Fall Favorites: Mushroom Onion Soup

Today here at Big Springs we’re feeling the effects of Fall - it’s pretty chilly and we’re looking forward to having some hot soup! Jenn is whipping up a batch of of some yummy mushroom onion soup, and we’d like you to try some too!


Mushroom Onion Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped onion

  • 1 LB chopped baby bella mushrooms

  • 3 cloves of minced garlic

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 1 can of Coors Heavy Beer

  • 32 oz container of beef broth

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • fresh thyme or 1 tsp of dried thyme

Directions:

To begin, you’ll need to chop your onions - you can do them as fine as you want to, but we kept our pieces about the size of a thumb. Next, we minced our fresh garlic from the witch garden. After washing our mushrooms, we cut them in half and chopped them into small, bite size pieces.

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Next step is sauteing - saute it good. You’re gonna want to saute your veggies and garlic together with the olive oil until you’ve reached the state of saute that you desire. Lightly salt your veggies after they’re done cooking to avoid pulling the water from the mushrooms, which can cause them to be tough and rubbery.

Once you’ve sauteed your veggies, dump them in a stock pot. Preferably a large stock pot, but you’re your own person so use whatever size you want to. In the interest of doing less dishes, you’re gonna reuse the saute pan to make a rue. Melt your butter in the skillet, then dump your flour in. You’re going to want to stir the rue constantly as it cooks at a medium to high temp. We cooked ours until it was well browned.

Dump both your can of beer and the beef broth into the stock pot with your veggies. Add thyme and bay leaves, then allow your soup to simmer on low for about 15 minutes. You can garnish it with provolone cheese and croutons, or just eat it as is!

We hope you enjoy this mushroom onion soup as much as we do!

Fancy Holiday Anxiety

It’s the time of year where I trade my regular anxiety in for my fancy holiday anxiety. Yep.  Thanksgiving.  Personally, I have about 4 celebrations that I’m supposed to show up for.  I’ll definitely make it to 2 of those.

 The Richardsons celebrate Thanksgiving at our grandmother’s, where she presides over the festivities with cane in hand.  She hasn’t actually hit any of us with her cane yet, she just shakes her head with a disgusted look on her face a lot.  She’s 97.  She can do whatever she wants. 

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What she wants is for us all to be together on Thanksgiving day, at her house, with a pretty epic lunch, preceded by a pretty amazing breakfast.  My dad actually lives next door to her, so we all show up at his house Wednesday evening, spend the night, then eat all day Thursday.  We cook a late dinner of our favorite foods at the ranch house Thursday night.  Friday the hunters all hit the woods, and I and the other slackers sit on the deck and enjoy the day.

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Saturday is the Younger family get-together at my mom’s, which 54 people attended last year, and we’re expecting a few more this year.  We divide and conquer on this one, so we each volunteer or are assigned what to bring. 

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Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to everyone for me to give you a printable version of my grocery list for Thanksgiving.  Of course, there are some incidentals on here that I’m sure I’ve missed. You’ve got a couple of options for printing or saving… I’m a fan of saving images to my phone since I probably won’t forget to take it to the grocery store.  So just access this post from your phone, hold your finger down on the image below, and save it to your phone.  If you have an iphone and a wireless printer, one of the options when you do that should be to print the image, and you can do that also.  If you’re reading this on your actual computer (weirdo), then you probably already know how to print it.

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I’m including our menus here as well, because it might help to know what in the wide world you need all that crap for.

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I should also mention that I’ll be taking a smoked bone-in ham for the ranch dinner, and a smoked whole turkey to fill in the cracks at the big lunch.  My aunts have started buying the turkey for that and it’s never big enough.  I highly recommend adding both of those things to your holiday menu if you haven’t already.  They’re delicious.

Now that I’ve completely overwhelmed you with my lists and off-loaded some of that fancy anxiety onto you, let me help you with that.  I am in the business of making home-made food for your family’s Thanksgiving dinner.  I love the idea that something I made makes an appearance at so many gatherings.  It’s like I get to attend everybody’s Thanksgiving.  I’d love to come to yours, but like not actually.  Just some food I made.  OK, I’m awkward.  Order something from me, already.  There’s a list on this page under “holilday ordering” or something like that.

October in the Ozarks

October may be almost over, but fall is just beginning for us here in the Ozarks; the leaves are just starting to change. It’s a beautiful day here at Big Springs (False, it’s a miserable, rainy day, and Misha kitty is outside on the front porch begging to be let in). But that hasn’t stopped us girls from thinking about some of our favorite fall activities!

Our community is just coming down from the hype of Falling Water (a yearly trail ride to Falling Water on Richland Creek), and JunkFest (would not recommend 2/10, but the idea is yard sales! Yard sales everywhere!) So we’re looking forward to some of the calmer fall things, like fall hikes on the Buffalo National River and our favorite fall/wintertime visitors, the elk.

We’re even looking forward to the Pumpkin Patch at the St. Joe School, where you can pick out your own pumpkin from their patch or buy one pre-picked for $5 or less - and it support the FFA, who planted these pumpkins during the summer specifically for this fundraiser.

 We think they did a pretty good job.

We think they did a pretty good job.

Whether you’re new to the area or just visiting, you’ll definitely enjoy some of the great views that we have here on the Buffalo National Park this time of year. If you’re looking for a short hike to enjoy some of the beautiful autumn scenery, we here at Big Springs recommend the Collier Homestead Hike, a two mile trail that is handicap accessible up to the homestead. It has plenty of great opportunities for all of those fall pictures that we just that know y’all are itching to take, and has a pretty overlook that’s worth checking out.

If you’re not up for a hike, there’s another place in the area that we’re sure would make for some great pictures of the fall leaves in Arkansas - Red Bluff, off from Tomahawk Slab Road on Mercy Lane. You can drive straight to it, and it’s only about 5 miles down a gravel road.

 Do you see it? Because we see it. Might wanna go get your eyes checked!

Do you see it? Because we see it. Might wanna go get your eyes checked!

But if neither one of these things really puts the sweet in your tea, we also have plenty of wildlife out this time of year. And the best part is, you really don’t have to look that hard to see deer or even elk! They come out just about every night around dusk, and our elk take great pictures! Their favorite spots are in the fields near Bear Creek just north of Marshall on US Highway 65. If you’re extra lucky, you can get the elk and the Smith Barn all in one photo. If you miss them right on the highway, you might also see them grazing in the fields along the Buffalo National River.

Whatever it is that you like doing, we hope you’ll consider doing it in the Buffalo River area - and if you’re out our way, stop by and get a sandwich for whatever you have planned!

What are some of your favorite fall activities?

Autumn in the Ozarks

People, people, people!

We know it’s October. Fall ain’t here yet, though! It’s 82 degrees and sunny today. The leaves are green. We mowed the yard 2 days ago. Just because we live on the Buffalo River and in the Arkansas Ozarks, it’s actually not a magical wonderland. Ok, maybe it really is, but the seasons change just like they do in Little Rock and Fayetteville. Give it 2 more weeks, and nights will be cooler, leaves will be changing, fires will feel good, and you can wear your hoodie. Geez.

Confession Time

So I have an actual confession.  Sigh.  Here goes.  I've been selling whole smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving for about 10 years now.  I had never actually eaten much of one until last Thanksgiving dinner at my granny's house.

See, one of my aunts is maybe not what you'd call "real bright."  She took the turkey we were supposed to cook out of the freezer and stuck it in the fridge in our garage probably the night before.  Now if you've ever made a turkey, you know this simply will not do.  Luckily, I had an extra smoked turkey from work, which I took over there thinking we might need it or give it away.  Lucky us, we had it for our big dinner.  

Dude.  It was awesome.

I'm making another one for us this year, and Kathy's getting one, too.

I'll start with how to reheat a smoked turkey, so you can stop reading if that's all you want to know.  If you get one from me, it'll come in a disposable aluminum pan with foil on top.  You've got two options.  Either heat up your oven to 325, or get out your roaster oven or giant crock pot. Either way, you're gonna steam this bad boy to get it hot.  It'll take about an hour or so. Add water or chicken broth to your turkey vessel, then just walk away and forget it.  If you think you want to eat the skin, you can stick it under the broiler to crisp it back up.  Brush it with some butter if you do.

So when I do my smoked turkeys, I keep things pretty simple.  I have a gigantic rotisserie smoker, so that part makes it easy.  It has electronic temperature control, so all I have to do is prep the birds, build a fire, set the temperature, and keep the fire going.  I should note here that since we're in the Ozarks, we smoke with hickory.  Not even fruit wood, and I think oak smells like poop when you cut it up.  Hickory it is.  It's plentiful, and I love the flavor.

To get my turkey ready for smoking, I do just a few essential things:

(You have to first of all make sure you get rid of all the impedimenta.  Unwrap it.  Take the giblets out and feed them to your cat.  Take the plastic thingy off its legs (they turkey, not the cat).  Be sure you check all its orifices for bags of mysterious gravy mix and stuff.  Your cat will love that. I say this because once my drug addict ex-husband put one in the smoker with one of those plastic bags of stuff still in it.  Don't do drugs, y'all.)

Assemble your troops.  Melt a whole bunch of real butter.  Get you some coarse ground salt and pepper.  Run out to your garden and cut a couple of large sprigs of fresh sage and rosemary.