Tag Archives: noodles

Lasagne with Béchamel and Spring Vegetables

I’ve been trying to write something here for days now.  I approach the task with the best intentions but know that it’s really only my conscience goading me.  No words come.  I scrounge for a memory worth sharing, then wonder if it’s one I’ve already written about and catch myself wanting to waste time sorting through archived posts to make sure.  It’s an old procrastination ruse, so I’m onto it most of the time.

Photos of recipes I’ve tried and liked are accumulating, waiting for something to be said about them, or the ingredients they were made with,  whether they’re in season, local, organic….or not.  Because you know, that matters, right?

I can’t muster up the energy because it all sounds so trivial.

I’m like an ostrich avoiding reality.  I’d rather edit photos (which qualifies at least as legitimate procrastination), or sprawl on my bedroom floor in front of the big windows on this blustery day watching the storm come in off the Pacific — probably the last we’ll have until next winter.  Mother Nature seems to have gotten March all wrong this year, with its entrance more like that of a lamb’s and its exit resembling a lion’s — at least in San Diego.

I could grab a book and lose myself for a while or think again for what seems to be the millionth time about whether the windows need drapes, and whether I should make them myself — except I’m not sure which closet that sewing machine is in and even if I did, my heart wouldn’t be into it.

A walk in the rain would also be nice, but the force of the wind is rattling the skylights and whistling down the chimneys.  I’d make it out the door and realize how silly a decision it was since I’m nothing like the thin woman clad in white who just sprinted past my window, nor like anyone the Brontës might write about, a thin figure whose dark dress is flapping about her ankles on the hauntingly beautiful Yorkshire moors and proof of a pained existence etched across her brow.

So ridiculously unfocused and thinking none of it really matters.

I’ve been thinking about perspective quite a bit this past week.  Counting my blessings.  Thinking about life, loss, what I take for granted (see foolish exhibits A, B, C, and D above) and what others in the world right now have lost and may never, ever recover.  I’m watching it on the news, in the photos that stream through a variety of websites, and can’t begin to understand.  How can anyone not actually experiencing the magnitude of such devastation understand?  I’m weighing the pettiness of any complaint, feeling short with others for their narrow mindedness, and all in all just very sad and angry.

It’s overwhelming.

So on this first day of spring and all it traditionally represents with respect to birth, new growth, and renewal, I hope the best for people in so many places on Earth right now devastated by things beyond their control.

If you’re someone who has thought about donating to a relief fund for Japan’s recovery, you may be interested in this piece by Stephanie Strom from the New York Times, “Charities Rush to Help Japan, With Little Direction.”

Donations can be made directly to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

More information about other ways to help are listed in “The Lede” at The New York Times“Japan Earthquake and Tsunami:  How to Help”

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Comfort Food: Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

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I had a house full of people for much of this week, with relatives waiting to find whether they could return home after being evacuated from wild fires here in San Diego.  Since the air quality is unhealthy, all we were left to do is watch the information coming from the television, and well, eat, of course.

Although our guests are now safely back in their untouched home (their pool is covered with ash), I had begun to make some comfort food for everyone, planning that they may have to return.  And what better comfort food than chicken noodle soup?  I made enough for the army, and since they didn’t return, the three of us have enjoyed it two nights in a row.  Of course, the second night, the noodles had absorbed quite a bit of the broth, so "soup" wouldn’t be the best name for this lip-smacking scrumptious bowl of wonder on the second night.

It’s inexpensive, easy and fairly quick.  And each time I make it, it’s a bit different depending on what I have in the refrigerator. Nothing fancy — just tasty.  And if you want to make a meatless version, use some canned white beans that have been rinsed well.  Chop some chard and add that, too.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
9 chicken thighs (with skin & bones)
2 lg. garlic cloves, sliced
1 log. shallot, sliced
8 c. veggie bouillon
6 roma tomatoes, quartered and seeded
3 stalks celery, sliced
1-1/2 c. baby carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/4 c. chopped cilantro, loosely packed
4 chopped green onions
12 oz. sturdy pasta

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Directions

Heat 8 c. water for the bouillon until very warm.  Add bouillon and stir to mix.  Set aside.

In a kettle, brown chicken in olive oil skin side down first, turning once, until golden in color.  Add shallots and garlic and stir.  Cook until softened but not browned.  Add veggie bouillon, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add all the veggies, stir and cover, cooking over medium heat until it begins to simmer.  Reduce heat, but maintain the simmer.  Keep covered and simmer for 30-40 minutes, making sure chicken thighs are cooked through.  Remove any fat from the surface of the pot and discard.

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While soup is cooking, prepare noodles according to package directions, but remove from water while still a bit chewy.  Drain and set aside.

When chicken is cooked, add noodles to the pan and stir, cooking for about 10 minutes more.

Add the cilantro and stir in.  Serve.

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Notes: I have made chicken noodle soup with boneless, skinless breasts as well, but browning the chicken with skin always improves the flavor.  I’ve also used frozen chopped veggies, depending on what’s on hand, and that works, too.  I use bouillon instead of prepared broth most often because I like the flavor, and the packages take up less space in my cupboard.  Silly, but true.  The broth was very good with this particular combination (I used Knorr cubes), but because I added so many noodles, the next night, it had been absorbed.  So I’d half the noodles to get it just right.  Of course, had the crowd still been around, the pot would have been licked clean.

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