Thursday, December 15, 2011

3 gifts on thursday: cold edition

The sniffling, sneezing kind of cold. Because I have one right now. And its the season for them. For previous 3 Gifts installments, click here. If you would like to have a "gift" featured in this series, please see the bottom of this post for details.

1.Gift of Nourishment (a.k.a. Chicken Soup Secrets)
Old wives tale or medical fact aside, nothing comforts like a warm bowl of soup to a body run down by a cold. Here's my recipe along with a few secrets I've discovered to a good bowl of soup:

Secret #1: Make your own broth base. It's healthier and easy. All you do is buy a whole chicken (organic tastes best), making sure to remove any of the giblets or any other extras included in the chicken's cavity. Put it in a large stock pot, cover completely with water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. I like to "cook the cackle" out of my chicken, i.e. cook it until the meat falls off the bones which takes about 2 hours. 

Secret #2: Skim the fat. The easier way to do this is to remove the chicken from the pot once it's cooked. Refrigerate the meat for later use. Then place the pot with the stock in the refrigerator over night. In the morning, you should see a nice layer of solid fat floating on top of the stock. Use a spoon to remove the chunks of fat - now you have an even healthier, lower fat stock.

Now you're ready to make the soup:
1. Bring the stock back up to a boil, then add a few drops of lemon juice (Secret #3) - it helps keep the liquid clear vs. cloudy.

2. Add your favorite ingredients once the stock in boiling, then turn back to a simmer. Here's what I add to mine: 1 diced onion, 1-2 garlic cloves (Secret #4), diced celery, chopped carrots, diced tomatoes, dried or fresh parley, salt and pepper. (The only "chicken" I have in my soup is what's in the broth - I like using the cooked chicken in other recipes - Secret #5) These are all to taste which is the great thing about soups. Experiment until you find your favorite combination. I've discovered it's wise to start with 1 tsp sea salt per 6 cups of water then add a little more salt as needed.

3. Here's the final and my best secret: wait until you are ready to eat the soup before adding peas and noodles.Until recently, I always added my noodles and peas along with the rest of the ingredients. This always resulted in sickly pea-green peas and mushy huge noodles if I ate the soup over several days or froze some for later use. By waiting until the day/meal when you're going to eat the soup to add these two ingredients, you will have lovely bright green peas bobbing in your bowl and firm noodles. So much more appealing.

2. Gift of No Coughing @ Night

Here's something to try that's weird but works. If you put vapo rub (I use Olbas Oil instead because I like using natural oils) on the bottoms of your feet at night, it helps suppress nighttime coughing. I don't know why it works, but most of the time, when my kids have had nighttime coughs and I've done this, they seem to make it through the night with no or very little coughing.

3. Gift of Scaring Away the Germs
The best gift of all is kicking a cold before it gets a foothold. At the first sign of a sore throat or cold symptoms and as symptoms persist, try gargling or drinking a diluted solution of apple cider vinegar (ACV). A brand like Bragg's is best and if you check out their website, you'll see a number of health benefits of ACV. It's an acquired taste, but I'll take it over a scratchy throat and foggy head any day.

If you have a "gift" you'd like me to consider wrapping into a 3 Gifts on Thursday package, please email me the details. It can be anything you are hosting or have heard about: from a giveaways to service projects, household/parenting tips, resources, promotions/coupon codes, items such as books, music, movies, etc (ones available for purchase online). If I choose to incorporate your gift suggestion into a 3 Gifts post, I will email you to let you know when it will be featured.

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Blue Cotton Memory said...

My boys LOVE my chicken noodle soup - I hadn't thought about the lemon juice. I'll tell you my secret. . . ssshhhh. . . . a family-size can of cream of mushroom soup. I can't do veggies unless they're purreed (seeing cooked veggies freaks my boys out - they only like them uncooked. Who'd a thunk!

I'd love a bowl of yours, though. It sounds wintery yum!

Thanks for sharing your yummy gift. We chicken soup moms have to stick together!!! Merry Christmas! said...

What an absolutely beautiful blog!
I came here because you left such a thought filled comment on my blog...but I am just so blessed to rummage around here.
I fancy myself quite the stock maker... However that secret about the lemon juice is rocking my world.
A million thanks for everything!