Saturday, May 19, 2007

Best Chicken Soup Ever (According to Brent)

Okay, so Brent is my husband. That might make you think his opinion doesn't count. Especially if he offered it while I was hovering nearby.

Well, make a pot and judge for yourself!

Chicken Soup

In a dutch oven (which is a large pot in case you never heard them called that) on medium heat:

A tablespoon of oil
2 chicken breasts cut into small cubes (chicken is easiest to cut when it's still mostly frozen, by the way so if you're not using fresh, don't thaw it out very much before you chop it up)

Cook stirring often until the bottom of the pot gets just a little brown.

With your mortar and pestle, grind together:

1 tablespoon summer savory
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp of Montreal Chicken or similar spice

Sprinkle the powdered results over the cooked chicken

Add:

6 - 8 cups of  boiling water
1 box chicken broth (or 2 extra cups water and 2 chicken oxo)
1 finely chopped onion OR 1 pkg of dry onion soup mix

1/2 cup quinoa (rinsed)
2/3 cup pearl barley (rinsed)
3 -4 stalks celery washed and chopped

When it all comes to a boil, turn down, cover and simmer on low heat for an hour or so.

Add:

1 parsnip finely sliced
5 medium carrots, chopped
2 - 3 medium potatoes, diced

Optional:
For a heartier soup, add half cup each of one or two of the following:
Chopped cauliflower
Cubed turnip
Chopped green cabbage
Chopped green beans
Fresh or frozen peas
Fresh or frozen kernel corn

Simmer for another hour.

Eat. Rejoice in the deliciousness!
And if you have the sniffles, get better!




Friday, May 18, 2007

Low Carb, Low Calorie, High Protein Muffins


Whether you're counting calories or carbs, or wanting a little more protein in your diet, this could be the muffin recipe you've been looking for.

Approximate counts for carbs, calories and protein are listed below, but you should check your own ingredients for 100% accuracy, as these numbers will vary slightly with different brands.

Don't get your beater out - you'll be mixing these up with a spoon.

In a medium mixing bowl mix:

1 1/2 cups all bran cereal. (not flakes)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter (**see nut free option below)

Let sit for a couple of minutes. Turn your oven on to 375 degrees.

You might as well get the muffin pan (large) ready now too - a touch of cooking spray or (and this works as well for a lot less) a tiny drop of vegetable oil, spread around with a basting brush. I don't recommend using cupcake papers, but parchment would be fine.

Now, add:

2/3 cup skim milk powder
2 tablespoons granulated Splenda or brown sugar substitute
1/4 cup flour (enriched white or whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder

Divide this evenly in your prepared muffin pan and pop in the preheated oven for 15 - 18 minutes. The top will spring back to a light touch when done.

** Nut free option - replace peanut butter with 1 tsp cinnamon, or some orange zest or other flavouring, or just bake them plain.

And now -- the numbers!

Each muffin has approximately:

13 carbs
8 grams protein
120 calories

Peanut butter free version:

12 carbs
6.5 grams protein
90 calories

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cat Scratch Fever!



Yes, I said cat scratch fever. It's the only explanation I can think of to account for the decision we've made.

That being - to keep all of the cats. Yes, Mom Lily, and all four of her babies.

"We'll be known as the crazy cat people,"I told Brent.

"So?" he said, shrugging.

We'd gone over and over the subject. At any given moment you could find us firmly determined to keep one, two, four, none ... it had gone back and forth and around and around. In the end, it was Thragg who decided things for us.

Thragg is the firstborn, a black male with a tiny white tuft at his throat and a single white hair protruding from the middle of his back. He'd also become the runt of the litter after growing at a normal rate for the first five weeks. As he fell behind, the others tended to crowd him out -- he clearly wasn't getting his share of milk, and then Mommy decided that it was time to begin weaning.

To top that off, Thragg took sick, not once but a couple of times. By week six and in spite of our interventions, he was thin and fragile, while the others bounded about, their chubby bodies landing on him as they played. He headed for cover, seeking us out, wanting to be held and protected. And all the while, he got thinner and thinner. His eyes lost expression, his walk became a listless stagger.

It was quite apparent to us that we were losing the little guy. A milk substitute, complete with a pet nurser didn't tempt him. Private sessions we'd been orchestrating with Mommy were no longer working -- she refused to oblige. For several days we rose each morning suffused in dread. Each time, he made his way weakly along and sat at our feet in the most pathetic manner.

As our worry grew, we decided to take him to the local SPCA (from whence Lily had come) for a prognosis. Dreading the worst, Brent could hardly believe his ears when Cindy checked him over and declared, "Nothing wrong with this kitten! He's just a runt." She offered instructions on making gruel for him and showed us how to use the pet nurser more effectively.

It was a turning point. He began to pick up right away, and now, as he nears eight weeks, the tiny creature is rounding out and making gains steadily. Still less than half the size of two of his siblings (as you can see in the photo) the spark is back in his eyes and he's even engaging in a little play.

You'd almost think this would be reason to keep him - maybe only him - but not the others. You'd be wrong. Believing we were losing Thragg showed us how precious each of these tiny creatures really are to us. We love each and every one of them.

And this is why they're staying.

That, and cat scratch fever.