It is just a few days before Christmas and the really hard part for me has arrived. I’m not talking about what to get my husband, my son or my daughter. I’m talking about making my own Christmas list so my poor family can get their shopping done. I’ve tried the “don’t get me anything, my present is making you happy” thing and they just don’t buy it. I don’t blame them, why should I be the only one that gets to experience the joy of giving? So here I am, again this year, sitting at my keyboard with my thinking cap on, trying to conjure up something. This always makes me feel incredibly lucky that I don’t need new crutches or a hip operation or food for my cupboard. What a problem to have, to need to come up with a list of things that a group of people who love me can go out and buy and lovingly wrap and present to me in the warmth of our beautiful home on Christmas morning. I rest my case, I don’t need anything that I don’t already have, but that just isn’t good enough for them. Well, after much consternation, I have managed to come up with a few things that would make me happy but as you can tell, they might not be so easy to find at Macy’s. So, dear family, here’s my list in no particular order of importance. Happy shopping!
Mom’s Christmas List for 2010:
1. A good $40 bra that’s straps won’t constantly slide off of my shoulders with underwires that poke me in the armpits. I know that Oprah endorses some really good $100 ones but you shouldn’t have to mortgage the farm to comfortably hold up the girls.
2. A washer proof cell phone. I want one that can go through the whole heavy duty cycle and still work. They put a man on the moon in 1969; you would think that 41 years later something like this wouldn’t be such a big problem.
3. Universal cell phone chargers so you don’t have to buy a new car charger every time you wash your cell phone and have to buy a new one.
4. A family dinner at that intriguing looking little Middle Eastern restaurant on the sketchy side of town without any complaining by any teenage boys.
5. Never having to hear the words Heidi, Spencer or Kardashian ever again.
6. A winning lottery ticket wouldn’t hurt.
7. Age appropriate clothing for Cher.
8. A new meat thermometer since my old one was used to check aquarium water temperature last year while I was in England.
9. A good therapist for a couple of members of my extended family (don’t laugh, everybody has ‘em).
10. Osama Bin Laden’s head on a stick.
Well, that’s about it. See I’m not so hard to shop for, although I’ll admit some of these things are going to be really hard to wrap, but remember you asked.
To repay my sweet little family for all of their hard work and shopping, I’m going to cook one of their favorite soups. I started making this one day when all I had to work with was the dregs of my vegetable crisper and a store bought rotisserie chicken carcass. With just a splash of cream, which can easily be omitted if desired, it will give you a nice little break from all the rich holiday food that seems to be everywhere now days.
Creamy Chicken Soup
I always save my roast chicken scraps for soups. Throwing away all of those flavorful bones to me is like throwing away the change from a $5 bill. I’d never dream of being so wasteful. Whether you make this recipe or throw in some vegetables with some rice or noodles, you will definitely get a bonus meal for four people out of what you once thought to be nothing.
1 leftover rotisserie chicken carcass or reserved cooked or uncooked chicken bones (turkey works well too)
6 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium size onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 cup cream (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Place chicken, water, bouillon granules, celery, onion, carrots and bay leaf in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken bones and transfer to a cutting board to cool; discard bay leaf.
If you have an emersion blender, blend vegetables and stock until creamy in the stockpot. If you are using a countertop blender, remove from the heat and cool mixture. Working in 2 or 3 batches, blend until creamy. Set aside 1/2 cup of the stock and return the remainder to stockpot; set aside.
Remove chicken meat from the bones and discard bones. Chop the meat into small bite size pieces. Add meat to the broth in the stockpot and heat through over medium heat. Add parsley, sage, cream and salt and pepper to taste.
Place the 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup reserved broth to form a paste. Add to the hot stock in the pot and bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly, whisk in the flour mixture, cook for approximately 2-3 minutes.
Serve immediately or cover, cool and refrigerate until ready to eat.