Saturday, April 18, 2009

Busy Day Soup and the Little Bake Sale that Could

Last night was girls night in.  Or as the rest of the world calls it:  Spring Camporee for the Boy Scouts. FarmBoy, my husband, and our two 11 year old sons went camping overnight.  That leaves me with three girls 8 and under, 4 goats - 2 who need milking, and a very cold spot on his side of the bed.  I do love my sheets prewarmed. The goats were warm at least, but I left after milking.

This was the very first scout campout for Gerard, my second son.  I confess I was a little anxious for him. I want him to enjoy Boy Scouts, and to find a buddy, to feel included, and to not fall into the fire. With ADHD, one cannot assume this wouldn't happen.  He's a great kid, voted most like to say "but I didn't see the great big bonfire there or I wouldn't have walked into it. I was thinking about constellations and astronomy."

Our firstborn son, Andy, had his first campout midwinter, so I've mastered some ability to let the boys go, and not feel as if I need to telephone and make sure everybody is warm enough. Don't laugh, I'm a nurturer by nature.  With a strong secondary component of not wanting to raise a wimpy boy. So I dial the telephone and then hang up, and pray for him instead. Ok, but it got me through the winter campout, where I knew the windchills were 0*.  This time FarmBoy was with them, and I didn't worry (much) at all.

Instead, the girls and I baked double chocolate chip cookies, and as the toddler and I sat and rocked, Grandma baked chocolate chip cookies with Sarah and her new  best buddy BreeAnna.   The girls were getting a little restless earlier this week, looking for something exciting and important to do. They formed a club, The Candy Cane Club, made up of two neighbor brothers who are 10 and 7, and my 5 children, and BreeAnna, our neighbor.  It has been a nice week for Spring break, filled with sunny days and lots of cups of Koolaid and enough snap peas eaten to feed the Russian Army. Ours aren't ready from the garden, these came from the grocery store.  They're pretty addicting I might add. You pick up one and walk into the other room to put a load of wash into the machine, and find yourself going to find the bowl of them to grab a handful.

The Candy Cane Club (CCC) meets daily in the top of my goat barn, and decorated it with some surplus red tape I donated to the cause. I've been impressed with how tender and sweet they are in helping our three year old join them up the ladder.  And at Emma's athletic prowess climbing that ladder.

The CCC decided they were bored, and declined my offer to hang laundry on our outside line, alongside me, with polite eyerolls. Instead, they decided to have a bakesale. That's a great idea, now what should we do with the money we'll make I querried.  They came up with some silly ideas about buying furniture for the top of the barn.  Then I read a blog where an acquaintance of mine was raising funds for a stepparent adoption of her daughter, made more poignant by her recurrence of ovarian cancer.

I read the information to my children, who are two sets of stepchildren with a little 3 year old sister they would hate to be separated from if one of their parents died.  The children took this topic to the CCC and they voted to help raise money for the adoption of a little girl hereafter known as "Big Sister".

Armed with lemonade, Grandma's chocolate chip cookies that she helped them bake, double chocolate chip cookies, and a few dollars of change, the children of the neighborhood made signs and posted them in the post office in our small village, put them up on telephone poles, and told all the neighbors they saw outside in the sunshine. At the end of day 1, they'd earned about $55.00 toward this adoption. At the end of day 2, they had added another $20 to the coffers.  Not bad for 25cent cookies and cups of lemonade. May I interject how proud I am of my children, who develop empathy as well as gratitude from projects such as this? And how impressed I am by the residents of my community who listened to chirpy 8 year olds tell them why they were selling cookies and lemonade?

While we were busy preparing for the bake sale, and then sitting out waiting for customers, this is what we had simmering in the crockpot. It seems appropriate for a Boy Scouting family.  Try it, your family might like it too.  It uses canned food items, and you can easily used items from your food storage to make this during a power outage, while cooking over a camp stove, or using a dutch oven.
The author says:  "This recipe was shared with me by my co-worker Jacque Jensen at a previous job. "Busy Day Soup" was a hit the first night I made it! Because it's mostly canned it's great for camping and on a "busy day" it makes a quick and very savory dinner too.

1/2 lb. hamburger
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can bean and bacon soup
1 can alphabet soup
1 can tomato soup
1 can nibblets corn
2 cans water
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Brown together hamburger and onion, then add bean and bacon, alphabet and tomato soup. Add corn and cans of water and chili powder. Simmer until hot.
Table Scraps: A Collection of Our Favorite Recipes, Primedia, November 2006, pg. 18

I tasted this, and it was good, but a bit bland for my crew. I added some dried garlic powder, some black pepper, and a dash of Frank's red hot sauce. The children liked it, and that's my gauge these days for quick dinners at least. It goes well with rolls, and an icecream sundae for dessert - I mean if you're celebrating girls night in and you're having sundaes so your crew isn't sad that the boys get to do all the fun things while the girls stay home.

One project on my to-do list is to brown and pressure can the pounds of ground venison that fill our freezer, that we haven't eaten yet this year. Canned ground meat makes for super fast sloppy joes, hamburger enchiladas, busy day soup like this, and chili, for example. It's a convenience food that really makes sense. Especially if you have a surplus of free ground meat.

So the next time you know your day is going to be one busy day, maybe you'd like to pop some of this busy day soup into a crockpot, or just heat it up quickly on the stove.  Your tummy and your wallet will thank you.  Buy a few extra cans of things, and put them in our pantry, for that rainy, or busy, day.

I'm so glad that tonight my side of the bed is prewarmed.  And FarmBoy was so gracious as to carry out all those buckets of water to the goat pen. Those Boy Scouts all went to bed early.  I do love a good hike with great vistas. And boys going to bed with tuckered out smiles!

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