Archive for October, 2010



Grandpa Soup (My version)


When I was growing up, my grandpa (on my moms side) would make large batches of soup.  This soup was a bit more of a stew, as it was very hearty and combined with a slice or two of bread, would be a complete meal.  Grandpa was never much into fancy spices, purely a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and salt and pepper was about all he used.  When he made large batches he (or Grandma) would can up a number of quarts and we would often get to take a bunch home.

Home canning was a way of life for my grandparents. They lived on a farm when my mom was born, and always had large gardens when they moved up to Michigan.  Each summer they would can dozens of different items and had a well stocked pantry.  Grandpa soup, as it was called in our family, was made from scratch using the veggies they produced in the garden.  All that grandpa would add was some beef.

My mom, being tight for time raising 3 boys,  would often open up a jar of his soup and call dinner “done”. Grandpas version was simple with Beef, tomatoes, peas, corn , carrots, onion and salt and pepper…that’s it.  My version takes it up a notch and I sure grandpa would be proud.

Kevin’s Version of Grandpa Soup

3 to 4 pounds Beef (Chuck steak with nice marbling works well, but I have also used sirloin and recently boneless ribs)

1 large yellow onion

1  28 oz can Muir Glen Fire roasted Whole tomatoes (grandpa would use 2 quarts home canned tomatoes)

1 28 oz Can Muir Glen Fire roasted Crushed tomatoes

1 15 oz can of peas

1 15 oz can of whole corn

1 bag baby carrots

2-3 tbs canola oil

2 tbs margoram

2 tbs Thyme

1 tbs Garlic powder

1/3 bottle liquid smoke

Salt + pepper.



Slice beef into bit sized stew pieces (3/8″ thick x 1/2 to 3/4″ long) Brown meat in canola oil in heavy pot (I use my large cast iron dutch oven) Once browned add diced onion and continue until caramelized, add spices, reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes, and baby carrots that have been cut up to bit sized pieces.

Simmer for about an hour then add corn and peas. (If  these are added to early the peas can get mushy) Add liquid smoke and continue simmer for another hour.  Throughout these two long simmers, periodic stirring is needed.

For eating,  a hearty french bread is great for dipping.  Sometimes I’ll add dollop of sour cream to the top before digging in.

This makes a big batch, and I’ll sometimes freeze up about half for another day.





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Mini Ex on the left and skid steer on the right

Last week I got the chance to play with a “mini-ex”.  One of my clients and good friend was doing some landscaping in the back yard of  his new home.  I have been doing some remodel work there for about a week, engineered flooring, doors + trim, kitchen plumbing, electric, cabinets etc.

He had about 60 yards of dirt brought in and was building up some berms to reduce some traffic noise.  A buddy of his and him had completed most of the work over the weekend, I came in and dug a few holes for planting some trees.  This was my first experience running a back hoe type device and it was total hoot.   After about 20 minutes I was getting a handle on the double “joysticks” that control the bucket. The soil here was very dense and packed, so it was hard to dig in.  I dug some fence post holes in this general area last year and it totally sucked…about 1 hour per 1 foot deep hole.

The Mini Ex was a little under powered for busting up this hard stuff but did pretty good on some softer soil nearby.  I’m thinking when the time comes to get a tractor/ loader for the ranch it will definitely get a back-hoe attachment.

some of my holes

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This is a delayed post from our road trip back at the beginning of summer.  For those that were following along we road tripped to the Grand Canyon and Zion.  At Zion, the deep part of the canyon is only accessed by shuttle bus.  Not only does this reduce the parks carbon footprint it is pretty convenient for the park visitor…no parking hassles.  One of the drivers gave us some statistics about the scene.  Before the buses were put into service they would see about 3000 cars a day…competing for 400 parking spaces.  Anyone who has been is a similar situation can see the benefit to this system.

Shuttle Bus at Zion

The main visitor center at Zion uses a passive solar design and has trombe walls. Rather than just building it and using it, they incorporate it into the educational experience for the visitors with a descriptive display.

Passive Solar Visitor Center

The greatest part for me was the parks concession’s refusal to buy into the bottled water bullshit.  If every retailer in the country followed suit imagine the fuel savings and benefit.  When I was a kid we would visit many parks and I never remembered seeing bottle water for sale.  We had out trusty canteens and it was just fine.  Today instead of that old aluminum tasting contraption we use Nalgene bottles, a couple of my Nalgene bottle are made from FEP Teflon and provide the cleanest tasting water you can get with out any worry about BPA.  These bottles cost about $90 each and were salvaged from my old career in biotechnology.

Educate the Masses

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