FOOD BLOG Contribution to ‘The Chester County Women’s Journal” January/February 2011
January – Most of us think of January as “NEW”, and a time of reflection and change. We have more time to spend indoors, because “baby, it’s cold outside!” Our bodies crave warmth and comfort. So, why not spend more time in the kitchen? Properly nourish yourself, and you will nourish others in your caring.
February brings celebrations of Saint Valentine’s Day, Birthdays of Presidents, and a long weekend off from school for the kids to enjoy, as well as a ‘heart healthy’ month. While Valentine’s Day is a day to remember those that we love, share in love and romance, it is also a day to honor and love ourselves. Our metophorical hearts feel and express love, and our physical provides a filter as it pumps our life-sustaining blood supply to each major organ and blood vessel throughout our bodies. Nourish it well.
When I think January, February, warmth, comfort, and a food that soothes, sustains, and is economical to prepare, I think Chicken Soup! A pot of soup not only economically feeds and nourishes a family, you will have enough to share with a friend who is alone, or in need. When we take the time – our time – to prepare nourishment for ourselves, our families, and our friends, we are giving…our gift of time, and the love that goes into preparing food for the body, and food for the soul. We share in an exchange of ‘community building’. Live…Laugh…Love…Bring them to the table!!
Liquid warmth that enters our bodies ‘starts our engines’ as the lymph system gets moving! Warm up…try sipping some green tea in the am, and experiment with vegetable, chicken, and beef broths to be enjoyed as a low-calorie, low-cost, good-for-you food to be enjoyed throughout the day.
Growing up in my Italian childhood home, a pot of wedding soup, (or holiday soup) was often prepared as a first course for large family dinners or as a stand-alone for a winter supper.
My ‘light bulb moment’ came a few months ago in my home as I prepared a pot of chicken soup following some summer traveling. I thought, “A great detox!” All was well as the soup simmered and I went on with my day. The moment of change and choice came when it was dinnertime, and time to serve the soup. I stood in question as I realized the ‘familiar’ needed some changing and recognizing that I am the bridge in bringing our favorites from the past and incorporating some changing into our ‘food’ future. As our daughter, Lindsay, cannot digest gluten, a ‘new noodle’ needed replacing. Our daughter, Angela does not eat poultry (or meat), therefore, no chicken in her soup! My husband’s attitude: Bring it ALL on! !
As I looked at this pot of chicken soup, what I thought would take 5 minutes from stove to table, required more of a strategy. I prepared rice noodles for Lindsay, egg noodles for my husband, egg noodles without chicken for Angela, and I taste-tested both gluten, and gluten-free for flavor. The results= everyone enjoyed their soup!
- For best results, begin with organic ingredients. If we take the time to prepare, build on a great foundation!
- Experiment with sea salts
- In preparing gluten-free meals, a success is in finding a replacement without sacrificing flavor. Rice noodles worked well for this recipe as a replacement.
- In time-saving preparation, pre-chop vegetables a day prior to preparing soup, then simply add all of your ingredients, and turn on the stove.
- Set aside some clear broth and freeze for another soup recipe that calls for chicken broth.
Favorites to Follow:
If I were to recommend one must-have tool in the kitchen, it all begins with a great knife. With many knives on the market from stainless to ceramic, choose a knife that feels great in your hand, comfortable, and sharp! Keep in mind that many ‘slips of the knife’ come with using a dull knife.
What is a ‘Reality Recipe???’ Let’s get cooking, make it real, simple, healthy and homemade. Serve, share, and celebrate the moments of your life…around the reality show of your own home – the kitchen table!
Chicken Noodle Soup
1 whole fresh stewing chicken (preferably organic)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt (preferably sea salt)
16 oz of egg noodles, rice noodles, or pasta (or pastina) of choice, cooked and drained
Wash chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. In a large soup pot, place chicken, salt, and water to cover the chicken, plus some, and up to 4 inches below the rim of the pot. Cover the pot with a lid, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook slowly for 3 hours. Following the simmer, remove chicken, set aside, and slightly cool. Remove skin, bones, and shred the chicken.
Strain the broth with a strainer, if necessary, and add chopped vegetables to the sop pot. Simmer for an additional 2 hours, adding the shredded chicken. In a separate pot, cook the pasta or noodles of your choice in boiling water until ala dente (a little firm), drain, and add to the cooked soup.
Grated Romano cheese for sprinkling, Crusty Italian Bread, and a Salad.
A Recipe for Table Suggestions:
Light the candles bring out some pretty tableware, glassware and linens. Create romance, simply. Enjoy a loving moment!