I am probably going to be wildly unpopular for saying this, but I am utterly delighted that all major celebrations are now over, and we can get back to some semblance of normality.
We only have weird things to eat in the fridge, half our Christmas decorations are down thanks to kids and cats; chocolate boxes are getting to the stage where the only things left are the troubling sweets nobody has ever liked. It is all a bit like a wrinkled party balloon. Slightly off putting and better off in the bin.
I am going to take the Christmas tree down tomorrow. What’s more. I am really looking forward to it. I haven’t got time to mourn Christmas. Jason is 40 in three weeks time, and I am trying to get my head round what to buy a man who has everything except a Porsche, and who just got huge amounts of stuff for Christmas.
Shortly after his birthday, it is my parents birthdays. Should I say it are my parents birthdays? How many apostrophes have I left out? I don’t know. The mere thought is making my brain hurt. Anyway, suffice to say I have three tricky birthdays quite close together, followed immediately by Valentines day, and I must look to the future and not dwell on droopy mistletoe and suspect sausage rolls.
This morning, the kids and I went up to Queen’s Road for a brisk walk about in the icy wind. We did regular shopping. It was quite a novelty. I bought a huge bag of fresh fruit, veg and herbs from our excellent green grocer. I bought real eggs from happy chickens at the health food shop. I stocked up on effective pain killers at the Co-op Pharmacy where they were having a sale on pain relief. God love them.
My sinuses are still protesting. Not as violently and melancholically as yesterday, but they’re not going down without a fight. My cut price Sudafed is going to win the fight though. So nyaaah, blaah, meh to you.
We wanted to go to the library, even though we all have ninety million unread books on hand. The library is shut until tomorrow. We have forgiven it, and have made plans to go on Monday. I thought all the children were back at school on Monday, but it turns out that the teachers are having a teacher day, bless them, so we get one more day with the alarm clock turned off. We are celebrating with a trip to the library, and more than likely, a trip to the bakery.
When we got home, rosy of cheek and stinging of ear, I made chicken noodle soup, which we ate with Tilly’s home made bread. The children were very impressed I made the soup without a recipe.
I am lapping up the adoration, but it wasn’t hard.
Here, should you wish to copy it, is my recipe for chicken noodle soup. Well, today’s recipe anyway, because I’m always fiddling about with it, depending on what I have to hand. I tend to measure things by eye, so apologies for the lack of measures. My general rule of thumb is to eye something up and go; ‘Is that going to feed five gluttons?’
Chicken of your choice – I didn’t have any in the fridge so I bought chicken thighs, already deboned and skinned, and chopped them into bite sized pieces. Chicken thighs are very meaty, and much more economical than chicken breasts. If it were just me, I would leave skin on, for flavour. But the rest of my family hate the skin, so off it goes.
Noodles of your choice – I used Stellette, which are little pasta stars. They’re very cute and the kids love them. I do sometimes use Chinese/Japanese noodles, but I prefer pasta. If I’m desperate I break spaghetti into small pieces and use that. It works just as well.
One large onion, diced small.
Handful of carrots – You don’t have to have any veg at all. Sometimes I use Pak Choi or spinach, or nothing. The grocer had tiny, purple carrots which were fresh and delicious. I peeled them and chopped them into thin discs.
Four cloves of garlic, grated or smashed up, or chopped up, whatever you like best.
1 red chilli – sliced thinly. I don’t take the seeds out, because we like fierce. But feel free to take the seeds out, or not have any chilli at all.
Handful of freshly chopped coriander.
Handful of freshly chopped thyme – this is what I bought at the grocer. I would also use parsley and/or tarragon if it was to hand.
Chicken stock – I use Knorr stock cube things that look like jelly in a plastic tub. I know it’s cheating. I don’t care. Quantity depends on how many you’re feeding. I use about a kettleful of water to one stock cube, and it easily feeds five.
Salt and pepper to taste. If we’re being picky I use Maldon sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, but anything you have to hand will work fine.
Take a large pan and put on a low heat. Pour in a slug of olive oil, or whatever oil you prefer.
When it has warmed through, add your onion, garlic and carrots. Add a pinch of salt to stop the onions burning, and then cook until the onions are translucent.
Add your chicken and let it cook for a couple of minutes, stirring so it cooks evenly.
Whack in your chicken stock and pasta. Cook for 10-12 minutes until pasta is cooked, which means your chicken (as long as the pieces are small) will also be cooked all the way through.
Stir in fresh herbs, add pepper and salt to taste.
Eat noisily, and slurpily, and feel incredibly well after it. It is a true fact that chicken soup always makes you feel brilliant.