A few household tips and some very good soup!

After a very dreary beginning, the day turned out to be pretty. We were really lucky that the weather for our Auxiliary Banquet was really nice, the rest of the weekend, not so nice. However Sunday and Monday had lots of clouds and some fog, and on Tuesday, it rained almost all day. I know this is to be expected at this time of year, as we are getting close to San Antonio Stock Show time, and I’ve seen it bad almost as frequently as I’ve seen it good. Yoakum and several of the other towns around here had their 4-H shows this past weekend.
Some time back, someone sent me an email with a list of over forty different uses for WD40. Some of the things were absolutely hilarious. However, one of them is one I had heard about before and that is using it on your knees for arthritis. The late Mr. Raymond Jungman believed it and swore he used it all the time. Haven’t a clue if it works or not, but it is on the list. At the beginning of the email, it is stated that a man had a new truck in his driveway, and during the night, someone sprayed the beige truck with red paint. A neighbor discovered the damage and told him about it. He was understandably upset and was trying to figure out what to do when another neighbor told him to go get a can of WD40 and clean it off. It removed the red paint and did not harm the paint job on the truck. I know it also will remove road tar and grime from cars as well as bugs. Removing crayon marks from walls is another of the uses listed, and also listed is using it to remove the black scuffmarks from your floors. Just be sure to clean it up off the floor after you use it as it can make the floor slippery. Once you have all the soap scum off your shower doors, spray them with WD40 and you will have no more water spots.
If indeed cold weather is on its way back, it’s going to be time to cook good smelling stuff in crock-pots or in a pot on top of the stove, isn’t it? Have you ever given a thought as to how soup as such got started? Was a housewife making stew and forgot to thicken the broth, or did she add too much water because the stew was too thick to begin with? There is nothing in any of the encyclopedias that I have checked, but I haven’t Goggled it or anything like that.
In stories about older times, you hear about one neighbor taking another a nice pot of broth or a nice pot of soup, if someone in the family was unwell. Chicken soup has long been touted as something to be eaten if you are ill. According to studies made during the past several years, there is some truth in the belief.
Soup was even the basis of a children’s story called “Stone Soup”, that was regularly read on Captain Kangaroo (remember him?). In actuality, it was a story about sharing, as the person involved in the story had a pot of water and a rock. He commented that it would sure taste good if there was some meat in it and someone brought some meat and bones, of course this was followed by various people bringing vegetables and everything else he needed for the soup.
Some of the following have been in this column before, as soup is a favorite of mine and as soon as it begins getting colder, I am ready for soup! Caldo de Res is a soup that is found on the menu in many Mexican Restaurants only during the winter months. I had never tried it until Miss Mary and I went out to eat one day and after discussion, we both ordered it at a restaurant in Pleasanton. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how delicious it was. She told me that it was really good but not as good as hers! One of the differences between caldo and our vegetable soup is that small pieces of corn on the cob are in it, also cabbage, carrots and zucchini, and usually a fair sized piece of the soup meat, which was cooked to make the broth, rather than the usual mixed vegetables found in most vegetable soup. Many years ago, I would go to Devine Meat Company and buy shank soup meat for about 59¢ per pound. Now if you can find it for under $2.50, it would be best to grab it and put it in your basket, as it is sometimes pricey. HEB usually has it at a pretty good price and I will purchase it on sale and keep it in the freezer. Besides, that, I like the meat pieces in my soup. Many people don’t and my grandmother would take the meat and chop it very fine and make hash by adding a potato she had peeled, cut into large pieces and cooked in with the soup. She would then slightly mash that potato with a fork and stir it and some chopped onion into the meat and add seasonings. Wish I had that recipe! It was so good and of course the recipe was not written down.
Also, our local HEB has these containers to make soup in 30 or less minutes. I will not pay $10 or $12 for it, but when it is half-price, I don’t mind. The one I tried on Thursday was Chicken Tortilla Soup and everything you needed to make it was in the package. It turned out very delicious.
Caldo de Res
2½ pounds beef shank, slice 1-inch thick, bone in
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1½ cups beef stock
1 can whole tomatoes, mashed or chopped into smaller pieces
4 ears fresh corn
2 zucchini
6 carrots, or 12 to 14 baby carrots
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 small head cabbage
1 lime cut into wedges
Sliced jalapeños, for garnish if desired
Cut each piece of beef shank into three or four pieces, being sure to leave some meat on the piece with the bone. Sauté the beef chunks with the chopped onion, salt and pepper until browned. When beef is browned, add the broth and the tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for about an hour, or until the beef is tender.
While this is cooking, wash the vegetables, cut each ear of corn into four or five pieces, cut the potatoes into quarters (or smaller if desired), cut the carrots into equivalent sizes, if using baby carrots, leave them whole. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, and then cut into 1-inch chunks. Add to the beef mixture, cover with water and bring mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium for 20 to 30 minutes. Cut the cabbage into 8 wedges, leaving the core intact. Place the cabbage into the mixture and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with a squeeze of lime, some cilantro and chopped onions if desired. Serve with hot corn or flour tortillas.
Cheese Soup
¼ cup butter or margarine
½ cup each: finely diced carrots, celery and onion (I like to use the shredded carrots you buy for salads and then cut them smaller)
½ cup flour
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups each: chicken stock and milk (canned broth is fine)
1 pound shredded cheese (I use1 cup cheddar, 1/2 cup Velveeta, 1 cup American, or all one kind)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, (optional)
In the butter or margarine, sauté the vegetables until onions are transparent. Stir in the flour and cornstarch, cook and stir until bubbly. Gradually whisk in the stock and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until smooth. Add the cheese, continue cooking until thick, add salt and pepper if needed. If you used canned broth, additional salt may not be necessary.
Butter Bean Soup
1 pound dried, large lima beans (butter beans)
1 ham bone (or cut up ham shanks from the meat counter)
½ pound diced ham (if desired)
1 finely minced clove of garlic
1 chopped onion
Pick over beans removing any rocks or foreign matter. Wash well, drain and place in large pot, cover with water; add ham bone, onion and garlic. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender. Remove ham bone, pick off meat if there is any on, add this and the diced ham (if used), and cook an additional 40 minutes to an hour. This is great served with hot cornbread or biscuits. This can be cooked in your crock-pot on low for 6 to 8 hours or until beans are done. This recipe is pretty much from my other grandmother and one I really enjoy making. My daughter says she simply cannot understand how something that smells so wonderful cooking can taste so vile. Needless to say, she does not like butter beans in any way, shape, form, or fashion. So, I cook this in a crock-pot occasionally, and take it to her husband when I am coming to Devine, as he loves butter beans!