(Interviewing a couple elementary-school students at a school-farm event
in Brodhead, Wis., in September 2007)
I worked as a reporter for daily newspapers in southwestern and south-central Wisconsin for four years, until our lives switched gears. At that time, I wanted to get out of journalism so badly; I was burned out. We moved, first to Michigan and then to Illinois, and I worked part-time jobs that only somewhat used my training and talents because we could not afford to be a one-income household. But within he last year, I missed journalism—the unique experiences that come with each story, the buzz of a newsroom and the value and importance of the newspaper—and wanted back in.
For the last year or so, I have been a freelancer for two local, daily newspapers and several local, niche, magazine-style publications for the last year. But starting in a couple weeks, I will be a full-time reporter, covering local schools and education issues, for the same company.
I am ecstatic. I can’t wait to work for a company where everyone—from the reporters to the editors—cares about the newspaper and its unmatched ability to tell the local stories that affect local, everyday people. I can’t wait to delve into the education beat, a literal goldmine of stories, and bring classroom initiatives to life and make complex legislative issues understandable. And I can’t wait to feel like my work makes a difference.
Going forward, I hope to maintain this blog and continue to chronicle our lives through running, through food and through our Midwestern adventures.
So, in keeping with that, I documented my method (a no-recipe recipe) of making homemade, from-scratch chicken noodle soup, a warm, comforting meal that really is foolproof and, especially if you roast your own chicken and make your own broth, totally impressive.
In a large stock pot, heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add a coarsely chopped carrot or two, several celery tops and a quartered onion plus a couple smashed garlic cloves—really whatever vegetable pieces and parts you might have in the fridge—and season with salt and pepper. (I save the tops and ends of celery and carrots and freeze them for stock. I tossed in some freezer-burned California medley vegetables—carrots, cauliflower and broccoli—to the mix, too.) Sauté the vegetables until they are fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
Add in the carcass of a whole chicken and pour in enough water to cover the vegetables and chicken bones by a couple inches. (I fill my stock pot almost to the top, leaving just enough room to comfortably stir and to allow the stock to boil.) Add in several sprigs of parsley, a couple bay leaves and a couple teaspoons of dried herbs—again, really whatever you might have on hand. (I used fresh parsley and chives, as well as dried oregano, basil and bay leaves and a bit of allspice.) Add in some salt and pepper, too.
Bring the stock to a boil, then lower the heat and allow the stock to cook and the flavors to develop, or about an hour.
Remove the stock pot from the stovetop and pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Throw out the vegetables, chicken bones and herbs. Set the stock aside.
In the same stock pot, heat a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in a chopped carrots and celery (and onion if you and your family like it in soup)—as much as you like—and sauté until they are tender and fragrant, about 5-8 minutes.
Pour in the stock, then add in shredded chicken—a mix of light and dark meat is best—and stir to combine everything.
Bring the soup to a rolling boil and allow any fat to rise to the top and pool at the edge of the pot. With a spoon, skim the fat off the top of the soup and place it in a measuring cup or bowl to dispose of later. (I boiled or vigorously simmered the soup for about 30 minutes total.)
Add in a couple cups of dry egg noodles, stir the soup and leave the soup on the heat until the noodles are tender, about 10 minutes.
Take the soup off the heat and either serve immediately, or allow it to come to room temperature and then store in a container in the fridge or freezer.
See? It’s pretty simple, tastes delicious every time (no matter what ingredients or how much of them you have) and is a healthy and comforting meal for this chilly fall weather.