Tag Archive | Childhood

Chicken Soup–for the Soul?

I hadn’t been planning on writing about this but was inspired to put “pen to paper” (fingers to keyboard & manipulate a “mouse”) by a posting at Stella’s Place here:

Cooking with vegetables – something new, something different

Stella asked “Are you cooking up any new dishes? Or an old favorite that will be new to us?”  So here is my reply:

Valerie Curren says:

March 12, 2018 at 6:37 am

  • I just made a large pot of soup based on items we had around–chicken scraps (cut from chicken breasts used in another recipe), a whole boneless chicken breast, & several pieces of chicken (legs & wing) that one of my kids brought home from their restaurant job & I’d had in the freezer.

    My son made several boxes of mac & cheese the other day & we’d saved that pasta water (that I’d later poured back in his mac & cheese pot to scrape off the flavorful residue). There was a partial can of chicken broth from a recipe my daughter made a few days ago & some veggie scraps. All of that went into a pot & cooked for an hour or so. I pulled all the solids from the pot & deboned, de-fatted, & de-grissled the meat giving scraps to a happy dog & cut the chicken into smallish pieces. I also broke the large bones in half & returned to the pot to fortify the stock with the marrow. From the veggie scraps I salvaged what was edible (like the soft interior of fibrous broccoli stems) & returned that to the pot.

    Then I added chopped fresh veggies that we had on hand (potato, carrot, & onion) & cooked until those were cooked through. When heating to serve I added a can each of corn, mushrooms, & diced tomatoes along with some chopped garlic. Then we threw in some wine left over in the fridge & cut up some spaghetti from a recent meal into bite size pieces & added it at the end just to heat through. I added a lot of garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, & various Italian spices (including rosemary, sage, thyme, & basil). We had this soup with grilled (meat for some &) cheese sandwiches. Most of my family really liked the soup as is. I thought it needed a bit more seasoning, but then perhaps my taste-buds are changing with age.

    This was completely experimental soup loosely inspired by some that my mom makes & the Olive Garden’s pasta fajoule (sp?). It’ll probably never be repeated exactly…& this is the closest I’ll come to recording it. It’s not as fanciful or flavorful as my grandma’s “garbage soup” made from various kitchen scraps she’d accumulated over time (everything she made was Amazing–my cooking is adequate–my husband is the food genius of our family!) but based on the principle of not letting usable food go to waste. I’d wanted to add celery but someone had pitched the few stalks we’d had left. I also wish I would have added some fresh garlic, but by that point my back hurt so I settled for the residue from the jar. This was the first pot of soup I’d ever made that was seasoned in a more Italian manner…One of twins just had his first bowl & said it was “really good”. He only added some garlic salt & crushed red pepper to his taste. I guess around here that constitutes success!

    from a bing.com image search for chicken soup

    So I’m attempting to add further info here & can’t figure out how to get out of the list format & align this writing to the left margin–sigh…I’m not at all tech savvy & definitely a work in progress.

    I just wanted to add that it felt good to provide a nourishing meal for my family, a labor of love in an area that is not really my strong suit.  It is a blessing that they all ended up enjoying this particular chicken soup more than usual & I’m glad that I was able to give my husband a break from meal prep for at least this one day.

    My mother used to call Chicken Soup “Jewish penicillin” & I think she got that term from some Jewish neighbors in her childhood Detroit home.  I remember reviewing both of my parents’ childhood neighbors on the 1940 Census & marveling at the ethnic mix of immigrants they lived amongst–what a glorious patchwork quilt of America.  Perhaps making chicken soup back in that WWII era was a way of taking care of the needs of others & that caring can extend forward from our forbears to our present day.  I made a physical pot of chicken soup but maybe it was just slightly beyond ministry in just the material plane & was actually in a small way Chicken Soup for my Family’s Soul…Blessings!

Rooted

Toodling around today at Word Press various other bloggers’ postings have loosely inspired these thoughts on being rooted…At our Memorial Day Weekend trek to/from the family Cottage in Gaylord, Michigan my husband & I collected a number of plants from the property to transplant to our own yard in Metro Detroit.  We actually left a few plants in Gaylord accidentally & they were kindly transported South by my parents later!

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Bing.com image search for “fragrance of life scripture”

Previously we had transplanted a couple of Lilac “bushes” and they are doing really well in our yard.  Those lilacs were individual woody stalks, possibly decades old, that had held on in the harsh climate and poor sandy soil conditions of Northern Michigan and now flourish as expansive bushes in our backyard.  In fact, our newly married son wants to take a transplant from our transplant(s) so that he & his wife can have some familial lilacs in their yard too.  These transplanted lilacs are very special to me because they come from my grandparents’ property and remind me of them, and their love, whenever I look at the bushes or smell that amazing lilac smell.  Also while growing up there were a few lilac bushes outside my bedroom windows and that heady fragrance always takes me back to those carefree days just a bit…

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From a Bing.com image search for lilacs

For years I’ve wanted to get further lilac transplants from my great-grandparents’ property that’s just a few blocks away from The Cottage.  The Cottage flowers are a light purple, aka Lilac!, color, but some of the lilacs from my great-grandma’s garden are white & some of a darker purple, or so I thought.  If we don’t do the lilac gathering during the Memorial Day trip we have to wait another year to confirm the location and/or color of any potential transplants, and this concept minus action has occurred many times.

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from a Bing.com image search for “cottage turret”…this is about the right size as the historical family cottage…

This year we encountered the latest owners of one of my great-grandparents’ cottages, the one with a turret that is near the railroad tracks.  We had a lovely chat with them, were able to view the recently renovated & gorgeous interior of that cottage, and get permission to get some of my great-grandma’s lilacs!  We ended up digging up a couple smallish single stalks from the white bush and they are definitely taking root in our flower beds!

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From a Bing.com image search for lilacs

We also got to see some photos of their cottage as it previously existed as a Texaco gas station.  According to the new owners this little gem of a building, one storey with an interesting octagonal turret, started its life in Detroit.  They showed us a photo of the alleged first cottage owner but he did Not appear to be my great-grandfather (Rowland Edward Thompson).  We shared what tales we could recall about the gas station cottage with my Dad & Aunt (they both spent Every Summer of their respective childhoods at the Gaylord Cottage) to see if the tales lined up with our family lore.  According to my Aunt Pat, Patricia Kay Stoddard Armstrong Ziemba, she was actually there when my great-grandmother, Florabelle Mansell Thompson, negotiated a purchase price and bought the gas station cottage.  Pat swears the gas station was in Gaylord, and she remembers where it had been located and observed it being moved to its present location.  Mysteries here…

 

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From a Bing.com image search for lilacs

Well there weren’t appropriate Dark Purple lilacs at the great-grandparents’ cottage site so we searched further afield.  There had been an amazing bush in a neighborhood flowerbed near where our Gaylord home was located, but we couldn’t find it on this trip.  We did, however, discover an even larger Deep Rich Purple lilac bush near an intersection in town, so we can easily recall its location.  Now we just need to track down the property owner to get permission to dig up a couple of new starts…Can’t wait!

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from a Bing.com search for “myrtle lily-of-the-valley”

We also took several starts of myrtle, lily-of-the-valley, forget-me-nots, and some purple “weeds” that can happily grow in our grass to help fill in a bare patch in our backyard under a spreading maple tree.  There are also some long leaved plants interspersed with some lily-of-the-valley plants to fill in some of the barrenness between our trees between the sidewalk & the street.  Myrtle & Lily-of-the-Valley grow along the house & driveway in my parents’ yard (the home I grew up in) and we had already transplanted some Myrtle to our front flower bed a few years back and it has filled in things beautifully.  These two species seem to spread easily so will need some attention to keep them in check, but honestly I love both of these flowers so much, and they remind me of my childhood home & the Cottage so much that the maintenance is worth it!

Image result for myrtle lily-of-the-valley

from a Bing.com search for “myrtle lily-of-the-valley”

 

Each of these plants are a tangible representation of the gift of life…a heritage passed down from my great-grandparents to my grandmother and indirectly from both their yards to us.  They also are directly and indirectly from my parents & grandparents and are likely to continue on to my son & his wife.  We’ve received the gifts of physical & mortal life from our forbears and they’ve also blessed us with the heritage of faith–the seeds of eternal life in Christ Jesus.  We’ve passed those gifts on to our children & look forward to them continuing to be passed on to the generations to come…just like so many of the flowering beauties that unify & connect our hearts & all of our earthly properties.

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from a Bing.com image search for “Ephesians 3: 17”