Friday, February 13, 2015


Before we can all go happily off to Valentine's Day and declare victory and love and chocolate tomorrow, we have to survive today.  I'm not a superstitious person, but even I get a little nervous about Friday the 13th.

And that was before I looked it up.

This thing is a problem, and not just for Kevin Bacon.

Per Wikipedia, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history.  They even have a name for this debilitating situation:


The word alone is terrifying*.

So here's the plan. Let's hunker down, stay in, read a good book, and have some super safe soup today.

Book ideas**:

All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
The tale of a blind refugee from Paris and a young German radio operator during WWII. Magical.

Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng
Heartbreaking story about the weight of things unsaid in a family.  The writing will grab you and make you weep.

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
Don't read anything about this book.  Just read it.  Wow!

 The Martian - Andy Weir
Pure, sci-fi fun.  I listened to this one and enjoyed every minute.

Ready Player One - Ernest Kline
One massive global live video game for all the marbles.  With Monty Python and Rush references.  What more can you ask for?

 The Silkworm  - Robert Galbraith (actually JK Rowling)
The PI at the heart of this book, along with the very good first one in the series, The Cuckoo's Calling, is a fascinating character, and the mystery keeps you guessing. 

 The Storied Life of AJ Fikry - Gabreille Zevin
I'm a sucker for a good book about a bookstore.  This is one.

 Not My Father's Son: A Memoir - Alan Cumming 
Holy shit what a story!  If, like me, you only know him from Masterpiece Theater on PBS or as Eli Gold, this is an eye opener.  He narrates the Audible version...highly recommended!

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
I loved loved loved this book.  Clever, funny, tragic, and above all unique.  The voice of the main character will stay with me always.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan
A harrowing story of a POW in Japan, stunningly well told.

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty
If you've ever hung out with a group of gossipy parents in kindergarden, this is the book for you. Is it great literature? No. Is it a little heavy handed at times? Sure. Is it damn entertaining? You bet.

Soup idea:

Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup with Kale & Rice | Cheesy Pennies

Creamy, slightly spicy soup full of turkey sausage meatballs, kale and a little bit of nubby rice. Enriched with white beans and incredibly good for you.  Even if the rest of your day is unsettling, this should be 100% risk free.

Let's read, eat this soup, and if we make it through the night, we defy the gods and shout about love from the rooftops tomorrow.

With some crazy delicious dessert after.***

Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup with Kale & Rice | Cheesy Pennies

Turkey Sausage Meatball Soup with Kale and Rice
by Sharon Graves

You can have this warm, very comforting soup on the table in less than 30 minutes.  No one will be unnerved or miss work because of it. Unless, like my husband, you have kaleaphobia, in which case you might as well have shown up wearing a hockey mask to the dinner table.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • 1 20 oz. package spicy (or mild) Italian turkey sausage (my favorite is Jennie-O)
  • 1 head of lacinato (Italian-style or Dinosaur) kale, rinsed, tough stems removed
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 8 c. (2 quarts) homemade or store-bought chicken stock 
  • 1 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp crushed oregano
  • 2 c. cooked rice (I use those handy frozen bags from Trader Joe's. Just zap 'em in the microwave for 3 minutes. I am especially fond of their Rice Medley mix in this soup)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Trader Joe's Rice Medley - Brown rice, red rice and black barley


Heat a large frying pan up over medium high heat. Use your hands to squeeze the sausage out of the casings in portions a little less than an inch long. Roll each portion into a round ball, and transfer the sausage balls to the hot pan. Cook until nicely browned on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meatballs to a separate plate. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches.

While the sausage is cooking, chop the kale cross-wise into strips about half an inch or so wide, then chop again the other way if the strips look too long. As soon as you've removed the last of the sausage meatballs from the frying pan, add in the kale and stir. It will soften a bit, and pick up the flavor and juices left from the sausage. After a minute or so, squeeze the lemon juice over the kale and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Turn off the heat and let that sit.

If you have an immersion blender, grab a stock pot or larger soup pan, and add the chicken stock, the canned beans, and the oregano. Warm over medium heat, just until you see a few bubbles beginning to form at the edges. Use the immersion blender to combine until no more whole beans remain and the broth is a lovely creamy color. It will not become thick.

If you don't have an immersion blender, combine the beans, half of the chicken stock and the oregano in a regular blender until smooth before heating up, then transfer the mixture to the stock pot with the rest of the stock and heat until warm.

After you've prepped the broth and its beginning to bubble nicely, add in the meatballs, the kale, and the rice. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes, just to allow the flavors to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can even add more lemon juice if you like.

Serve immediately, with crusty bread on the side. This soup is full of fiber, protein and vitamins, and is low fat, too!

Spicy Meatball Soup with Kale and Rice | Cheesy Pennies

* NPR does have a handy guide for how to pronounce it, and supposedly if you say it correctly out loud, you will be cured.
** My favorites from the past few months. That whole thing about keeping the reading list up to date? Clearly has not happened. Note that these are affiliate links, mostly because Amazon gives me these lovely book covers for the post.
** Ideas for that decadent Valentine's dessert:

Amaretto Brownies w/a Cream Cheese Swirl | Cheesy Pennies

Orange Rosemary Cream Cheese Pound Cake | Cheesy Pennies

Caramel Budino with Brown Sugar Butterscotch Sauce | Cheesy Pennies
Warning on this one: contains now-not-so-PC reference to Bill Cosby.

For even more ideas for sweet treats, check out the Recipe Box.


  1. I just read the Doerr and Ng books (gorgeous, both), and will check out the others. And that soup! I'm totally making that. Cheers to surviving until tomorrow. :)

    1. We made it! And the soup is delicious, thank you.

    2. You're welcome! I hope you made extra because Friday the 13 comes around again in a couple of weeks. Yikes.