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Posts Tagged ‘life’

My mom is from Madisonville, one of the many small towns that spans the Louisiana landscape.  And it’s just a little bit bigger than my backyard.

 Although I am a city girl (Los Angeles born and bred!), we made several trips to Madisonville when I was young.  On our first trip, I instantly bonded with my cousins, Paula and Lisa.  There is a special bond between cousins, and ours has remained steady for many years.

 One day, while we were playing with our dolls on Aunt Deenie’s screen porch, my mother decided that it would be cute to take a picture of “the girls” next to the corn plants that were taller than we were.  She promptly interrupted our debate about which outfit Barbie should wear on her next date and made us pose in the garden.  Despite the smile in the picture, I was not originally happy about this silly interruption.  Imagine Mom thinking that a picture of us among the scratchy, insect-ridden plants was more important than Barbie! 

 

 
 
 

Children of the corn?

 

Fast forward a few years.  I was about 10 or 12 and my mom came up with another brilliant idea involving corn.  “We should plant some corn in our garden.”  Our “garden” was a slight patch of mediocre dirt next to the clothesline outside of our apartment building.  “I want you to have the experience of seeing how tall cornstalks can grow.”  So, we planted some corn seeds and they blossomed!  Once again, the cornstalks grew to be taller than me.  I remember harvesting the corn plant and peeling back the silk to find a real ear of corn!

The moral of this story is that it’s always a memorable experience to step out of our everyday lifestyle and to try on someone else’s.  I doubt that I would be able to remember that day in the cornfield with Lisa and Paula so clearly if it were not for that picture.

 So, I urge you to plant some corn this spring and see for yourself how tall a cornstalk can grow.

 Go to www.almanac.com/plantingtable and enter your location for local seed-sowing dates for various plants.

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For me, soup is the ultimate comfort food. On a cold evening (that’s anything under 65 degrees for this native Angeleno), a good bowl of soup warms me from the inside out.

Soup is like a renaissance man – someone with a variety of skills and a broad knowledge base. It can be a healthy and filling start to a meal, and it is a lovely “significant other” to a grilled cheese sandwich. It provides a clever way to get some extra veggies into your diet and is easy to make. Even most doctors agree that the heat and steam from a savory broth can provide relief for congested noses and scratchy throats. I don’t know if there is any scientific proof on that one, but a nice bowl of chicken soup has worked wonders for me.

So here is my recipe for basic chicken soup. I like to make up a large batch (you can easily double it) and freeze some for later. You can certainly add your preferred starch (cooked noodles, rice or whatever you like) to the pot after the chicken is cooked; but if you wait and add the starch when you serve it, you can have a different soup every time you defrost a batch.

Basic Chicken Soup

1 small onion (or ½ large onion), finely chopped
3 celery stalks, sliced into ½ inch pieces
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 chicken breasts (with bone and skin on – this is what flavors the soup)
4 cups chicken stock or chicken broth
4 cups water
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp pepper
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
Salt
Cooked rice, noodles, orzo or couscous

Place onions, celery, garlic, chicken breasts, stock, water, oregano, thyme, parsley and pepper in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Add carrots and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and the carrots are slightly cooked. Add salt to taste (about ½ to 1 tsp). Remove the chicken from the pot, place in a large bowl, cover and let it sit until cool enough to handle. Pull the chicken from the bone and shred or dice. Return the chicken to the soup mixture.

To serve, place ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, orzo or couscous in a bowl. Top with soup and enjoy!

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