Monday, 24 October 2011

Chicken Soup for the soul

Chicken Soup, aka 'Jewish Penicillin' I'm sure is good for us all. Jewish or otherwise. While it is wonderful for the common cold, it also does wonders for the common soul. Having been sick for a couple of weeks and not quite being able to shake it, I decided to make soup. I always have a chicken carcass on hand and my freezer has frozen stock at the ready for moments like these. Moments when you just feel a little bit sick, and a little bit tired and flat. The process of making chicken soup is just as rewarding as the eating. The smells that waft through the kitchen, trickle down the hallway and into the bedrooms are uplifting, nurturing and, of course, yummy!
So, while the kids ran in and out of the sunshine and shadows blinked across my vision I got my biggest pot out and threw everything in and let it bubble away. In the meantime, I had some buffalo yoghurt from my friends' farm [Shaw River Buffalo] that needed using and a 20kg bag of lemons we picked up from a local farm for free (thank you!). I'd been wanting to try a new Lemon Yoghurt Cake recipe that I found on a most wonderful website called theydrawandcook.com. The recipes are all hand written/drawn. Quite an easy recipe and what came out of the oven was moist and almost cheesecake-like. My friend Amy popped around - I think she liked it when she had a 2nd piece! 
The soup, I decided, could wait for Sunday. I was still quite ill and only when 6pm Sunday evening rolled around could I think about food. I dished a bowl up for myself and my little man - he loves chicken soup, nearly as much as lasagne I think. A big call. I inhaled my big steaming bowl of deliciousness. And then I inhaled a second bowl. It made me feel good, simple. All other concerns receded and all I could think about was scooping up noodles and finding chunks of roasted chicken. I did add ginger at the last minute to ward off any more evils lurking in the vicinity. I was so full I couldn't fit any lemon cake in! My soul, and my stomach, were fulfilled - to the brim! So, thank you to all those Jewish grandmothers out there, for a wonderful bowl of goodness.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Birthday Sunday

I just love birthdays! And not just mine, I love to celebrate that one special day that we all have, that is our own. To celebrate the birth of a wonderful friend or family member, to see the joy on their face when opening presents, to cook or be cooked for, to be around those you love and hold close to your heart. It is pure joy.
Last week was my son's 10th birthday and we all gathered round, with a cornucopia of sweets, popcorn, chocolate cake and games. The kids laughed and whooped with joy running from one game to the next, stuffing as much food in their mouth as possible whilst drinking lemonade and running in the 3 legged race. It was a cool day but it didn't stop ten 10 year olds from starting a large scale water fight - they all went home soaked. Job done.
Today is my birthday and a little more sedate, though we did get wet wandering around Auckland's waterfront in a fine Spring mist. My friend's kids jumped in every puddle they could find, not fussed by the extra water. A surprise lunch at 'Soul' at Auckland's viaduct waterfront area started with bottles of wine and major decisions about what to eat! The menu was a delightful array of starters, and entrees, so difficult to choose. As the plates and platters arrived, a silence settled itself comfortably over our table. We ate, we offered tastings to each other, we shared the most basic of things. Food. I watched faces light up and heard the barely audible gasps of delight. We nourished ourselves and each other. They sang me happy birthday for maybe the fourth time, we clinked glasses, we smiled. Nothing else mattered at that moment of happiness, pure and simple. And as for me, my heart sang and my eyes glistened with the humble pride of being loved. I know that love is a luxury for some, I know that love can be brutal and unkind sometimes. So, I take love seriously. I am humbled completely by it and continually surprised by the generosity and love in all of us.