on chicken soup.

Unfortunately, as soon as Christmas passed, I was struck with some kind of illness, and it appears that it will not go away before New Year’s Eve. This made me angry, of course, because I pride myself on trying to be as healthy as possible (although I do still nurture a penchant for good chocolate). And I haven’t been sick in so long I can’t remember being sick.

But alas, everyone I know has come down with the sniffles, and now it’s hit me, too. I’ve been downing teaspoons of elderberry syrup, taking Vitamin C supplements, drinking hot herbal tea with local honey and a lot of (good–not cheapy) cinnamon…I’ve even been downing raw garlic (which made me dry heave the first time I tried it) and once I wrapped my feet in garlic and onions, but I’m not sure what that did besides make our bedroom reek. Anyway, I’m still congested, but I do believe I’m on the road to recovery.

The good news is this: my wonderful husband made me chicken soup! And it has nourished me every day of my sickness.

Here is what he used and how he made it:

~ two split chicken breasts

~ 32 ounces of chicken broth (one box)

~ two chopped onions

~ four chopped carrots

~ four chopped celeries

~ four minced cloves of garlic

~ several bay leaves

~ a good amount of basil and oregano, or whatever herbs you like (those are just my fave)

~ salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, cover the chicken breasts with the broth. If it doesn’t cover them, add enough cold water so that they’re submerged. Simmer, covered, for several hours–we did four, at least. The longer, the better. Just make sure you aren’t boiling your chicken! A nice slow, soft simmer is all you need.

When the chicken is done, take it out of the broth to cool and add everything else to the pot. Simmer the veggies, covered, over medium heat until they’re done (I don’t like mine mushy, so it doesn’t take too long). When the chicken has cooled slightly, pull it off the bone and shred it, then add it back to the bot, and heat it all back up. Voila! That’s all. So simple. You could always add hot sauce if you want a kick, but I think it’s yummy as is.

Happy Holidays!

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on the Moon and Sixpence.

It’s like a meandering Great Gatsby, only Nick is further removed from the characters and the story, and Gatsy is a boring and unbelievable (and unbelievably boring) sociopath.

Maybe it’s my problem. I’m no art expert, so I certainly don’t know enough of Gaugin (on whom this little book is based) to appreciate the melodrama and descriptions of isolated Tahitian life. My knowledge of Gaugin doesn’t extend much past his Yellow Christ. I’ll be honest, I doubt I would have even known that those post-impressionist paintings of half-naked Polynesian (?) belonged to Gaugin, except that Somerset Maugham has now enlightened me.

And so I suppose that is one good thing that has come out of my laborious reading of the Moon and Sixpence: I have learned a bit more of art. The Moon and Sixpence

However, should you decide to delve into these tedious and uninteresting pages, be forewarned: Maugham seems to be interested only in examining the life of a poor starving artist, but from a very safe distance. Charles Strickland, who serves as Maugham’s Gaugin (though in this instance, British as opposed to French), is emotionally desolate, uninspiring, and spends the whole of his life repeatedly confirming that he does not care about his family, his friends, or his brief (and eventually suicidal) lover.

I do understand Maugham’s dilemma: delving into the psyche of a great and strange artist would have to be intimidating at the very least. But instead of trying to do so, he steps as far as back from Strickland/Gaugin as possible, through the narrator (whose name escapes me–he does nothing except communicate Maugham’s opinions on Gaugin and women), and the result is like peering through a foggy window at what might be a beautiful landscape, or a decrepit ghetto, but you’d never know the difference for the thick cloudy windows between you and the real world.

Maugham does have a way with words, I’ll give him that. But, perhaps, not so much of a way with plot, or structure, and so his piece serves more as a fictional, lifelong case study than an artsy novella.

Here’s a little sampling of the Moon and Sixpence:

“When a woman loves you she’s not satisfied until she possesses your soul. Because she’s weak, she has a rage for domination, and nothing less will satisfy her.”

and:

“For men, as a rule, love is but an episode which takes place among the other affairs of the day, and the emphasis laid on it in novels gives it an importance which is untrue to life. There are few men to whom it is the most important thing in the world, and they are not the very interesting ones; even women, with whom the subject is of paramount interest, have a contempt for them.”

I’m not opposed to classics, and I would probably have enjoyed this one more if I had a better understanding of Paul Gaugin’s life and art beforehand, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a diehard Gaugin fan.

Happy reading!

on sweet potato smoothies.

Kind of an odd concept, when we’ve gotten so used to our same ol’ same ol’ kale-fruit-seed combo. But I have to admit, the sweet potato smoothie Timothy and I tried was a nice (and very fluorescent) change of pace.

At some point when sweet potatoes were on sale, I stocked up and never ate them, so we decided to bake them all and then try them for breakfast. We typically try to make three servings of smoothie (one for me, two for Timothy), so you can adjust this recipe to fit your serving needs. All the amounts are estimated anyway.

We combined these in a blender:

~two cups of OJ

~one baked sweet potato (peeled, obviously)

~one teaspoon of fresh minced ginger (or less, if you’re not a fan of ginger–it gives a good kick)

~half a cup (at least) of fresh cranberries

~one handful of pumpkin seeds

~three pitted dates

~one spoonful of local honey

~one apple

~two chopped carrots

Salud!