Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Growing up with a Catholic grandmother who embraced the Jewish culture was quite an experience. The woman was phenomenal at dishing out guilt trips. I was either to fat or too thin. I never ate enough but was eating way too much. If you were sick, she fed you. But she fed us with the Jewish penicillin, Matzo Ball Soup. For a Catholic lady, she sure could whip up a mean matzo. She died too young, I think, and before I was old enough to get her recipe. But the little bit of Jewish in me, 1/4 to be exact, likes to feed my family with this particular Jewish cure for all that ails you. Every Jewish family has a chicken soup recipe, which they claim to be the best. Frankly what makes it the best is the time and love they put into it.

When my Cookie came down with the flu, I chucked the idea of having a nice steak for dinner and began to thaw the whole chicken I had in the freezer for just such an occasion. (I like to buy a whole baking chicken when they are on sale and keep it in the freezer to either make a stock, or a soup with, my favorite is Tortilla Soup..but plain chicken soup is great). While Cookie of course refused to eat the soup (tummy hurt too much), Hubby, Jelly, and I enjoyed it along with some homemade egg noddles and homemade baguettes. Below is my easy peasy Chicken Soup/Chicken stock recipe. The one below is if you want to eat the soup the same day, but the best soup is made over two days allowing time to cool the stock and remove the fat, then chopping more carrots, celery, and onion to add to the stock and cooking until they are soft. Which you can do if you want an even more delicious and rich stock.

Chicken Soup (best started first thing in the morning)

1 Whole Baking Chicken
3 Stalks of Celery Chopped
1 Onion Chopped
4 Carrots Peeled and Chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 Bay leaves
8 cups of Water
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

1. Saute Onions, Celery, and Carrots in a large Stock pot in the butter.
2. Add the whole chicken(thawed, gizzards removed), water, and bay leaves. Salt and Pepper to taste (I generally add about a tsp of both and then add more at the end to taste). Add more water if needed to cover chicken.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked
through. (about 2-3 can increase heat, but you will have to add more water
later). Taste the stock and add more salt and pepper to taste.
4. Remove chicken to a plate or bowl to cool.
5. Drain the stock into a bowl or another stock pot using a colander to separate the carrots,
celery, and onions (retain for later use but remove the bay leaves).
6. Place the stock in the freezer (if you've got room) or in the fridge and allow to cool (about 2
7. While stock is cooling remove the meat from the bones of the chicken and chop up. You
decide how chunky and how much meat you want in your soup. I sometimes take some of the
meat and save some to make chicken salad or serve the kids it alone.
8. Once the stock is cool you will notice that the fat will start to solidify on the top of the
liquid. You will need to spoon this off or use a towel to soak up the fat. I usually start by
spooning and then finally place some paper towels on the top to soak up the rest. (if doing
this over two days, skim the fat the first day, and then reboil the stock, then place in fridge
again and skim the next day.)
9. Return the stock to the burner, add the chopped chicken and the onions, carrots, celery you
set aside (note, that if you are doing this over two days you would throw out the first batch of
veggies and then chop the same amount and then you would throw them in with the stock and
cook until they are soft, then add the chicken...making sure you refrigerate the chicken over
night.) Heat over med. until chicken and veggies and stock all warm. Enjoy.

Egg Noodles

3 eggs
2 cups of all purpose flour

1. Beat eggs together in a large bowl
2. Add flour a little bit at a time until incorporated and using a dough hook or by hand knead until shiny smooth and form a ball.
3. Wrap in Saran wrap, set at room temp for at least 15 minutes.
4. Using either a pasta machine or rolling pin, separate the dough into to balls and then roll each one out until really really thin. Let set until hard enough to cut into thin strips for noodles.
5. Either cook in boiling water for about 5 minutes or allow to dry over chairs and then place in Tupperware in fridge. Once dry you will need to boil at least 8 minutes.

I would suggest you cut the noodles thin and in pieces for your soup.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hiding Out

Hubby has started doing something I only wish I could do. He is hiding in bed. Of course I get up when the kids get up, but lately I have noticed Hubby wakes up and lays in bed watching shows on his computer. He is hiding. Of course this annoys me because I wouldn't even dare to think about it.

We have trained Cookie so well that she still lays in bed waiting for someone to come in and tell her she can get up. Of course she also yells, "Mommy the sun's on" and Jelly just cries out or talks until someone gets her. I often wonder how long it would take hubby to get out of bed and stop pretending to be asleep if I just ignored the kids in the morning. I have yet to get up the gumption to find out.

We like to joke sometimes when the kids are stressing one or both of us out that we are going out for cigarettes and milk. Sometimes it surprises me that Hubby comes back. I don't blame him for hiding out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Won't you be my neighbor

I don't expect to be liked by everyone. In fact people either love me or hate me. I am not the kind of person you can say, "Oh, Ginger, she's alright." I tend to rub people the wrong way sometimes. I am too sarcastic, too upfront, and too talkative.

Sometimes there are people who just don't get my humor, who don't appreciate my blunt language, and people who just want me to shut up. If these people are strangers, or those I don't expect to see again, I can understand being ignored or even the cold shoulder. However, someone I have to see on a regular basis, someone I may have to deal with in regards to my kids, I would like to be friendly with. Whether or not I like them or they like me, a cordial friendliness is nice to have. I can fake it, I do so with the "perfect mom" all the time. We both have an unspoken understanding. We partake in a cool friendly chat it up conversation when we see each other. Cordial, polite, businesslike, acceptable. Our kids play together, our kids see each other, we make the best of it.

Recently we had some new neighbors move in. This development was exciting for me. I had just said goodbye to a really good friend. Cookie had to say goodbye to her buddies and we were both aching for people to fill the void. The new family is from California, like us and they are around Hubby's and my age. They have two kids; a son who is five and a daughter who is the same age as Cookie. It seemed that this might be a wonderful addition to our neighborhood. Finally someone my age. Finally another Mom going through the same stages I was. I love my neighborhood. I love my neighbors who are like surrogate moms for me and aunties for the girls, but having someone close to my age with a daughter Cookie could play with just seemed like providence. Ever hear of too good to be true?

We seemed to hit it off. The kids played nicely together, she seemed welcoming. I invited her to join me on a bike ride to playgroup and she accepted. Then things went south. I am not sure what I said, what I did, or what happened on that trip. But since then we have been given the cold shoulder. A nice cool reception awaited us when we popped over to play. At first I thought they just might be busy. Moving in, adding a porch, and fixing up their house. I thought maybe I came on too strong. So I gave them some space. Like a month of space.

Yet, after that month, she continually turned us down to play. Her children sat there begging to play, they were doing nothing but watching t.v., yet she always had an excuse. I don't have to be her friend, but I would like to be friendly, for the kid's sake. I know that I can't make everyone like me, but it is sad to see Cookie beg to ask if they can play, and I have to say no. I can not take the sad faces of not only Cookie, but the crying from her kids. The last time we went by, her daughter threw a tantrum so bad, her mom had to put her in the house and shut the door. We could hear her weeping, "But I want to go play."

The fixer in me wants to call and confront her. I want to ask what I did to offend her, if anything. I would like to make it right, not just for Cookie, but maybe for me, too. The practical part of me says to let it go. I have to live near this family and letting things lie might be better than making a big hababaloo about something that might be nothing. So I continue to tell Cookie, that no, we will wait for them to ask us over. And will continue to say hi and be cordial when they pass by the house. For now, the ball is in their court, even though it is killing me.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I like order. I like all of my stuff to be in certain places, certain ways. I like to be able to find items when I want them. Unfortunately places like my closet, my bedroom, and well, the whole house resemble the chaos that is in hubby's head. He is definitely the scattered artist.

The bedroom and the closet, I can certainly blame him, because once a month I find myself sitting on the floor in the closet re-hanging clothes, his clothes. Somehow, they fall off the hangers and land on the floor, without being rehung. The discarded articles sit on the floor until the pile reaches mound like proportions and I must do something before it becomes a small mountain. Despite having a hamper, clothing (hubby's) fail to make it in. Discarded worn, dirty clothes litter the bedroom floor where they were removed....and frankly this goes for any place in the house. I find socks and pants in the weirdest places.

There was a time that I was able to stay on top of the chaos, keep order, but with two more scattered brained children, it has become impossible. And thus I have fallen into the abyss of chaos. I long for the order that once was my life. I know that some people manage to get it. I know that somewhere, out there, there is a super woman who is able to get it all done, and catalog and label all of her shoes with pictures and boxes. She has managed to type in all of her recipes, catalog them alphabetically, by theme and food group, including beautiful pictures of her concoctions. In my head I'd love to be this anal. I would love to take the time and put everything in it's place. But frankly, with children and hubby, I will go for organized chaos. Because I am just too tired to be as organized in real life as I am in my fantasy world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Non-Smoking Please

I hate smokers. My Dad is a smoker, and I think, because he is, my respect for him is a little less. I remember my parents struggling financially. I remember my Mom concerned about affording groceries. I also have recall of them arguing about his cigarette habit. The fact that he was spending a large amount of the families' budget on his nicotine fix every month, was a cause for friction. My Dad, because he loves smoking and did not particularly enjoy my mom nagging him about it. And my Mom, because she was in charge of paying the bills and was literally watching him burn through money. But he did make one concession, he started buying the cheap brand instead of the better known brand. If anyone knows a smoker, they'd know that smokers are brand loyal. He also began to smoke outside when us kids began to harp at him, well that and the fact that my brother got the croup often, his smoking only made it outside he was sent.

Smoking sucks. Smoking is smelly and expensive and of course addicting. While smoking is the one and basically only thing I do not like about my Dad, him not being able to break the habit is something I understand. He started smoking at, I think, 13. It is hard to quit something that was started so early. One thing I have loved about owning our own home is the fact that we are no longer held hostage by our very close neighbors in our old condo complex. Nothing is worse than having a downstairs neighbor smoking on the balcony and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop the smoke. Except, I have noticed recently the smell of smoke. I am not sure which neighbor has taken up smoking, or if it's our new neighbors, but it drives me crazy. I hate it. It actually hurts to breath it, and I notice it throughout the day.

So for now, I have to live with the smoke and the selfish most disgusting and destroying habit of smoking. One of my biggest fears is that one of the girls will pick up the habit. That no matter what I teach them, they will give in to peer pressure, they will try smoking. And I don't know how to prevent it, other than placing them in a bubble and locking them in the house forever. But we all know, we can't protect our kids against everything, we can only arm them with knowledge and life skills to cope and make the right decisions. Here's hoping that my kids are smart enough to listen.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

For Myself

If someone told me that motherhood meant no more weekends and no more sleeping in, I don't think I would have believed them. I mean what do you mean no more weekends? There is always Saturday and Sunday. With kids there is no more lazy waking, no more watching the lifetime channel and definitely no more drinking hot coffee while reading an entire paper.

Right now my life is dictated by two little beings who rely on me for just about everything. While I know that will change, that I will long for the day that someone asks me to help them "wipe," I fantasize about my old life before kids. How nice it was to get up on Saturday, make a cup of coffee (BTW, caffeine free for almost 3 years now), enjoy the morning news with hubby then a trip to the gym together. Afterwards, we'd go to lunch or home for showers and a day in front of the boob tube. Ahh the days, kid free.

At the beginning of summer we had a house guest who asked me an interesting question. A question that I couldn't really answer. He asked me what I enjoyed doing for myself. He had me stumped. I mean really, I haven't thought about myself since I brought Cookie home. Okay, maybe that's a lie. I've thought about myself numerous times, but doing anything about it, now that's a different story. I think it took me something like four months to get a hair cut after having Cookie, and that was at Hubby's insistence that I go do something for myself. I used to enjoy the gym. I used to enjoy running. I used to enjoy a good book, or shopping. These past activities are no more. They belong in that other life, the life before kids.

Jelly went with me to the gym for the first time on Monday, taking the kids along is always a gamble. Will they behave, will they have fun, or will I be called to come and get them, screaming and crying with the only thing to show for my effort is a reduced gas tank and two very upset kids. Shopping is a struggle between keeping one kid in the cart and the other from wandering off or touching something while I hurriedly shove things in the cart hoping I either did not miss something, or inadvertently buy the wrong thing. Shopping alone means a time crunch. I am always worried about how the kids are doing and if I need to get home. Hubby has been working crazy hours the last year. Something like 12-14 hour days, seven days a week. And we just recently felt comfortable enough leaving Jelly with a sitter.

So what do I enjoy for myself? I am not sure. I need to reinvent me. The me after kids. Maybe Yoga classes or a book club. How about cooking classes. I just don't know. But hubby's friend is right. I need to find something that I enjoy.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Feed a Cold

The old adage, "Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever" may be true. I came down with a cold this week. You would think that would put me in bed. Having the kids of course does not allow any rest for the weary, so instead I have baked, and baked, and baked.

It has helped that I have been reading more of that Joanna Fluke and I just had to try her Zucchini Cookies, delicious. Then I have been compiling recipes to make snacks and such for the girls and I came across the Yam and Jam muffins. I have also made Chocolate Sugar Cookies and baked two loafs of bread. Carb heaven over at our home that's for sure. But really the sugar cookies lasted less than two days. The bread is almost gone. And Jelly ate two of those muffins lickety split. The zucchini cookies I must say are just unbelievable wonderful. They are soft and fluffy and frankly, unless you told me there was zucchini in them, I'd never know.

So, I did make one or two changes to these cookies but here are Joanna Fluke's Zucchini Cookies for all of you, who like me, have a plethora or zucchini this time of year.

Zucchini Cookies

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.

1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups peeled and shredded zucchini (pack down the shredded zucchini in the cup)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews, but I am sure pecans or walnuts would be great)
1 cup chocolate chops
4 cups flour

1. Mix together sugars in a large bowl then beat in the softened butter until nice and fluffy.
2. Mix in the baking soda
3. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla, mix well.
4. Mix in the zucchini until well incorported.
5. Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips
6. Mix in the flour in one cup increments until well blended, mix will be thick.
7. Drop by spoonful onto a prepared cookie sheet (I use parchment paper).
8. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.