Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Too many chores, too little time

Cathi Litzenberger offers up some warm comfort food

Sometimes near the end of January I slip into somewhat of a frump; nothing that a couple of weeks in a hot sunny climate wouldn’t cure but it’s not to be.

Maybe this grey mood is due to being stuck inside facing all my incompletes, (projects started, but not as yet completed) from winters long since passed. I began so many with great enthusiasm and then, at the first hint of spring, I headed outside, deserting them along with the winter.

Since I resolved this to be the year to finish things started, I’ve taken stock and to my horror found I’ll have to live into my hundreds to have any hope of completing it all. Perhaps I need a new plan. Sigh!

There is a lot of winter yet to come so I’ll just pick three to start. First, though, I’m putting on a crock-pot of comfort food — potato soup today — to give me extra time and a delicious supper. Give one of the recipes below a try. Maybe serve with a crisp salad or home made buns.

Potato Soup

6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 lbs. small red potatoes

3-1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup sour cream

1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter

2-2/3 cups whole milk

1/2 tsp. black pepper

4 scallions, thinly sliced

3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Cook bacon pieces over medium heat in a medium skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper toweling to drain and set aside.

Peel, rinse and cut potatoes into thirds. Place in large pot with water to cover, add 2 tsp. salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the potatoes are very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain potatoes, discarding the water, and return them to the pot. Mash with a potato masher until smooth.

Add the sour cream and butter and stir until melted. Add the milk, pepper and remaining salt and bring the soup back to a simmer.

Divide among 8 bowls and serve the soup hot, garnished with scallions, cheese and bacon.

Slow Cooker, Easy Baked Potato Soup

10 red potatoes, cut into cubes

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

3/4 cup real bacon bits

1 small red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. chicken bouillon granules

1 tbsp. ranch dressing mix

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp.seasoned salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

3 cups water

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or to taste

1/4 cup chopped green onion, or to taste

Put potatoes in bottom of slow cooker. Scatter flour over potatoes; toss to coat.

Scatter bacon bits, red onion, garlic, chicken bouillon, ranch dressing mix, parsley, seasoned salt, and black pepper over the potatoes. Pour water into the slow cooker. Cook on Low 7 to 9 hours.

Pour half-and-half into the soup; cook another 15 minutes.

Garnish with cheddar cheese and green onion before serving.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

Vernon Morning Star