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Just Because I Love You…

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In the past two days, my son found out that he needed to have 6 teeth extracted as part of an ongoing orthodontia project, and a friend who I dearly love learned that his employment contract would not be renewed for next year. In both cases, I feel tremendous empathy, a desire to smite the wrongdoers (orthodontists and bosses) and a need to FIX these people that I love, and restore them to their pre-trauma glory. Since I can’t really right either situation, and there are limits to the helpfulness of saying “I’m sorry; it will be okay” 500 times a day, I made another plan. I’m making soup. Even if neither of my traumatized loved ones ever eats a bite (although I hope that they will) I am putting such support, encouragement and positive energy into this soup that its mere presence in the universe will begin the healing process.

It happens (I believe due to an act of God) that last night’s dinner was a roasted chicken, rice, and carrots. At the moment, I am making stock from the chicken carcass, using Michael Ruhlman’s method from The Elements of Cooking, which involves cooking the carcass and water over very low heat (not even a simmer) for about 3 hours, skimming frequently and adding aromatics (bay leaf, peppercorn, celery, carrots and onion) only in the last hour. I will then strain it, adjust seasonings, and be ready for the next step.

To this clear, flavorful broth I will add small bits of only the tenderest bits of white meat chicken, with any hint of gristle, vein or skin removed. (If you are curing someone of heartache and fear, you make sure they get the best bites imaginable, every single time). I will also add maybe two cups of cooked rice, and the leftover cooked carrots cut into coins. I’ll taste the soup again, heat it gently to warm all the ingredients (too high would toughen the chicken and turn the rice and carrots to mush) and ladle out full bowls for all available fallen warriors. I can’t fix everything, but I can’t think of a better way to express what’s in my full and sympathetic heart than to pour it into a pot of homemade soup.

P.S. If, like me, you believe in the transference of emotions through cooking (and you are open to a little magical realism) you may want to read Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

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About imagineannie

I am a 40-something Midwestern wife, mother and lawyer with a passion for cooking, reading about food, eating food...you get the picture.

5 responses »

  1. I love that book (and the movie was pretty good, too). I think I even tried, once, to reproduce a recipe from it, based on those vague descriptions that open each chapter. I’m also making soup these days, not because I’m comforting loved ones, but because it’s warm and the weather is cold. (Your poor son–but having gone through multiple tooth extractions in the quest for straight teeth myself, I can say with assurance that it will pass and he’ll forget about it–just as he’ll forget to wear his headgear, later on).

    Reply
  2. I made Chicken Soup just Tuesday night — because we’re all feeling weak with colds.

    I love, “you make sure they get the best bites imaginable, every single time” because I picked over that chicken meticulously, so that each bite would have nothing but comfort in it.

    Reply
  3. hey – reading every word
    but i am slammed
    so hello and rock on
    love the ruhlman method
    my stock is gone – i am not hsppy
    need to make more but it’s going to be a couple weeks

    Reply
  4. Ricki, I am actually re-reading the book, which I haven’t thought about for years, and I am thinking that it would be pretty darned difficult to recreate the recipes, although that doesn’t mean I won’t try. Who knows; maybe I’m off on a whole magical realism binge. Next stop: Marquez. As for the dental extractions, I know, realistically that he’ll be okay, but he’s my (big) baby and I don’t want him to be anxious or sad. I wish I could have my teeth pulled instead, but that seems somewhat impractical.

    Reply
  5. Barbara, it does have curative powers, that soup. Actually, any soup made for you by a human being has curative powers. I hope you are all feeling better soon!

    claudia, I figured you were busy, and knew NYC was in your near future so I’m especially honored that you dropped by. Now that you are famous (sniff) its great that you take time out from photo shoots and partying with Ruhlman to talk with the little people….

    Reply

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