Monday, July 11, 2016

Just Like Mom's: Chicken and Noodles

This is the first post in a new series I've decided to do. Most of these posts will be about things I've been taught to cook by my mother, Sharon Bayer. Some will be about things I've been taught to cook by my mother or others, And some will be about things I've learned to cook by myself. First up: Chicken and Noodles. This recipe is one my mother taught me to cook, with a few tweaks by me to meet the tastes of my own family.

Homemade Chicken and Noodles

One whole chicken, defrosted if frozen, giblets removed
3 stalks celery, washed and diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 whole onion, diced
1 teaspoon each Simon and Garfunkel (you know, "parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme")
1 whole bay leaf

6 eggs
6 Tablespoons whole milk
6 cups all purpose flour

Salt to taste, and pepper

To begin, put the whole chicken in a pot of fresh cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add one whole carrot, one whole celery stalk, and half of the onion. Put Simon and Garfunkel and the bay leaf in either a muslin spice bag or a piece of cheesecloth, tie shut, and simmer for about 4 hours.(I do this because I work from home, but if you don't, do this on a snowy Saturday when you just don't feel like leaving the house.)
As soon as you have the chicken and spices simmering, make the noodles:
Beat the eggs lightly in a bowl with a fork, then add in the milk. Salt lightly, then, add in the flour a cup at a time. (These aren't real egg noodles; real egg noodles don't have milk in them, but these are great, sort of a cross between noodles and dumplings.) As soon as the eggs won't take any more flour, dump the whole mess onto a floured countertop. (I use an antique noodle board I found at a sale, or alternatively a pastry cloth. But before I had either of those, I used my plain old clean floured melamine countertop. They're all pretty much the same. Just don't whatever you do, use wax paper. Your noodles will never dry. E.V.E.R.) Anywho, after you dump out the the noodley mess, knead all the flour and such into a dough, but not any longer. What this means is, as soon as it sort of holds together, stop kneading. Then let it rest for about 20 minutes, and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza wheel, cut into strips and then crosswise into noodle size slices. These plump when you cook 'em, so make them a little smaller than you think you'd like them to be. After they're cut, leave them to dry while your chicken cooks. After about two hours, flip them over to dry on the other side.

Back to the chicken: Once your chicken is cooked through, remove it to a plate to cool a bit. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove the spice bag and vegetables and pitch them. You can strain the broth at this point by pouring it through a colander into a very large heat proof bowl. Wipe out the pot, return the broth, and add enough water so it fills the pot about 2/3 of the way, then bring back to a boil. Add the dices carrot, celery, and onion, and reduce to a simmer for about an hour.  Remove chicken from bones and shred, then set aside. Once the veggies are cooked, return the pot to a full boil and begin adding the noodles few at a time, stirring after each addition. Once they're all in there, salt the whole thing generously. Cook until the noodles are done, then stir in the chicken and reheat. Serve in  big bowls with a fork. The noodles will absorb most of the broth while cooking, but you can serve bread slices with this if you want to soak up whatever broth remains in your bowl after eating.
Note: You can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts and canned chicken broth to make this, but it will NOT taste the same. And do take the time to make the homemade noodles, they are fabulous.
Second note: the "Simon and Garfunkel" reference came about when I was teaching my daughter to make these. She wondered how I remembered which spices go into it, so I taught her the refrain from that song. Now we always sing it when I make these. Memories :)

And On The Seventh Day...

And on the seventh day...God cleaned the entire downstairs, vacuumed, washed the dogs, did laundry, got groceries, planned the week's menu, ran errands, cooked two full meals, and threatened to kill a child who put his dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher.

Hmm. Doesn't sound like it came from the book of Genesis, does it? That, however, pretty much accurately describes how I was feeling Sunday. And then my husband reminded me we were supposed to take the boat out with our daughter and her boyfriend. I went, but let me tell you, it was done very grudgingly. And with much grumbling once we got out there. There I was , on a boat on a beautiful stretch of river on a gorgeous day, making lists in my head, and estimating the amount of time it would take me to finish everything by the time I had to start dinner. And them something happened. The wind started to blow up some tiny little breakers and a boat passed us. The resulting waves caused the boat to rock gently back and forth, some spray hit me in the face, and I got a whiff of that river smell. The list drifted away, I closed my eyes, and exhaled for what felt like the first time in a week. After that the boat ride was fun, and I did something I hadn't done in days. Rested.
   God always knows best, doesn't he? Resting is not just a good idea, it is absolutely necessary to a person's well being and general good health.
I'm so busy all. the. time.  We all are, I know. The reason it bothers some people so much (me included !) , is that we forget to take the time to rest. I rarely just sit. If we're watching television, I've usually got a tablet in my hand and a notebook nearby to write down those lists that are always popping up in my head. But that's all just clutter, brain clutter. The same way that visual clutter distracts your eye, brain clutter distracts your focus. You've heard all this before. But this time, take the time to learn it.
   I'm trying to make time to rest my brain as well as my body. Counter-intuitively, I've added some things back in to my day to give me time to rest: a daily devotional, which I find I have missed. A better routine in my work. Knowing what comes next is better for me, as it gives my brain a rest, and better for the children, as well.
 I've also been avoiding things that make me feel crazy. I've been mostly avoiding Facebook this week, for instance, because every post I see is about the awful things that have been happening around us lately.
 In doing these things, I hope to give myself a chance to clear the mental clutter and actually rest when I get a day off.
 I hope you can all clear some of the clutter out of your brain this week, and give yourselves a chance to rest!