Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Too Good Not To Share

So, we are on a new eating plan, which I plan to write about soon.  I had said I wouldn't commit to anything new regarding my diet this summer, but my health demands that I do my best to remove all food toxins, including the plant toxins that I know I have issues with but hadn't eliminated completely.

Anyway (because that really is a different post), I needed to make dinner tonight, and while the chicken noodle soup that I had planned for this evening is very healthy, it didn't quite have the nutritional profile I was looking for (not enough fat and vegetables, mostly), so I decided to make a different soup, a chowder, just riffing off recipes I've made in the past and stored in my head.  I wrote out a recipe I thought would work and got cooking.

Oh my yumminess!  Seriously, this was an amazing soup.  Papa ate it up and had a second (half) serving.  The boys had homemade chicken noodle soup; I'd made them try a new dish last night and eating something new two nights in a row is pushing it.  But T-Guy did try the chowder and declared it very good, although not as thick as he likes it.

Chicken Vegetable Chowder (Serves 6 - 8)

2 T. bacon fat -or- butter -or- coconut oil -or- extra virgin olive oil (I like to give people a choice)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 large zucchini, diced
1 medium carrot, diced -or- 10 baby carrots, sliced (in case you want to make it easy)
Salt and Pepper
2. C cooked, shredded (or diced) chicken  (I do this in bulk and freeze it)
2 C. potatoes, diced -or- 2. C plain frozen cubed hash brown potatoes (fresh is better in terms of thickening the chowder, but sometimes you have to hurry)
4 C. chicken broth (I use homemade, but I won't judge anyone who doesn't, and you can use water easily)
1 C. heavy cream
Optional: potato starch

Saute onion in fat for 2 minutes, add zucchini and carrots and saute until onion is translucent, approximately 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken, potatoes, and chicken broth, bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer until potatoes are soft.  Add cream and simmer until soup is as thick as you want it.

Note:  If you want a thicker chowder combine 4 T. of water and 2 T. of potato starch and add to boiling soup.  Cook until it reaches desired thickness and then remove from heat.

I did the food analysis and when divided into 6 portions this soup comes in at 350 calories a (generous) serving, with 19g carbohydrate, 21g protein, and 22g fat.

This is my very simple homemade chicken soup, a dish I can make almost any night since I keep the stock and shredded chicken in the freezer, noodles in the pantry, and almost always have carrots in the fridge.

Homemade Chicken Soup (Serves 4 - 6)

6 C. homemade chicken broth
20 baby carrots sliced
2 C. cooked, shredded chicken
4 - 8 oz. rice noodles
Salt to taste (we use Real Salt)

Heat broth to boiling, add carrots and cooked chicken, return to boiling, then turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add salt to taste, then add noodles and cook another 8 minutes or so until noodles are soft.

Note: To make chicken and rice soup instead I add 1 - 2 cups of cooked rice to the broth instead of noodles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Midnight Gift

There I was again, up and outside with an unsettled dog.  The Big Dog is subtle and patient when he wants out during the day, often sitting nearby and looking at me, or perhaps being more affectionate than usual.  It took us awhile to learn his cues (luckily he can hold it for a long time).

When the Big Dog came to live with us he was already five years old, if not older.  His understanding of the English language was poor; so poor that we looked up commands in German wondering if he'd been trained in that language.  (Nein, he hadn't been.)  I remember the excitement we all felt the first time he responded to the word potty by running to the door.  Over time he learned more English and along with potty he seems to understand Mama, Papa, bone, water, and ball, plus his basic commands of sit, down, stay, heel, come, waitno, and okay.  Unfortunately, he either fails to understand the word quiet or else he chooses to ignore it.  His vocabulary is smaller than the Girl Dog's was, but we'd lived with her since she was a puppy and she spent twelve years learning with us.  She was practically telepathic.

At night the Big Dog is a little more insistent when he wants out; it is rather unsettling to have a large dog at the level of my head staring me down intently.  Sometimes I will tell him to GO SEE PAPA, and he will trot over to that side of the bed and stare at Papa, but I know that once Papa is in bed I am the one who will most likely get up with a dog.  Big Dog knows it too; after a few seconds of directing his gaze at Papa he will trot back over to me and resume the staring, occasionally glancing at the door and willing me to understand.  At this point I try to get him to SETTLE DOWN which works sometimes, but not this time.

Out of bed I climbed, on went my sandals and sweater, and together we padded down the hall, Big Dog turning in circles (he is still completely over the moon when I understand Dog).  I slipped the leash over his head and we stepped into the cool of midnight.

This story really isn't about a dog needing to go potty and a human taking him out.  He actually didn't go, he just sniffed at the grass and air.  Then I heard it, a sound I'd been catching in the bedroom but not taking conscious notice of.

Whoo ... whoo ...


Whoo ... whoo ...

The owl was nearly on top of me, clearly up in the larger of our Coast Redwood trees.  While I have seen an owl up close I have never had one serenade me at such close proximity.

Whoo ... whoo ...

he said, and I was mesmerized.  We stood out there, Big Dog and I, listening to the owl in the cool of the evening for at least ten minutes.

We went in.  I tried to tell Papa how amazing it was, to get him to come outside, but he was snug and warm and wanted to stay in.  Within 30 minutes the owl moved on, but he had already shared his gift with me, one that lingers and still brings a smile to my face.