My Homemade Mother's Day Gift

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mom's "Potato Soup"

I remember 2 things about being sick as a little kid.  

1. Mom didn't clean up puke. If you made a mess, sick or not, you cleaned it up.
2. Potato Soup.

Number one memory is an effective deterrent to indiscriminate spewing .  

Put an 8 year old on cleaning up that mess just one time and they'll make it to the toilet.  They''ll get that miserable churning feeling and they'll hang over the toilet for an hour just waiting for it to happen so as not to be surprised in the middle of a restless sleep with projectile vomiting all over themselves, their hair, their bed clothes and their pillows, 

I remember the last time I heaved the ill-fated contents of my undigested meal in every direction but the bathroom  that mom walked in and saw my hair dripping with putrid globs and my bedclothes sprayed with gelatinous goo, and numerous puddles of vomitus maximus.  She looked around, gagged a couple of times and handed me a stack of clean sheets, a soapy bucket of Lysol water and a roll of paper towels.  When you get that all cleaned up take a bath and put on clean jammies and make sure everything gets put in the washing machine. She turned on her heel and walked out. I couldn't crawl in bed with my sister.  She'd just start yelling and Mom would return in bad humor.  

Its no less disgusting a job to clean up your own puke than it is to clean up someone else's.  Very effective tool.  To this day, I wait, sitting on the bathroom floor, head propped over the toilet for the inevitable eruption whenever I get that dreadful churning.  No last minute marathon sprints, trying to beat the barf.  I'm there, prepared, hair tied back, wash cloth near by, toothbrush and mouthwash at the ready. Mom would be proud.

The other thing I remember was when I'd get sick, she'd always make us potato soup.  It was warm and full of flavor and easy on the stomach and soothing to a body unable to digest anything. Nothing would sound good but she'd give us a small cup of homemade potato soup, just a little bit and you'd feel better, warmer and stronger.  

When I grew up and got married, I also made potato soup for my family when they fell prey to some sort of debilitating illness.  The best part is, its a very simple soup.  It was all fresh, natural ingredients and you can make it almost as fast as you can open up a can of soup.  Peel a few potatoes and cut into quarters, enough to fill 2/3's of a pot, any size pot, depending on how much you want to make.  Fill the other third with chopped onions.and chopped celery, Add salt, pepper, and a little paprika to taste and cover with water and a spoonful of chicken base or use chicken broth instead.  Cook it 20 minutes and blend in a blender.  Add butter.  Serve.Its also really good with a little bit of left over chicken and a spoonful of beer cheese stirred into it, topped with a few croutons, if you're so inclined.

I've recently made a few changes to mom's soup.  Mom would add a stick of butter to a big pot of soup,  I learned to add none when I'm watching calories.  I might add a blast of  I can't believe its not butter spray for flavor but usually I add hot sauce. And lately I've made one other change that doesn't effect the taste at all.  I no longer use potatoes in my "potato" soup.  I use a head of cauliflower. 

I'm not against potatoes but I try to limit my carbs and/or calories. I just made a pot tonight because my husband is feeling a little under the weather.  I was amazed how much it smelled like mom's potato soup.  

I also use an immersion blender.  Less mess and less likelihood of sustaining 2nd and 3rd degree burns trying to ladle boiling hot broth and vegetables into a blender and hold the lid on while it blended.  I recall at least once the lid blew off and my face and hands were dotted with little red blisters for at least a week.  After that I learned to never fill the blender more than 2/3's full.  

But its still a good tradition.  I think my daughter also makes the soup... and she still uses potatoes.  But she tried my mock potato soup and was also impressed.

I miss my mom.  Everyday I think of something I'd like to tell her, or ask her.  I think of something that she'd get a kick out of.  And I especially think of her when my husband says, "I'm not feeling well, I'm going to go lay down."

"I'll make us some potato soup for dinner."

Just like my mom used to make for me.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Impractical Art of Loss

I just began maintenance again on my umpteenth session of HCG dieting.  I’ve lost track of how many sessions its been now.  I have officially lost more weight than I currently weigh, which means that more than half of me is gone. 

The weight loss is considerably slower and I often wonder what I might be able to do to speed up my metabolism without expensive experimental supplements.  I have come to the idea that slow and steady loss is acceptable.  I began to exercise thinking that might help.  Well, of course, it has helped.  Not so much on the scale but certainly in my well-being.  Its fun to be able to move about freely and to see the chair on either side of my hips when I sit down… if it’s a larger sort of chair.

I’m saggy…  like an anorexic elephant, whoa.  I doubt that can be fixed by exercise.  It isn’t pretty but I suppose it won’t hurt anything but my ego… I’ll live with that as an aide memoire to dissuade falling back into gastronomical depravity.  Although, I’m still outside the limits of being “normal weight,” I’m comfortably in a size 12, a considerable improvement on a size 3X and much improved on having to shop in the Women’s Section, W for the Wide Sizes. However, I’d like very much to actually weigh less than my husband or be a weight that I could say without feeling embarrassed.  Or have pants that are too small for him to fit into, instead of pants that would swallow him.

I have 25 lbs to go to get to MY goal weight.  It will disappoint the men in my life.  They’re looking for svelte. I’m looking for robust health and a stronger constitution. 

I do get a bit discouraged at the needle stuck on my scale, almost to the point of using a hammer to bust open the clear plastic cover and make sure its still in good working order.  I bought a digital scale as a back up… but no good news.  My hammer attack would only serve the purpose of retaliation for an honest report.

I guess that’s what happened to Adam and Eve.  Satan told them what they wanted to hear.  They didn’t really want the truth.  It’s a lot easier to settle for the lie.  If I fixed the scale to say I weighed 120, I’d have to go after the mirror… and where would it end? 

Bang, Bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer…

Truth starts a rampage. 

I guess it always has.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

an incomprehensible world

Part of my week day morning curriculum is to turn on NPR while I fix my hair and get dressed for work.  I’m rarely in agreement with their views as they report them but I’ve learned that no news media is unbiased in their observations and explanations as they relate the current events of the day.  The mindless drivel of most other stations is quite unusable for news and FOX network is incendiary propaganda at best, not that NPR is completely above incendiary remarks.

Although it is my chosen station of the morning, I cannot listen to it for long.  They’re more toned down, but still passively aggressive in putting forth their spin on the world as they want you to see it.  But, they offer a better likelihood of hearing news of the world, albeit peppered with progressive social mores, fueled by anti-Christian interpretations.  Often I find myself slamming it off… but every morning, I turn it back on in hopes of hearing something of what is going on beyond the social life of Hollywood.  I like to stay informed of where we stand globally, in this age of “as it was in the days of Noah.”

This morning, they reported on the ever increasing number of children crossing our southern borders unaccompanied by adults.  Some of them as young as 7 or 8.

I tried to comprehend that all morning.  I think back on my children at that age, how I tried to keep track of them.  How they always had to tell me where they were going and when they got there.  How I would panic if I didn't know where they were and all the time spent in locating them, to make sure they were safe.

I remembered a time when we were coming home from a 4th of July fireworks display in downtown St. Louis.  The crowds were so thick that my 14 year old twins kept getting separated from us.  My husband was holding our youngest on his shoulders and my daughter had looped her arm in her father’s.  I was surprised when I felt someone grab my hand and even more surprised to see it was my 14 year old self-reliant son who kept losing us in the crowd.

What must it take for a 7 or 8 year old child to walk from Honduras to the Texas-Mexican border without his parents?  What must have happened to him in his short life?

I get to work and pour through orders for inmates, purchased by friends and family members.  The ones that really get to me are the orders placed by the Father’s for their sons.  It makes me think of how we tie up our hopes and dreams in our sons and daughters.  We want the most, the best, the finest of everything for them.

We strain the budget for braces.  We storm the principles office on their behalf. We hunt down bullies.  We pray for them, intercede for them and try and assist them and as they enter adulthood, and beyond, we help them with their children, even as we age.  Our lives encircle theirs and we cannot fathom the emptiness that those who are unfortunate enough not to proceed them in death must suffer.  To lose sight of them as they fall into unshielded misfortune, unable to intercede on their behalf, unable to rescue them from the pronouncement of a shattering lapse in judgment, one would endure a devastation of inconceivable proportions.  All the pitfalls that we try and shield our progeny from, there are so many chances of failure available that you try so hard to avoid.  The hopes, the worries, the love, the shelter, the tears, the protection and training… and then you let them go so they can put it into practice, wringing your hands raw, hoping they're watching their step.

How is it that hoards of children leave their home and travel hundreds of miles to another country, unaccompanied.  The idea of it grieves me.

My youngest son stops by the house at the end of his work-day to pick up the wood from a tree that split in a storm last Friday.  As I helped him load the wood into his work truck, I got to thinking about how I was always looking for him when he was a child.  He would wander off from me in the mall.  He’d take off to go to the store to “buy gums.” He disappeared from me at Six Flags, the Zoo, parks, theaters, church, everywhere.  But I would have moved heaven and earth to find him… and bring him home.

We talked and loaded the wood onto his truck and then he drove away.  He’s expecting his first child, a son, this summer.  And I thought about the state of this world… a world where eight year old children find their living conditions so ruthless, so brutal, so disconcerting that they make a decision to leave everything behind in search of a better life.

I cannot wrap my head around that.