Is that Aunt Margaret behind the potted plant blowing her nose again? Was Uncle George clutching a pile of crumpled tissues while blotting his sore, red nose? Could that sneeze from cute, little, baby Mathilda (while you were closely inspecting those adorable dimples) possibly be full of germs?
Yikes! And you betcha! ‘Tis the season – and I don’t mean Christmas. Colds, flu and sore throats are lurking everywhere – it’s sickening. Beware of handshakes and hugs. To kiss or to kiss-off – that is the question.
As a bona fide germaphobe, I have a few germ gems to share with you. Did you know that sneezes travel about 100 mph and a single sneeze can put 100,000 germs into the air? Also, as many as 5 million bacteria are exchanged during a kiss. And, let’s face it, even though handshaking was practiced as far back as the 5th century BC, where it was recognized as a gesture of peace by showing that your hand held no weapon, it might be wiser to give Uncle George a bow, a nod or a fist bump instead of shaking his tissue-clutching, germ-infested hand.
If you happen to get ambushed and struck with the sniffles, don’t despair. This is one fight where it pays to have a chicken on your side. Chicken soup will make you feel better. Besides being an amazing comfort food, chicken soup does provide health benefits. It really is good for you. Although not a cure for colds, it offers some relief of the symptoms by helping to break up congestion, and affords a tonic for body and soul.
I use root parsley in my chicken soup, and feel something is truly missing if it is omitted. Although used frequently in Eastern European cooking, root parsley is not as popular here. My Gram’s soup just would be incomplete without it. Found in the produce section of your local supermarket, root parsley looks like a white carrot with parsley top. Use both the root and the leaves.
The following is my recipe for chicken soup, which I made last week for a sniffling member of my family. No need to wait until you’re sneezing and sniffling, though, to enjoy this soup. It’s got the umm-umm good thing going anytime.
3 quarts water – (or more to cover chicken) in a large soup pot
1 cut-up chicken and additional legs or thighs, skin removed (4-5 lbs.)
1 Tbsp. salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
3 stalks celery (leaves are great), chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup fresh curly parsley (or 1/2 cup dried)
1 root parsley, root split, leaves chopped (Clean and freeze remainder for later use)
Salt and pepper to taste
-Fill large soup pot with water and bring to boil.
-Add salt and chicken pieces.
-After the soup comes to a second boil, turn down heat, continue to cook. Skim off and remove foam as it rises in pot.
-Meanwhile, peel and chop vegetables (peel root of parsley as you would a carrot).
-When foam is completely removed (10-15 minutes), add chopped vegetables.
-Allow soup to cook, simmering gently, for 1-1½ hours until chicken is cooked thoroughly. (Cooking the bones slowly imparts flavor to the soup)
-Before serving, remove chicken pieces to a separate plate.
-Serve soup with rice and/or noodles.
It’s doubtful that you’ll finish all of the soup. No problem. Just letting it sit overnight in your refrigerator will impart more flavor to the broth, and will allow excess fat to congeal on top of the soup for easy removal. You can freeze some soup for another time or serve it with some of the leftover chicken that you turn into chicken salad. Soup and sandwiches make a great combo.
2 cups chicken, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced (1 tsp. dried)
1/3 cup mayonnaise (vary to taste)
½ tsp. tarragon (optional – delicious, faint anise flavor)
½ tsp. Old Bay seasoning (optional)
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
½ cup apple, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
-Mix chicken, celery, parsley, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and you’ve got the fillings for a great sandwich. Add the remaining ingredients, and it’s a sensational one.
-Making a good chicken salad is a little like picking a husband. Choose wisely and use your own discretion. The first four ingredients are necessary to make a good chicken salad, but after that, you’re on your own. Hopefully, no regrets!
Eat well, live long, enjoy! ••
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053)