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Feeding a healthy obsession

We all have our obsessions and something I learned about my husband, Bryan, over the last couple of months is he LOVES egg rolls. I typed “love” when I jokingly think it’s bordering on obsession. It tickles me every time we, or he, makes a trip to the HEB Plus supermarket, he feels compelled to go to the sushi counter to pick up a pack of egg rolls. In fact, whatever supermarket we go to, he’s checking out to see if there are egg rolls. If we’re eating out, he will order egg rolls at any Asian or non-Asian establishment that sells them.

We may not be able to financially afford this emerging obsession, so over the holidays, I decided to purchase the ingredients to make them myself. After all, it’s more cost effective to cook at home and it will also be healthier depending on the ingredients you choose. Cooking allows me to be creative and since I’m a seasoned home cook, I let my taste buds help me visualize in my head what ingredients I wanted to incorporate. I didn’t use any particular recipe, but I did follow the instructions on the wrapper package for folding the egg rolls. Spoiler ALERT: They were delicious!

I put my mandolin to use and shredded cabbage and carrots. I actually cut myself pretty badly by not using the other gadget that came with the mandolin. Lesson learned. With the cabbage and carrots, I sautéed onion, minced garlic and ginger, edamame, and lots of spices.
I set up my station on the island. It took me a few tries to fold the egg rolls just right.
Whoila! Egg rolls ready for frying in a shallow pot of grapeseed oil.
Vegan wrappers for my vegetable filling was a PLUS!!!

Our love for egg rolls started when we were growing up in Chicago, Illinois where there are many authentic Chinese restaurants around town. In fact, there is an actual China Town in Chicago and the food is amazing. There are also more authentic Chinese restaurants in Houston, Texas. The Asian restaurants in Austin, Texas aren’t necessarily Chinese, which makes a huge difference.

There is an authentic Chinese restaurant in Midlothian, Illinois Bryan introduced me to while we were dating over twenty years ago. We’ve eaten there many times before we moved to Austin, Texas. The owner visits China several times a year and would tell us about it. Upon a visit to his restaurant after we had already moved to Texas, we described to him the difference in the foods. He told us the reason for the difference is because Chinese people aren’t operating the restaurants. There are people from other areas of the world, with different cultures and influences, operating Asian restaurants, which is why it’s more lumped together as “Asian” cuisine.

I’ve made egg rolls several times over the holiday break and since the new year because they’re delicious and easy to make. With each time, I’ve been perfecting the recipe. This post has got my mouth watering and stomach growling to the point I’m comptemplating making another batch for dinner tonight. I like to STAY READY so I have all the ingredients on hand. I don’t think it will take much for me to talk Bryan into shredding the vegetables on the mandolin. That’s the hardest part.

Fried won tons and egg rolls. Yum!
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Bowls of self-care

We are living in strange times indeed. The COVID-19 pandemic is one for the history books. The silver lining to me is we’re being forced as a human race to collectively slow down and rethink how we go about our lives, which I hope allows for lots of self-care.

My type of self-care is nourishing myself with nutritious foods. Three of the four people in my household are high risk if we somehow catch this virus. I’m focusing on our health.

The epitome of comfort in my book is a bowl of soup.  As I’ve written many times, the activity of cooking is soothing to me. Here are two nutritious and delicious soups I’ve made often for my family: chicken tortilla and black bean soup. I used to make chicken bone broth every weekend but I’ve switched to vegetable broth since nowadays I eat mostly vegan/plant-based. My pantry and freezer staples always help me rise to the occassion.

Black bean soup. LPC

I hope you make time for self-care and whatever that means for you. I’ll continue to cook and share, hoping you get inspired by my recipes and even share some of your self-care ideas with me.

What steps are you making to care for yourself?

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Bring on the soups

It’s soup season and last month, I decided to join a 10-day soup challenge brought to you by Simple Green Smoothies. These are my favorite green smoothie people but they also have loads of plant-based recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts. Throughout this process, I definitely sharpened my soup-making chops. Of course, I took all the photos myself which enhanced the experience.

The not so secret to stress free cooking is prep.

For me, the ultimate form of self-care is cooking healthy, nutritious meals. I’ve been eating about 90% vegan and plant- based since June 2021. I love comforting foods such as soups which you can read about in my previous posts such as Food chronicles: November comfort and Comfort.

Most of the soups started with this trusty trio of celery, carrots, and onions.

I find cooking to be therapeutic and rewarding. Through cooking, I also remain connected to my mom who passed away 4 years ago because she taught me how to cook. I’ve ventured into cooking different cuisines beyond the Haitian dishes my mom taught me, but she would still be proud. I was fortunate enough to cook for her many times on her visits to see me and my family in Texas.

When you see me, you see my mom. This is me in my oldest sister’s beautiful kitchen in a south suburb of Chicago. On this visit early in November, I made her family the Red Lentil Curry Soup which they loved.

My hope for this post is that you are inspired to cook more meals at home. The more you practice, the easier and more second nature it becomes. You will become more creative. The more home cooked, healthy meals you consume, the better off you’ll be.

Day 5: Ultimate Detox Soup
Day 6: Paprika Corn Chowder
Day 9: Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup
Day 10: Carrot Ginger Soup

Looking at these pictures again is making me hungry. I loved that each soup was unique and opened me up to interesting flavor combinations.

The fun thing about this challenge was that I participated in a live Facebook group where we shared our versions and pictures of our soups. Like many great cooks, I use recipes as a guide and will tweak the recipe according to my taste. I also got some ideas from other participants from all over the world.

Every soup was delicious and I’ve not only made a few of them several times already, I’ve also frozen about 6 of the recipes so I can enjoy later.

I imagine many people in the states are still enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers. Not us though because we had Thanksgiving in Chicago with our family. If you want something different, I highly recommend any one of these recipes, some of which you can find Here.

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Fall Food Chronicles 2020

This is my season! As much as I love warm weather, I really do LOVE a change in season. I think mostly because I like transition, change, new things, and fresh ideas. Growing up in Chicago, fall has always been my favorite season. Not only are the colors outside vibrant and beautiful with the falling leaves, but there’s a crispness in the air that brings about an indescribable ummmph. It’s also sweater weather…..MY FAVORITE. I’m good with layering up as long as I don’t have to wear a coat. I’ve already had to wear my coat a couple of times here in Austin, Texas. Let’s hope not too many more times.

I haven’t posted since the week of Thanksgiving, so you might be wondering what I’ve been up to. Aside from being CRAY CRAY busy at work, I’ve been visiting our new house currently under construction, dreaming about the day we move in, giving and gifting, reading, trying new workouts, and mostly minding my business. In the midst of all of that, you better believe I’ve been cooking, though not too much on the actual turkey day.

Thanksgiving feast 2020

In my previous post Thank-FULL, I mentioned that we were doing something different this year for our Thanksgiving dinner and WE DID. We ordered our food from a restaurant, picked it up, heated the precooked food in the oven on Thanksgiving day, and ATE IT UP THE WHOLE WEEKEND! AND YOU KNOW WHAT!!! IT WAS DELICIOUS! Ok. No more caps….just my excitement from remembering how much I enjoyed it and enjoyed not being exhausted from cooking. I did make 2 sweet potato pies and a big pot of mixed greens though.

Chili cheese stuffed sweet potato with fresh guacamole. LPC

What would fall be without a steaming pot of homemade chili? I decided to do something really different. I enjoy a chili stuffed baked potato on occassion, but I was very curious about how it would taste with a SWEET potato. It’s interesting because I had been craving chili and sweet potatoes simultaneously so I put them together and WHOILA! It was like a party in my mouth, especially with the added touch of guacamole. I’d do that one again. Leftover chili is in the freezer.

Sautéed shrimp with pigeon peas and rice. LPC

My mom, Solange, surprised me one time when I was in my twenties. I thought I’d tasted EVERY dish she knew how to make and ONE DAY, she layed it on me. She made pigeon peas and rice! I had never heard of pigeon peas. It was so delicious. She showed me how to make it.

Pigeon peas and rice. LPC

I’ve only purchased pigeon peas in a can. A couple of months ago, I purchased a large bag of basmati rice that was on clearance at my favorite grocery store. This was my first time using basmati rice in the dish and it held up nicely. I think I prefer it with jasmine rice though, but IT’S ALL GOOD.

Chicken Tostadas. LPC

We eat a version of tacos for dinner every week. I believe my daughter, Elise, can eat tacos every SINGLE day. She loves simple beef tacos, but I think my chicken tacos are becoming her favorite. I cubed and seasoned chicken breasts, pan fried them, added onions, garlic, jalapenos and plenty of spices, toasted tostada shells in the oven, and added shredded cheese and a lovely pre-shredded cabbage slaw with red onion. Delish!

Steak, organic roasted golden ranch potatoes, and organic mixed veggies. LPC

I mentioned in previous posts that I shop the sales ads at my favorite grocery stores. It’s how I maximize our grocery budget. For the last few months, I’ve been finding great sales on meat despite the fact that groceries have generally gotten more expensive. I purchased a couple of packs of steaks (T-Bone and New York Strip) and I’m so glad I did. As my normal process when preparing meat, I made a flavorful marinade and allowed the steak to soak it up for a day or two. I used my cast iron skillet to develop a nice crust on both sides, then finished it in the oven. YUM!

Roasted chicken, dressing, gravy, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. LPC

Since I didn’t make my dressing recipe on Thanksgiving, I decided to make some for Sunday dinner. I think I can make dressing in my sleep, after all, I’ve been making it for over twenty years. I was talking to one of my mentees about Thanksgiving prep and she mentioned that she had never made a full Thanksgiving meal herself although she’s married with children. She said that her mom has taken on the tradition after her grandmother passed away. I didn’t have that luxury as a married woman because we moved to Texas, away from our families, right after we got married, so I learned to cook all the Thanksgiving favorites.

My prized possession. LPC

I purchased this cookbook at a gift shop in the mall about twenty three years ago and it was been my best friend during the holidays. I’ve always gotten compliments on every dish I’ve made for potlucks from recipes in this book.

Buttermilk fried chicken and green beans. LPC

Sometimes you have a taste for fried chicken…at least I do. I don’t regret for one minute making my fried chicken wings…neither does my family.

Cubed steak with rice. LPC

I attribute all of my cooking to my mom. You may want to read my post Solange taught me how to cook to get more insight into what I learned from her. Cubed steak was another inexpensive meal she made when I was growing up. I rarely make it (maybe once a year), but this is what my husband, Bryan, said he wanted for dinner when I asked last weekend. In case you’re wondering, it was very tasty though Bryan thought it needed more pepper.

Pot roast, garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted mixed veggies. LPC

The secret to flavorful food is to give the meat a running start by seasoning it in advance and just letting it sit in the glorious rub, marinade, or brine for an extended period of time from a few hours to a few days. This does take foresight and planning, but it’s worth it. Bryan put this lovely roast in the crockpot last night on low. When I got up in the morning, the setting had automatically changed to “warm” but I turned it back to low and let it simmer all day. At around 4:30 pm, after my last meeting for the day, I peeled and boiled the gold potatoes and put them in a pot with garlic cloves and water on the stove. I roasted the veggies and baked a few rolls. Dinner was easy, peasy, and decadent.

Baked pears with walnuts. LPC

I do love desserts but want to reduce my sugar intake, so I’ve been thinking of healthier versions of desserts. I’ve been craving dishes like apple crisps. I also love pears and decided to roast them with a bit of maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and walnuts. It looks dry, but when I cut into them, the pears were juicy. I served with a dollop of light whipped cream. It hit the spot!

All of these dishes have a slight twist from what I normally make. Perhaps the fall season has gotten my creative juices flowing. I’m excited about our Christmas meal. I’m realizing that I can’t think of the name of the meat we bought because it was my first time buying it, but it’s going to be so good.😁 (Update: chuck rib roast) Can’t wait to share the picture of our meal with you.

What have you been cooking up? What are your plans for the holidays? I would love to hear from you.

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Labor day love

I ended my 3 day weekend laboring 😁 over this delicious beef brisket which turned out perfectly seasoned and moist. In case you don’t know, smoked brisket is a Texas delicacy. Since we don’t have a smoker or grill, all weekend I had planned to use the Ninja Foodie my husband bought me a couple of months ago. I watched some YouTube videos on making a brisket in the Ninja Foodie and I just wasn’t feeling it. I kept thinking the brisket would come out better in the oven.

Easy Brisket cooked by me. LPC

I’ve never been more right in my life! A couple of recipes I Googled recommend 6 hours at 300 degrees in the oven. I didn’t have that kind of time considering it was 1:00 pm when I finally decided to bake it. I turned the stove to 320 degrees and baked for just under 4 hours. I don’t think it would have this fabulous crisp crust had I used the Foodie unless perhaps I used the crisper at the end.

LPC’s easy brisket

This is only my second time making a brisket. The first time was about 15 years ago in my crockpot. Since it was on sale at my favorite grocery store recently, I thought “why not”? I seasoned it with a dry rub of a variety of my favorite spices and let it marinade for 24 hours. There was a nice layer of fat on top that I didn’t remove. My son, Caleb, specifically asked me to keep the fat on. I baked it with the fat side up so the fat could melt into the meat as it slow roasted. I let it roast covered for 3 hours, then continued to bake without the aluminum foil for the last hour.

Vegetarian baked beans. LPC

I didn’t decide on my sides until the last minute. As I was looking in my pantry, I saw there were 2 cans of Great Northern beans. Then, I remembered I had a great recipe I used previously. Potato salad or macaroni and cheese? I finally decided on BROCCOLI macaroni and cheese which was a first for me. I also made a beautiful mixed salad (not pictured).

I enjoyed the walk with my husband, Bryan, earlier. We’ve been taking advantage of the slightly cooler weather (90 degrees). I love walking outdoors because it’s relaxing and rejuvenating. It put me in the frame of mind to have a great day at work tomorrow.

Bryan and Lucrece

I hope you did something relaxing for yourself today. Depending on where you are in the world, you may still have time before the day ends.

Happy Labor Day!

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It’s over and he won…

Just kidding, I won too! Our Fresh Start 21 Day, green smoothie vegan cleanse ended on Saturday, 8/15/2020. Technically, it was 20 days since we ended the day before my daughter’s birthday. I’ve blogged about my smoothie cleanses from https://simplegreensmoothies.com/ before. You can peruse my site for all things having to do with green smoothies and vegan cleanses.

My husband, Bryan, definitely won in weight loss to the tune of almost 10 pounds. I lost about 3. In July, Bryan challenged me to a cleanse but we didn’t go as far as to wager how much weight we each would loose. And generally, he tends to lose more weight than me during cleanses probably because he is a male and has a different body composition. I won in the sense of the lessons I learned about myself. Of the many times I’ve done this cleanse, this was the most challenging for me. Let me tell you why.

The first thing is that because I’ve done this cleanse many times and have incorporated several of the cleanse recipes into my routine meal rotation, I thought I would have the upper hand since Bryan has NEVER had a vegan meal. I was wrong. Bryan’s strategy was to gradually eat less and less in attempts to avoid eating the foods he didn’t like. Picture a 7 or 8 year old’s face when encountering foods they don’t like. That’s how Bryan looked to me. That didn’t help my morale much because I was struggling with motivation at the onset. I initially wasn’t in the mindset to participate in a cleanse, but I thought I would just fake it until I got in the mood.

The amount of food prep for 3 weekends in a row, particularly in the first week, was exhausting. I made double batches of food thinking I was cooking for two. That didn’t do me any good because Bryan was only drinking the green smoothies and eating the dinners. I reminded him several times that this was not a starvation diet. All of the foods, including the snacks, were designed to provide nutrition and fuel. He insisted on doing it his way.

Asparagus, quinoa “salad” with dijon vinegrette. LPC

I was indeed excited about fueling my body with all the nutritious foods, but in the second week, I had a clear epiphany. Veganism wasn’t sustainable for me. I was disappointed because I had actually planned on going an extra week or two. I realized that I don’t want to do without meat. I craved eggs the second week and by the third week, I was craving meat. Also, all the prep was more work than I was willing to do long term.

I read a few times that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. I did not develop a habit to eat more vegan foods. This cleanse tends to have the opposite affect on me. For example, I’m now tired of cauliflower and fresh salads. Who gets tired of salads??? One year, I was so tired of nuts, I didn’t eat them for many months after the cleanse. However, it is my daily habit to drink one green smoothie. I love them so much and the recipes are endless.

Mixed greens salad with avocado, cucumber, grapes, sliced almonds, and dijon vinegrette. LPC
Citrus beet green smoothie. LPC

On a positive note, this cleanse was just long enough to cut my cravings for processed foods (chips, salty snacks, etc.) We’re going into our second week post cleanse and I can honestly say I don’t have a desire for those foods. WIN!!! Bryan is now trying out a Keto diet, but I declined although I’m adopting some of the principles such as reducing carbohydrates.

I’m glad I did the cleanse although I was getting weary towards the end. Overall, I’d like to adopt eating habits that are sustainable. I don’t like feeling like I’m depriving myself or am on a diet. I don’t want to have a love/hate relationship with food anymore. What I’m focused on now is monitoring the amount of calories (in the short term) I consume, ensuring I eat whole, minimally processed foods, and incorporating more weight training into my 6 day a week exercise regimen.

What fitness and exercise goals are you working on?

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It’s been 14 days

I wish I could say this whole cleanse up to this point has been a breeze, but I can’t. Exactly two weeks ago on July 26, I let the world know I was embarking on a 21 day Vegan cleanse through https://simplegreensmoothies.com/. I’ve done this cleanse once or twice a year for the last few years. I’ve written many blog posts about my experiences, which is different every time. What makes this one fun is that my husband, Bryan, decided to join me for a friendly challenge. This is his first time on the cleanse.

Week 1 was actually a breeze and it felt really great to be preparing and consuming these nutritious foods. Since I’m not new to the cleanse, I’ve gotten really familiar with the recipes and know which ones I like and don’t like. Of course, I stuck to the ones that I like, hoping Bryan would like them too. He’s a very finicky eater.

Week 2 is where we both leave much to be desired in how poised and committed we’ve been to the recipes. The most important thing about Week 2 is that it is the actual cleanse week. Not only are we consuming all vegan foods, but grains, lentils, and beans are omitted. Life certainly is less colorful without these foods. I also remembered that I did NOT like most of Week 2’s recipes.

Bryan has denied this, but I think his strategy was to simply not eat in order to avoid eating the food. There was no question we were mostly hungry this week. Have you ever been so hungry, yet didn’t want to eat the food before you? You usually hear that if you’re hungry enough, you’d eat anything. I was hungry most of Week 2, but didn’t want to eat. We did cheat a couple of times with onion rings. Onions rings are vegan. What can I say (palm bump on forehead)?

I’m hoping for greener (pun intended!) pastures in this last week. Grains, lentils, and beans are back. At least they’ve been back since day 13 because I couldn’t take another day without them. If this were an actual race, I’d be the one clawing and clinching to the finish line. I’m a little surprised by how I’m experiencing this cleanse. And to think, I was actually planning on going an extra week. No way!

All in all, it’s been a fun experience with Bryan. We’re both a little lighter too. We’re celebrating the last day of the cleanse by BREAKING the cleanse for our daughter’s birthday. She gave us the side eye a couple times as she watched us cheat. I type this in jest, but what example are we showing her? I know. Execution might not be perfect, but finish. Pick back up where you left off. Do your best, and even if you don’t, keep it moving.

I will lay this cleanse to rest for the remainder of 2020 once we complete this round. Here are some pictures of the beautiful food I made with my own hands. As an experienced cook, I tailored the recipes to my preferences and even combined some.

Citrus beet green smoothie
Swiss chard white bean skillet
Black bean zucchini tacos
roasted veggies served with basil pesto and brown rice (not pictured)
Baked hash cakes over a bed of mixed greens
Prep for lemon chia pudding; vanilla extract not pictured; chia seeds soaking in coconut milk
Herbalicious hummus with veggies
Filling for black bean zucchini tacos
Pineapple carrot green smoothie

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Foods that heal me

I might be awaiting the results from the COVID-19 test I took on Thursday, 4/9/2020, but I’m not going to lay down and let this respiratory illness kick my butt. My husband, Bryan, helped cook our delicious Easter dinner, but I also want to share the meals I made this past week that have been helping me heal.

Easter Meal small plate April 12, 2020. LPC

I haven’t had much of an appetite today, but I made sure my family had a delicious Easter dinner. With the exception of the turnip greens and cabbage medley, these aren’t necessarily the foods that heal me, but cooking does help me feel better. And dinner was simple because I couldn’t do too much. I’m grateful Bryan stepped in to complete what I started. Ham, potato salad, turnip greens and cabbage, Mexican corn, and corn bread rounded out a delicious meal.

Chicken noodle soup April 2020. LPC

Chicken noodle soup does wonders for respiratory illnesses. I made this soup on Friday and this one BLEW my mind it was so good. It consists of my homemade chicken broth, roasted chicken, egg noodles(bought at an Asian Market), mushrooms, onions, celery, garlic, fennel, red pepper, jalepeno pepper, and spices including turmeric and ginger. Do I really need to tell you why this soup is so nutritious? If you don’t know, look up the amazing wonders of each of the ingredients I listed. I have a big bowl of leftovers to carry me through a few more days.

When you need a spoon and a fork for your soup, then you’ve done good. LPC
Triple berry yogurt parfait April 2020. LPC

Gut health is so important because it impacts so many other areas of health that you wouldn’t think are connected to your gut. I’m no nutritionist, but I’ve learned there are many benefits to probiotics. And plain, organic greek yogurt is my favorite food for probiotics. I defrosted about 1/4 cup of frozen mixed berries, added a dab of maple syrup, a packet of stevia, and topped with organic granola. This parfait certainly gave my immune system a boost.

Sausage, squash, spinach, and peppers medley April 2020. LPC

The nutritional benefits of powerhouse greens and fresh produce in general is almost endless. I strive to eat mostly plant based foods. I was craving spinach and remembered I still had some beautiful organic yellow squash to add. This dish also has red peppers which contain more Vitamin C than an orange, and onions, garlic, tomato paste, chicken broth, and spices. This could be eaten with rice, quinoa, grits, or with no side at all. It could also easily become a vegan dish by omitting the sausage, adding extra greens and/or squash, and using vegetable broth or water.

Mango orange green smoothie April 2020. LPC

Of course, I drink a daily green smoothie, but when I’m particularly under the weather, I load up on produce with high concentrations of Vitamin C. In this batch, which produced 3 mason jars of smoothies, I added 2 cups of dethawed mangos, frozen bananas, an orange, chia seeds, flax seeds, collagen powder, ginger, almond milk, and organic spinach. My appetite was low today, but sipping on this green smoothie in the morning ensured I was hydrated and getting some nutrition. Drinking out of my cute owl jar also made me feel better.🦉

Cod sauteed with spinach April 2020. LPC

My main two choices for hearty fish are cod and salmon. I buy them fresh in large packs at Costo, then I portion and freeze in ziplock bags. We were done cooking and eating our Easter meal around lunch time. For dinner, I ate half of the portion of cod pictured above. I needed a good source of protein and Omega 3s and this cod is packed with both.

Hydration (water and teas) and sleep are a couple of other areas I’m also focusing on. I might be sick, but I’m doing all I can to get better. I’m looking forward to feeling better really soon.

What are you cooking this week? What are your favorite healing foods?

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Cooking in the midst of ‘shelter in place’

I was made for this pandemic. As a breast cancer survivor, I believe I’ve already faced the most horrific news anyone could bare. And I survived it along with treatment. As the bread winner in my household for a couple of years, I’ve been diligent about planning our grocery shopping and meals within a budget. We will survive this COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m not gonna lie: it is a little unnerving to see empty shelves at the grocery store. There’s certainly a new normal of buying what you can find. Grocery shopping is like a scavenger hunt now. The brand of flour I like is not on the shelf. In fact, there is no flour on the shelf, except at Costco. Items that you take for granted are gone. Lysol wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, hand sanitizer (I barely used the stuff) are the highest commodities right now. Of the items noted, last week I was only able to find paper towels.

Our Grocery Cart at Costco 3-31-2020. LPC

Our grocery shopping strategy was different for April. I decided to do most of my shopping at Costco having gotten a peak at the grocery store shelves in our neighborhood stores. Empty shelves is the theme. I have the storage capacity to stock up on freezer items and pantry staples, so I took advantage. We purchased extra food. I do this type of shopping every month, so it’s not new to me. I’m just thankful I can do it.

For those who follow my site, you know I mostly cook homemade meals. Our household budget doesn’t allow much room for eating out, so we’re not missing much with the restaurants being closed for dining. However, I’m sad for all of the people who have lost their jobs, especially those in the restaurant and hospitality industries. There are many people who have lost their jobs in other industries also.

Chicken salad on naan. LPC
Sunday dinner 4-5-2020: Chunky potato soup and chicken salad. LPC

In uncertain times like these, I hone into doing what brings me joy such as cooking. I love feeding my family. My son asked me last week to make chicken salad. He actually wanted me to buy canned chicken. I was like, “NOOOO!!! Are you kidding me! I don’t make my chicken salad with canned chicken.”

Since I was craving a version of my potato soup with my homemade chicken broth, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I put a whole chicken in a large pot with water and added aromatics such as garlic, onion, parsley, celery, and spices. I let that boil for almost 24 hours. Then I removed the chicken from the pot, shredded it, and added the shredded chicken to a dressing of mayonnaise, chipotle mustard, pickled jalepenos, yellow bell pepper, diced celery, a dab of relish, and spices.

For the soup, I roasted 2 russet potatoes, broccoli, and carrots. In a stock pot, I sauteed onions, celery, fennel, yellow bell pepper, garlic, in olive oil. I sauteed about 2 tablespoons of flour in the mixture with a pad of butter. Then, I added my fresh chicken broth. I diced up the roasted vegetables and added them to the pot along with fresh parsley. I let that simmer a bit then added about a half cup of cream. I let it all simmer while I did some step aerobics.

Codfish sandwich and homemade french fries. LPC

My daughter’s school was providing free lunches to families a couple of weeks ago because school was out and they didn’t know what to do with the food. At that time, the schools were planning to reopen on 4/6/2020…so they thought. Although my daughter didn’t want to go because she doesn’t like their food, we made her go with us anyway. We explained that there is no shame in getting free food, especially since the school didn’t know what to do with the extra. We went about 2 days. There were other families too.

If you have no other options for food, I can see how this would be a valuable resource. My family ate the food both times that we went. However, we opted to not return. Other families need it more than we do and I’m conscientious of feeding my family more healthy options. I did greatly appreciate the fruit. The bun pictured on my fish sandwich is from one of the school meals. It took a matter of minutes to saute a small portion of cod to make that fish sandwich. It was so good!

In uncertain times such as these, I’m safe, surrounded by the people I love, and have endless options for cooking delicious and filling meals for my family. And I’m full…in more ways than one.

What do you plan on cooking this week? How are you coping?

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Bowls of self-care

We are living in strange times indeed. The COVID-19 pandemic is one for the history books. The silver lining is we’re being forced as a human race to collectively slow down, which I hope allows for lots of self-care.

My type of self-care is nourishing myself with nutritious foods. Three of the four people in my household are high risk if we somehow catch this virus. I’m focusing on our health.

The epitome of comfort in my book is a bowl of soup.  As I’ve written many times, the activity of cooking is soothing to me. On Friday, while teleworking, I made two nutritious and delicious soups: chicken tortilla and black bean. I let my homemade bone broth simmer for hours. My pantry and freezer staples helped me rise to the occassion.

Black bean soup. LPC

In these coming months, I hope you make time for self-care and whatever that means for you. I’ll continue to cook and share, hoping you get inspired by my recipes and even share some of your self-care ideas with me.

What steps are you making to care for yourself?