Chicken & Lemon Soup

Since I am suggesting soups for busy families this fall I wanted to share this recipe from my book, Real Food for Real People (Amazon).  It’s great for little kids because it is creamy and white.  An irresistible combination for the picky eater and it is absolutely comfort food for the rest of us.  Paired with a Greek Salad and you are golden.

I used to love this tiny Mediterranean restaurant in the Filmore in San Francisco called La Mediterranee or simply, “La Med “. I would go there with anyone who would go with me, any day of the week. Of course, when it finally dawned on me to take my kids there I found that the apple (luckily) doesn’t fall far from the tree, and they especially went insane over the lemon chicken soup called Avgolemeno, meaning lemon and egg. This recipe is not quite as complicated as the one that they make (they puree the rice), but it is super easy and absolutely delicious.

Serves 6

6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or torn into small pieces
3 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste

Bring stock to a simmer in a heavy pan. Add orzo and chicken pieces. Simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until orzo is al dente cooked, but not mushy. Turn off heat and let cool 2-3 minutes.

While orzo is cooking, lightly beat together eggs and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Once the orzo is cooked, warm the egg mixture by slowly adding 2 ladles of stock to the bowl, whisking continuously. Slowly pour warmed egg mixture into the soup pot, stirring constantly until completely combined. The soup will thicken further as it cools. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Working Mothers, Teenage Daughters & the iPhone 6

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The conversation has been going on for the past fifteen years.  Are children at a disadvantage when both parents work full time?

I’ve come to believe the bigger impact is on the former executive mother, but many fathers are opting to stay close to home for their kids as well, so gender is now just an ancillary factor, but I can only speak to my own experience.

As a Marketing Director in technology, I loved developing new products, lunching with the PR and advertising people in San Francisco, and making a decent amount of money.  All of this was not exactly torture.  I like to know how things work, I like being an early adopter (still), I love the stress and fast pace of a launch or rush to market.  I like being competitive and I like to lead, manage and win market share.  I possessed, at the time, a rare innate sense of what made people want to buy technology.   During the years I worked South of Market and in the Financial District, I was able to compartmentalize my family.  I knew my children were home and safe in pre-school, grade school or with a reliable nanny, so I was able to focus on my work.  Now my children are teens and the landscape has changed dramatically.  They are on the move and when they aren’t I don’t exactly want the party at my house.  I have good kids, but they are also well supervised kids.  I will save the gory details of the 90 days I spent as a contracting Business Analyst in San Francisco last summer for another time.

I was told today, by a well seasoned mom (four kids out of college), that I have five tough years ahead (my youngest is 13 years old).  I kind of freaked.  No, let me be honest, I really freaked.  Because as the days go by I am increasingly longing for a life that is my own again not just one that is subjugated by carpool schedules, house work, dinner preparation and laundry.  If you’ve read the inspiring, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, you know that it is possible to have a version of it all. However, Sandberg fails to mention that if you have it all you are likely doing it all.

I woke up on Monday, trying to figure out how to fit it all in.  One of the nastier tasks on my list was to pick up the iPhone 6 that I had pre-ordered for my daughter from the Apple Store (the reason why is another blog post).  I was the first of my friends to own an iPhone and everyone in my family has an iPhone and we upgrade often.  So being in the store and talked down to by the store employees was especially annoying.   Every time I asked a question the employee looked at me blankly and couldn’t give me an answer.  I was gently ushered to a seat where they tried to teach me how to setup my 11th iPhone.  I asked a complex question about my iCloud network and the employee just stared at me and kept repeating my question.   I can’t blame her.  I looked totally helpless wearing mommy sweat pants, my hair in a pony tail, perched on a stool with the other moms and senior citizens.  Plus, I was literally squinting at the iPhone 6 like it was a foreign object, so it is probably not her fault (note to self: wear real clothes to the Apple Store).   By the way, it’s not complicated to setup (with cloud backup) an iPhone, but it is more complex to use the iCloud to it’s full advantage, especially when the kids turn off the tracking devise feature and the calendar (the reason for the cloud).  In the end, I took the phone home and set it up myself (plug and play).  And, I was able to multitask while I did the house work.

How did this happen?

Sandberg failed to mention in her book the life of women entrepreneurs.  She didn’t address the never ending days of a parent who works from home.  Where there is no time off, but just one task followed by the next and many fun and wonderful moments and memories sandwiched in between.  The five hours I spent in the car yesterday with the teen volleyball team and driving my daughter to soccer practice truly created some priceless moments.   Because of these moments, I thank God for my small consulting business (minus the Business Analyst contract), my blog and my cookbook Real Food for Real People.   I am especially grateful for the fun and exciting things that I can do from my home office to help others and keep myself entertained while keeping a close eye on my teens.  I would, however, love for it to be more than something I squeeze into my already busy day.

After the Apple store incident, I started to question why I’ve worried how my working or not working would effect my kids, but didn’t consider how it impacted me.   Unlike Sandberg, I have chosen a middle road to having it all, but it has not been without losses.

Please let me know what you think.  I welcome your thoughts and comments on this topic.

P.S.  I would love for Sheryl Sandberg to be a secret shopper at the Apple Store, preferably wearing sweats and a pony tail.

Summer Please Don’t Go or Cooking for Teen Athletes – Ginger, Sausage & Vegetable Soup

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It’s been an incredible summer, and I am so sad to see it go, but it’s time to get back on schedule and feed these children healthy snacks and meals on the go.

Packaged food is most compelling now.  It’s so easy to take a protein bar and a tangerine or even a handful of nuts on the way out the door, but active kids need nutrient dense foods.

Last year I made mostly sandwiches to take with them.  They were filling and easy to do in advance.  These included BBQ chicken and cheddar on a crunchy roll or filet on sourdough with brie cheese and arugula, but after a year of that the kids begged me to stop and make them something real to eat.  Over the summer we ate out at places like Chipotle or Chow in Lafayette.  I bought packaged salads from Whole Foods, but now it’s time for a change.   I’ve decided soup is the answer.   It can be put in a thermos and taken to school or in the car, and can be reheated as a bedtime snack.

The only problem is what kind of soup?  I gave my kids a cookbook full of soup recipes and they rejected them all.   And if you really think about it, there aren’t that many traditional healthy soups that appeal to kids and chicken noodle can get old.  Even our beloved Chicken Tortilla Soup (see recipe in my book Real Food for Real People) can’t be made every day.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.  I bought some sausage and was going to make pasta, but my younger daughter collapsed on the soccer field from dehydration, so I decided to use it for a soup to help keep her hydrated.  I wondered what else can I put in it?   What would the kids like?

I love to use fresh garlic and ginger when I am cooking, but for this soup I needed these flavors so I could serve this it with toasted Naan (this is the hook to get the kids interested in the soup).  Click here for an easy recipe from a fellow blogger for glutton free Naan.

Spicing up the soup with fresh ginger doesn’t only make it taste better it is a natural remedy for reducing inflammation (e.g. sports injuries).  It’s also dairy and wheat free.   What really made this soup extra delicious was the house made sausages from my friends at Whole Foods.  I can’t believe I’m sharing this, but I actually asked the butcher if the Chicken Asian Sausage was grass fed!  He looked really confused and then I realized chickens don’t eat grass.  My goodness, my mother would roll over in her grave.  I’m a long way from my childhood living on a farm in Monmouth, Oregon. Not that we had chickens, we had grass fed cattle and everything we ate was organic, most of it grown in the garden by my clever mother.  Never the less, the sausage in the soup does all of the heavy lifting for flavor and my kids love it.  Click here to read more about the sausage making process at Whole Foods Market.

Ingredients:

2 Whole Foods handmade sausages (any flavor you like, I used the Asian seasoned with ginger)

1/2 white onion finely diced

2 cloves of garlic finely diced

1 knuckle fresh ginger grated

1/2 cup carrots diced

1 red pepper chopped

2 cups organic chicken broth (see my homemade recipe in my book Real Food for Real People)

1 can of tomato sauce (15 oz.)

1 box or can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans rinsed

1 cup frozen organic kale

1/2 cup frozen peas or edamame

1/2 cup frozen corn

Salt and pepper

 

Preparation:

1. In a large soup or stock pot sauté sausage for 1 minute, and then add garlic and onion.  The sausage has enough fat that you don’t need olive oil and starting the sausage first will help ensure you do not scorch the garlic.  While these ingredients on browning you can chop the veggies.

2. Once the sausage is brown and the onions translucent add the ginger, carrots, broth, tomato sauce and red pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 min.

3. Add the beans and frozen veggies and heat through.

4. Salt and pepper to taste.

This soup reheats and freezes extremely well. Freeze in single serving glass containers for easy reheating.