Goodness, setting up house takes some effort. I spent most of the weekend running errands (literally running all over the region) and procuring more furniture for the house and nursery. Here are some of the finds:
- A lovely, feminine desk
- The perfect trestle table and matching bench for our breakfast nook
- A lamp to fill with wine corks (Home Goods!)
- Beautiful, solid wood nursery cribs from Georgia
Now we're moving on to things like rugs and console tables. I love this, but not the pricetag. I'm also a fan of this rug and these classic urns. More to come as we get it all put together. No pictures until then:)
Keeping up with a large house that doesn't have furniture yet takes some effort too. I forgot how much TLC hardwood floors need.
There was also a lot to fix when we first arrived. I wasn't prepared for all the scuff marks and nail holes on the walls. It doesn't help that neither Mr. McC or I are very handy. Luckily, I have found the world's best handy man for these sorts of jobs - Marc McIntosh.
Marc really is the best. He's a kind man, a family man, an outgoing man (he deducted two hours from my bill for 'time I spent chattering your ear off'), and he can do everything. I have yet to give him a project he can't tackle.
If you live in Western North Carolina and need a handy man, I'll give you his number. If you don't have a Marc, I promise it's worth it to go find one!
Black Bean Soup
At the end of a busy weekend, we needed comfort food. This black bean soup was easy to whip up, and has the thick, stewy consistency I love. No immersion blender required.
1 pound dried black beans
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole medium onion, diced
1 each whole red, green and yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Optional Toppings: Sour cream, avocado slices, cilantro, shredded cheese, tortilla chips
Place the beans in a bowl or pot, cover with cold water, and allow to soak overnight (or in my case, about six hours while you're out and about).
The quick soak method works too. Just add the beans to a medium pot and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil, then boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the beans to sit for 1 hour. Drain the beans and rinse them with cold water. Same effect!
Add a couple tablespoons of oil to a nonstick pan and saute the onions, peppers and jalapeno for 5-8 minutes, or until softened.
In a medium pot, add beans, chicken stock and water and sauteed veggies. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 75 to 90 minutes. At that time, add salt, chili powder, and cumin and stir. Cover and continue simmering for another 30 minutes or until the liquid level is to your liking.
Taste for seasoning and add more of what it needs. Serve soup in a bowl with sour cream, extra diced bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips, and a lime wedge.
Nom, nom, nom. I loved this thick and hearty black bean stew. It was definitely more stew than soup - just how I like it.
With it as a base, you can have some fun. Here are some ideas for black bean soup with a twist:
- Cut up some pre-cooked turkey sausage links and add to the soup for a few minutes to heat through before serving. Hot dogs could work too. I saw a girlfriend do this for her kids and they loved the combo.
- Brown up some pancetta or thick bacon in the pot. Add the veggies and saute them in the mix. When you add the beans and stock scrape up all the good brown bits from the bottom.
- Add some cubes of sweet potato to the pot for a sweet and savory lean.
- Remove the soup from the heat and throw in a hefty squeeze of lime juice.
Have some fun! Let me know how it goes.