The boys are feeling much, much better after their twin respiratory infections, and now we're off to the Cape where my only job will be to fatten them up. They lost five pounds each (and they didn't have much to spare), so it's basically going to be all ice cream all the time for the next week, with a few breaks in between for doughnuts and fried fish.
One thing I do that works out well for the family is setting aside some chicken broth in the freezer. I got this habit from Nonni. She would always have a stash in her kitchen and/or basement freezer for her homemade cappellettis and passatellis.
I started doing the same thing. Whenever I make stock (about three times a year, usually in the cooler months), I set aside one container's worth. I shred all of the chicken meat from the carcass into the broth and then freeze it. When the need arises, I just defrost the soup and add whatever I want as far as vegetables, pasta, or rice—the chicken is already there. Increasingly, this chicken broth gets used not for cappellettis or passatellis, but for emergency rations when someone in the family gets sick.
While I was on deadline last month, during the last week of school, the little one fell ill with a fever and nasty cough. He had to stay home for two days. Then the other one got sick. Out came the frozen broth from the freezer. That evening, while I ran out to pick up the fish from our fish CSA, sign up the 3rd grader for saxophone lessons, retrieve the little one's baseball bat that he left at his previous game, and made a quick trip to the grocery store for Children's Advil and saltines, Husband made soup. He sautéed a chopped onion, carrots, and celery in a little olive oil. When soft, he added the partially defrosted soup, heating it up until melted and bubbly. Then he poured in some egg noodles (less than you'd think as they expand a lot). He cooked it until the pasta was done, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and voila: amazing, healthful soup that everyone loves in 15 minutes.
When I was sick with that hideous stomach thing last spring, Husband made me chicken and rice soup this same way, and it was seriously the best thing I have ever tasted in my whole life. Turns out making that broth ahead of time was energy well invested! Funny how much you appreciate the little things (or what you think are little things) when you're sick.
(Not sure if you're up for making homemade broth? You are. Go here. It also comes in vegetarian.)
I cannot get enough of this salad! Basically, it's tabbouli, the Middle Eastern grain salad with fresh herbs and tomatoes, but with other stuff subbed in for the tomatoes, like Swiss chard and olives. Lots of parsley and cilantro combined with a generous shot of lemon keep the flavors bright. It's good for picnics, barbecues, or hasty lunches out of a Tupperware container at work. Next week, consider switching out the chard and olives for grilled zucchini, pattypan squash, and dare I hope for eggplant? Too soon? Only the hot July sun knows for sure. Then, in August and September, it's tomato time. Wait your turn, tomatoes. You're not the only game in town!
This recipe makes a lot, at least 8 servings, so I hope you're hungry!
1 1/2 cups medium bulgur wheat Kosher salt 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, sliced into thick strips 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons) 2 medium cloves garlic, minced and mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt 1 large shallot or small onion, finely diced 1/2 cup mixed country olives, pitted, coarsely chopped 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the bulgur wheat and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Bring 2 1/4 cups of water to a boil and then pour over the wheat. Cover the bowl with a large plate and let set until the water has been absorbed and the bulgur is tender, about 1 hour.
Wash the chard and place it wet into the pot. Cover and steam over medium heat until wilted and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the chard, run it under cold water, and squeeze it dry.
Combine the lemon juice, garlic, and shallot, and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
Gently fold the olives, cilantro, parsley, oil, Swiss chard, and lemon mixture into the bulgur. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until cold.
See that blueberry on my blueberry bush? I ate it. Haha! Victory is mine!
Take that, blue jays!
And speaking of victory, the winner of The Homemade Pantry raffle is Sarah T. Thanks for all of your honest and entertaining comments. And now I know *exactly* who should receive my recipes for whipped cream and puff pastry for recipe-testing!!