We have been so sick in this house - and if I hadn't been sick too and if I was at all into epidemiology, I'd have been fascinated by watching how the germs and the sneezing, coughing and fever jumped from one person to the next. But I'm not and I wasn't and all I wanted for the past ten days was to just lie down. Not for a long time, just for a little.
It ain't easy being the mommy and the sicky at the same time. Josh is amazing but at the end of the day (or really, at the very beginning of the day), he couldn't really hang with us; he had to go to work.
Today is the first day that everyone is back at school. I'm home and I'm still coughing and I really think that the doctor that told us that we had a virus was wrong. I think this was the flu.
Anyway, besides following kids around the house, picking up dirty tissues and watching way too much PBS and Food Network with my kids, I spent the week making chicken soup. I made many batches and speaking as the girl who grew up thinking that chicken soup is made by squeezing chickens and who couldn't fathom that water could be turned into soup, I think I can safely say that I have come a long way.
There are hundreds (thousands?) of chicken soup recipes out there. Here's mine. And may you only eat it because it's part of your dinner plans and not because you must as part of a cold remedy. And let us all say, Amen.
My Chicken Soup
1 whole onion
3 lbs carrots, washed, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 parsnips, washed, peeled and cut into large pieces
3 big zucchinis, washed and cut into thirds
2 lbs of chicken - bottoms, tops, whatevers - cleaned and skinned
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a really big pot.
Add water to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil.
Lower the flame, cover almost all the way with a pot lid and let it simmer for at least two hours or until dinner.
Your house will smell amazing and don't be surprised if you find yourself with the urge to bake challah.
Welcome back to Soup Week - it's Potato Soup day!
I've never made potato soup before. I'd always had it in the category of onion soup, which is something that I'd order in a restaurant, not make at home. I dislike slicing many onions at a time - although chopping onions can be a great test to see if anyone in your house (ie. your kids) would ever notice you weeping in the kitchen.
In my case, not so much. And it had nothing to do with onions.
I remember a couple of years ago - I'm pretty sure it was when my four kids were all between the ages of 3 months and 4 and 1/2 years - and I was so tired and I was just done and it was only 3:30 in the afternoon. There was fighting and throwing toys and several children crying and I wanted to cry too. So I did. Standing in the middle of a hurricane of a living room, surrounded by kids and toys and noise and no one noticed. They asked for cookies and drinks and the tv, and no one asked why mommy was weeping her heart out. That was kind of a low point for me, but we've come along way since then and now we make potato soup and people actually eat it.
Once again, I have to be quicker with the camera because the soup is gone.
Three kids ate the soup, two loved it and one asked if I could buy her a thermos so she could take it to school and eat it warm. I love that.
I billed this as Mashed Potato Soup because, um, I don't know why I did, but I felt that there'd be a more positive reception if it had the name of something they already knew and loved and ate.
This is what I did:
Saute two diced onions in some olive oil.
Add garlic powder and salt to the sauteing onions.
Peel and dice 7 medium sized potatoes.
I know, I also hate peeling potatoes. Just do it; it's a good soup.
Throw them into the pot.
Add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring it to a boil.
Lower the soup to a simmer and cover it for twenty minutes.
Let the soup cool while you pick the kids up from school or for 15 minutes, whichever is longer.
Using your handy-dandy immersion blender, blend the soup, but not that much. Leave some potatoes pieces whole, that way no one can accuse you of serving baby food.
The many potato soup recipes I've read all call for adding about a cup of milk at this point to make the soup creamier, but there were a few issues here. First, I wasn't looking for a dairy soup and second, the thought of pouring milk into the soup made me gag. I have milk issues. I might have mentioned them here.
To compromise, I poured in a small amount of unsweetened rice milk. I just couldn't add anymore, it looked to much like milk to me, but if you like a creamier soup - and I don't - feel free to add whatever dairy or pareve milk you have on hand.
Rewarm the soup and serve - I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomatoes. Even though I don't eat bread, I love the whole idea of a soup and a sandwich together. Reminds me of my Bobby Toby and a snow day every time. We almost had a snow day here in Jacksonville today, except that we didn't. But the next county over did, and that must count for something.
Remember about a week ago when I said we had eleventy-thousand oranges and I was going to dehydrate them so we could make orange necklaces in school, kind of like what I found here at CreativeJewishMom.com? No? That's okay. You can refresh your memory here. I can wait.
Anyway, we did - and it was a really fun Tu B'Shvat project, but as it turns out, we didn't need to dehydrate as many oranges as I thought and so we still have a good few hundred oranges sitting around. And sadly, while delicious and sweet, they have pits and so my kids won't go near them with a ten-foot pole unless I take the pits out myself, which is really a very messy and sticky job and I don't like messy and sticky. That's not true, messy, I'm okay with. Sticky, not so much.
Tu B'Shvat, however, worked out really nicely in school - there was a Tu B'Shvat seder with four cups of grape juice per kid (can you spell sugar rush), we made orange necklaces and paper trees that I found here - and ate tons of chocolate covered pomegranates, which, while not technically related to Tu B'Shvat, they're close enough in my book. And very delicious.
There is some good news on the orange front though - we are the "snack family" in the nursery this week and so now the nursery kids are picking seeds from their oranges and eating the rest for snack.
The bad news is that even after bringing some to nursery, handing out several bags to friends and trying to pawn them off on my visiting family all weekend, there are many (many) left.
Can anyone help?
Can oranges be frozen?
Is there a cake I should be baking with them?
The bulk of them are sitting in my laundry basket and I really need to do some laundry. For real.
Succos came, succos went. So did my parents. And now school has started again. How's that for a three week update?
Oh, and we took the kids off wheat.
And sugar, but sugar is really hard.
Its more like added sugar garbage that we're abstaining from.
Its going to cost me a cool $120 to conduct this experiment; I promised each of them a dollar a day for 30 days. Kind of like the kid version of the Whole30 except the only reward for the grown up Whole30 is feeling better. That's a good thing, but thirty dollars is pretty nice too.
The kids have been doing surprisingly well without wheat. They ask for cookies or bread or crackers here and there but I've been able to divert their attention for the most part. Breakfast is hard though, they are sick of scrambled eggs which is why I took a special trip to Whole Foods to pick up some almond flour and coconut flour - and now I have some chocolate-almond-coconut muffins baking in the oven. I really hope the kids like them and eat them for breakfast. I also really hope I find someplace else to buy almond and coconut flour because man alive, Whole Foods is expensive.
Needless to say, I've been spending way more time in the kitchen than I'd like to. But it's been worth it. My two kids who cough and just generally hack away all night long have been silent sleepers for the past five nights. And my five year old, who generally visits us three times a night has been sleeping through the night - not any later than she normally does - about 4:30am - but you know, baby steps.
My big coup this week was pizza night. The kids really wanted pizza and I really didn't know what to do. I saw a few recipes for cauliflower pizza crust but they all sounded like so much work. And then I thought an egg might do the trick. This took way longer than I thought it would but I made these pizza crusts. Each crust is one egg, fried into a very thin omelet. One egg per frying pan, cook it on both sides and wala (how do you spell that?!) a round something to put sauce and cheese on. I was able to bake six at a time in the oven, but I couldn't make them fast enough. So funny really, because it's really just pizza eggs, something we've been eating for years but I guess it looked enough like pizza that everyone was happy.
I didn't think of then, but you could also put mushrooms or onions or peppers or whatever on your pizza and get a few vegetables into the kids at the same time.
Week two of the wheat-free experiment starts now.
What happens when its 95 degrees outside and there's not enough ice cream in the freezer for four kids?
You make milkshakes.
These were delicious - and I can say that because I sucked up the last of all the kids' cups.
And no, these are not even a little bit Whole30 approved, but it was good. Very good. And I made a choice to eat it and I'm okay with that. I mean, I did down six cups of water after I had it, so the water probably flushed all that sugar out of me, right?
Here's what I did:
Put some ice cream in the blender.
Add some almond (soy, real, whatever) milk.
Press the milkshake button and yum.
Add straws and it's almost as much fun as actually going to Carvel. Except for me, it was more fun because I didn't have to put four kids in the van, wait for the air to cool it off and then drive to Carvel. Yahoo!
And on a totally unrelated note, did you see my kitchen floor in the milkshake picture?
It's sparkly and clean and beautiful and it's all because of this:
My new floor steamer. I think it's a Shark brand.
I am so in love with it, I want to buy it a shiny present. Or take it for ice cream.
If you're not so good with a mop and a bucket (like me) and have broken many (many) Swiffers, this little guy will be your new best friend. It requires no soap or chemicals, you just add water and plug it in.
And the sponge-mop-kind-of-thing that cleans the floor? It's reusable. Just use it, toss it in the wash and use it again. I really find that concept to be so wonderful - I was always running out of the Swiffer type stick-on pads and then I couldn't mop. And then I'd forget to get more and then I couldn't mop some more. Wash, rinse, repeat, and you know how that song goes. It always ends with a dirty floor.
But no more, my friends!
Go. Get yourself one. It's one of the best $100 I have spent in a very very long time.
We really like making ices when the weather turns warm - and I really do not like buying ices in the store. All that red dye #4 and all. Blech. And besides, these could not have been easier to make - if you have a blender. Without one, I don't know what to tell you. A food processor maybe? A Magic Bullet?
I peeled, de-seeded and cut up one grapefruit and washed and cut the tops off of a pound of strawberries. Into the blender went all the little fruit and out come something resembling a smoothie.
I poured the fruit smoothie into my trusty ice pop maker, popped the whole thing into the freezer and then forgot about it. For like a week.
So a week later, on a hot afternoon, we broke out the ices. I enjoyed them immensely, as did two of my kids. The other kids would have enjoyed them more had the ices been a little sweeter, so experimenting with different sweetness levels before freezing might be a helpful idea. Josh wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole because of the grapefruit. Although, I'm willing to guess that these days, he might start singing a different tune - he's now on day 3 of his first Whole30 and fruit treats are starting to look pretty good these days.
We shall see what happens...
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)