Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Chicken Soup For My Soul
February 3, 2012 The Age Of Aquarius comes to a close. Neptune moves into Pisces where it has not been since 1847. I have been reading about this, curious. So many of my close friends are undergoing deep, primordial-like transformations. Pushed into the deep waters of life. Deaths, re-arranging, letting go, break-ups, career bumps, health issues. Almost no one that I know seems to be untouched as of late.
This has been a tender, tender week for me. My house is either foreclosing or being bought in short sale very soon. Another letting go. The parcel we lived on was 51 acres with three meadows. A community treasure. We were entrusted to steward the land. It was not to be, however. Building the house was a labor of love. A creation that was fully our own, down to the last detail. We designed and built the whole house with blood, sweat and tears and then finally moved in. A welcomed event, since we had spent the previous 6 years living in an old japanese tea house up the hill that offered few creature comforts and no working toilet for much of the time! But, within months, the market crashed, my husband's small business started gasping for air and we faced the struggle of how we would afford the dream. We limped along until we split up, and then it was official that the house was going. We could not afford the mortgage if we were not married. Weeks after our split I called a real estate agent. I cried when she told me that realistically our house was worth about half of what we paid for it due to the state of the housing market, and there was no way out except letting it go. Word traveled like lightening in my neighborhood and what was news and gossip to neighbors was heartbreak to me. And although my ex-husband and I now are virtually strangers to one another, we share this heartbreak equally. A home that represented beauty, socializing, community, friends, neighbors, history, tradition is moving out of our hands now. I feel sad, so sad to say goodbye to that life that was so welcoming to me. A community that was so special and lovely that to say it was a home does not even do it justice. I knew almost all of my neighbors on a first name basis, and it was special in that we were all living in off-grid houses, homesteaders of sorts, foraging a special kind of dream where only those who wanted to live so far off the beaten path do. A wild bunch of old timers, artists, poets, scientists, writers and musicians. A new generation has started moving more into the community now, many of them close friends who are raising families in that wild rural landscape. And while I am happier living in my little rental house in town, surrounded by close friends, love and support, this week I struggle to let go of that big dream we set into motion that touched so many people's lives, as well as our own. The dream that taught me what community means. What kind neighbors mean. What people can do when they come together and take care of one another. And, how life leads us in the perfect direction even though tears and sadness may try to tell me otherwise.
Today I made soup. I needed the warmth. I am tired from so much crying. This recipe has been my chicken soup standard for a while now. It takes about 15 min to put it together and about a hour to cook. I put the chicken thighs in the broth whole and shred them after cooking the soup, but before serving. Unlike most chicken soups, this has shiitake mushrooms and lemon zest to make it stand out. The combo of those two ingredients makes this taste bright and smoky at the same time. You could add onions, leeks and/or garlic if you like.
Shitake Lemon Chicken Soup
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped shiitakes (stems removed and discarded)
1 cup chopped parsely
1 pound boneless chicken thighs (around 4 thighs)
zest of 2 lemons (I use meyer lemons when in season)
7 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup olive oil
Sautee carrots, celery, shiitakes and parsley in olive oil. Add chicken thighs and stock and cook on medium heat for an hour or more.