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Tuesday tidbits

Last weekend I did something new, at least for me. I started with a chicken and a bunch of vegetables and I ended up with soup.

Xander usually makes soup stock in huge batches. He makes really good stock and we have a lot frozen so whenever we want to make soup, we can. This time, though, since I was starting with a whole chicken, I made my own stock.

I cooked the chicken in the cast iron Dutch Oven given to us by Xander’s mother. I love it! I didn’t do anything too fancy, just rubbed the chicken with cayenne under the skin so there would be a little bit of heat. I learned from the last time I tried to take meat of a chicken; this time I stuck it in the refrigerator for a few hours so I could skip the finger-burning part. I took all the meat off the carcass, fed the skin to the dog, and put the bones and giblets into a stockpot and covered them with water. I added a lot of bay leaves, some peppercorns, celery ends from the freezer, garlic, and various other things that looked good, and then I let it cook for a long time until it tasted right. I then added the chicken and sausage, the onions, carrots, and potatoes, and cooked them for a while. Once they were mostly done, I added the celery and mushrooms and cooked it all just a little while longer. I put in┬ávarious seasonings, too, but I don’t really remember what at this point.

I like cooking from recipes. I like the rhythm, knowing what comes next, how it will all come out in the end. Cooking without a recipe feels a little bit like walking a tightrope without a net (I do know how that feels, though the tightrope wasn’t very far off the ground, at least!). I worry about screwing things up or ruining food. I’m getting more confident, I guess, or more comfortable in the kitchen, because this time I figured it was soup, and as long as I didn’t completely overdo anything, it would be fine. It is, too. It tastes good and has texture. I had fun puttering around, tasting, adjusting, and playing with it.

I made something all by myself. I feel like a little kid, saying that with such pride, but I really am happy about it.

A rambling we will go

I’ve tried to write for several days and I just can’t come up with anything specific to write about. There are a lot of little things, but nothing that I can really craft a reasonable post out of, so I’m just going to ramble for a bit.

We got to spend an hour or so with a very tiny baby, less than a week old. I like babies. They can be loud and exhausting and all of that, but I love the feeling of that weight settled in my arms, watching those eyes that are just learning to focus following my face. I like little kids, too, and school age kids. Once you get to the teenage years, I’m not quite as fond of them as a group. Part of that may be that most of them are taller than I am and generally somewhat obnoxious. It’s good that Xander actually likes that age.

I miss Daniel. I know I always will, but sometimes it’s harder than others. I still love him fiercely, but there isn’t anywhere for that feeling to go. I am learning to let myself be sad and miss him, let it wash over me, and then keep on with the rest of life. I have his picture on my computer screen at work. I write a lot of postcards to various people, and I used to write postcards to him every week. I still find myself composing postcards for him in my head before catching myself and remembering that there’s nowhere to send them. There is an undercurrent of sadness in my life now, even when everything is going well. It isn’t changing my life in a bad way, just reminding me that there is no guarantee that I’ll be here tomorrow. I’m trying to live better in small ways because of it.

On a completely different note, Disney has put out a fishing pole with princesses on it. The first glance I got of it, I thought Ariel was one of the princesses featured. That would have made me laugh much too hard. A mermaid whose best friend is a fish on a fishing pole. Apparently, though, it was Belle, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. I suppose that’s at least more politically correct. Not nearly as funny, unfortunately.

The puppy will be visiting again later this month, so I should have more amusing training stories.

We’ve decided to have a traditional Jewish Christmas dinner, so we’re going to go out for Chinese food. My favorite Chinese restaurant will be open, too, so that’s a bonus.

Overheard in a hardware store last week:
Female employee: “I have it, sir, it’s fine. I can handle it.”
Male customer: “But it’s so long!”
I couldn’t help snickering.

I’m kind of coasting right now. There are several things on the horizon that could have huge effects on our life, but nothing is happening right now. I’m getting up early and exercising, being careful of what I eat despite a lot of temptation at work, trying to remember to write now and then, and trying to learn a few pieces of music for a present I’m making for some kids I know. I’m trying not to spend much money. Life is pretty good right now overall. I spent some time last weekend making pumpkin soup and it came out very well, which is perfect since soup is pretty much my favorite food in winter. There’s nothing quite like tucking in with a hot bowl of soup when the weather is below freezing. I am reminded of a children’s book – “In January it’s so nice while slipping on the sliding ice to sip hot chicken soup with rice.” That’s from a Maurice Sendak book, “Chicken Soup with Rice”, which I remember reading when I was little and got a copy of (along with its companion books) a year or so ago. It still makes me smile.

I think this is enough of a ramble for the day. I hope you find something to smile about, something silly, something that brings that spark of joy, and that you stop for just a moment to savor it.