Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Little Spring Break

Some of you may be wondering where I've gone, or been, or why I'm not posting.

Or maybe not . . .

I'm going to tell you anyway.

What with working full time, keeping up with the house, husband, critters and garden, posting has taken a temporary back seat.

So I guess I have to admit to myself that I've been taking a break.

Admit it so I don't flog myself daily for not blogging.

Meantime, even though I don't always leave comments, I am staying in touch with you as I read and enjoy your blogs.

And I will get back with the program. Really I will.

Sometime soon.

In fact, this little post just might do the trick.

We'll see.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring Vegetable Soup For Weekend Herb Blogging

A direct consequence of my having gone back to work full time is that I don't cook as much (or at least not much that hasn't been done before.) Which results in my not posting as much. Which eventually results in the DT's brought on by blog withdrawal. This week then, just when I was giving myself a good talking to about getting back to cooking and posting recipes, I dislocated a tendon that runs down a groove between shoulder and elbow (the name of which eludes me), rendering my right arm useless and me in blinding pain. I didn't even know that tendon existed let alone that it could be dislocated. Moreover, I'm not really sure exactly how I did it, as the pain didn't start until long after I'd thrown my sweet horse her evening flake of hay (which I've been doing for many years so go figure.)

So now my excuse is not so much that I'm working full time, but that it's hard to cook with one and a half arms (the elbow to fingertips part works just fine as long as the upper arm is glued to my ribs.) Quel dilemma. Coinciding with this tendon fiasco is the fact that Mr CC is away at a conference, offering sympathy by phone yet unable to give any help at all.

Even with full use of body parts, there is something about being home alone that quells the more creative cook side of me. Throw injury into the mix and I definitely turn into a simpler-is-better-certainly-easier-and less-painful kind of cook. Take this soup for instance: Thawed chicken stock brought to a simmer with fresh, organically grown vegetables tossed in plus garbanzo beans and there you have a healthy one-pot meal that takes just a few minutes to prepare, with minimal clean up. If you make enough of this it will carry you into the next day's lunch when you can sprinkle it with a chopped, hard cooked egg.

I finished a book recently that talked about the need for Americans to eat less processed, packaged, refined foods and eat more whole foods, especially those containing omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds, walnuts and salmon are the most well-known foods high is this essential nutrient, but leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collards are also a good source as are strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower and scallops.

Chard, beet tops, broccoli and spinach came from my garden just moments before being washed, chopped or shredded and tossed into the soup pot. The rest of the vegetables came organically grown and snapping fresh from our local co-op. I had a small amount of Neiman Ranch Uncured Applewood Smoked Ham which, as you may imagine, gave the soup a lovely smokey depth. The gruyère practically begged to be added ... I couldn't say no.

Spring Vegetable Soup
Christine's original recipe
4 to 6 cups home made chicken stock or a good packaged organic stock
20 shelling peas (about), shelled
1 bunch asparagus, stalks peeled if tough, cut into bite-sized pieces
Several small stalks broccoli, stalks peeled if tough, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced greens, such as chard, kale, spinach and beet tops
1 can organic chickpeas (garbanzos) drained
1/3 cup each uncured (no nitrites or nitrates) ham and gruyère cheese, cubed (optional)
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat.
Add the vegetables, garbanzos and ham, if using, and simmer until just tender.
Add the cheese, if using, and allow it to melt slightly.
Ladle into warmed bowls and serve with a delicious crusty artisan bread.

Even though I didn't add any herbs to my soup, and even though I'm not showcasing any one vegetable, I'm sending this post along to my friend
Kalyn as my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging - because this soup features a mix of fresh vegetables that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential and woefully lacking ingredient in so many Americans' diets. Kalyn created WHB over two years ago and it's still one of the most popular food events in the blogosphere. Click here to see how to enter, and while you're at it, peruse Kalyn's blog for some über healthy and tasty recipes. And if you'd like to see another dish that is loaded with omega-3's, look at what Kirsten of
Kirsten's Home Cookingcame up with recently. Zowie!

And by the way, my arm is healing, somewhat slowly but nicely, and I should be back to cooking up a storm soon.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved