Lifting the Curse of ‘Annie’: Sweet Potato Soup

Annie the musical Andrea McArdle

Annie The Musical

In 1978 for my something-something birthday (I was pretty young, so it was really more like my something birthday), my parents gave me tickets to see Annie. Are you serious!!! Amazing! I loved and still love a good broadway show. And, this particular one had my name. Brilliant.

andrea mcardle as annie daddy warbucks sweet potato soup

The Amazing Andrea McArdle

Kristy Mcnichol little darlings sweet potato soup

After ‘Family’ KM was in this teen flick

The show had debuted earlier that year and it’s tiny red-headed lead, Andrea McArdle, had rapidly become the toast of the great white way. I idolized her. She was really incredible. Eight shows a week, talk and morning show appearances. She was on Johnny Carson a bunch of times (too late for me to see) and sang a duet with my other hero, Kristy McNichol (who doesn’t love ‘Little Darlings’?), on The Mike Douglas Show.

So, you can imagine that when my parents told me we were going to see Annie on Broadway in the big city with Andrea McArdle, I was so so so excited….

The day of the show, I put on my best going to broadway frock and sat on the stairs waiting to get in the car and go. My mother drove into the city as my friend and I belted out the words to every song (except Easy Street, which I never really liked) in the back seat.

We enter the theatre and are ushered to our seats. I’m so excited at this point, I can barely contain myself. I open the program in hopes of learning everything I can about my broadway icon, Andrea McArdle…Then, it happened… An evil slip of white paper fell from the program….what? I read slowly as my dreams and hopes were shattered to pieces.

shelley bruce as annie sweet potato soup

NOT Andrea McArdle

In today’s performance‘ it read…

the role of Annie usually played by Andrea McArdle‘….

NO…

will be played by Shelley Bruce‘.

WHAT?!?!?!? Who the …is Shelley Bruce????

Shattered. And, I’ve been shattered ever since. Sure, I enjoyed the show (I mean, they sing a whole song about how great Annie is, duh) – but, certainly not as much.

You know I’m a little (read a lot) superstitious. So when a friend offered to give me tickets to Annie (now back on Broadway 35 years later), I wanted to do everything I could to send good ju-ju to the show. I mean, I couldn’t bear to experience the same disappointment again. So to honor Annie, Andrea McArdle, Lilla Crawford (current Annie) and red-headed orphans everywhere, I decided to eat only red, orange and orphan-affordable foods the entire day of the show.

Sweet Potato Soup (Serves 6)

Tiny Apartment Tip: Get a hand held immersion blender. It’s changed my life.

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 Celery Stalks, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large Sweet Potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1 Sweet Onion, diced smallish
  • 3/4 or so Cup Diced Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley chopped
  • 1 TSP freshly grated ginger – remember, you have some in the freezer
  • 1/4 TSP Ground Nutmeg
  • 4 Cups of Chicken Stock – I actually for the first time used 2 Knorr Chicken Bouillon cubes and it was AOK
  • 1/4 Cup of heavy cream (optional….)
  • Salt and Pepper

1. Bring 4 Cups of water to a boil and dissolve 2 Knorr’s Chicken Bouillon Cubes

sweet potato soup chicken bouillon cubes for stock

Just as good as stock in a box

2. In a separate pot, heat 2 TBSP of butter over med/low

3. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute until very soft – about :15mins depending upon how small you diced

saute vegetables sweet potato soup

Saute Veggies

4. Add the tomatoes stir for about a minute

vegetarian soup dinner sweet potatoes annie musical

Add tomatoes, red like Annie’s Hair

5. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook :02 mins

sweet potato soup flour as thickener

Adding flour to help thicken soup

6. Sprinkle the Nutmeg and Ginger over the vegetables and stir

7. Add the diced sweet potatoes and stir just to combine

super food sweet potato soup

Super Sweet Potatoes – same color as Annie’s hair

8. Pour in the chicken stock and the parsley and BTB, RTS (bring to boil, reduce to simmer)

vegetarian sweet potato soup simmer

Soup A-Simmer

9. Simmer covered for :35 minutes – until the sweet potatoes are super soft

10. Remove from heat and using your brand new Cuisinart hand held immersion blender, blend the soup until very smooth….this takes a while because the tomatoes are pesky and escape the blades. Can’t blame ’em.

sweet potato soup puree hand held immersion blender

Pretty Pink Immersion Blender. Thank you Cuisinart!

11. Optional: Stir in the cream

sweet potato soup dinner recipe

Pureed and creamed and ready to serve

12. Serve with a garnish of parsley and a lovely dollop of sour cream

sweet potato soup vegetarian dinner recipe

Love a little dollop of sour cream…

Annie the musical sweet potato soup

The Exceptional Lilla Crawford

It may have been a silly and superstitious exercise, but I do think making the auburn colored soup helped.

Last night. 6:45pm.

I arrive at the theatre, wind my way through 45,000 or so 8-10 year old girls seeing their first show. I’m greeted by the first usher, she is holding the program, but doesn’t give us one. Instead, she directs us to a second usher….I’m anxious fearing the worst. I finally receive the program and in an attempt to delay the potential despair, hold onto it, clutched in my hand, closed until I reach my seat.

Then….I don’t open the program. Instead, I just flip it over and shake it, hoping no evil paper falls…..AND NONE DID!

The role of Annie would, indeed, be played by the exceptional Lilla Crawford!

OK, I can’t be sure that the soup had anything to do with it…but, 35 Years later….The sun DID come out and the curse of an understudy Annie is lifted!

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What the Kale? Not so Super Super Food.

Kale Greens Red Russian

Red Russian Kale Greens

I don’t love sharing my age…and here’s what I will say: in the ’70’s I rocked a pair of moon boots. They were pretty much the most awesome moon boots ever. Striped in shades of the rainbow and puffily filled with polyester to keep me warm in the dead of winter, I was the envy of all my friends – at least that’s how I’m telling it. Moon Boots back then weren’t all techy like they are now. It was a free-love fashion statement for kids who were too young to know about free-love. Moon Boots showcased one of the iconic symbols of ┬áthe ’70’s – the rainbow. And we all wore our own twist of rainbow on whatever we could.

Rainbow Moon Boots

I also had a pet rock. I could solve Rubics Cube in four minutes. I wore totally flammable, Danskin clothing. I cut a 45 out of the back of a Honey Comb box and played it on a flip down record player. I had a CB Radio Handle (“ShortCake” – after Joanie from Happy Days, not some porn star). I could rock a creepy crawler. I never squeezed the Charmin and Gee My Hair Smelled Terrific.

I liked a good fad. I still do.

So, when everyone was all like ‘OMG! Kale!’ and ‘Kale! The Amazing Super Food!’ Kale in many iterations started to appear on menus and people were comparing Kale recipes while boasting about how much Kale and how often Kale, I had to check it out.

While I’m not a salad fan…I do like a good bitter green – give me some arugula, spinach or even endives…and I’m good. Wait, I can put cheese on them, right?

But Kale? Kale…I just wasn’t sure. So I gave it a shot in what seemed to be the tamest form I could find: Kale Chips. Chips is one of my favorite words. What could be the harm?

Kale Chips (appetizer)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. Take 1 large bunch of Kale and remove the center vein. I used Russian Red Kale…Might have been a mistake.

3. Tear or cut (your call) the leaves into bite sized pieces and arrange on a baking sheet covered in tin foil and sprayed with an Olive Oil cooking spray. (Pam Olive Oil spray was on sale yesterday at Food Emporium – like $2 off on sale! – it’s the little things that make me happy)

Kale Chips Pre-Oven

4. Spray the Kale pieces with Olive Oil spray and then sprinkle with sea salt

5. Put in the oven for 10-12 minutes – turning the pieces about halfway through the cooking process. Total cook time really depends upon your oven’s accuracy. Goal is crispy.

6. When they reach the desired crispiness, remove from the oven and carefully transfer to a serving bowl

7. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve

Kale Chips with Parmesan

UHHHHH, they were good, I guess. They were crispy and bitter with a good degree of saltiness. They were pretty.

But, probably the biggest selling point was that we all felt better. We felt better because we were eating the most super of Super Foods….

Like I said, I’m hip to a food fad and I’m not going to dis such a super food as Kale. So here’s what I’ll say – make sure you cook them to totally crispy and they mimic the crispy spinach at China Grill (though not as oily). Serve them alongside other appetizers and they’ll provide a nice, rich color to your assortment and make your guests feel better about eating snacks before dinner.

But, at the end of the day…Not my fave food fad. I’m all ‘What the Kale?’ And, I’d rather have a pet rock.