Our 2008 church Christmas program is now a thing of the past. I'm heaving an extra sigh of relief this year since I was the director. I have always loved this annual chance for kids to dress up in shepherd costumes, and memorize lines, and sing like angels. And what an awesome opportunity for homeschoolers who may not have the benefit of a local drama group. Here's their chance to experience and overcome stage fright, and to perform for family and friends, all wrapped up in the ultimate opportunity to share the story of Christ's birth. It's an exhausting process ... but so very worth it when you watch the toddlers singing a song about baby Jesus at the top of their lungs, complete with hand motions. Or when you listen to that 16 year old young man (who I'm sure was one of those toddlers just yesterday!) recite Luke chapter 2 in his deep, grown-up voice. Somehow it serves to re-focus my mind and my heart on the true message of the Christmas season ... the love of God all wrapped up in swaddling cloths.
Following our church service, and the treacherous ride home in blustery, blowing, snowy weather, we enjoyed some yummy homemade soup by our woodstove. Here are a couple of recipes for our all-time favorite soups ... perfect for making ahead and having available during the crazy, busy holiday.
SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup diced ham or kielbasa
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
3 cups milk
1 - 16 oz package frozen corn
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup brown minute rice
1 can tiny shrimp (can substitute frozen shrimp defrosted and diced)
Heat oil in 4 quart saucepan. Add onion and meat. Cook and stir until tender. Stir in flour and Thyme. Add milk, corn and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice and shrimp. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes. Serve piping hot.
3 Tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, diced
4 cups potatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cups milk
4 cups chicken broth
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 teaspoons Basil
Melt butter in pan. Add onions and cook until tender. Add chicken broth, potatoes, carrots and seasonings. Cover and cook gently until potatoes and carrots are tender. Stir in milk and crumbled bacon; bring back to a simmer. Thicken, if desired, with potato flakes or flour/milk paste.
Note: Additional veggies can be added as desired. This is a great soup for emptying out the refrigerator left-overs!