Saturday, February 04, 2012

Now Go With Me On This

It's February, and I haven't gotten sick once this winter.
That, my friends, is highly unusual.
Do you know why I think that is?
Well in referring back to my plan at the beginning of the year, I have made it a point to bring my lunch to work almost every day. In addition, we have not been eating out nearly as much as we usually have. Although when we eat out, we usually eat in, meaning we'll get pizza and wings, watch a movie, and all is right with the world.
Last night after my eldest daughter commented on how bad my hair looked, she also noted that it looked like I had lost weight.
Well first, thanks a lot, and second, thanks! But to be fair, I was wearing black, and the lights were dim in the lobby of the building, so what she might have thought was shadow was actually an extension of my hips and a**. But thanks again anyway. I kind of think so too.
For my red headed friend and I, bringing lunch to work has become almost a support group of sorts for each other. Sure we enjoy the occasional pizza on a Friday when we and our co-workers gather around the counter, ensuring that our collective girth maintains the upright position of said one ton counter, and subsequently gorge ourselves.
The rest of the time, however, we eat at our desks.
And we eat (relatively) healthy meals!
I have used a vegetable stock recipe that my red headed friend has been using for years as the basis for most of my chicken or turkey soups (maybe she'll share it with us?), but I like a good cream soup too.
Not being lactose-intolerant is a blessing, and if you are, my apologies for this blatant appreciation of foodstuff that derives from cow's milk.
I love Panera Bread - mostly for their bacon turkey bravo sandwiches, but also because I love their broccoli soup.
Because they are an extremely expensive eatery (at least I think so, $60 or so for five people? that's high in my book, but what do I know, I'm sooo provincial), and also because the closest restaurant is 12 miles away, I don't eat there as much as I used to (like when we lived in Northern Virginia and thought nothing of driving 12 miles in very heavy traffic to go places). New York State will change you (or maybe it's the cold weather and the desire to hibernate...or laziness).
So when I picked up a big bag of broccoli at the local farm market just before Christmas, I knew that I wanted to make some broccoli soup. After all, I have a freezer to fill.
It was late broccoli, and they were labeled as seconds (meaning, I think, some parts were starting to become a tad discolored, or yellow), but a bag with about 10 heads of broccoli cost about five dollars or so.
I came home and immediately started looking for a good broccoli soup recipe - cheese in the soup was not necessary, but I wanted a creamy soup.
I found this one on Allrecipes:

Best Broccoli Soup
By Carolyn Weinberg

2 cups water
4 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, bring water to boil. Add broccoli, celery and carrots; boil 2-3 minutes. Drain; set vegetables aside. In the same kettle, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour to form a smooth paste. Gradually add the broth and milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 1 minute. Add vegetables and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

What I like about the Allrecipes site is that you can also manipulate the ingredients to reflect amounts required for a larger, or smaller number of servings. For the first batch I made enough soup to feed 25 people.
Why? Do I have to tell you again? Really? I have a freezer to fill, folks.
So the first batch I thought was very, very good.
But my second batch was even better.
Yes, I had that much broccoli. Oh, and there was some leftover for a casserole. It was quite a lot of broccoli.
Into the second batch I added some cheese, and pieces of potato.
That batch was as good as, or even better than, Panera's.
Why go out, when you can make it at home.
Now back to the healthy part.
I haven't gotten sick this winter, not once (don't say "yet," don't say it!).
Part of me believes that this is for several reasons:

  1. The only hands that touch my food are mine. Granted, I won't be getting an A+ rating from the Health Department, but I am used to my own germs.
  2. Eating fewer processed foods of unknown origin. Well, they are being "processed", but mostly by me. 
  3. Have you seen what they've been putting in McDonald's burgers?
  4. I've been saving money on my grocery bill, and that, my friends, is less stressful overall.
  5. We've hardly had much of a winter - January temps in the 40s and 50s? Yes, I know, sickness is spread by germs, not the weather, but it's really been a strange winter. It could be that we're not locked inside quite so much like normal when our offices become germ gestation stations.
So no flu so far, no colds, maybe a little post-nasal drip, but it hasn't turned into anything worse.
I'm hopeful.
And of course I do realize that I have probably just jinxed myself.
Well, being sick does mean that I can enjoy more soup, right?

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