Monday, August 31, 2015

The Family Supper: Chicken Soup for the Sickies



Anybody else here grow up eating super at the table nearly every single night?

This girl did.

In fact, it was considered a great treat to eat our meals in front of the television during Family Movie Night.

You can be sure that I incorporated the same practice when I had my own family. Sadly, I haven't been as diligent.

It became even harder when several years ago (we are talking over 8), The Muffin started working a strange shift. We had been in the full-time pastorate for years and years. All of the sudden, The Muffin was working for "The Man" and the "Man" wanted him at work from 3:30pm - 1:30am.

Because we have also continued our work in the ministry (The Muffin is the Assistant Pastor at church) our lives have been a whirlwind of time that is not our own.

Add to that swim team practice...

I'm surprised  we've seen much of each other.

This summer The Muffin's schedule changed. He is now home just a little after 4:30. Of course, there is still swim team practice, cycling with the buddies...but I can now plan a real Family Supper every week.

I like to cook. I like to make things fancy and obviously with a busy schedule and a tight budget it's been hard to manage both.

For most of the week I fix simple things. These are meals that be prepared ahead of time or slow cook all day.

On those nights when I have more time I can bless my family with a meal that takes a bit more time and effort.

I want to start featuring some of those meals on my blog in the hopes that I might provide inspiration for those who are like-minded.

A couple of weeks ago I was already to go. I had the chicken. I had the butternut squash. I had the apples.

And The Muffin was sick.

Boo!

You would think he would have been a bit more considerate of my plans.

So I changed them just a little bit. I made sure he had plenty of juice, Vitamin C and Kleenex at his disposal.

Then I went into the fridge and grabbed the carcass of a much-enjoyed rotisserie chicken  (I had found several in the deli at Wal-mart marked down to $2.49).

I chopped up a few carrots, an onion and some celery and threw it all in a pot.



I covered it with water and added a few bay leaves, thyme and salt and pepper and let it simmer on the stove while I puttered around.

What am I talking about!

I read. There you have it. One can't really consider "reading" as puttering. I just thought "puttering" sounded more industrious.

Anyhoo. I probably cooked the stock for about 4 hours. This is a good basic stock recipe using chicken bones from Epicurious. Their recipe only simmers for 2 hours. I also like the Barefoot Contessa's chicken stock recipe...except that she uses whole chickens.

I like using the bones. She also uses parsnips. I happen to love parsnips and used some in the chicken soup itself, but not in the stock. I had just a few and they were precious. Parsnips are wonderfully healthy and provide all sorts of extra benefits.

I don't really have a recipe for the chicken soup. I saute my veggies first (I used carrots, celery, parsnips and a little garlic). I also turmeric in my chicken soup.  It not only has excellent medicinal properties, but it adds a beautiful golden color. The Pioneer Woman has a lovely Chicken and Noodle recipe . She uses turmeric and I was inspired several years ago to add it to my chicken soup. Thyme is also another herb I like using in chicken soup. I added both this time around.

The finished product was heavenly.  The Muffin can take or leave cooked carrots. I could have used more parsnips, but it didn't matter. The soup was soo comforting and tasty. The Muffin inhaled buckets of it.

Not literally. That would be a bit much.


I also made some Cheddar Sage Biscuits. I generally don't provide bread with every meal. This time around I thought this would be a nice addition. I used our tried and true family biscuit recipe,  added some chunks of sharp cheddar and some chopped fresh sage I had in the crisper. It was either that or cilantro. I think I made the right choice. We usually cut our biscuits out (with an assortment of fun cutters), but I just turned these into drop biscuits. 


I finished off the meal with a buttermilk pie. My crust looks a bit wonky. I also needed to let it brown up just a bit more.  Buttermilk pie is a really easy pie to make. You don't have to prebake the crust and the ingredients are minimal. If you don't keep a supply of buttermilk in your house like we do (my husband is a buttermilk addict), you can sour regular milk by adding just a little bit of vinegar to it and letting it sit for about 30 minutes. 

Here is a great video from Southern Living that shows you all the steps. Their pie looks decidedly better than mine. Another note about buttermilk pie. Some recipes call for lemon juice. Mine does. The Muffin grew up eating Sugar Cream Pie (he's an Indiana boy born and raised). The Sugar Cream Pie is richer and sweeter. The Buttermilk Pie has more of a tartness to it. I really find that it is the perfect pie to make when you are short on special ingredients and inspiration. 




Of course we didn't eat at the table that night. I did spoon up supper into pretty dishes. That was about all we could do. This last week I made a yummy Braised Chicken dinner with smashed potatoes and an apple cake.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures to share. I can't find my camera battery charger.

I put it somewhere...you know how that goes.

This week my plans are to fix another chicken dish for our Family Supper night. Hopefully, I will locate my battery charger. Otherwise I might have to resort to drawing stick figures. I want to share how it all turns out.

 I do need to note that generally my meal planning doesn't include  simple carbs or "white" products (flour, rice, potatoes). I have decided that life is too short to keep potatoes out of my life completely and that once in a while a bit or two isn't going to ruin my life.

One of these days I'll share more of how I do it all.

Do you set aside time for a Family Supper?


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