Thursday, December 3, 2009

Keeping Track


















A few days ago I made a list of recipes to make this week. Today was Dad’s Chicken Tortilla Soup. As I type it sits simmering on the stove. From the outset I know I’ll have detractors but they’ll never learn to like a variety of things if they don’t try a variety of things, right? Just smile and nod. That’s it.

I pulled out the recipe this morning and read through it:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 Tbs. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, diced
4 tsp. chili powder
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 lb. frozen corn
Oregano
Cumin
1 quart or more chicken broth
2 cans chopped green chilies
2 big onions, diced
2 cans black beans
2 jars tomatoes
4 cups cooked chicken, chopped

Soft corn tortillas, ripe avocado, sour cream, shredded jack cheese; any or all to top each bowl. Fry tortilla till leathery. Chop to small pieces to top.

Up to a day ahead, cut up and pressure cook a fryer with plenty of water. Use onion, celery, carrot, and seasonings enjoyed in broth. 30 minutes or cook in a regular pot as needed till tender. Set aside meat to pick apart; let broth stand. Freeze extra broth for later.

Sauté the onions in oil till tender. Add garlic, chili powder, and oregano, and cook 1 minute more.

Add tomatoes, broth, corn, chilies, beans, and chicken. Simmer 20 minutes covered.

Adjust for hot and spice, to taste, with cumin and cayenne pepper, that sort of thing. Also use salt and black pepper to taste.

Refrigerate or serve. When hot, stir in the cilantro leave; add chopped avocado, tortilla pieces, sour cream, cheese as desired on top of each bowl.

I read through the recipe and decided right away that I was pulling chicken breasts out of the freezer and using canned broth. Also, I don’t know what the equivalent of a jar of tomatoes is so I started with a big can. Seemed like enough. From the freezer I found corn and bell peppers from my parents. The latter wasn’t in the recipe but seemed like a nice addition.

Going to the freezer to scout out ingredients is always an adventure. My parents bring a cooler of mostly homegrown/homemade stuff every trip and don’t always let me know what they’ve laid in. Today I saw tubs of apple sauce and vegetable soup. There were freezer bags of corn, green beans, lobster, and crab meat as well as containers of seafood gumbo and French onion soup. It’s truly a treasure trove though not every member of the family agrees.

Something cool about these packages of food is how they label them. Everything is labeled with the contents and the date, of course, but also added is whatever was going on that day. Today the corn package read “Painted Deck” and the bell peppers read “Roofing Sunroom” as well as “85 ºF”. I’m not entirely sure why my parents do this, I mean it’s not a permanent notation like something you’d make on a calendar you keep (Mom has her calendars she writes on daily since the early 70’s). Still, it’s kind of interesting. Over the years I’ve used frozen foods labeled with information about all kinds of home and farm related things such as when different cows were bred, how many bales were brought in, when trees were pruned. It brings a smile to my face.

For awhile Michael Sr. did something sort of like that. He bought a Mensa Sudoku book and each time he finished a puzzle he wrote down the date and something about that day. It seemed almost like a journal when he was done. Dad framed it and it’s hanging in our room. Sounds weird but then again Dad framed his first TV remote control too.

I’m thinking about a New Year’s resolution. I’ve been good (read: STELLAR) about writing here every day since I started but I’d also like to start writing something on a calendar each day. Not a lot; just something noteworthy. It’s interesting to look back on, at least for the kids. Another idea I read somewhere was taking 365 index cards (I know, that’s an awful lot), punching a hole in the corner of each one, and putting them together with a good sized binder ring. The month and day number would be written across the top and each year would have a line. Without an index card in front of me I don’t know how many years this could represent but it would be a few. Anyway, a person would write a sentence or two each day about what they (or their children) noticed about the world around them. Like the temperature, the tulips bloomed, the first snow, things like that. I think no matter what was written, it would be interesting to compare the years.

I guess I have a few weeks to figure out how to start documenting the next decade. Any cool ideas to share? If so, post them on the group site for everyone:)!

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1 comment:

  1. What a great idea. I think I will try something similar with our family. We have a McShane Family mailbox, but it has been empty for quite some time. I think this would help us continue to communicate/reconnect at least weekly. I like to hear what my kids think and see, but sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get information, and others need a plug for the continuous flood of information. Middle ground is good, this would help to keep it consise, but with insight into their life and heads.

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So, what do you think?