This past week I was hit with a tough virus and it knocked me out. I had been feeling run down for sometime and I think my body just said okay, you’re not going to stop so, I’m going to stop you! I’m feeling better but still recovering.
As all moms know, it’s difficult to balance everything. Nothing is ever completely balanced and your own health and rest are usually last on the list. While I was under the weather I noticed a few things and came up with some new solutions. The first thing that was immediately noticeable was that I hadn’t prepared for me being too sick to cook meals and didn’t have anything ready so it put my household into a bit of a spin. My husband works very long hours and the kiddo has serious health problems so it meant a lot of take home meals.
This is a problem for any family since we all live on a budget. My husband was able to take one day off to help take care of things but we, like most people can’t afford for anyone to be off work for too long.
The other problem is that the kiddo has a special diet he has to follow, so it was even more challenging. There is a bigger picture as well. Since April of this last year the kiddo was hit with a new health problem that we still don’t have an answer to. It most likely is connected to damage done by a chemo all those years ago. He has more tests to go thru this month. I hope that the results will explain things and possibly a way to treat the problem. His digestive system has been just a mess. He’s been in a great deal of agony and there have been a large amount of tests and dr visits as well as natural healthcare. He has always eaten a healthy diet. From the time he was able to eat solid food I made sure he had fun eating healthy food. He always chooses fruit over candy, granola over chips and never drinks soda except for the occasional rootbeer. However, many of the things he’s always eaten have been making him very sick. He can’t tolerate tomato base anything, chilis, peppers, and the list goes on and on. For this reason it’s important that we make almost everything at home from scratch.
This has meant that I’ve been in the kitchen so much more. Painting time has been almost non existent. My partially finished paintings have stayed that way. partially finished. While I was sick this week, I considered this conundrum…. I went to my favorite place ever. Pinterest! For some time I’m sure we’ve all seen the conversation on Facebook or pinterest about doing a cooking marathon once a month to freeze meals for the whole month. It sounded overwhelming to me before but I thought, maybe I could? For the last year I’ve been searching and trying different meals to create a new menu for our family since the kiddo has had to change what he eats. We’ve come up with a few that seem to work for him. Some people are good at having a regular schedule, we are not. Things change constantly around here and I find that I have bursts of energy when I can do a lot and times when I can’t. Which made me think that maybe I could try to put together a list of recipes that I could cook ahead of time. Which would be available all the time so that I could go back to painting again and when I’m sick all the family had to do was pull something from the freezer and wallah! Dinner!
I don’t work outside the home, I used to but since the kiddo got sick I’ve mostly stayed home taking care of him and running my small business from home. I’m extremely grateful to have been able to do that. For this reason I mistakenly thought that I should be able to do everything. As I’ve gotten older I realize that it’s just not possible.
Yesterday, I began this process of trying to make a few meals ahead. Just like when we transitioned into a non petro chemical home(as much as possible), this is going to take some practice for it to become smooth. When we began to make all our own cleaning, and body products we took it one product at a time. Now we do it with ease. Whenever I meet anyone who tells me it’s too overwhelming to replace all the petro chemical products, I always tell them the same thing. One step at a time and it will become super easy. It hardly takes any time at all. This cooking ahead is a fabulous idea but I’m going to start with preparing a week or two ahead of time and work from there. One step at a time. Yesterday I made a cuban dish we all like, arroz con pollo with black beans (but my own way, it’s not official at all) it was a total of two meals. I made chicken soup base for two meals. When I take it out of the freezer to heat up I will add in the noodles and spinach and mushrooms.
Here’s the recipe for the arroz con pollo my own way. (not the proper recipe at all)
2 tbls coconut oil
2-3 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves
4 cups chicken broth (divided)
some lemon juice
Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts set aside, sautee onion and garlic with some salt and pepper til slightly browned, remove from pan add the chicken in sear it on all sides, then add one cup of the chicken broth and the garlic and onion. Cook it on low, as it cooks shred the chicken. Just before it’s finished add some lemon juice.
In the rice maker put 1 1/2 cups rinsed rice, cover with 3 cups broth and cook.
When the rice is done put the chicken mix and rice all together in a serving dish.
Black beans, I use canned black beans.
3 cans black beans
1/3 green bell pepper washed and diced
1 clove garlic diced
1/2 onion diced
1 bay leaf
4-5 green olives diced
2 tbls coconut oil
In a big pot, I like my enamel cast iron pan. put 2tbls coconut oil, sautee bell pepper garlic, onion with salt and pepper, once they are softened add the black beans, the bay leaf the green olives(don’t use the red pimento that’s in the olive) and lemon juice ( i don’t know how much I use I just pour some in) bring it to a soft boil, then lower the heat and let simmer a couple hours. Stirring once in awhile. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Pile some of the chicken rice on a plate and pour some black beans over it and yum! This is my own version that we as a family like.
Here’s my version of chicken soup, it’s more of a stew when I’m done with it.
6-8 cups chicken broth
2-3 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic diced
1 bay leaf
5 carrots washed and chopped
1 celery stick washed and chopped
1 sweet potato washed and chopped (or regular potato but we like the sweet potato better)
1-2 cups noodles
1 cup washed and chopped mushrooms
a bunch of washed fresh spinach
I like to use my enamel cast iron pot but a big stainless steel pot works too.
Salt and pepper the chicken breasts set aside. Start with the coconut oil in the pan then sautee the onion and garlic, take out of the pan set aside, sautee the carrots, celery and sweet potato, take out of pan set aside, add the chicken breasts in and sear both sides, then add 2 cups of the broth in, add back in the garlic, onions,carrots celery and sweet potatoes. then add enough broth to cover everything, add the bay leaf bring it to a soft boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for a couple hours, stirring once in awhile. When the chicken is cooked well enough shred the meat. Add in the noodles and mushrooms, once they are cooked, remove the bay leaf and add in the spinach, salt and pepper to taste and it’s all ready! Again, this is just my own recipe that I do it’s not official at all. It comes from watching my mom, sister in-law and a few other friends make their chicken soup. I just combined all of theirs and put it together. (the mushrooms were my idea)
As I do more of these marathon cooking days I’ll let you know how it goes and hopefully it will help me take better care of my family and myself, and get me back to the easel!
Have a happy healthy day out there!