I’ve succumbed

After dodging germs and avoiding family members like they had the plague (well, actually, they did), it’s happened.

I’ve succumbed to their onslaught of germs.

I hate being sick.

I really, really hate it.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a terrible patient. Not in the
sense that I’m high-maintenance, needing fresh-squeezed juice and cold compresses, but in the sense that I’m horribly impatient and will do just about anything to get better faster–vaseline slathered on the bottom of my feet? I’ll try it. Drinking tea made from crushed twigs and eye of newt? Brew it up, I’ll choke it down.

The one thing I am loathe to do, however, is get in bed. In the daytime. While the sun is shining. Can’t explain it, but that just seems wrong to me. It goes against my grain. Yet here I am, on a perfectly sunny day–the first nice day we’ve had in a while–in bed. In the middle of the day. Still in my jammies from last night.

I got up long enough to drink a cup of coffee and eat some peanut butter toast, and to hopefully shake off the fiery ball of phlegm I felt forming in my chest when I went to bed last night. No such luck. That fiery ball invited its friends over, and the overcrowding is making me cough. The coughing reignites the fiery ball and it burns, baby.

This was not part of my plan.

Sunday is my day to get things done and to get a jump-start on the week. I know, that’s backwards; most people use Sundays as a day of rest, to recharge from the week that’s passed. Not me, I prefer to charge ahead and get the week off to an early start. I usually kick off my Sundays with tennis, then once fortified with 3 sets and a couple of beers, continue on making lists, doing laundry, running errands, and cooking for the week ahead. Lately it’s been all about soup. It’s been cold, really cold (ok, cold for Texas; those of you reading this while enveloped by real winter can laugh at me, but it has been cold here), and for me that means it’s time to make soup.

My soup kick has been good but repetitive of late. I’ve made several pots of vegetable soup. I was inspired by my friend Amy who brought me some yummy vegetable soup a few weeks ago, and it was so good that I tried to recreate it. Her version was inspired by her sister’s housekeeper’s recipe, and it was good. The first version I made to replicate it was the best. I need to stick to that one instead of trying to change it up.

The second time I made it, I added tomato sauce and substituted tiny star-shaped pasta for the diced potato, thinking my kids might eat it. The stars were so cute and inviting, but the incredibly picky duo said nope, not intrigued nor even a little bit tempted.

The next time I made it, I used whole-grain gemelli pasta instead of stars. Oh, and I added okra, too, because I really like okra. I think it separates the men from the boys. After all this research, I’ve concluded that the potatoes are the best in this soup and the okra kinda gets lost among all the other veggies.

Sundays are usually bookended by tennis and soup, not sickness. Come on…I can’t make soup from bed.

A month of soup

With it being so bitter cold in my neck of the woods, I want soup. And a can of Campbells just won’t do. I was raised on homemade soup, and when the weather turns or a nasty cold invades my system or a surgery is imminent, homemade soup is what I crave. I toyed with the idea of making a different soup every day for a month, but that may be the cold weather talking (seriously, 27 degrees in Houston?? Egads). Then I realized that I don’t even have a month between now and my reconstruction, and once I have the surgery, it’ll be quite a while before I’m able to cook again.

When I am able to cook again, I’ll be making soup. The weather will have warmed up by then; in fact, we may even be trending toward summer. But I’ll still want homemade soup. It must be genetic. My mom made soup. Well, actually she made everything, but soup for sure. She had many specialities, but her broccoli soup was my favorite. I’m not a big fan of broccoli (I eat it because it’s good for me and packed with important things like cartenoids, vitamin C, calcium, beta-carotene, lutein, and phytochemicals); but I love my mom’s broccoli soup. She knew the recipe by heart, but I have to look it up. Luckily for me, the cookbook falls open to the broccoli soup page every time. 

When I was a kid, my mom helped run a cooking school with a friend of hers, Mary Gubser. Mary is a bread and soup guru. She wrote a few cookbooks and taught cooking classes out of her home for suburban women who wanted to learn how to put a yummy and nutritious meal on the table.

I remember one time I was probably younger than Macy, and I was sick on a cooking school day. My mom bundled me up with a bag full of activities (no PSPs or iTouches back then) and took me with her. I settled on Miss Mary’s couch and listened to the women chattering as they went through the lesson: herbed vegetable soup and meunster cheese bread. My mom brought me a piece of baguette, warm from the oven, with real butter, and it remains to this day one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

Maybe that’s why I love food so much: because memories of meals are so interwoven with memories of my mom. Food is such a powerful force, and it does way more than provide fuel for our bodies and sustain us through the day.

Soup has always been comfort food for me. You can have your mashed potatoes & gravy, your mac & cheese, your pot roast. I’ll take soup. But it’s gotta be homemade.

I got the love of soup from my mom, and Payton & Macy got it from me. In fact, Macy takes a thermos of homemade chicken noodle soup in her lunch every day. She’s vegetarian, but some things, like my chicken noodle soup and PF Chang’s honey-seared chicken, don’t count as meat in her mind.

Every week, I make a big pot of chicken noodle soup. For me, there is security in routine. Making soup for my kids every week is a ritual, and when chopping onions, celery, and carrots, I fall into an easy rhythm. Sauteeing the veggies in glistening green olive oil and with a few garlic cloves fills the kitchen with a smell of innate goodness that fills me up. Anyone can open a can of Campbells, but making what I consider real soup is a different thing entirely. It’s a labor of love, which I hope fuels and sustains my kids and weaves a delicate yet tangible ribbon of connection between them and me.