Chunky Potato-Leek Soup with Kale

INGREDIENTS:Chunky Potato-Leek Soup with Kale
1 tablespoon very thinly sliced green onion tops
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. leeks (white and pale green parts), well rinsed and chopped
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice, divided
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
4 thin lemon slices, seeded

In a pot add 2 chopped potatoes and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. In a pan saute the onion and garlic, about 15 minutes over medium heat. Chop leeks while the potatoes boil and the onion sautes. Drain potatoes and add back into pot over medium heat. Add leeks, 4 cups broth and ginger. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat; let mixture cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Spoon potatoes and leeks into a food processor. Process until very smooth, stopping to scrape down side of work bowl as necessary. Return soup to saucepan. Bring to simmer, add remaining chopped potato and stir in kale. Ladle into bowls. Garnish each with lemon slices and green onions if desired.

SERVING SIZE: 4 servings

Total Fat……..0.5 g
Cholesterol….0 mg
Sodium…………665 mg
Potassium……1367 mg
Total Carbs….56 mg
Protein…………8 g

NOTES: If you have the time or you have some in your freezer, you can use self made vegetable broth. I usually end up taking a short cut and using Knorr Vegetable Bouillon.

SOURCE: Vegetarian Times

Strip Steak Success!

Friday we decided to use the new STOK grill that I recently purchased and wrote about on July 02. I finished assembly, but had yet to purchase any charcoal. Being new to grilling with charcoal, I had to ask Fred, a co-worker and “grill master” what charcoal he would recommend.  He said he usually starts his grill with Kingsford but will had a hotter burning Lazzari Mesquite Lump Charcoal.

I rolled the STOK out to the patio, grabbed the two bags of charcoal, some newspaper and matches. Since part of the full of grilling is getting “down and dirty” I just reached in and started grabbing briquets and placing them in the charcoal basket (aka chimney), which makes lighting easier. I balled up the newspaper and placed it in the container under the charcoal basket and lit the match. In fact I had to add a second wad of newspaper as the wind was whipping and I needed another quick light to get the charcoal to catch.

Once the charcoal started burning I added some lumps of the Lazzari. I expected briquets, but as the bag stated, this was “lump” charcoal and not small pieces. So I tossed on a few lumps and let the fire do it’s thing until I had a nice ashen burn on the coals. I then removed the charcoal basket and spread the coals into a three zones. One of my second mistakes, not having enough charcoal initially, so my “cool” zone was a bit larger than I had expected. Not to worry though.

Inside we had two strip steaks (out of four) we purchased at Costco. I added a seasoning salt to one side along with a bit of cracked pepper. With the charcoal still warming up I got out some sprigs of Tarragon, a stick of butter, a lemon and pepper. I had let the butter soften a bit and chopped up the Tarragon. I used some lemon zest and a small squeeze of juice from the lemon, added some cracked pepper and mixed all ingredients into the butter. Once it had a good consistency I rolled it into a cylinder shape and wrapped with wax paper and placed it in the freezer.

By now the grill was ready and I took the steaks out and placed them on the grill, where I was met with a wonderful sizzle. I was shooting to get some good grill marks on the steak, which is what I got after about 3-4 minutes when I turned the steaks over. Unfortunately one of the steaks was over the hottest zone on my grill and when flipped it a second time I had nearly overdone it. Not wanting to have an overdone center I moved the steak to a cooler part of the grill. Unfortunately the criss-crossed grill marks never full materialized, but after about 8-10 minutes I deemed the steaks finished.

I took them into the kitchen, removed the now hardened Tarragon butter from the freezer, sliced off two pieces and covered each steak with the flavored butter. My wife loved the flavor of the steak, even with the butter. In fact, as Steve Raichlen as the butter recipe stated ended up having a béarnaise type of flavor to it with the Tarragon and lemon flavor. Even though one side of the steak was a bit overdone, the flavor was outstanding!

To accompany the steak I decided to slice up two potatoes, along with half an onion, some butter and lemon pepper and drop them into a frying pan. After about 20 minutes the potatoes started to get a crispy crust and onions were nice and brown. All in all the meal was wonderful. I am looking forward to my next grilling adventure, beer can chicken!

Droid Doesn’t

Put a fork in my Motorola Droid X, I’m done! I lay partial blame on Verizon, since their wireless network in our area is terrible, their customer service lacks the “service” part, especially in store. Of course they won’t hesitate to call or text you when you are late on your bill now, will they? I don’t believe this smart phone lives up to it’s motto of “Droid Does” because in my case it doesn’t.

But I won’t leave Verizon shouldering all the blame, I must accept some of the responsibility because I did not spend enough time reading the negative comments from users when this phone was introduced at Verizon. Anyone can give accolades when it comes to a good product, but I don’t believe I bought a quality product in my Droid X.

First, I was coming from a Blackberry Curve, which met it fate when it hit a wall. Long story, don’t ask. Prior to that I had a Blackberry 8703e, which unfortunately slipped out of shirt pocket into the toilet back and was ruined. I guess I knew better, but I decided to move away from RIM and their Blackberry line. That was my first mistake.

The Droid X might be a good phone for those who use it to it’s full potential, but I don’t. Very few of the features are actually used. I finally downloaded music to the internal storage device, but even now I don’t listen to them, going with Pandora (streaming audio) on a regular basis. The 8 megapixel camera is nice, but the picture quality is not great. I think my son uses the camera more than I do. If I want to take pictures, then I will use my digital camera, not a phone.

It’s nice to have Internet access and a ability to turn the phone sideways, but problems arise. A majority of the time when I change how I view the phone, it will restart. The operating system must sense a problem and it shuts down and reboots. This happens 5-10 times a day! A day! Even attempt to use the touch screen to enter a phone number, a text message or a URL and the phone does it’s own thing.

There are also far to many applications that come pre-installed I don’t want on my phone and unfortunately you can’t completely delete these useless bloatware. I did look into “rooting” the Droid X, but I was not about to spend more time attempting to fix the phone illegally to get it work correctly. Nor should I have to run third party applications to stop unnecessary processes from running in the background.

My wife continues to say I should have taken it back months ago, when I bought it and traded it in for a new one. Guess this could teach me a lesson in actually buying the insurance, then I could literally break the phone and get a new one, no questions asked. In reality it could just be a lemon, it happens especially these days with technology moving as fast as it is.

At this point I won’t put any more effort into talking with Verizon or attempting to find a solution to my problem. I picked up a $10 Blackberry Curve yesterday off EBay, add $5.99 for shipping. You can’t beat a $15.99 smart phone that is a proven winner. I say proven because the Curve was a very good upgrade from the 8703 I had previously.

Sorry Motorola, guess it will take a few upgrades in the Droid X to see a better, more reliable product on the market. Chances are I won’t go back to a phone of this type in the future.