I'm a difficult draw. And I don't mean with a pencil. I'm referring to getting a blood sample out of the teeny tiny veins in my arm. Every so often a technician will need to call for assistance to get the job done, but there's always been someone at whatever lab I'm at who could just go right in and collect a sample with one try. Recently, I had an unpleasant (HA! understatement) experience at a lab, where, after trying repeatedly to draw blood from both arms, the first technician turned me over to her partner. Tech #2 tried in both arms and failed. She asked if I just wanted to give up and leave but I said no, I wanted to get this required blood test done. Seriously, I try to stay calm and friendly during these sessions because I don't want to be a negative influence on the proceedings, and make things worse, but sometimes it's sure hard to maintain composure in the face of ineptitude. I was keeping calm as best I could when I glanced at Tech #2, and observed her shaking her head. I looked at her fingers, tapping away at my arm, and they were shaking, too. At that point I said, "OK. I think I'm done." And I left. Sheesh.
On Saturday I was finally ready to give it another go at a different lab, and as I faced my first technician, I gently and calmly told her what she was up against, in case she wanted to bail. She was confident, and I liked her. I had to fast for 12 hours for the test but I had drunk lots of water because that's supposed to help in situations like mine. The technician gave me even more water to drink, and she put a hot pack on my arm. I was beginning to worry. After one unsuccessful poke, she called an associate, and I smiled on the outside and cried on the inside, as I met my new tormentor. This woman, bless her, immediately found a vein and got the sample. I got her name and the hours she works, and when I need blood drawn again, I'm making a beeline for her lab.
It's weird that this post is ultimately going to be about tomato soup. I wasn't thinking about the color connection before I started writing but, there it is. It's a little disturbing to me but I hope you'll take it in stride and try this soup. :) I've been wanting to make tomato soup ever since I had a stellar version in a small café on Bainbridge Island, and I think I figured out the special flavor in that soup — artichoke hearts. I was going to wait for fresh, summer tomatoes to make it but it's just too long to wait. (If you use fresh tomatoes you might want to remove the skin and seeds.)
For the tomatoes I used Bionaturæ organic strained tomatoes with no salt added, which comes in a glass bottle, but I don't see why regular canned tomatoes or tomato purée wouldn't work. (I started using jarred tomatoes when I became aware of the the dangers of BPA in the can linings. ) The artichoke hearts were quartered and packed in water, but, if you don't worry about extra fat, oil-packed ones would probably be even more delicious. I rinsed the artichokes to reduce the sodium a bit, but you don't have to. I used basil for my dried herb but I think rosemary or savory might be good options.
Tomato-artichoke soup (very fast, easy and delicious)
2 cups chopped onion
olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)
24 oz. tomatoes (mine were strained, puréed, no salt, bottled)
2-1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, or regular vegetable broth
1 cup jarred artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (mine were packed in water)
up to 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (to taste)
2 cups frozen corn
1 teaspoon dried herb of choice
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a soup pot, sauté the onions in a small amount of olive oil until translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally so they don't burn.
Add the tomatoes, broth, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, artichokes and frozen corn.
Blend with an immersion blender until the vegetables are uniform but the soup isn't completely smooth. It should have a bit of texture but no chunks. (You could also use a regular blender.)
Heat until hot. Add herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and more lemon if needed.
Wendy McClelland, the marketing manager at Silver Hills Bakery in Abbotsford, BC. was kind enough to send me a coupon to try a free loaf of their bread. According to Wendy, "Our organic bread is made without flour – when we get our grain (from a farm run on wind energy) we sprout it in a unique 36 hour process. This sprouting increases overall nutrition, triples the fiber and improves the digestibility. We have been making bread this way for [more than] 20 years, and still believe it is the healthiest way."
I found the bread at our local food coop but there was only one loaf left, so I didn't have a choice of which kind to try. I really liked the flavor and chewy texture; it was just the way I prefer bread to taste — not too sweet, not too salty, with a full grain presence. My only complaint was the bread didn't seem particularly fresh, and was a little dry. I don't know how often it's delivered to the store or how long it had been sitting on the shelf. I'd have to try it again before making a judgement.
My solution was to toast it, and it made a great accompaniment to the tomato soup we had for supper. If you'd like to try a free loaf, Silver Hills will send a coupon to anyone who takes simple online survey. I took the survey before offering it to you just to see what it was like, and it's easy and unobtrusive. You can find the survey here. Check their Web site to see if the bread is sold where you live. In addition to the sprouted wheat bread, they also make a gluten-free loaf.
Full disclosure: I was given a free coupon to try the bread but was under no obligation to write about it favorably, or at all. All opinions are mine.