Hearty, Chunky Tomato Soup

The perfect soup to go with grilled-cheese sandwiches.

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Chunky Tomato Soup
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté onion and bell pepper until onion started to become translucent.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  4. Added diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, seasoning packets, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduced to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. With a ladle or large spoon, scoop some of the vegetable solids and broth into a blender. Purée to desired smoothness. (How much of the solids you purée and for how long depends on how smooth or chunky you'd like the finished soup.)
  6. Returned the purée to the soup pot. Add half and half. Return to burner on medium heat until mixture begins to return to a simmer.
  7. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and serve immediately.
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If I’m Gonna Be Cold and Wet…

Today’s training schedule called for cross-training, so I rode my bike for one cold, wet hour. I want a bumper sticker for my bike that says, I’d rather be kayaking.


Today is Day 5 of the half marathon training schedule, which calls for rest. I’m choosing to interpret “rest” as a leisurely 3-1/2-mile walk.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

I exercise every day because I lack the discipline to take a day off.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’d love to hear your comments.

How to Start a Half Marathon Training Program

Just follow these 43 easy steps!

  1. Before you begin. Find a training schedule, courtesy of Hal Higdon. (Thanks, David B., for the link.)
  2. Think about how long it will take to work through the training schedule. Allow a couple of extra weeks to sort out the dodgy hamstring.
  3. Identify a target date for the race, then look for a half marathon in a beautiful place that you’ve always wanted to visit. Don’t register for it just yet. Are you sure you can do this?
  4. Start the training schedule on a cold, windy day, and don’t stretch or warm up enough. Be joined by a friend who runs a little too fast for you, then try to keep up with him. Quit running after a couple of miles when that hamstring seizes up.
  5. Decide it might be prudent to spend the two spare weeks walking, stretching, and rehabbing that troublesome muscle.
  6. Take advantage of the extra two weeks to read the training schedule more carefully. Learn some new stretches.
  7. Start the training schedule again, determined to do it right.
  8. Week 1, Day 1. Head in the general direction of the park …[MORE]

My Lunch with Melanie

We met for lunch at Café Red Onion. She ordered the spinach and goat cheese enchiladas. I ate the usual pupusas revueltas—fat cornmeal pancakes stuffed with shredded pork and other good things.

We talked about writing. Since that topic encompasses everything else that we both live and breathe, the conversation covered a lot of ground.

MelanieShe talked about inspiration and the nocturnal activities of her particular muse. There was a voice that came to her one night to dictate notes for years’ worth of writing projects. I speculated about the creative unconscious, the unknown workings of the mute machinery of our brains that collects, organizes, catalogs, and stores images, sounds, smells, emotions, and abstract ideas and then assembles them into dreams, long-term memories, and all the wonders of fantasy. I wondered why she was so eager to give the credit for her brilliance to something outside herself …[MORE]

A nice day to eat lunch outside

View of patio through glass door and window

View of the patio at Thai Spice Asian Cuisine, Houston, Texas, through a frosted, textured, interior glass door and exterior door and windows (May 3, 2011).

Necessity Is the Mother of Frittata

For Connie

Frittata is the perfect kitchen-sink dish for using up leftovers, for impressing your brunch guests without a ton of work, or for reheating out of the freezer for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I suggest accompanying it with some spring greens or arugula that you’ve dressed lightly with vinaigrette.


  • 15 eggs (see below for notes on scaling)
  • 1½ c half and half, whole milk, or cream
  • ½ t salt
  • ¼ t dried chervil
  • ¼ t dried basil
  • Generous grind of black pepper
  • Generous grind of fresh nutmeg (or a large pinch if you’re using pre-ground nutmeg)
  • 3–5 cups of various filling ingredients of your choice (see below)
  • 3 T chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, and/or basil
  • ¼ c grated Parmesan (or Romano or Asiago cheese)


“Bring Out the Blessings of Harvest”

Field of grain

Today was one of those golden days when the line between work and play completely disappears. I spent part of the morning gathering ideas for two new projects an old friend is preparing to launch. I set up wikis for him at PBworks.com so we can collaborate on brainstorming and building web sites that will showcase his humor, creativity, and spirit.

Then I worked on preparing for a meeting to review progress on a web site I’m redeveloping for a client I hadn’t met until today …[MORE]

Scone Variation: Ginger‑Yam

Three yams

Thirty-one days of talking about fitness and eating better are all well and good, but we must not neglect life’s simple pleasures. I have a busy day scheduled—a meeting with my business partner, two meetings with clients, and a big project that’s ready for finishing touches before it goes to the printer. But in the interest of setting a joyful tone for the day, I reserved half an hour this morning to get a batch of scones into the oven.

With the encouragement of my friend and coach Gika Rector, I’ve been giving some thought lately to cooking as an art form. I’m overdue for grocery-shopping, so today’s performance started from the concept “What’s hiding in the pantry?” A can of yams and the last bit of a bag of crystallized ginger became my inspiration. (I also found some vacuum-packed salmon, but my artistic vision wasn’t bold enough for fish scones—yet.)

(Start with the basic scone recipe and instructions.) …[MORE]

Looking Back, But Not for Long

The July Project: Number 31

It took me 33 days, but I’ve made it to the end of the July Project. The main objective of this month-long blogging initiative was to devote time and attention every day to thinking and writing about my efforts to move more and eat better. Even on the three July days when I didn’t post anything, the subject was always in my thoughts, so I’m calling that goal substantially accomplished.

Another stated aim was to collect ideas that I can reflect on at some later date when I find myself struggling to move forward, and to share those ideas with anyone else for whom they might be useful. A few people have told me that these posts inspired them to work harder on their own fitness or writing goals, so in that respect, the project has been an unqualified success. Many thanks to everyone …[MORE]