Periodically Otto and I discuss the things which we feel will be important to us, as a couple and as a new family, once we’re all living in the same house. For example: Otto feels it a crucial matter of family unity that we all enjoy watching Mythbusters, whereas I am mostly trying to impress upon him the mileage that can be gotten out of regular foot rubs.
One of the things we quickly reached agreement on was our mutual desire to attain a healthier lifestyle, despite the fact that both of us are generally happier sitting on the couch eating pie than jogging.
Now, Otto and I both really love to cook. This is a welcome change, for me—that he both enjoys cooking and is good at it—because I have been doing all of the cooking around here for, um, forever. And I don’t mind, really, but it would be nice to know that if I COULDN’T cook for some reason, or if I was just tired or needed a break or whatever, that there might still be food other than Cheez-Its and Froot Loops.
So the other night we were talking about how hard it can be to make preparing truly healthy food a priority. For one thing, it’s a pet lament of mine how much more expensive fresh, chemical-free foods are than the alternative. For another, it’s so easy to cook with processed components and not even think about it (how many recipes call for a can of soup? processed breadcrumbs? etc.) as opposed to truly preparing from scratch. The end result is that the healthiest way to cook and eat is both much more expensive and time-consuming. Hmph.
I’m also becoming concerned about the amount of (less than healthy) snacking I’ve been doing. (Me like food! Food nice! Chocolate food SUPER NICE!) I think that making an effort to just be more aware of what I’m preparing and eating will help me to curb some of my mindless nibbling.
Today—with our recent discussion of these issues in mind—I took a chicken out of my deep freeze and made soup. There is little in this world that I find more delicious and comforting than homemade chicken soup. It simmered for half the day and made the house smell amazing.
Monday is often a busy day for me, and perhaps I didn’t think this plan all the way through; I had to go skim the soup a few times, true, but that was no big deal. It was when it was done that I remembered all of the post-production work soup requires. I removed the chicken and veggies for cleaning and either discarding or chopping (I save the carrots and parsnips, but the celery and onions are frightening), then strained the broth and set the pot in the garage to cool.
In a second (smaller) pot, I layered in the saved veggies and some of the chicken, then set that in the garage as well. That will be the soup we eat this week, once I remove the fat from the broth and add some back in to that pot. (And then add either noodles or rice.) Then I pulled out containers to freeze the rest of the broth in (to be used for future soups, or to cook with).
I still had quite a lot of chicken, so I picked through it and set some aside for homemade pot pie (dinner tomorrow night) and made up a small container of chicken salad (lunch for me a couple of times this week). All the while I was feeling very pleased; so many meals—completely from scratch, with fresh ingredients—all along the lines of the healthy choices we’d been discussing.
Once all of that was done, I found myself wishing I’d bought a nice loaf of bread to go with the soup. Wait! Hadn’t I read a recipe for a bread that didn’t require kneading? Why yes, I had! I could probably make that bread without screwing it up. I hoped. (Look; I don’t normally make bread or anything that involves either yeast or handling of dough. My pie crust has the consistency of cardboard, and my previous attempts at bread have resulted in impressive doorstops.) Well, I’d give it a shot.
I got the dough mixed up and set it on the stove to rise. Of course, it’s a little chilly in my house. It’s ALWAYS chilly in my house, but today was a windy day and it was particularly drafty. Maybe I’d just turn the oven on for a bit, to make sure the dough bowl didn’t get too cold.
You know, once the oven’s on, I may as well just go ahead and bake something. Not the bread; that would have to rise for another 12+ hours. Maybe something for dessert? Maybe I could figure out something.
Or maybe I’d open up the pantry and come face to face with a box of brownie mix.
It’s not my FAULT. I really TRIED to turn over a new leaf and I was all, fresh ingredients! Cooked from scratch! So healthy and wonderful! And I was just trying to complete the picture of domestic bliss by making my own bread, you know. That’s why I turned the oven on. But then that box of brownie mix leapt out of the cabinet and demanded that I add two eggs and some water and oil to its delicious, sugary, chemical-laden goodness and put them in the oven. I tried to bat it away from me with what was left of a bunch of leeks but they weren’t strong enough.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that chicken soup can lead to standing in your kitchen, eating warm brownies directly from the pan. With a spoon.