Dark January requires lots of TLC!! So, first I have a song for your heart (click here and come right back to listen while you read), then a little something for your soul, and then something for your tummy! ♥
I can’t give you hyacinths today, but I can give you violets! ♥
A bright and pretty picture like this definitely feeds my soul!
Today would have been my grandma’s 103rd birthday! People who have my calendars often ask why I paint a balloon on January 8th — that’s my grandma’s balloon, it was her secret birthday message since my first calendar. ♥ She’s gone but she’ll never be forgotten. Normally I’d be sending her flowers today, but instead, I’m sending them to you! I have to be satisfied knowing she’s my guardian angel. And if she’s my guardian angel, she just naturally, by extension, has to be yours too. It was her idea I give you “hyacinths” this morning. She was one of my very first “girlfriends.” ♥
Nothing on earth can make up for the loss of one who has loved you.♥ Selma Lagerlöf
Here’s the sweetest “hyacinth” that’s been feeding my soul ever since he came into my life a couple of months ago! I cannot say enough good things about this little bundle of joy! What a doll!!!!! Here he is helping us put away Christmas decorations. He has to go in to be neutered on Tuesday 🙁 No, I don’t want to do it. If he was a girl, I would let him have babies, but he is going to be a strong beautiful young man cat that will be dangerous to the kitty population of the world if I don’t do this. So in he goes. Waaaa. My baby.
I’m hoping my mind will be kept off what’s happening to Jack, because starting early Tuesday morning and ending late Wednesday evening, the first Willard of 2012 goes out! ♥ (I hope you’re signed up, if not, you can do it right here. It’s free!) Willard has so many fun things for you! I’m excited, I love surprises!! (I don’t love to be surprised mind you, I hope I have seen my last surprise birthday party ever!!!! So frightening! I just like to give surprises!) This toast “to us” is the barest of hints! But there’s a new giveaway coming too! OK, that’s all or it won’t be a surprise!
So many great stories and tips in the last post!!! Thank you so much, you really helped jump-start a better eating/exercise program for me. All that consciousness raising! I’m so inspired! Thank you! ♥
So here, in honor of that, I’m sharing with you my grandma’s birthday cake. Despite how it looks, there’s plenty here for all of us, and just so you know, it’s an orange cake, with a crushed-pineapple filling and orange frosting! And guess what, it’s virtual! Fat free; no calories at all! And it comes with all the love that’s baked into any birthday cake, and candles for you to make a wish on . . . Happy Birthday Grandma! And to anyone else who might be celebrating this lovely day! ♥
Can we count this as “something for the tummy?” Maybe not . . . So, here’s something you can make happen yourself:
But first, a few more hyacinths!
And this is the last one for today . . . as promised, it’s my favorite recipe for low-fat, high-energy chicken soup that will warm you, heart and soul. Now that you have your rich chicken stock all ready (you do don’t you? 🙂 If you have no idea what I’m talking about, scroll down to the next post for that recipe), here’s how to make the soup.
C H I C K E N S O U P
After removing all the fat that has risen to the top of the deep, dark, and delicious chicken stock you made with your very own two hands, you self-sufficient person you, reheat it and taste for strength . . . remember it has no salt in it yet, no herbs, so it will taste plain (we’re about to fix that!). If it’s not strong enough, boil it down a bit to get it the way you like it. If it’s too strong, you can add a little water. I cook most of the ingredients separately to keep them from overcooking, and to give the vegetables some TLC of their own.
Now You Need:
- 4 or 5 containers of mushrooms (about 2 1/2 lbs), sliced a little thick; if you are lucky and find tiny button mushrooms, they can stay whole . . . I use all kinds, baby portobellos, shitake, and also regular white ones; dried ones too if you like; reconstitute them by soaking them in a little cool broth for a half hour before slicing and adding them to soup. They have a nice texture.
- 3 stalks celery, chopped into small pieces
- 1 Tbsp. dried thyme leaves
- 3 or 4 large brown onions, peeled and chopped into about 1″ pieces
- 3 lg. cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1/2 small can tomato puree (adds wonderful flavor and great color)
- the fresh cooked chicken you set aside when you were making the stock, in bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 c. fresh chopped parsley
- Tofu “shiritaki” noodles (optional)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat up your pot of stock and check for strength; add thyme; partially cover the pot and allow to simmer. Don’t wash the mushrooms, just wipe off any dirt with a paper towel (you really don’t want them to get wet). Slice, discard stems, and put them all into a heavy dry skillet (I use a big black iron pan) over high heat. They will begin to exude their juices, which is what you want them to do. Add the chopped celery. Stir often, and let juices cook down until they’re gone; remove the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside. In same skillet, put about 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Over high heat, add chopped onions; cook and stir until brown and caramelized. When they’re done, stir in the garlic, let everything cook about a minute more, then add it all to the stock. Also add the reserved mushrooms. Using a whisk (because it has a tendency to want to clump) stir in the tomato puree. Bring it all to a simmer. Add the bite-sized chicken and chopped parsley. Taste and then add salt and pepper — I usually start with a half teaspoonful of salt and move up from there — I like lots of pepper. The soup is delicious with just a bit of grated cheddar or Parmesan cheese over the top. It’s wonderful just like this, plain and simple, but I often throw in lots of tofu noodles and sometimes garnish it with slivered fresh spinach leaves — as you can see, this soup is highly adaptable, feel free to add anything from potatoes or rice to broccoli and carrots, the richer in vitamins, the better.
Cool the soup down before you refrigerate it — then put it in the fridge uncovered until it’s cold; or you can freeze it. When you go to serve it, just transfer however much you need to a saucepan with a measuring cup and heat it up. That way you won’t have to reheat the entire thing every time, overcooking the chicken in the process. And that’s all! Enjoy!
And that’s also it for today! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try not to sing this song all day long. ♫ “Oh, this is the kingdom of heaven . . . “ ♪ I, for one, have been singing it for a week. Thought I would spread the wealth. XOXO Have a wonderful day!