By Libby Hires
Mother Nature finally decided to let winter show up for a few weeks. Well, off and on, anyway. Mother Nature is in dire need of some hormone therapy for those hot and cold swings: nearly 80 degrees one day then it dips to the 30s the next night. Just when I think it’s a good time for a bowl of soup, BANG! She hits me with the 70s again. Hurt my feelings. I sobbed straight into that bowl of ice cream. It understood completely.
Speaking of ice cream, how are y’all doing with your New Year’s Resolutions? I know so many people add fitness goals on their list each year. I decided I wasn’t even going to lie to myself this year. I thought I might actually trick myself instead. Every year I say I’m going to lose weight. I don’t. So, I thought I’d tell myself I would gain weight to see if maybe I’d do the opposite like always. Clever, huh? Well, I figured this would probably be the year I actually paid attention to me, so I better not write it down. Seriously, though, I’m going to make some modifications and try to get into a better mindset. Some of y’all are already shaking your head and laughing, I know. “Mindset” and “Libby” just don’t seem like they go together, but hey. I’m gonna work on that, I promise.
I’ve tried doing some modifications already with my eating. Right now, I’m working on the Buddy Duke diet. Have you ever heard of that? Well, it’s new. It’s called eating your meals while watching TV in the presence of your dogs Buddy and Duke. Let me tell you, those dogs will NOT let you eat anything without sharing. Buddy is our golden retriever and Duke is a sweet chihuahua until it comes to food. The nutritionist said to eat the right portions. So, Buddy, Duke, and I split it into thirds. Technically, I think Duke gets more of my third. So far it seems to be working. He even likes broccoli. I kid you not. He growls at me if I don’t hand it to him fast enough. Buddy just rolls his eyes at me like he’s saying, “That chihuahua has gone crazy. Throw me another bite, girl.” Who says eating in front of the TV is bad for you? Everything in moderation: portion control.
So, while I’m trying to ease into this diet thing, I’m thinking that hey, some soup probably wouldn’t be bad right about now. A great thing about soup is you can make it your main meal or your starter course. Plus, make some extra and you have your lunch ready to take to work with you for the next day!
Here are a few recipes to get you souped up and ready to go!
North Carolina Chicken Stew
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (or 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast)*
1 small can chicken broth* (if using skinless chicken breast)
1 stick butter
1 quart milk
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
Directions: Remove any remaining feathers from chicken. Place chicken in a 10 or 12 quart stock pot. Add water till pot is ¾ full. Boil chicken for about 2 ½ hours. Remove chicken and debone. Place meat back in pot full of broth you made while boiling chicken. Add one stick of real butter and stir in one quart of milk. Simmer till butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Note: If you’re from the South, you have to serve this with cornbread
6 to 8 medium Golden Russet or similar potatoes
Couple dashes of salt
¼ cup butter
½ cup flour
3 cups half and half
3 cups milk
2 teaspoon better than bouillon, chicken flavor
Salt and pepper to taste
½ pound shredded mild cheddar or American cheese (optional)
½ pound bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled (optional)
Directions: Peel and cube potatoes. Give a quick rinse with cold water. Add to a large stock pot then cover with water and add a couple dashes of salt (optional). Boil until tender then drain in a large colander. In the stockpot, melt butter; sift in flour while making a roux (or “thickening” as some people refer it to.) Slowly half the milk and stir until lumps are out of flour mixture. Add remaining milk and the potatoes. Cook on med heat until it just comes to a boil (about 5-10 minutes), stirring constantly to prevent scorching. If you like thick potato soup, mash ¼ or ½ of potatoes while stirring. Remove from heat and serve. Top with cheese and bacon.
Libby Hires is a local cooking legend who goes back to when Richmond Hill was still a small town.