Monday, November 14, 2016


That guy in the middle caught your attention did he?  You are not alone.  Next question might be what do the ingredients for soup, a fall table setting, Scottish treats and the wonderful Scottish actor, Sam Heughan, in costume for Diana Gabaldon's much loved hero, Jamie Fraser, have in common? Friendship that's what!

Diana (or as she is known "Herself") published the first volume, Outlander in 1991, (in Great Britten the title was Cross Stitch).  She has since written and published many more books and there are now eight in the Outlander series.  She recently released the name of her ninth book, (Go Tell The Bees That I am Gone) and reported that book ten will be the final in the series. This is normally not my genre but I do love history (Herself is an academic and a stickler for historical accuracy) and a good (to put it mildly) love story. I would normally stay away from anything that mentioned "time traveler" and boy would I have missed out had I done that this time. I recently had bilateral cataract surgery and for a week after each surgery, was told by my eye surgeon - first week "couch potato" let that lens settle in and adhere.  As it turns out Starz was having a "free" weekend and I had heard and read how good  Outlander was so thought I would give it a try.  Here was the result (besides calling Direct TV and signing up for Starz): 

The state of being obsessed with someone or idea or thought that continually preoccupies or  intrudes on a person's mind. she cared for him with a devotion bordering on obsession"
I am now mid-way through book 8 and have watched both seasons of the Starz show (more times than I care to admit) and belong to more than one group devoted to Outlander on Facebook. Facebook is where the friendship part comes in - one of the groups I belong to is called "Heughan's Heughligans." It is now a "closed" group but a dear friend (thank you Jenise) recommended me and I was accepted. Not hard to get accepted as it is not a secret group.  The wonderful admins watch over the group out of the goodness of their hearts and the rules must be adhered to - basically "play nice." One day someone started a post that asked your town, state or province, etc. and Country.  I spotted two people from my town Eagle, Idaho and we connected and formed our "Book Club," with tongue firmly in cheek - our motto "we read and watch for the history."  We are three different ages and places in our life, a retired school teacher, a retired nuclear training coordinator and a mom of five with children still at home and with her own business.  We first met for coffee and from first sight we connected and we started talking and have not stopped! Now comes the tablescape and soup part.
 I have made menu cards for many years - for the obvious reason that I not forget anything, to use for a guide when creating a shopping list, but more than that when I pull out stacks of these cards and go over them I am taken back to that day, that night, that event and the memories come flooding in and I remember things that I would not have otherwise remembered.
A fun fall tablesetting for soup and salad.
Walkers shortbread was an obvious selection to me and I wanted to pair it with some Scottish butterscotch which I could not  I bought some nice caramels and made a "Sassanach Butterscotch" label for my faux butterscotch. For the uninitiated Sassanach in Scots Gaelic means, an English person, outsider, or outlander. May be an insult or may also be an extreme term of endearment.
I just printed out the image on a full sheet label, then cut them out and put on a cellophane bag with the candies inside.

Very simple ingredients for the tortellini soup and this is quick and so good on a cold winter night.  One of the things I love the best about this soup is that if you keep a couple of things in your freezer and a couple of pantry items on hand you will always have the ingredients for this soup.  You can use fresh, frozen or dried tortellini and at least in the United States zucchini in tomato sauce is available in cans.
The soup starts with cooking a pound of Italian sweet sausage - don't worry you will remove all the fat that cooks out of the sausage.
A few more ingredients, and before the veggies start to cook I use a turkey baster and remove the fat from the sausage.
Once the soup is all together it just simmers until done.  This soup may be made the day ahead of time but do not add the tortellini until the day you are ready to serve or you will have really fat tortellini as it will soak up the wet ingredients.

Tortellini Soup Recipe


1 pound mild Italian sausage, if in casings, remove before cooking
2 Cups sliced zucchini
1 chopped sweet onion, yellow is OK too, sweet is milder
1 large clove of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/4 tsp dried oregano or if you do not have, Italian seasoning
2 14oz cans/cartons chicken broth or homemade broth
28 oz water
14 oz canned diced tomatos
12oz tortellini, I prefer fresh or frozen but in a pinch dried is OK. I prefer to use cheese but use whatever is your preference.

Saute sausage, remove most of the fat, add the onions, garlic, zucchini and oregano until all cooked. Add the wet ingredients, stir well and let simmer 15-20 minutes.  The dried tortellini will take a little longer.

Serve with a bowl of  dry grated Parmesan cheese - I splurge and buy Parmesan Reggiano - it is so much better than anything in a can and makes your soup taste richer and just better. It looks the same as the canned but the flavor is so much better.

Depending on what else you are serving this should serve 4 big bowls and if you are serving light eaters or children that should stretch to 6 or more. This recipe may be doubled if you need more servings.

I will post the recipe for the cranberry-nut bread in a future blog post.

I must report that once again, we never ran out of things to talk about, the books, the author, the television show, the "Droughtlander" which is Outlander speak for the time we have to wait until the next season starts - sometime in the spring of 2017, the date has not been announced, we are waiting....maybe not so patiently!!!!


All of the Outlander books and CD's are available online, and in stores, worldwide.

Font on the Sassanach label, Celtic Hand
Font on the menu card, Celtic Garamond the 2nd
Both of these fonts may be found online for free - be sure that you just get to download them and don't have to sign up for anything - those are not free in the sense they want your information!

Dishes, Danish Fern by Burleigh, England, they are no longer being made but may be found on Ebay and sellers that deal in hard to find dishes.
 Crystal, Villeroy and Boch, Bernadotte pattern
Flatware, World Market
Napkins, TJ Maxx
Acorn Napkin Rings, Williams-Sonoma
Acorn soup tureen and covered soup bowls, Williams-Sonoma but no longer available but may be found on Ebay.
Chargers, Sur le Table
Place mats, Pier One and other sellers
Pioneer Woman cast iron pot, Wal-Mart, at stores and online

Cellophane bags, available at craft, hobby stores, Link

Ribbon, Offray fashion plaid, 3/8" Link

Red tassels, craft and hobby stores, Link

Thank you for stopping by.




  2. Thank you Anonymous - try the simple soup, it's yummy - cool here today, high of 57, going to make the soup tonight! Thank you for stopping by!