become dear friends as we have shared month after month. Sometimes we talk nearly the whole time about the book we’ve read, how it affected us, and what we can take away from it. Sometimes only a handful of us actually read the book. But we talk about it for a few minutes, and then it’s on to discussing other books, what we’ve read lately, or what we want to read.

It’s a rare occurrence that everyone likes the book, but on rare occasions it does happen, and we know the book is a winner. We rate the books we read using a scale of 1 – 5 stars, and it is quite the thing when a book averages more than a 4.0 star rating. Opinions more often clash;  and the wonderful thing is that it’s okay.  I have watched women come into the group and gain a self confidence about expressing opinions, as a result of our discussions. I have watched empathy in action as discussions about a novel have given members the courage to share their real-life struggles with the group. I have felt that support myself! I have laughed until I’ve cried while listening to stories these women share about their daily lives as wives, mothers, and working women.

I love the ebb and flow of conversations, with several different topics being discussed at once among various women. What a wonderful thing for someone like me! I have loved books for as long as I can remember; and I love this place, with these women.  It’s my happy place.  Thank you ladies!

PS: Oh, the food (this is a cooking blog after all).  Yes, we eat at every meeting. Whoever is hosting provides the food, and we’ve enjoyed an amazing variety of dishes from sweet to savory. This gazpacho soup is one of my favorites. Served with tortilla chips, it’s perfect for a summer meal. Enjoy.

 

Karina’s Gazpacho Soup

4 cups clamato juice

1/2 cup onions, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 c. green peppers, chopped

3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. tabasco sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Combine and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight.Add the following and chill until ready to serve:

8 tomatoes, chopped

2 cucumbers, peeled and cubed

2 avocados, cubed

Serve with croutons and shredded Parmesan cheese.

 

Frozen Pistachio Pie

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I remember the first time I had this kind of pie. My friend Shirley sent me the recipe to try.  I always loved to get letters from her, because quite often, a recipe was included. In fact, some of my favorite recipes have come from her kitchen. This isn’t her exact recipe (because I can’t find the recipe card), but it’s close to what I remember making. So when things start to heat up this summer, have a slice of frozen pie and cool down!

 

Frozen Pistachio Pie

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers

3 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

Filling

1/3 cup chopped salted pistachios, reserve 2 tablespoons

1 quart (4 cups) vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

1 (3.4-ounce) package instant pistachio-flavored pudding and pie filling mix

1 drop green food color, if desired

Topping

1/2 cup chocolate fudge topping, warmed

 

Directions:

Crust:

Heat oven to 375°F.

Stir together all crust ingredients in bowl. Press onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch glass pie pan. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool 15 minutes.

Filling:

Combine pistachios, ice cream, pudding and food color in bowl. Spoon mixture into cooled crust. Cover; freeze 8 hours or overnight until firm. Drizzle 1 tablespoon chocolate fudge topping over each serving; sprinkle with reserved pistachios just before serving.

Grandma Luthy’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

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Yesterday some of my children and  grandchildren came over for Sunday dinner. Twelve of us sat down at the table (well, nine of us sat at the table, and three of the kids sat at the portable island/table) for Sunday dinner. We ate slow-cooked, barbequed ribs, veggies, and Jason’s famous garlic mashed potatoes, amid much laughter and talk. The cousins played, the adults visited, and I watched, and listened, and reflected on time passing.  It really doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that I was a child, playing with my cousins while the adults visiting after Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house.

One thing for sure, the food at Grandma’s was always good, there was plenty of it, and there was always dessert. I would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite dessert.  I loved them all, perhaps there was a secret ingredient. I think it was love. The other day I was craving Grandma’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and realized I didn’t have the recipe.  A couple of Facebook posts later, I had it.  So today, I am sharing this deceptively simple, wonderfully moist and flavorful chocolate cake with my readers.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake 

1 c. sugar

1 c. sour cream

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp soda

2 tbsp baking cocoa

1 c. milk

Cream sugar with sour cream, add egg and vanilla; beat well. Sift fogether flour, salt, soda, cocoa; add 1/3 of dry ingredients to creamed mixture, then add 1/2 of milk, then 1/3 dry,  etc. Mix until smooth. Pour into greased/floured 9×13 dripper pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Cool and then frost.

 

Creamy Butter Frosting 

1/4 c. milk

1/4 c. butter, softened

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. baking cocoa

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Mix together with a hand mixer or wire whisk until smooth (begin with 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, add more if necessary to get  a good frosting consistency). Apply with a spatula on cooled cake.

Enjoy a slice of cake with a glass of ice-cold milk.  Mmmmm!