Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mom's Chicken Soup

Mom's Chicken Soup (Marc-style)
On cold winter days, Mom used to make Tabatchnick's brand vegetable soup. It was a family favorite. I remember smelling it while is simmer on the stove as I sat in the breakfast room doing my homework. She served it with a crusty French loaf.  Other than that, I don't remember her making her own soup except for matzoh ball soup during the Jewish holidays. One day going through Mom's recipes, I was excited to come across a recipe for chicken soup that I did not know she had.  I had found my next recipe. This is a great basic chicken soup recipe which you can definitely change up or add to OR just make it 'as is' for some good Jewish penicillin!

I had planned to make it for John and I on a recent Saturday afternoon. After getting all of my ingredients out (except the chicken of course), I laid down on the couch to watch an afternoon movie for about 30 minutes. I couldn't even tell you what movie it was because I promptly dozed off for an unplanned afternoon nap several hours long!

So good and hot!
Waking up with a start at around 5:00 PM, I realized that I had only a couple of hours to prep and cook the soup! I therefore made a judgement call and decided to substitute chicken stock for the water. This way, I could make the soup in under two hours. Since I was only making it for us two guys, I reduced the recipe ingredients by half.  Any other changes or additions are in parentheses. Let's just say, sometimes, ya gotta improvise!

Basic Chicken Soup by Abby Deeds

4-5 pound soup chicken (I opted to chop up 2 pounds of chicken breast.)
3 1/2 qts water (I used 2 quarts of low sodium chicken stock.)
3 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots sliced 1/4 in thick (I used those baby carrots you find prebagged in the supermarket.)
1 large onion chopped
4 sprigs fresh parsley or celery leaves (I used the celery leaves and then added dried parsley towards the end.)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Noodles (I used Ronzoni whole grain extra wide noodles.)

In a large pot, add water, chicken, celery, carrots, chopped onion, fresh parsely or celery greens, bay leaf,  and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 2 1/2 hrs or until chicken is tender. Remove the chicken bone and freeze to save for use in future soups. If needed, skim the fat off the top of the soup. For each quart of soup, add 1 1/2 cups of cooked noodles.  Serve with crusty French bread.




Saturday, April 5, 2014

Summer Trips

Dad, Mom, Adam, & Sheryl @ Kit Carson home in Taos, NM
Summer 1981
I recently entered a writing contest and was asked to relate "travel" and my writing to the contest. It brought back memories of traveling with my family in the early '80s when we took several month long vacations across America each summer. My father was an art professor at a local college and he would have off from June till September.This left 3 months to do my mother's "honey do list", gardening, or planning our annual summer road trip.

We would head west through Pennsylvania with our first stop being somewhere right across the border in Ohio. It never felt like we were on vacation until we traveled through the 300 plus miles of "Pennsee."    From there, we would continue either towards my grandparents' home in Pueblo, Colorado or our cousins' cattle ranch in South Dakota.

Driving through miles and miles of the Midwest, I would rest my head on the car door just gazing out at the fields of the Great Plains. Farms, small towns, and the occasional odd tourist attraction would pass by silently.  I remember seeing attractions such as a corn palace, oversized fiberglass dinosaurs, petrified "forests", and ghost towns. Each was equally odd yet perfectly representative of kitschy Americana.

Adam, Grandpa Haynes, Dad, Sheryl, and myself in Pueblo, CO.
Love the cowboy hats!
Summer 1981
One trip driving through Missouri way off in the distance maybe 10 or so miles, we spied a small tornado which had spawned from a dark blue thundercloud. The dark color was jarring compared to the nearby golden wheat and blue skies immediately around us. As a child of 8 or 9, I had no concept of its size. I just knew it was large, ominous, and luckily moving slowly in the opposite direction. I was scared, asking my father if we would be alright. Dad said we would, and I believed him as every child should believe their father. My eyes were transfixed as it eventually disappeared into the horizon.

Mom feeding grapes to the roaming descendants of mining
donkeys in Cripple Creek, Colorado!
Summer 1981

It always intrigues me that certain memories from our childhood are so strongly ingrained in our psyche. I remember so many unique events from those trips:  Mom and Dad feeding grapes from our car to the wild donkeys in Cripple Creek, Colorado; picking a cactus flower for my Mom in New Mexico, emerging from the field covered in spines; arrowhead hunting with my family on the ranch in South Dakota; and walking one sultry evening down the River Walk in San Antonio with my family. I remember more of that than of the Alamo!

I could go on and on recounting these special times. You could say a part of me does live in the past but I see nothing wrong with that. In a way, these memories give me comfort and they also have helped ignite a passion for writing.