#4 was sick last week, like really, take-him-to-the-doctor sick, which I almost never do. I’m of mind that God made our bodies to handle disease, and fever and rest is part of that. But, he was pretty puny, and his cough was alarming, so I took him there. He also missed an entire week of school, soccer try-outs, and a bunch of work. Now he’s on Winter Break until Tuesday (right now it’s Saturday) (I think) and will spend most of the time playing catch up on the homework and reading other people’s facebook posts about skiing and camping and stuff.
Just as well, now I’ve got it and I’m going to lean on him for the stuff I won’t get done because I’m in the bed being puny. Except that schoolwork waits for no one and online schoolwork has zero tolerance for not getting things like homework and quizzes (and a big ol’ test) done at the proper times. So I’m trying to bang it out while I can still think. Fortunately the math is graphing and I can handle that ok. The other stuff I’ve got high enough grades in that if I do poorly this week it won’t affect the grades horribly. Yesterday I felt a little weird so stayed up a little later than normal getting the week’s work in 2 classes done and done. Now I have to remember to turn it in and comment on the discussion boards, to get credit for attending. I wrote it down on a large piece of paper in bright red ink and posted it above the computer monitor, so even in a drug induced stupor I ought to be able to get it done.
#2’s Girlfriend works at an organic farm, and can bring home the Uglies (that is, vegs that don’t pass the aesthetic inspection but are just fine anyway). When I got up this morning the dining table was covered with all sorts of fabulous roots, and the sink was full of black kale and swiss chard. Like CHRISTMAS almost! I do love me some root vegetables. All that largess called for a giant pot of soup, especially what with the flu making itself at home, like that weird aunt who smells funny and leaves used tissues all over the place. So, there is soup, which is what one needs when one is dealing with disease and infirmity.
Root Veg Soup
6 quarts (it’s what I had) homemade chicken broth, water to bring it up to 2 gallons
2 onions, chopped and sauteed
12+cups chopped assorted root vegs-roughly equal parts turnips; purple, orange, and white carrots, parsnips, beets
2 whole heads of smoked garlic (something #2 came up with. Yum, y’all), chopped (I know, people don’t have heads of smoked garlic laying around. Use 5-6 cloves of fresh garlic)
3 chicken legs
3 Thai bird peppers, 1 ancho pepper- all dried, seeds shaken out, left mostly whole
big handful of fresh oregano, thyme and rosemary, roughly chopped
couple of teaspoons dried toasted coriander, ground
teaspoonish dried toasted cumin, ground (I know that’s vague but I don’t ever measure, just kind of pour some in until it looks right)
a few bay leaves
some black pepper and salt
cook all that for a while, pick out the chicken, de-bone it, chop the meat and put it back in. (an Aussie friend suggested cockatoo but chicken’s cheaper unless the cockatoo has learned to insult you and you’re fed up with it)
after that’s all cooked for a while and the veggies are nice and tender, chop up a bunch of kale and swiss chard- I think I put in about 4-5 cups after it was chopped.
The secret to really yummy soup is to use a good broth. I make mine because it’s easy and cheap. And tastier than the stuff in a box. Also, use lots of seasonings. LOTS of herbs and spices. Many layers of flavor from different herbs and spices make for a rich and palate pleasing stuff. Parsley would be good- I just didn’t have any. I almost never use dried herbs. Fresh is so good. If you don’t have an herb garden, and you can find some in large quantities (check a farmer’s market), you can freeze it and have it to use like fresh any time.
Here’s how I make broth. If you have a crockpot, use it!
Whenever you roast a chicken, or buy one of those rotisserie chickens, save the bones. Put them on a cookie sheet with an onion cut up (just chunks, don’t even need to peel it), a carrot broken into chunks, a couple of cloves of garlic, and maybe a couple of stalks of celery cut into big pieces. Roast in the oven at 400F until the vegs are brown (maybe 45 minutes) and dump it all over into a big crockpot. Add a few whole black pepper things, and some fresh herbs. Fill the crockpot with water, turn it on low, and forget about it for 3-4 days. when you remember it, scoop out the solids, and bag the broth in ziploc bags or quart plastic containers, and freeze. Use it for making rice and soup, or anything else you’d use broth for. Usually when I roast a chicken for supper, I’ll cut the meat off to serve it, and throw the bones and vegs in the oven while we eat. About the time we finish, it’s done roasting, and goes into the crockpot. You don’t have to cook it for 4 days, but I have found the longer it cooks, the richer the broth. You can do the same thing with beef, pork, or lamb bones. To really don’t have to peel the vegetables, not even the onions. Just cut them all up in big chunks.
A while back, I was smoking some chickens, and #2 opined that smoking garlic would be interesting. So, he acquired some really fat heads of garlic, drizzled them in a little olive oil and put each head in the cup of a muffin pan. This went into the smoker (low, cherry wood) for 3-4 hours. The garlic was like roasted garlic- soft and caramelized, with a lovely smokey flavor. Like roasted garlic, you can use a whole head in something without causing a disruption. He put the smoked heads into a bag and stuck them in the freezer. I happened on them when I was pulling out chicken legs. That’s why they’re in the soup.