Wrap me in Comfort

Last week when I was down-and-out with one of the virulent bugs that seems to be traveling our nation, I just wanted comfort. Nothing else. Medicine was not going to help this bug, but extra measures of comfort would. Amazing how such primal things reign supreme. Maybe I’m just a big, high-maintenance baby, but I suspect not.

The feeling of wanting comfort, especially you are feeling under the weather, can transport you back to your childhood in an instant. We roam the planet as adults now, with mortgages, bills,  and responsibilities up the wazoo, but there’s a little smidge of us that still loves to be babied. I want that green and black mini tray table that would carry the chicken soup (broth, noodles and broccoli thrown in their for extra vitamins) and saltines that mom would bring me. It would wobble on top of my many blankets but I can still hear the clank of the spoon on it and feel the unbalanced nature of it as I slurped by brothy medicine. Remote in hand (or no remote when I was growing up…holy cow, that makes me sound so old….you either got someone to change the channel for you or worse, you were stuck with whatever was on. That was the “measure of sick”, whether you could get out of bed to change the channel or not), stack of magazines on the bed beside you, hopefully someone giving you a kiss on the forehead. Those work to soothe most ills.

It’s really amazing to me what comfort can do, in all seriousness. The idea of having a support system or safety net somehow carries you through. From the small to the big, it all truly makes a difference-every teeny, little bit.

A friend of mine is going through a very serious time right now and she posts frequently on Facebook to update her friends on her condition. The string of cheers and exclamations and good words that she receives with each post is amazing. The goodness just flows through the air and I would imagine that it is a great boost to her mindset. Imagine if those words didn’t come? If you had to handle things solo? We all need our cheerleaders, our good vibe-senders, and our comfort-and-kiss-on-the-forehead givers.

Just as much as we need air to breathe. At least, that’s how it seems sometimes.

And that said, I’m going to give you a recipe now to lighten this all up a little bit. There is nothing quite a comforting as the ol’ Jewish Penicillin, aka chicken soup. Hot as lava and easy-going down, it’s like a hug for your insides. How’s that for schmaltzy? This is a great recipe for one. Yes, everyone has their own way of doing a good broth, but a real cook can master the simplest foods, and those sometimes are the hardest things to do.

(with this-the trick is the onion skins and the whole bulb of garlic).

Go get your comfort on or bring some of this to a friend who needs it.

Homemade Chicken Stock-Barefoot Contessa, slightly amended by me
*add brown rice, angel hair pasta snapped into 1-inch pieces, and veggies of your choosing)

1 (5 lb.) roasting chicken
2 large yellow onions (keep skins on…gives broth a nice color)
4 carrots, unpeeled and halved
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half
10 fresh parsley sprigs
8 fresh thyme sprigs
10 fresh dill sprigs
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
salt to taste
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns

Place the chicken, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, herbs, salt and pepper in a large stockpot. Add water to cover chicken by a few inches. Bring to boil over high heat. Skim any (gross) foam that comes to the surface. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for several hours (3-ish).

Strain the entire contents of pot through a colander, discarding solids (you can pick the chicken meat at this point and save to put in the soup, cut up. Watch for bones). Pack in containers and refrigerate. When stock is cold, remove surface fat and refrigerate again.

To heat, simply add chicken, noodles/rice or veggies of choosing. I even like to chiffonade kale into the soup for an extra blast of healthy.

(and as an aside, can someone please tell me what that gross foam is all about anyway?? What the heck is that from? Why does a cooking chicken do that? Ew.)

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