Freedom Soup

12/29

Happy National Pepper Pot day!!!

Some food shit happened between thanksgiving and now, but I’ve decided to say “fuck it” and just start again. Too much time has elapsed, too much wine has been drank, and my brain can’t handle thinking back that far. 

Anyway…

Today is Pepper Pot day. When I looked this up I can across several options: Jamaican, Guyanese, Creole, Philadelphia-style…

I’m really only familiar with one of those places, so I opted for the ‘merican version.

Apparently this version comes with historical significance also.

According to the (definitely reliable) internet, during the Revolutionary war, the Continental army (that’s the good guys, right?)  was camped at Valley Forge. The winter of 1777-1778, was cold and harsh. Conditions were deplorable. Food was often scarce. (…. this may be true of my house right now….)  George Washington asked his army’s chef to prepare a meal for the army, that would both warm them, and boost their moral. The chef found scraps of tripe (ew), small bits of meat and some peppercorn. He mixed this in with some other ingredients, and created Pepper Pot soup, also known as “Philadelphia Pepper Pot soup”. The hot, and somewhat spicy soup, was well received by the troops. It was called “the soup that won the war”.

So, naturally, after learning all this I’ve taken to shouting “we’d be British without this soup!” Followed by “it won the war!! The soup won the fucking war!!” 

Some wine was consumed during the making of this soup…

I walked up to Whole Foods this afternoon to pick up the few supplies and felt weirdly like a badass. If this soup won THE war, think of what else it could do?!?!!!!!!!! 

Maybe it could get my kids to finally clean up Nickys room! Maybe it could cure cancer!!

Or maybe it would just be a weird soup. Fingers crossed!

The recipe I found called for using tripe as the meat. I’ve never really known what tripe is so I googled it before going to Whole Foods…

Don’t do that.

Tripe is defined as:  the first or second stomach of a cow or other ruminant used as food.

No. No no no. 

No.

I’m not cooking that.

A) I didn’t need a reminder that cows have multiple stomachs and are therefore weird and creepy and 

B) No. I’m not eating, cooking, or serving my family cow stomach. First or second, doesn’t matter, not happening.

I made an executive decision that this would be “modern Pepper Pot soup” made with chicken that I already had in the freezer. Done. I win.

For some reason, the first step of the recipe was to boil the meat for approximately 1 minute. Literally. It said to put the meat in a pot with water, turn the heat on high, wait for it to boil, then turn the heat off and let it cool down. 

What?

Why is that necessary?

I mean, I did it… but  I’m not sure why…


It’s hard to see, but there are two sad chicken breasts submerged in that water…. juuuuust hanging out. 

While the chicken did whatever the hell it was supposed to be doing, I chopped up ALL THE PRODUCE. 


That’s 1/2 an onion, 3 leeks, 2 green peppers, 2 stalks of celery, a whole bunch of parsley plus two Fresno peppers I decided to use and a jalapeño that I threw in for fun.

It’s not dinner unless I throw in some ingredients that weren’t called for…


During this time (and after some more wine) I decided that I should use alllllll the produce scraps to make “vegetable stock”… even though I’ve never made vegetable stock and I’m pretty sure it’s not made with green pepper tops and jalapeño pepper stems…


But I kept adding those scraps anyway…

After 20 minutes of boiling, I had 3 cups of yellowish colored water (once I removed the scraps) and I deemed it “vegetable stock-like substance!”

While the boiling was happening, I took a good long look at the amount of parsley I had chopped up…


That’s s lot of fucking parsley.

The recipe called for “1 bunch of parsley”… so I chopped up the 1 bunch of parsley that I bought….

Then decided it was waaaay too much parsley and bagged up 1/2 of it for smoothies.

Executive decisions and what not. 

After making “stock”, chopping things willy-nilly and disregarding the ingredient list, it was time to sauté some bacon pieces. 

I’m not convinced George Washington’s army had bacon lying around but…. everything tastes better with bacon.

The recipe said to cook the bacon until it “turned clear”.

……..

I’ve never seen bacon turn clear. I don’t think that’s a thing. Bacon is bacon colored.


After poking it around in the pan, I declared the bacon “clear-ish” but mostly “beige” and decided I was ready for the next step: adding ALL THE PRODUCE!!!


Look how pretty and colorful that is!!! I was so pumped for this soup at this point!

The recipe said to sauté the vegetables until they were tender (in just the bacon fat) but I was afraid of them burning… so I added a splash of water.


Then I added some white wine because I love wine and I do what I want!


I’m relatively certain no chef has ever said “the wine ruined it!”, so I felt pretty confident about it.

Plus, I had been drinking the wine and was therefore pretending I was Julia Child…

At this point, the recipe suggested that, after adding the chicken, stock and some seasoning, I simmer the soup for 1 1/2 hours.


This would have been a good time to catch up on dishes, maybe fold laundry… take out the garbage…

Instead, I aggressively told my children (not yelling, aggressively talking at) to “just clean the room, just put the toys away. I can hear when you are not cleaning… I hear everything…” for 2 hours. Happy winter break.

Toward the end of the simmering time, I started to cut up the carrots and potatoes that needed to be added.

Because I’m not quite sure how to cut carrots…. this happened…


I can dice any other vegetable, but the damn carrots get me every time.

I managed to finish cutting them up, added the potato, 7 drops of blood and a sliver of finger skin to the pot and let it heat back up to a boil.


While it smelled mostly like cloves, it looked s little like diarrhea. Just a chunky, brownish greenish soup. Shit stew. I was beginning to doubt the magic power of this soup….

30 minutes later, I declared it finished. With some sliced baguette, it didn’t look quite so bad…


I was just wine drunk enough at this point to start shouting “THE FREEDOM SOUP IS READY!!!! FREEDOM!!!!”

Much to Ryan’s delight.

He had this to say about the whole experience:

“I wish you would just make some ramen. Just some regular fucking ramen with those bones in the fucking freezer. I mean, this is pretty okay, the breads good, but you could’ve just made some fucking ramen. I just want ramen.”

Ramen didn’t win the fucking war dear. George Washington didn’t want your damn ramen. Eat the damn Hershey-squirt soup. 

All the Lemons!

11-26 & 11-27

Happy National Bavarian Cream Day AND National Cake Day!

I have been feeling moderately crummy and put writing pretty far down on the “to-do” list this month… Getting out of bed, putting on pants and maintaining aa look of “I’m fine, I’m not feeling nauseous and exhausted at all!!!” all had to come first…

So here’s a back-dated post and a little health update:

I had no idea what Bavarian Cream was – but apparently it’s only use is in pie.  Stupid fucking pie.   I looked up some recipes and settled on one that seemed fairly straight forward:

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What I neglected to take into account with this one is that I don’t know what scalded milk means.. and gelatin is disgusting.  I also took the easy way out on the crust and bought another package of adorable mini-crusts.

The first part of the recipe called for “softening” the gelatin…

Which basically means combining the powder with cold water and watching it turn into a solid-like blob that does NOT look like Jell-o at all.  And all I could think while doing this was “WHY DID THEY GRIND UP THE HORSE HOOVES IF I AM JUST GOING TO MAKE IT SOLID AGAIN!!!!!!”  I also thought “Who was the first person to try using horses hooves to thicken their pie filling?”  Seriously!  Who – decades ago – was working in their kitchen and thought “You know what would make this pie more fluffy and delicious? The hooves of my beloved horse!”

I’ve never actually looked into whether or not gelatin is ACTUALLY made from horses hooves… but  my brother told me it was true when I was a little girl so…. it must be a fact.

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I literally gagged while watching the gelatin solidify.

The next step in the recipe was to beat the separated egg yolks…

Which meant I first needed to separate the egg yolks….

I spent some time digging around in our cabinets before starting this recipe and found a magic tool that has been missing from my life: an egg separator!

My angle food cake could have been fucking fantastic, if only I had used the stupid egg separator.

Look how beautiful that is!  No more trying to pass the yolk back and forth between two shells, no more trying to catch the yolk in my hand and dropping it – just beautifully separated egg yolks!

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Somehow I still managed to smash an egg on the counter though… I’m not sure why I turn into the Hulk every time I crack eggs for baking – it just happens.  GINA SMASH!

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I never knew how beautiful egg yolks could be – they’re the perfect shade of yellow and look so happy and sunny – if you ignore the fact that they’re actually unborn chickens and I’m about to heat and beat some chicken fetuses…

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The recipe called for heating and combining the egg yolks, sugar, salt and milk in a double boiler… which I don’t have… so I did it on low in my favorite stainless steel pan.  Same thing, right?

Next I added the blobby hooves and threw up in my mouth.

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While the fetus-hoof mixture cooled, I got to work on the egg whites.

Since finding the electric mixture (in the least likely place), I’ve felt like a badass who can whip anything.  In reality, I’m still not very good at whipping stiff peaks in egg whites – but I feel like fucking Julia Child when I try!

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I’m not sure if those could be considered “stiff peaks” but they were shiny and fluffy so I checked it off the list.

Things took a turn for the flat when I tried to “fold in” the unborn babies and feet…

It basically undid all the whipping and peaking I had just done!  What was the point of doing that if I was just going to make it into a gooey flat batter anyway?!?!?!  Was it supposed to stay fluffy?  WHERE DID I GO WRONG!!!!!

I tried mining it a little more to see if it would pouf up but that only seemed to make it more flat.  I had to accept that the elusive stiff peaks were still out of reach.

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They turned out a little sad looking and mostly tasted like un-whipped cream.  Since I have no reference for what they SHOULD taste like.. I think I did it right?

Next came National Cake Day.

I debated making a cake from a box and going back to bed, but Ryan had been asking me to make a cheesecake ever since I came home with graham cracker crusts so I decided that cheesecake  has *cake* in the name and totally counts.

My blog, my rules.

Cheesecake seems incredibly difficult to make – so instead of finding a fancy recipe online, I went with the one printed on the graham cracker crust package.  Seemed like a safe bet.

The first ingredient was a 1/4 cup lemon juice. I didn’t have a bottle of lemon juice in the refrigerator, but I did have a bag of lemons?  I don’t know why I had a full bag of lemons, but there they were.  In my mind, squeezing enough lemons to make a 1/4 cup lemon juice would be easy – it would take maybe one whole lemon, right?

Wrong.

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I squeezed all but one damn lemon to get enough lemon juice. I also forgot that lemons have seeds that will need to be individually plucked from the lemon/the cup of juice… and that it will burn and sting when you put your fingers into a measuring cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

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Next, the recipe suggested mixing together the cream cheese, condensed milk, lemon juice and remaining ingredients (I forgot what they were – brain fog)

The nice thing about cheesecake is that no stiff peaks are required – just basic mixing.  So I mixed the shit out of it and wound up with a fairly creamy filling.  I added it to the crust and put it in the refrigerator to set.

I felt pretty confident about this and – having never done this before – I thought all cheesecake recipes didn’t require baking…

Ryan quickly informed me that it was “fucking weird” not to bake the cheesecake and was definitely not right….

For fear of an upset stomach, I didn’t try it… but Ryan did… and thought it tasted “mostly like cheesecake” but also that it was sticky and weird and should have been baked….

Now for the fun stuff: (12-18)

After some more blood tests, some more conversations with doctors, it’s becoming more and more likely that my little thyroid buddy is not just a run-of-the-mill lump.  Nothing is official, nothing can be confirmed until the biopsy, but there is a particular antibody (Antithyroglobulin) present in my blood that swings the pendulum a little more towards cancer.  It doesn’t rule out Hashimotos, but when combined with the size and structure of the nodule, the normal TsH levels, there being only one nodule… it adds one more check mark in the cancer column.

I’ve known this for about two weeks.  And for two weeks I’ve been having an internal breakdown with a smile plastered on my face.  I know that regardless of what the biopsy says, this isn’t going to kill me.  Thyroid disease will not be the end of me, thyroid cancer will not be the end of me.  I’ve spent two weeks reading about the odds, the outcomes, the treatments, the success stories.  This is all very treatable.  Knowing that I will be fine doesn’t make it any less scary.  It doesn’t remove the fear and anxiety that comes along with any medical situation.

As I start to come up from air following my quiet breakdown, I’m beginning to feel calm again.  I’m beginning to feel like everything will be okay eventually.  I know that I will feel worse before I feel better, I know that change is in my future, but it feels manageable again.  It feels less scary.

Here’s what I need you to know:

I feel shitty 99% of the time, but not any more that I did a month ago or two months ago.  I’ve had these symptoms for awhile now.

I need patience from others more than anything.  I’m not fragile, I’m not dying.  I’m not incapable of functioning and I’d like to not be treated like I’m going to break if I work too hard.  But I’m exhausted and forgetful right now.  I’m irritable and nauseous, I’m emotional and I’m stressed feeling.  Have patience with me – give me a minute to remember what I’ve forgotten, leave a stack of post-its for me so I can write myself a note,  forgive me if I need a nap sometimes or if I’m quieter than usual.  Some day I will be back to normal – or as close to it as I can.