A Whole New Year to Explore

There is a custom to create a feet fireplace 2list of resolutions at the dawn of each new year.  “Resolutions” seem to be promises that we make to ourselves about giving up unwanted habits with sheer willpower and restraint.  Sometimes they’re an attempt to commitment to do more of the things that we know are good for us (making better use of that gym membership sound familiar to anyone?).

With this new year firmly under way, I’m reminded of my Aunt’s custom.  She did away with “resolutions” a long time ago, and rather prefers to think about what she hopes for, with a fresh start, in the year ahead.  This is a much more exciting prospect, don’t you think?   For example, rather than deciding to eat less of one thing, why not look forward to trying more of something else?

So, we’re ushering in 2016 with new hopes, a dash of dreams, and a generous helping of excitement.

IMG_0092One thing on our list of non-resolutions is to visit and explore new places this year.  We’re also looking forward to spending more time with good friends that we don’t see as often as we’d like.  I’m excited about visiting new farms and markets, and exploring more locally grown food sources.  I’d also like to try my hand at cultivating a small vegetable garden; perhaps beside my little rose garden?

As for that gym membership, we’re going to get our kids and ourselves (dogs too, of course), outside more often.  This summer the sailing club will be taking on two new members, our eldest children, who will be learning to sail on glorious Georgian Bay.

Meanwhile, it’s still January and it’s cold outside.  The kids are on the ski hill, the dogs are hopeful that we’ll soon go for a long walk in the snow, and the fireplace and my new book are calling.

Today’s menu calls for warm, hearty soup.  Homemade chicken noodle soup is a staple in our house, and it’s never made exactly the same way twice.  Nevertheless, the recipe is below.  By the way, Andrew brought cilantro home instead of parsley … and I didn’t have the heart to tell him, so I sprinkled some on top of each bowl of soup anyway.   Surprisingly, the cilantro added a delicious, fresh, zip to the flavour.  A happy mistake!  I’ll post a recipe for roasted chicken stock at a later date.

Bon appetite!



Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 cup chopped yellow onions

2 cups chopped celery

2 cups chopped carrots (we like the pieces chunky; about ¼ inch)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

2 tablespoons Maggi seasoning (our secret ingredient)

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or cilantro if you prefer)

4 or 5 chicken breasts

4 cups homemade roasted chicken stock

2 cups noodles (we like whole wheat macaroni noodles)

To prepare: Preheat oven to 375° F. Place chicken breasts in shallow casserole dish and drizzle lightly with olive oil, followed by a light sprinkle of salt. Cook the chicken breasts in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until cooked through but still tender. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven. Sauté onions and celery until soft and then add the carrots and continue to sauté on low heat for another 3 or 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add salt and Maggi seasoning. Allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes. Once the chicken has cooked, shred the breasts into chunks and add to the soup mixture (I have found that pulling the chicken apart with my hands is easier than chopping with a knife, and the pieces end up chunky and hearty.) Allow the soup to simmer for about 15 or 20 more minutes, or until flavours have blended nicely. Taste test and season as required. Add the noodles and 2 tablespoons of parsley, and simmer until the noodles are soft. Serve with fresh, chopped parsley and a hearty loaf of bread.

vintage ski

We love this vintage shot!


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