Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Ergh, I'm sick, where's the Chicken Soup?

Grandma’s Chicken Soup made by Carrie

The correct and proper way to make the most effective soup follows. I found this method when dying of a cold (today) and needing sustenance, comfort and nourishment and have realised that THIS is the way to do it..... absolutely......

Stock Ingredients

Additive – free chicken stock, 1L
Extra water (boiling) to cover everything in the pan
Two chicken frames
Carrots, cut into large slices – lots
Celery, ditto carrots – lots
Red pepper – one, with the bad bits cut out :o)
Two large onions, roughly sliced
Garlic, barely crushed – lots
Any herb or spice you can find in your cupboard – I used bay leaves (about 6 or so),
cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dried thyme, salt rocks (about 6), black pepper corns (making sure to leave the lid half unscrewed before putting away – this is ESSENTIAL)

Brown the chicken frames in a very large stock pot using light olive oil. Bung in everything else and boil the bejeezus out of it for as long as possible. Stir every so often. Once the chicken frames fall apart, you are well on the way. The idea being to get all the flavour and anti-cold goodies out of everything before throwing it away. But remembering to keep the liquid, that being the essential bit. Yes.

Sit down while the miracles happen inside the stock pot. Drink brandy in hot milk and try not to fall asleep.

Here comes the interesting part.

Soup Ingredients

One whole chicken – skinned (such fun!)
4 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
6 sticks of celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, squished through a press
1 head of broccoli, chopped into largish pieces
2 sweetcorn thingys, not sure these were a very good idea though – they stay crunchy, so are OK if you like crunchy, omit if not.
Chicken stock – see recipe above
Extra water, plus extra frozen vegetable water from other occasions that you might find in the freezer, plus extra chicken stock that you might find in the cupboard (every bit helps)
Herbs – whatever you fancy and whatever is to hand, the more the merrier (How’s that brandy going down? Top up glass)
Peppercorns – precisely 58 (you’ll see why in a minute)

Brown the skinned chicken in a very large stock pot – preferably another one, if not, you have the pleasure of draining the first stock pot at this point and washing it up before continuing. Remember to keep the liquid and throw everything else away (after you have picked bits out and eaten them because you are so damn hungry. Top up the brandy)

Bung in all the other ingredients apart from the stock and the broccoli, keep that on one side for now. Stir it all around to heat it up etc. Add the garlic using a garlic press (I have a magic one that you don’t need to skin the garlic first – just bung it in and press away – marvellouso).

Very carefully grind in some pepper – have the lid come off at this point and precisely 58 peppercorns fall out into the pot of vegetables and hot chicken. Spend 30 minutes dismantling the vegetables and chicken and picking out all of the peppercorns – I told you this was the fun part! Re-dose yourself with brandy to keep going at this point.

Reassemble the ingredients once again. Add the stock and extra water etc until the chicken and veggies are just covered. Boil the mess until it turns into SOUP as if by magic! When chicken falls off bones, it is cooked. Add the broccoli at this point and gently simmer for another 5 mins.

Dish up and eat as soon as possible as you are probably famished and on your last legs, not to mention tiddley. Go to bed. Take more brandy with you. And a hot water bottle.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Study finished! Exam done!

Oh thank goodness! Three semesters of study, final exam done today. I came out of the exam room feeling as if I'd had a mind wipe! Completely empty! So, I have enjoyed it and have learnt an enormous amount. In fact just about everything I now know about Safety and Health, I have learnt from this course, but I must admit the online process has been extra-ordinarily hard! And although I never say "never" I feel like shouting to the heavens "NEVER AGAIN". This process nearly cost me my sanity at the beginning of the year, I had to fight back. But. I'm done, it's finished and I now have free time again. No more guilt about doing other stuff instead of study. I am going to start painting again, that will be nice! Leisure time. ha ha! Lovely. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Alone, together, alone!

And here I am, alone again. The Goff Man blows in for a fortnight from the jungles of Africa and then breezes off again. Ah well, exam tomorrow and then I am a time-rich woman. A tad worried maybe, until the results come through, but there is nothing to be done but wait and with fingers crossed, carry on with life.

Margaret River is beautiful at this time of year. The Goff and I took ourselves off for a spot of well deserved R&R(in his case - 8 weeks worth of 12 hour days/13 days a fortnight of constant work) - (in my case - excessive amounts of study and worry over various facets of life and so also "well deserved" or at least happily deserved!). We stayed in the eco-resort in paradise or some such name - my word, it was lovely. A cabin in the wilds of the woods. Didn't see a soul the whole time.

There was a jet black lake, full of reflections of white barked trees, so many birds (those tiny blue ones were particularly sweet [not with gravy, you barbarian!]), pot belly fire (amazing how hot you can get those things, especially with a bit of effort and a fire-loving Leo!), spa (amazing how long you can stay in one of those, especially by a water-loving, water-logged Pisces!), the bloomin' works! Super.

We have had so much rain that everything is really green, looked just like England, at its best and not a spot of rain or a cloud in sight for four days. The essential four days - our four days! (So not much like England in that regard then) When we came back the wind blew a gale and ripped my shade sail from end to end (reminder to self - phone nice insurance chappies!) But for the time away, the weather was glorious, as was the wine, beer, food, chocolate, caves, coast line and wild-life. And not so wild life - the place is awash with animals - deer, complete with full array of antlers; sheep, complete with obligatory tiny lambs (baaaah); cows, gambolling in the fields - yes, truly! I saw them! Am fairly sure I was sober at the time. Not to mention the usual things in the roadside verges - one dead roo (shame) and a mattress. There is always a mattress somewhere, usually in the complete wilds, nowhere near a house of any description. Shame it was nowhere near that roo really. Might have helped it to bounce back from its knock with life?

So, after a fortnight of excellent food (Woody Nook winery - ever been there? Go! Go and eat, the chef is a genius!) and gallons of vino, I now have a six week wait for the accumulated weight to melt away (har de har!) and for the Goff to return from the Dark Continent. Pass the wine.