Chicken Soup and the Passions of Youth


I spent the early part of the day in the grip of a near-migraine and with the recurring feeling that my right hand might seize up around whatever I happened to be holding at the moment.  I finally decided modern-day medicine wasn’t such a terrible idea when I saw it was 2pm, but in my foggy state, it still felt like eleven in the morning.

So, although we rose late for the season, the day didn’t really seem to begin until mid-afternoon. I put a big chicken in my enormous stockpot, threw in a wild combination of herbs and spices, and set it on to simmer while I critiqued the last few essays for my comp class and revisited a few chapters of M.F.K. Fischer’s How to Cook a Wolf in preparation for another blog post I’m working on.

I got that chicken at the farmers market yesterday, along with some heritage ground beef from a herd of Dexters raised by our lamb guy, and I also bought some lamb brats and summer sausage before they were all gone.

Didn’t have as much produce to bring to the market, but I gave myself permission to spend about half of what I did make on locally grown and produced goodies from other vendors: the aforementioned meats, a loaf of intoxicating yogurt bread, and some handmade soaps and laundry detergent (to add to my soap-hoard).

Unfortunately, the late hour at which I returned from the market coupled with my extreme hunger for dinner made me eschew unloading the pickup in favor of live music and a burger at Raziel’s (after making a few calls to veggie producers for next week’s market–I’m on it!).

Waiting to unload isn’t generally a problem, except that it started raining sometime last night, and it didn’t stop until late this afternoon. If you see a big blue pop-up tent in my yard, I’m not having a party; I’m drying the thing out.

The chicken simmered in the pot until it took two big bamboo spoons to lift it–the meat sliding off the bones and back into the depths of a savory broth that perfumed the entire house and made the constant rain more bearable.

I put the bones and skin back in the pot along with a couple small, split-and-seeded lemons and a palm of salt. I’ve heard anecdotaly that a little acid in the broth helps release some calcium from the bones. The meat went in a bowl, refrigerated for some other dish while the stock reduced a bit more.

The dog had been restless all afternoon and early evening, but with the rain the dog park was out of the question–not wanting to stand in the mud, in the rain.  I finally gave up and took her down there to sniff around and for a walk on the Cotton Park trails about 9 o’ clock tonight, when it wasn’t much darker than it’d been at 9 this morning–it’s getting toward the solstice!

When I let her through the gate to leave the dog park, she looked so hopefully at the path and then back at me that I assented; her tail went up, and she took off down the trail.  It’s nice to make one’s companion happy.  She stopped a little ways down, at attention, and I figured she’d spotted a rabbit.

But she was looking very quizzically at that rabbit, so I caught up with her and realized the “rabbit” was a young couple acting like a couple of cottontails–making out in the horizontal position in the soccer field just beyond the little opening from the paved trail.

Well, now.  It occurred to me just for a second to let the dog “investigate,” but realized the couple mightn’t think it was amusing, so we left them to their fondlings and continued down the trail.

H is off shooting a wedding tonight, so I’m flying solo on a simple dinner of barley, carrots, shallots, and the remaining tidbits of chicken that fell from the bones in the stock reduction process, along with a couple cups of that stock for the barley to soak up.

The barley, carrots and broth  is my traditional sick day soup–though I’m feeling much better now and managed to get all the dishes done from today’s chicken project and yesterday’s dill and onion focaccia.

Tomorrow I’m hoping for a little sunshine to dry out the pop-up and finally unload the rest of my market paraphernalia from the pickup. It’d be wishful thinking to suggest that the gardens will dry out enough to do anything of consequence there, so I’ll likely be doing the same types of projects around the house again. But hopefully with no migraine this time!

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