Thursday, December 16, 2010

Movin' on up!

We have finally arrived in our new home. I am thrilled, exhausted, but ..... mostly thrilled. I present to you, my new Pixie-paradise, the kitchen of our home. I have not decorated yet..but could not wait to show it off a little bit...

Another shot, showing where the fridge is...

I cannot even put into words both my gratitude for having such a lovely, spacious place to stretch my culinary muscles, and to Dear Husband, for being the wonderful, loving and dedicated man that he is. My heart belongs to him forever. It always has, you know....but this kitchen kind of sealed the deal!

So, adventures in Pixie Paradise are going to be just delicious, I'm sure...but the cruel reality of such items as;

1. Unpacking items other than kitchenware

2. Having to repair a burst pipe on the first night in Pixie Paradise

3. Waking up with a head cold at 02:30 this morning

have kept me from showing you the photos of the new kitchen!  Well, with a stuffy nose, but a happy heart, I must show you what it looks like outside my front door right way of explaining what I made today...

Yes, it is beautiful...a winter wonderland. As in "I wonder how I'm going to find the driveway for Dear Husband later". Anyhoo, I digress (so, what else is new?).  Between a bona fide snow day, and a cold that has left me feeling a little dragged out (as though a move from Alaska to West Virginia was not enough), I knew there was only one answer to my problem: Canja. Canja is Portuguese chicken soup, a familiar and much-loved dish in my family, and like many cultures, there"s almost nothing that this soup cannot make "all better".

I differ from other family members in that I forego the traditional two-pot method, and have whittled it down to a one-pot, speedier version. I also stray from what some may view as a more traditional lemon-mint Portuguese Canja, and stick with the tomato based version that I cut my teeth on. I know my Nana is no longer with us, but I bet she'd smile big-time, if she knew that even MENTIONING that you are making Canja to a member of my family, starts an out-of-control cascade of all of us making it! It is also one of those soups that you must eat until you need a nap, or keel over.  It is comforting and tasty, without being too rich. Here's how I make my version....

I place one to two inches of water in a pot (this portion is small, as it is for me, and my cold, only)...and add a small onion, sliced thin. This soup is easy to modify based on how many you are serving, simply double or triple the amounts of everything. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down and simmer, until the onion begins to get tender...the start looks like this

Then, since I know you are all borderline OCD well-organized cooks..have on hand the following ingredients...

Clockwise from left to right - lemon for the finished soup, salt and pepper, ketchup (I KNOW, RIGHT?), chicken bouillon, tomato sauce, cooked leftover rice, and chicken. I used only two small thighs, because it's all about me today!

Once your onions have started to get a little tender, place the chicken in the pot, cover and cook until no longer pink on the so...

You may cover the pot during this five to ten minutes, to hasten the process. Then, add the following to the pot; one small can of tomato sauce, one quarter cup of ketchup, four teaspoons of chicken bouillon, and four cups of water. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, and crank up the is what it looks like once the tomato products are added....

Cook for forty five minutes to an hour, on a gentle simmer.  Now I know all you chefs out there in Pixie-land have been practicing clean-as-you go, and have put away your ketchup, thrown away the tomato sauce can, and only have remaining what you need to finish the soup, right? OK...I thought too!

Just the cooked rice, the lemon to finish, and a spoon to stir. I think the last thing I need two days after moving in is, a giant mess in my kitchen!  When the chicken is completely cooked, take two forks and shred it and return it to the pot.

Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, just long enough to keep the chicken flavor flowing into the tomato broth. Serve over rice in a mug or bowl.  The results?

You simply would not believe the taste of such as simple, homey soup like this. There are many ways of finishing the soup, all of which are good. I use one or more of the following finishing touches in mine...

A squeeze of fresh lemon (none of that bottled stuff - Off with their heads!)
A shot of good Port
Hot sauce
Shredded fresh Parmesan (none of that barf-a-roni in a can, please)

I'm sure that it is more than just a simple tomato-rice-chicken soup to is my Nana! Laughing and talking to my Mother in rapid Portuguese in the kitchen (they stopped when my precocious little self started understanding what they were talking about!), giving us treats and kisses, and generally being the best female role models a young Portuguese-American Princess like myself could hope for. More on THAT nickname later..

What dish takes you right back to your childhood? What memories does it bring you?

Eat well my friends, and cherish family memories right along with the recipes that became part and parcel of who you are.  Love and kindness to all,


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