Tag Archives: Community

For when you need four gallons of soup

Four gallons of soup.

Four gallons.


How many cups are in a gallon again? Sixteen?

That’s 64 cups of soup.


I agreed to make four gallons of soup for one of the Lenten Lunches hosted by the church in town I now attend (no, not the church I live in, the one with actual congregants and services).

Last year, when we were working on the church, my Beloved and I frequented the springtime Wednesday noon meals because the food was good (homemade, and the meal always offered cookies for dessert), the location was convenient (one block from our worksite) and the clean-up was easy (none).

And we discovered how nice it was to interact in the community and meet people who knew of our project and expressed interest in our endeavors. We had liked our new tradition.

This year, I figured I needed to contribute more than a freewill offering, so I volunteered to make the soup last week.

I immediately fretted about how to transport four gallons of liquid from my kitchen to the church. Even a distance of one block set up the potential for splashy disaster.

I inquired as to how others passed this hurdle, and the pastor suggested I make the soup at the church–their church. Great idea! I packed up my groceries, and I found the enormous kitchen there outfitted with just about every kitchen gadget known to woman to be the perfect place to make four gallons of soup.

Four gallons is a lot of Carrot Ginger Soup to make from scratch.

As I was unpacking 10 pounds of carrots, another woman in the basement making sandwiches for the luncheon asked, “Are you going to peel all those carrots?”

It wasn’t until that very moment I thought to myself, “That’s a lot of carrots to peel.”

I volunteered my flavor of soup to make so having to peel 10 pounds of carrots was all on me.

Fortunately, my stepdaughter gifted me with a new peeler for Christmas, and I had brought it with me.

Peeling the carrots wasn’t the hardest part of making four gallons of soup. Heating four gallons of carrots and broth was the hardest part. After waiting a good half an hour to bring my delicious ingredients to a boil, I wised up and separated the contents of my cauldron into two pots, and then things went quickly. I used my immersion blender (one of the gadgets missing from the church’s cupboards), and the finished result was smooth and tasty (even folks skeptical of a soup with “ginger” in the name said nice things about it).

If ever you need a recipe for four gallons of Carrot Ginger Soup, here’s mine.

Carrot Ginger Soup

P.S. I only used two sticks of butter. And I used turmeric instead of “curry powder.” By ginger, I mean fresh, minced ginger, not a cup of ginger spice, oh, no!


Hampshire hydrant art suggests more than just municipal upright water pipes

Woe to the lowly fire hydrant, mostly ignored or regarded as invoking a parking restriction. Unless it’s your house that’s on fire, and then its magnificence is evident.

You can adopt a dog. You can adopt a baby. Heck, you can even adopt a new lifestyle. But did you know you can adopt a fire hydrant?

Well, in Hampshire, Ill., you can.

Along with the responsibility to maintain the area around the hydrant and clear it of snow in the wintertime, the hydrant supporter earns the right to paint his or her hydrant, says Mike Reid, village trustee.

Modeling a program on Geneva’s Art On Fire program, Reid plans to get traction for hydrant adoption by hosting a contest next year and offering prizes to hydrant artists. “You can paint it any way you want to as long as you get the artwork approved, maintain the design for at least a year and avoid anything obscene,” Reid told me. Oh, and this is a painting project, not a sculptural one; artists cannot affix anything in any way, shape or form to their hydrants. Rust-preventative paint is required (i.e., Rust-oleum).

Talented artists in this little village already have taken to the streets. Here’s my art review of their work:

Kathi Drive

Kathi Drive

It’s not a passel of artists without a Photorealist in the bunch (an art style where the illusion of reality is created through paint). What’s a fire hydrant if not good ‘ol true red? Note the attention to detail: the artist on Kathi Drive left the chain in its natural rust color. Not sure what alien transmissions that little mesh hat is designed to ward off.

White Oak Realist hydrant

White Oak Street

Not to be outdone, this White Oak Street artist choose a more traditional Realism approach. If Rust-oleum doesn’t list this shade as Fire Engine Red, I don’t know what is. Careful inspection of this photo reveals even bits of grass around this hydrant are red.

White Oak Street

White Oak Street

A little ways down White Oak Street, another artist went the route of Precisionism, an American movement whose focus was modern industry and urban landscapes. R2D2 fans, take note.

Centennial Drive

Centennial Drive

Animation art in the Pop Art movement clearly inspired this Centennial Drive artist. Here’s looking at you, Carl the Minion.

Warner Street

Warner Street

On Warner Street, the artists (self identified as Reid and his wife) adopted the Painterly style. Note how the dalmatian’s spots celebrate the use of paint through evident brushwork and texture.

I’m waiting for some artist to employ Impressionism (think Monet and the art of light) or Abstract Expressionism (Jackson Pollack anyone?) in their design. Or even better? Let’s see some Dadaism (oh, don’t be absurd).

Want to adopt a hydrant in Hampshire? Lt. Jeanne Maki at the Hampshire Fire Protection District to claim your hydrant and learn program details.

Other Minnesota Transplant musings about Hampshire:

DEA program pulls tons of drugs out of the system

Forty pounds of pharmaceuticals.

Hampshire Pharmacy, in conjunction with the Hampshire Police Department, collected that much in its “Got Drugs” campaign this past weekend, I learned today while chatting it up with pharmacist Parag Maniar.

I just love the convenience of having a local pharmacy. Maniar plans to collect old and leftover drugs again in November. To be clear, he’ll take back uncontrolled substances for proper disposal at any time, but the “Got Drugs” campaign collects controlled substances like mood-altering chemicals (i.e. Xanax) and pain-killers (i.e. Vicodin) in a legal and environmentally safe way.

Americans who participated in the Drug Enforcement Adminstration’s third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day last October turned in more than 377,086 pounds (188.5 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,327 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories, according to the DEA’s website.

Illegal drug use aside, it’s disgusting to think of how contaminated our drinking water may be with drugs that pass through the human body and get flushed directly down the toilet (read more about it here).  We here in the Minnesota Transplant household have a reverse osmosis system cleaning our drinking water, but even that may not be cleansing every odd thing out of one of life’s basic necessities.

Don’t be lazy when disposing of used motor oil, leftover drugs, old batteries, oil-based paints and other hazardous household materials. If you don’t end up consuming it when our drinking water becomes contaminated, your children will!

If you missed the “Got Drugs” campaign this past weekend, mark your calendar to participate this fall.

Ah, the sweet sound of … little beeps in a hearing test

Value your sense of hearing enough to have it screened.

I had my hearing screened today by the Lions, and I am thankful I ranked in the normal range.

Some of us might take our hearing for granted. But I do not. My grandmother and my father both are hearing impaired and wear hearing aids. I see first-hand how much a person misses when they can’t hear.

A few of my favorite things to hear:

  • My nephews’ little boy voices. At 12, my sister’s oldest son is about to lose his little boy voice. But I remember him singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” when he was three. It was beautiful. Fortunately, he has two younger brothers.
  • My stepson’s voice on the phone. After a rough year not too long ago, I’m thankful he’s talking to us at all. He’s a talker just like his father when he wants to be. He lives two states away, so the phone is a major connection. I love hearing about his day or his opinions or his frustrations.
  • My Beloved’s voice. As long as we covered little boys and young men, let’s address older men. My Beloved’s low tenor (or, in the morning, bass) is highly attractive. And while I could live without his snoring, but I adore listening to him breathe at night.
  • The high notes in any kind of music. It’s common to lose high frequency hearing first. Hey, there’s nothing like a good bass line, but most pieces are not complete without the treble clef.
  • Birds, frogs and the wind in the trees. Chirping, singing, calling, croaking, it’s all beautiful (especially right now in the warm weather). I can’t identify most birds at 10 paces and I wouldn’t touch a frog with a 10-inch stick, but I like how they sound. When it’s windy, I love falling asleep with the windows open. The sound of the wind in the trees lulls me to sleep.
  • National Public Radio. I would be lost without my informative talk radio especially in the mornings. I even run to it.

Today’s hearing screening was good news for me. If you’re interested in free hearing screening and you live in Illinois, check out the Lions of Illinois Foundation.

Primary election is coming! Get informed!

Illinois is having a primary election in 10 days, and I have some homework to do!

Voters will be voting for candidates for the U.S. Senate (replacing that stellar Roland Burris, who replaced Barack Obama, thanks to an appointment by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich) and governor (Gov. Pat Quinn, who succeeded the ousted Blagojevich, is attempting to run on his own merits). There are dozens of other candidates, too, like state comptroller (never even heard of this office before — I don’t think they have a state comptroller in Minnesota) and a bunch of county positions and judges. Meanwhile, the highest profile thing on the ballot in Hampshire is a park district bond, mainly for improvements to Bruce Ream Park.

In order to be an informed voter you need to know:

  • Whether you’re registered (if you have a driver’s license, you probably are).
  • Where to vote (our polling location changed recently from the park district building to the fire station).
  • Which party you’re voting with (Republican, Democratic or Green).
  • And for whom to vote.

I found the coolest web site to help answer these questions for me. If you’re an Illinois voter, check it out:


Not only can see your sample ballot, but you can read profiles of the candidates and see which organizations have endorsed them (like the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper or the Homer-Lockport Tea Party — which if you know anything about your American history, then you know a party claiming roots to the Boston Tea Party is probably an anti-tax sort of group that probably aren’t big supporters of “liberal, tax-and-spend” Democrats — if that’s a hint).

Lots of people wring their hands over low voter turn-out rates, but if you’re not informed, you shouldn’t vote. Becoming informed isn’t that difficult. If there’s only one office or ballot question you care about, show up at the polls to vote for that single issue — you can leave the rest of the ballot blank if you wish (and you’ll still count as a voter).

So, get informed! The primary election is Tuesday, Feb. 2.