Making Magick With Shel Silverstein & Chicken Noodle Soup

When the kids get sick I have a knee-jerk reaction to find out how I could have prevented it. The Goddess knows that I try and be a great mom, but the reality of it is I’m not perfect. My kids had the flu this week and I’m frustrated I couldn’t have prevented it.

It’s also a very difficult undertaking for me to care for my sick children in times of personal debilitating pain. This week has been one of those weeks, but somehow, I not sure exactly how, I’ve made it through. My children are well and finally back at school today and I think I’ll go ahead and collapse. Well, after I do a few things.

I’ll be somewhat functional today while I do a much needed load of laundry, (because Mount Washmore is gaining amazing altitude in the laundry room) catch up on correspondences, and empty the dishwasher. But then I’m going to relax. No, collapse. Well at least until 3:30.

I’m crossing my fingers the school doesn’t call because one of my kids starts feeling icky again, and I sure as hell hope that they don’t catch something else that may be going around.

I’ve known the most fastidious of germaphobes who still get sick. I myself am constantly making sure everyone washes their hands, eats reasonably healthy, and are active. I also make sure my kids stay home from school/social situations when they are sick so they aren’t spreading the illness to others. But some things just can’t be helped.

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The awful thing was that I knew it was coming. Last week during my daughter’s basketball practice I watched as more than half the girls on her team were coughing and sniffling then handling the basketball, which was being bounced around from teammate to teammate. I inwardly cringed as the ball made its rounds, knowing that the germs were successful in finding new little hands to cling to.

As much as I tried to keep the right balance of vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc going, and as much as I charged and anointed my healing candles and surrounded my children with energy of protection, they still succumbed to the flu. My efforts failed. Am I truly so powerless? I mean, what kind of Witchy Momma am I?

At first I panicked. Then I cried. How was I going to care for my sick kids when I myself was on the verge of insanity from my pain? The area around my fusion and disc replacement was in knots, my sciatica was turned to high, and my fibromyalgia reacted to the stress with a vengeance. But I would do what I had to do, then my husband would take over when he got home from work (bring on the guilt, I think I can take it).

So the daily routine this week went like this:

I would be jolted awake by coughing fits after short bouts of painful sleep, but would take a deep calming breath and go and visit each child. I’d give out doses of honey if they asked, I’d spread globs of vicks vapo-rub on their feet while giving a quick tickle that made them squirm or smile just a bit before I put their socks back on. If needed, I would refill the humidifiers and add additional germ-killing essential oils, sometimes refreshing the cool rags for foreheads, and giving a dose of Tylenol if needed. I’d do all of this calmly and methodically then shuffle back to bed.

I spent a lot of the daytime sitting in the living room surrounded by sick kids with fever, coughing, and whining as my company. I wandered around picking up used Kleenex off the floor (no one could seem to hit the makeshift paper bag garbage can sitting right next to them) and would periodically go around the house wiping door handles, faucets, and light switches with an essential oil mix or just go ahead and heavy hit places with Lysol spray. I’d rinse the dishes, and maybe do a load of laundry. But when my body warned me to stop doing things, I listened and rested. At night my husband would give me a massage which caused tears to stream down my face, but as always, it ended up relieving some pain.

During a late Monday morning when my pain was at a steady level I took the opportunity to make a double batch of our favorite chicken noodle soup. We had it for lunch the first few days and we ate it with crackers while sitting on the sofa together watching old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Lassie while nodding off now and then.

When they’d get tired of watching Lassie save the day they’d come find me in my bedroom on the heating pad, our adjustable bed in the zero gravity position with the full body massage on (that bed was one of our best investments we made to help manage my pain). Usually by the time they found me I had been resting long enough and my afternoon medication had kicked in that they were welcome to climb into bed with me. We would read Shel Silverstein’s wacky poems over and over again or look through our family pictures on the laptop, revisiting their baby years, vacations, holidays, all of which brought smiles and occasional laughter. A much needed reprieve from misery.

By Monday afternoon and thereafter, I was having have them each take a warm but quick shower and change into clean pajamas. By then they would be tired again so back to the couch. During the late afternoon I reheated some of the soup broth and they sipped on it while settled in their own little makeshift nests of pillows and blankets on either end of the couch, zoning out in their little foggy orbits. Thankfully the television stayed off.

By Tuesday afternoon they began arguing. For lunch they finished off the soup. A good sign they were recovering!

By Wednesday their coughs had become considerably less often and there were very few wads of Kleenex on the floor.

By Thursday they were playing with toys and complaining about how bored they were.
I was relieved when they slept through the night and that their eyes were bright this morning and they were ready to go back to school. Thank you Dear Goddess! I too was feeling so much better that I even did a little happy cha-cha-cha in the kitchen after the school bus drove away. Yes, I definitely feel better.

It took many years of Mommyhood to finally understand that I needed to slow down the pace when caring for my sick kids. One of the things I wish I knew as a younger mom (way before I even had to deal with chronic pain) was to relax when caring for my sick kids. Of course I still worry and listen to my inner-mom intuition, but when I come from a place of calm I am better aware of whether they need more or less of something and can adjust accordingly. It also gives me the ability to send them healing energy more effectively. I can make sure they drink plenty of fluids and gently remind them to rest, then taking that opportunity to rest myself. I can read aloud to them when they don’t feel well enough to read on their own. We can even watch an old movie or t.v. show together even if we end up napping through some of it. And I can even find the opportunity to make chicken noodle soup.

The way my life is now, living with daily chronic pain, I know from experience that If I don’t slow down when I know I should then my pain level will spike to an unmanageable level causing all kinds of misery. My children can sense when Momma’s not okay, but I can do my best not to add additional stress to their recovery. If I repeatedly went down the checklist of things to do for children with the flu, constantly took their temperature, and tied to maintain a perfect house through it all, I would be a raving lunatic stressed out to the max, and believe me I’ve been there, done that. Now as an older mom with young children and pain issues I’d have to add delirious from pain to the stressed out lunatic description. Stress is ugly and will spread just as quickly and with as much stealth as the nasty virus that has invaded my children.

It’s important for me to find joy in the little things that we did this week. Yes, it’s awful that my kids were sick, and no, it wasn’t necessarily a productive week. However, we were blessed with those quiet moments to connect and to feel the love and healing that came from them. In the process, I ended up loving and caring for myself which gave me the strength to overcome the obstacle of pain. I really believe that love is the best medicine of all. The beautiful feeling we find in love that is given and received in times of need is above and beyond any magickal power you will ever have, ever want or ever even find.

Many Warm Blessings of Health on Your Journey )O(

homemade chicken noodle soup

Photo from Honey Bee’s Recipes

         Magickal Chicken Noodle & Herb Soup

This is my take on the basic chicken noodle soup recipe that I have tweaked over the years. It’s now a family favorite and staple during cold and flu season. It’s full of cold and flu fighting herbs and the potato thickens it just a bit. If you are worried about the amount of herbs being too strong, start with half the amount and adjust to your taste from there. It makes about 8 servings and is ready in about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup diced celery
12 cups chicken stock*
½ teaspoon sea salt (optional)
3 cups diced cooked chicken meat

1 (8-ounce) package dried egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup diced potato
1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass**
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large pot over medium heat drizzle in the olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and celery and cook in olive oil until just tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and stir in chopped cooked chicken, dried egg noodles, carrots, potato, sea salt (optional), and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

*Take advantage of store bought rotisserie chicken for both the meat in this recipe and for making chicken stock for future recipes. After removing the meat, save the carcass to make chicken stock. Place the carcass in a large crock pot. Cut 3 whole celery stalks into thirds being sure to keep the leaves on the ends as they are full of flavor and place in pot. Then add 3 carrots cut into thirds. 2 medium onions quartered, 4 cloves of garlic, split, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs rosemary, 3 teaspoons sea salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Fill with enough water to fully cover the chicken. Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Strain through cheesecloth and discard bones and vegetables. Store in refrigerator or freeze in gallon freezer bags.

***Lemongrass can usually be found in the produce section where the herbs are stocked. Our store sells it fresh as well as in a tube next to the ginger, tarragon, thyme, etc.

Circling the Hearth

tumblr_nezctn6t671thn7i0o1_500I   remember when I used to give my little ones stacks of pots and pans with cooking utensils to bang on them with. Nothing like a 15 month-old toying around with an improvised set of drums. At around 2 they got their first can of Play Doh. My kids still love Play Doh. Hell, I still love Play Doh. It’s wondrous how children love to imitate us and how we as grown-ups love to imitate them. I mean, who doesn’t like to make mud pies of either the earthly or culinary kind?

Cooking to me is an experience of bringing to life individuality, concentration, ingenuity, patience, and resourcefulness, just to name a few. Young or old, creative or meticulous, adventurous or cautious, cooking has it all, and sometimes all at once. The all at once thing is probably one of the reasons children love to cook and why I want to let them. However, I have yet to master the patience of allowing my kids to take over in the kitchen and it may be a long time before I leave the sidelines. Cooking takes preparation, it’s time consuming, mess making, and most times a big ordeal.

kitchenwitch

Meet Endora Endive. She resides on our kitchen shelf overseeing the Wiccan Kitchen.

My lack of patience combined with fear for my children’s safety makes it mandatory for this Witch to take a big breath of Zen before handing over an apron; both the apron and deep breath are imperative before teaching a little one how to crack an egg. Of course it took me some time to learn this.

My youngest daughter is the child who has always loved to help me in the kitchen. I’ll admit I’m still freakishly afraid of letting her handle raw chicken but I’ve gotten much better about most things….well, except sharp knives, cheese graters, can openers, and even those dumb little tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls. I’m telling you, I’ve cut myself on everyone one of those things (yes, even the crescent roll tube) and I, like those who regularly cook, have plenty of scars to prove it. Of course every time I can think of, those slices and nics happened when I was in a mad rush to complete dinner. Someday I suppose I’ll learn my lesson.

One of my parental milestones was accomplished when I finally let her take over the pan on the burner without cringing in fear that she would burn herself or create a disaster of monstrous proportions. Loosening my grip on controlling the kitchen has been hard, especially when I step back and watch those little mistakes happen so that she can learn from them. In the end, her bright smile of pride is all I need to dispel my fears (within reason of course).

Here’s a few of our favorite (easy) Mabon recipes. Enjoy!

Spicy Mabon Punch

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 orange
4 whole cloves
3 cups apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 1/4 cups pineapple juice

DIRECTIONS:

1.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Stud the whole oranges with cloves, and bake for 30 minutes.
2.
In a large saucepan, combine the apple juice and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the nutmeg, honey, lemon juice, and pineapple juice. Can be placed in a slow cooker on low heat with clove-studded oranges floating on top.

Autumn Apple Salad

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:
8 tart green apples, cored and chopped
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds,
toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
2 (8 ounce) container vanilla yogurt

DIRECTIONS:

1.
In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, almonds, cranberries, cherries and yogurt until evenly coated. Serve Immediately

Yellow Squash Casserole

Be creative and use different types of squash if you wish.

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups sliced yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
36 buttery round crackers, crushed
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

DIRECTIONS:

1.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2.
Place squash and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and place in a large bowl.
3.
In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the cooked squash and onions. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
4.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Autumn Beef Stew

Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

DIRECTIONS:

1.
In a large pot or dutch oven, cook beef in oil over medium heat until brown. Dissolve bouillon in water and pour into pot. Stir in rosemary, parsley and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
2.
Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion into the pot. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 teaspoons cold water and stir into stew. Cover and simmer 1 hour more.

Mabon Cornbread

Serve with butter and honey if you wish

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
2.
Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
3.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Rustic Fruit Tart

1/2 cup butter, chilled
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 apples – peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 pear – peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed

DIRECTIONS:

1.
Cut the cold butter and cream cheese into the flour with a knife or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (This can also be done in a food processor: pulse the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles cornmeal; add the cream cheese and pulse until it’s the size of small peas.) When you squeeze a handful of the mixture, it should form a ball. Shape the dough into a round disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2.
Toss the sliced apples and pear with the orange juice. Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cornstarch. Toss the fruit with the sugar-spice mixture and set aside.
3.
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Set out an 8-inch tart pan, or, if you’ll be making a free-form tart (galette), lightly grease a baking sheet.
4.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to form a 10-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the tart pan or baking sheet. Arrange the fruit decoratively in the tart pastry. If you’re baking the tart on a baking sheet, leave a 2-inch rim of dough and fold it up over the edge of the fruit (the pastry folds will overlap).
5.
Bake the tart in the preheated oven until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and brush it with the apricot jam.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

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