Homemade Soup

It has been thirteen years since I started this food blog – thirteen years! In that time, I’ve written 2244 posts and added an additional 2258 recipes from Friends, Family, and things just found along the way.

That’s a lot of food. And a lot of fun.

The TJRecipe site started out in early 2003 as a place to post the recipes Ruth and I were creating at Trader Joe’s. Back in those days, we had a free rein to do as we pleased – our Captain had one caveat – make me money. And we did.

We were going strong for a couple of years when the corporate office came down on me for running a rogue website. Being the pigheaded and obstinate person I can be, I renamed it “Totally Joyous” and started the food blog – while keeping all of the recipes, first under the “Weekly Recipe” and finally under “Quick Meals In Minutes.”

I expanded the site to include a lot more stuff – and started the blog. The goal was to make it so un-Trader Joe that they couldn’t say anything to me, again. And they didn’t – until 2008 when a customer called them to complain that I had put an Obama/Biden graphic on the site. I very nicely explained that it was *my* site and had nothing to do with any company. I scrubbed it of any reference to Trader Joe’s and never again mentioned the company name. Until I retired. Now, it doesn’t matter.

I always understood where they were coming from – it’s their name. 80% of the products they sell have their name on it. They have to be protective of it. No hard feelings and I’ve still had almost 16 years of TJRecipes.com.

I added other cook book/recipe collections – most notably our two Family Reunion Cookbooks and Recipes From The Heart – written by a friend and coworker from UCSF.

And then I added my Mom’s Cookbooks. They ended up going to their own website when the TJ site started getting a bit unwieldy.

From there, it was Family and Friends and Christmas Cookies that morphed into Holiday Cooking. Lots of goodies created by our really fun and talented extended family. And then Little Gram’s Cookbook – our sister-in-law’s Sicilian grandmother’s recipe collection. After visiting Sicily a few years ago, I added a slew of recipes from Villa Modica where we stayed – and then I added a collection of recipes I’ve had on my computer for years – who knows where most of them came from!

Flour Power came about because I wanted to highlight baking – my first culinary passion. If I had to choose between cooking and baking for the rest of my life, I’d choose baking. I’m a serious bread-and-dessert sorta guy.

Here’s a look at many of the different looks the site has had over the years…

Yes… a lot of different looks.

This was pretty much the first look… The screenshots come from the Wayback Machine – internet archives. It was all done in html – I think I was using Microsoft FrontPage. Some of the graphics are missing, but it gives you an idea of how the site has grown into what it is, today.


This was the first incarnation of “Tim and Victor’s Totally Joyous Recipes.” This was a bit of a take on a cookbook and old roommate, Steve Johnson, and I had started to write back in the ’70s – The Scraped Off The Wall Cookbook. Who knows… It may happen, yet…


2006 saw another look… A bit more sophisticated… By this time, I was using Macromedia Dreamweaver – a much more powerful web authoring tool.


And then I went back to color.


And back again…

The information was staying constant while the look changed… I still had the demo recipes on here, but I had removed the products and uses pages, making it a bit more generic. And, we added a pet Food section. It was fairly short-lived.



And then I sorta blew it with a recipe contest… It was shortly after this that the complaint was made about my political leanings…




This is where the “Demo” section and all reference to TJ’s disappeared and “Quick and Easy” began…


And then it changed, some more… I had started the food blog using a program called Nucleus and running it separate from the recipe site that was still all in basic html. And then I discovered WordPress. It was a total game-changer.


Much more flexibility… and a lot easier to update.


And, with all that flexibility, it changed again and again…


And yet again…


… before finally settling down to where it is, today. Other than a few tweaks here and there, the look is pretty much set. The site has gotten too big to keep changing.

I think I’m relieved…

My main goal in all of this has been to share food ideas. I really do believe than anyone can cook – and all it takes is the desire to do it. The Food Industrial Complex has made it their goal to intimidate cooks and feed on fears and inadequacies to sell precooked, processed, and otherwise unhealthy garbage. We are continually bombarded with ads about how inadequate we are in the kitchen, and how to deal with ruined mashed potatoes. Really. Mashed potatoes. We don’t have time to cook. We don’t know how to cook. We can’t make food as good as the newest hot restaurant or celebrity chef.

Balderdash, says I. Anyone can cook. Just don’t try to mimic someone else. Be yourself in the kitchen and relax and have some fun with it. The absolute worst thing that can happen is you throw it all out and call for pizza. Really. Keep it in perspective.

This site has no ads – I’m not trying to make money from anyone looking for a recipe or cooking idea. It’s about sharing ideas and bringing people together around the table.

Around our table tonight was soup. It’s snowing outside. Not that we need an excuse, but it is perfect soup weather.

Chicken and Sausage Soup

  • 12 oz Italian sausage – casings removed
  • 1 chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2  cans beans – your choice
  • 1 cup orecchiette pasta – uncooked
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • crushed red pepper

Sauté vegetables in soup pot until wilted. Add sausage and chicken and cook until partially cooked.

Add wine and bring to a boil. Add broth and bring to a boil.

Add tomatoes and beans and bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Stir in spices.

Cook, uncovered, about 45 minutes at a simmer.

Stir in dried pasta and gently cook until pasta is done.

As with any soup, it’s really just a matter of putting things in a pot. This is a guideline – not a chiseled-in-stone-must-make-exactly-like-this recipe. Add and subtract to your hearts content. The ingredients, themselves, make up the majority of the flavor. Since I like a bit of kick, I add some crushed red pepper flakes. A bit of dried oregano just pulls it all together. Just a bit.

So here’s to another 13 years of Food Fun – and a few thousand more blog posts!

Happy Cooking!