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Green Spaces

Hockey In Florida

We have been able to watch two of the three grandsons here in Florida play hockey. The third is in college and a bit further away. The middle boy competed in two games last Saturday, and both were won fairly easily. Our boy scored three assists on the four goals his team put up, two of which occurred on the same line shift, in the first game of the day. While he didn’t score in the second game, he still made some key puck thefts and made smart passes. His team had seven goals to the two the opponents managed.

Last Monday evening we watched the youngest boys’ team’s fun night competing against their parents, coaches, and siblings. Both our grandsons and their parents donned skates and protective gear and hit the ice. We had as much fun spectating as they did skating. Our daughter mostly missed catching the puck when it came her way (“stick on the ice, mom!”). But she did make one great pass that should have resulted in a goal, but the guy nailed the post instead of the net. She also had a great back-handed shot on goal that went just a bit wide. She had a face-splitting grin the entire time she was on the ice, even when her baby deliberately knocked her down. (It was an “legal” hit.) Afterwards the team had their holiday party, with pizza and ice cream cakes. Their gift exchange was all goofy socks, with a “dirty Santa” twist, but only one steal per present was allowed. There was some trading going on afterwards.

Last night we adults attended a musical service at a local Catholic Church. The number of great musicians featured was amazing to me. The music ranged from Christmas pop to TransSiberian Orchestra style to traditional Christmas hymns. There were drums, other percussionists, piano, keyboard, electric xylophone, a flute, a violinist, and several guitars as well as amazing vocalists. The music was the service.

While it’s still cool here, by the Floridians’ standards, we’re enjoying it being in the mid-‘60s. We have walked the family’s two dust-mop dogs a few times through the neighborhood in just shirtsleeves. I’m sure that has marked us as tourists as the locals are all in sweats. There is actual Florida sunshine now as well, with promises from the weathermen of temps in the ‘70s next week. We might get to a beach yet!

As many of you know, our first-born is currently undergoing chemo. Before we left on our trip (at her insistence as she thought our middle daughter needed to see us now) I made her a huge pot of this soup. Gwendolyne said I need to keep this recipe in the rotation. She and I will enjoy it. I haven’t gotten Dennis to even try it yet. He can just eat hot dogs,

Zuppa Toscana

1 lb bulk mild Italian sausage

1 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

4 slices bacon, cut in 1/2” pieces

1 large onion, diced

1 Tbl garlic, minced

5 (13.75 oz) cans chicken broth

6 spuds, sliced thin

1 C plain Greek yogurt

1/4 bunch kale (or fresh spinach)

Cook sausage with pepper flakes until browned. Set aside. Cook bacon in same pan until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels. Drain pan, reserving some drippings. Stir in onion and garlic, cook until soft and translucent. Pour in broth, bring to a boil. Scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add spuds, cook until fork-tender. Reduce heat and stir in yogurt and sausage, heat through, adding kale or spinach until wilted. Crumble the bacon on top.

I used spinach. And instead of canned chicken broth, I used a large carton plus some hot water and chicken bouillon. My onions aren’t that large, and the recipe didn’t specify what type, so I used medium-sized ones, one red and one white. Of course I used more garlic than called for as well. You can use more spuds and more bacon, if you like. Who doesn’t want more bacon? I really like the bulk mild Italian sausage from Reynolds.

Soups are always good comfort food. And supplying quick, easy meals like this for friends and/or family going through medical issues is a really good, caring thing to do. Throwing in some crackers or homemade buns is also a nice gesture. Or donate gift certificates to local restaurants for when they just aren’t up to cooking for themselves.

‘Tis the season for giving, after all. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Felix Navidad, - however you prefer it offered, I wish you joy and happiness at this time.


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