Saturday, October 29, 2011

'Tis the Season

It always starts like this.

One day, you find yourself sneezing. You never sneeze. "Funny," you think. "I never sneeze."

The next day, the scratchy throat starts. It sneaks up on you out of nowhere. But it's there. You clear your throat hoping maybe it'll go away.

It doesn't.

Before you know it, you sound like Cybil Shepard. You wonder if you should re-record your outgoing voicemail message. You find yourself compelled to nap, and you switch from wine and coffee to orange juice and tea. You decide 6pm isn't too early to change into pajamas.

You've definitely caught it. Whatever "it" is.

I don't know if chicken soup really makes you get over a cold faster or not. I've heard that there are some enzymes in the broth that are supposed to help your immune system. I've also heard that the soup works simply because it's hydrating. The one thing I am sure of is that it's just about the only thing I have an appetite for when I get sick.

I seem to be fighting (valiantly, if I do say so myself) some kind of cold that has shades of laryngitis. I'm hoping I don't completely lose my voice this week, although I'm sure my friends, family, and coworkers would probably be excited about this development. Ok, not probably. Definitely.

This soup is incredibly easy to make. Which is good, because when you're making your sick self some soup, it's not really the time for complicated recipes. This takes very little time to make and keeps well for a few days in the fridge. In fact, I'd say it keeps for almost the exact amount of time it takes to get over the worst of a cold.

Kate's Chicken Soup
4 servings

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, poached and shredded (see below)
1 quart of low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch(ish)  coins
2 ribs of celery, trimmed and diced
1 bunch of fresh dill, chopped finely
salt and pepper
egg noodles or rice, precooked

1. To poach the chicken, put the chicken breast in a saute or sauce pan and cover with cold water. Cover the pan and cook over high heat until the water boils. Turn down to medium heat (simmer) and cook until chicken is done, about 10 minutes. Shred using a fork and knife (or cut into cubes).

I like my soup chicken shredded into medium-sized chunks that will fit on a spoon.

2. While the chicken is cooking, put the stock, water, carrots, and celery into a soup pot and turn to high. Boil for about 8 minutes, or until the veggies are a bit tender. 

If you have a mandoline, it's ideal for slicing carrots into perfect quarter-inch coins.

The dill makes this soup. Please, don't make it without fresh dill. The fresh green-ness of the dill really makes the soup feel healthy and will make you feel better, I swear.

3. Add the shredded chicken and half the dill, and season with salt and pepper. Continue the boil for another 5 minutes or so. Taste the broth and adjust seasonings as necessary. If the broth tastes bland, add a little more salt. Add the rest of the dill and stir to combine. Turn off the heat. 

Sometimes a little soup scum forms on the top of the soup when it's cooking. You can skim this off with a spoon. No big deal.

4. Put a scoop of egg noodles or rice in a bowl and ladle the soup over the top. Eat while swaddled in a blanket on the sofa, watching your favorite movie. 

Ideally this is the movie you know all the lines to that you can't watch with other people because you can't not recite the lines aloud. Mine is Soapdish, the best ensemble comedy ever. It includes such awesome lines as "I have feelings ABOUT you, not FOR you, there's a VERY BIG difference!"

Here's hoping I kick this sucker soon. Go away, Cold!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Cool Kitchen Tool

And no, it doesn't go in a drawer.

Epicurious has a Peak-Season Map which shows you what's in season in your state at any given time.

I love this. Not to preach from the gospel according to Alice Waters or anything, but seriously, everyone should use this, at all times.

I had no idea artichokes were in season in California now. I thought they were just a spring vegetable! What a delightful surprise.
Check it out!

P. S. Sorry I've been slacking on the blog. I've been out of town fourteen days since the last post and all that travel makes for a lack of time for homemade anything. I even had people over and the only thing I made from scratch was cookies - a recipe I've made so many times I have it memorized.

These are, indeed, dire times. 

I'm optimistic I'll be able to crank out some goodness over the upcoming holidays. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.