Archive for November, 2010
It’s snowing out. From my kitchen window it appears that the lawn furniture and the rose bushes are dusted with a fine coating of powdered sugar. The world is glittery and shimmery and white. I can hear the wind singing in the trees, and despite the cozy room and my hot peppermint tea, I can’t help but shiver at its mournful tune.
Thanksgiving is two days away. I love this holiday, possibly even more than I love Christmas. I love that it isn’t commercialized, and that the focus isn’t things, but family. The hours spent in the company of my loved ones are a retreat for my soul. The pleasure of being together, the savory turkey, the delectable pumpkin and pecan pies, the glow of the stories yet again retold, the moments of calm and grace in the midst of laughter, the innumerable blessings in my life… It is pure joy! And for that I am thankful.
I made salmon for dinner last night. Boring. I know. I served it with rice and steamed vegetables and an extra side dish of my bad mood. I thought about the things I could give up - I have been thinking about this more and more lately, probably because I have been working too hard and too many hours. But finding dependable employees is so very difficult. I have yet to find one with the work ethic and the initiative to take charge, to match mine. Instead I find myself repeating over and over what needs to be done. Besides other things.
My husband says to stop stressing and just take it as it is. The perfect employee does not exist. But I had an almost perfect employee once. So, I truly hope he’s wrong. We shall see. Meanwhile, it’s another day of interviewing and going down my checklist. Because no matter how much I want to give it all up, I have kids. And I must provide for their future. And I must raise them in such a way that they aren’t coddled and don’t feel entitled, and learn just how important responsibility and hard work are.
My son came home from school this week wanting to know why we don’t pay him for completing his chores around the house. Other parents do that, we were told. Why didn’t we? I snapped something to the effect of: I wash the dishes, I cook, I do the laundry, and nobody stands there handing me money. Then I took a big breath and calmed myself down. I explained that in a family everyone has a role. His role is to clean his room, take out the trash, and vacuum the house once a week. It is his responsibility to us, his family.
His job, for which I pay him based on his performance, is school. That is his responsibility to himself. To his future. School teaches him about life, and its day to day requirements of providing an income and maintaining a lifestyle. By getting up on time, completing his homework, doing his best, attending daily, not giving excuses, he develops the work ethic he needs to prosper on this planet. Because we don’t live on Mars, and daydreams are only reality when we make them happen.
Adieu. For now.
Maybe it is the sight of smoke curling out of chimneys, or maybe the scent of damp earth, or it could even be the sound of hissing pines in the wind, or the feel of frost touching the tip of my nose on my late afternoon walks, but in autumn my body craves the comforting taste of soup.
When I was young, my family had a rooster who in turn had his own little harem of hens. Whenever one of the hens would stop providing the required daily eggs, my mom or my dad would catch it, cut off her head, pluck off the feathers, and plop the body in the soup pot. But every once in a while it was determined that a new rooster would need to become the king of the henhouse. The overall egg production was too low, the hens bickered far too much, and my parents were in no mood to humor their jealousies, or his disinterest. And so it was decided that the rooster would be made into soup. And what a soup it was!
Honestly, I cannot tell you that rooster soup is better tasting than hen soup. My dad insists that it is so. I, however, tend to think that it is the combination of chicken broth, my mother’s home-made noodles, a few slices of carrots and a bit of parsley, that make that simmering bowl unforgettable.
1 whole free-range rooster (or hen), beheaded and de-feathered. Wash well and discard the liver, neck, and heart.
8-10 large carrots, peeled
6 celery stalks
1 large yellow onion peeled
1 parsnip (small)
1parsley root (small)
1 cup parsley chopped
1 tablespoon salt
Fill large pot with cold water. Add the salt and the chicken. Cover. Keep it on medium high until it starts to boil, then lower the temp to medium. Add the carrots, celery, parsnip, parsley root, and onion and bring to a boil, partially covered. When the meat is fully cooked (check by inserting a fork, or approx. 2 hours later), turn off the heat and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then strain it, discarding everything but the chicken and carrots, and let it cool a bit more before refrigerating.
In a saucepan bring some of the broth to a boil. Add the home-made noodles and let them simmer over low heat, covered for 10 minutes. Ladle it into bowls. Garnish the serving with the chopped parsley.
It is particularly delicious with a buttered chunk of baguette. Oh, and the meat you can lightly brown in some olive oil. Add sauteed mushrooms, some polenta, and a green salad and you’ll have every excuse to stay in, build a fire, and perhaps play a game of Scrabble.
Anyway, Bon Appetit!
This is a Magpie Tale.