Monday, January 6, 2014

So this is mat leave (pre-baby)...

For some reason, even though the season for it is over, I've got "So This is Christmas" by John Lennon stuck in my head. 
CONFESSION: They also use this song during the holidays for commercials like World Vision or Christian Children's FoundationI'm not sure exactly which one because every time I hear the first notes of the song, I usually do whatever I can to change the channel *wince* I know, it makes me sound like such an ass, but in my defense, Bart and I are already sponsors and they show it a LOT over the holidays.  Also, in my preggo defense, it's hard to see that in my emotional state.  I cry during a lot of commercials that aren't even MEANT to tug and pull on your heartstrings, so I didn't think I could survive too many viewings of these commercials that do it on PURPOSE!
If you couldn't tell right away, my younger brother couldn't make it to our annual family New Year's Eve gathering due to work, so I worked him in anyway.  You can stare in awe - that's what he really looks like.  I have already been complimented numerous times on my seamless photoshop skills.  What can I say?  It's a gift.

Aaaanywho!  New Year's Eve/Day has come and gone and today marks the general populations return to work/school schedule, so pretty much everything should be going back to normal for everyone.  
Eeexcept for me!  Today marks the first official day of my maternity leave and honestly - CONFESSION: I have no idea what to do with myself.  I don't mean to say it ANY way that will imply that I am AT ALL complaining, but with the house cleaned and tidied up the best it's ever really going to get and with the baby's clothes washed, baby gear ready to go, bags packed by the door, etc., etc., everything's pretty much just waiting on one thing.  The baby.  Which means I don't really have much more to do.
You know how when you're at work and you don't feel like doing anything work-related so you do all these other things online like go on Facebook, update your status, tweet about things, update your blog, take personality tests and check to see which How I Met Your Mother character you're mostly likely to be and basically do EVERYTHING else you can possibly think of to do that's not work-related but then all of a sudden there's NOTHING left to do BUT work?  No? Yeah, me neither, I was just saying...
What I meant was, you know how some OTHER people can go through something like that?  That's what I feel like about my first day of mat leave pre-baby.  There's nothing else for me to really do but the things I'd rather not really be doing.  And that's saying something considering I've already cleaned and cleaning is usually the LAST thing on my list of things I want to do.
So anyway.  I reached the point where there was nothing else for me to really do besides the stuff I was ignoring on purpose.  It was also because I had nothing else to do, that I allowed for this epiphany:
Now that I'm home all day, everyday and expected to be so for the next...year, I guess...apparently it is now completely inappropriate for me to get home, wait until Bart gets home from work a few hours later and then ask him what we should have for dinner.
So now that I'm completely bored and how nothing else to do, I've decided that until I find out what it's like to stay at home with a baby, I'm going to be a stepford wife.  Bart's gonna get in the house, walk out the door and double check the number on the house to make sure he's in the correct house when he sees dinner waiting for him!  And not just ANY dinner.  Stuff that's cooked on like...a STOVE and all!  Sans microwave!
So voila!  The first thing I had to do was to get groceries.  Because another apparently moment is that when you're a grown-up and a soon-to-be mom, your fridge should have like, food in it.  Non-microwavable food.  So sadly this epiphany has arrived the same day that snowmaggedon touched down upon us.  I waited until the snow fall took a break and the city had a chance to get the snow plows out, but it was still slow going.  But the snowmaggedon inspired my first meal I wanted to make.  This cold out there and what's a good thing to come home to after shoveling snow?  Chicken noodle soup!
I'm not a big fan of canned chicken noodle soup and I have exactly one chicken noodle soup in my very limited repertoire.  It's a Filipino version of chicken noodle soup called chicken mami soup.  I'm going to talk about it even though it might be an acquired taste kind of soup, but hey, if you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and try it out even though I have no recipe and no exact directions to help you out *LOL*  Keep in mind that perhaps the things I put in it SOUND weirder than it actually tastes.  Because I may be biased, but I think it tastes delicious!
First off, I start by making the soup.  Considering it's called chicken mami soup, somewhere along the way, there's got to be chicken in it.
I use chicken thighs  It gives a good amount of meat as well as bones for that chicken-y flavor.  I'm lazy and also sadly not very health conscious at the moment, so I boiled the chicken legs with their skin on.  I was also a little out of sorts, so I forgot to pick up onions and carrots while I was out.  So basically this is water, chicken thighs, salt and pepper.  I also added some chicken bouillon cubes because I got all Food Network-y and just started throwing stuff in.  
In a pinch when I've gotten a craving for this soup and didn't have any actual chicken, I've gotten away with just boiling onions, carrots and a mixture of water and chicken broth from a box.  You can also take the no meat approach and use vegetable broth.  I think it's a very forgiving, versatile soup.  Do whatcha want!
While my chicken was cooking away and the water was becoming soup, I got my favourite part of the soup "content" ready.  Hardboiled eggs!  Because I plan on having this for dinner and then feeding my parents who are coming over tomorrow and then dinner again tomorrow, I made my hardboiled eggs in a huge batch using my lovely rice cooker.

Basically, you line the bottom of the pot with one or two pieces of paper towel and then add enough water that the paper towels are wet.  But that's it.  If you turn the pot upside down, there shouldn't be any water coming out.  Just a wet paper towel stuck to the bottom of your pot.

Next, you'll want to place your eggs at the bottom of the pot.  I used a whole carton (I think there were a few missing) for this batch.  I've used more with them being stacked on top of the other and it's worked out fine, so if you have more than the eggs I have here, go for it.  Basically, once you line them up here, you place the pot in the cooker and you put the lid on and you push down the button to cook.  That's it.  Well, that's it if you have the rice cooker with the single button that you just press down.  By the time that little button pops up again to tell you that the "cooking" process is done, that's it, you now also have perfectly cooked hardboiled eggs.  And I mean perfectly!  None of that crazy stuff where you try to peel it and the shell sticks to the egg and by the time you're done peeling, you have 1/4 of an egg left to eat cuz the rest went in the trash.
Once your chicken that is boiling in the water that has now slowly turned into soup is cooked, it's almost ready to EAT!
I pull the chicken out and I strip the meat from the bones and shred them into smaller pieces.  Once THAT'S done, then it's pretty much ready to eat!  Grab your mami noodles (I picked mine up from the local asian store), it kind of looks like linguine and I think it's already pre-cooked.  Hope so because it doesn't really need much done to it before you eat.  I usually just rinse out my noodles (to get rid of the white, starchy stuff covering it) in warm water and when it's loosened, I place a pile in the bottom of a bowl.
Next up, I will layer slices of hardboiled egg on top of the noodles and then the shredded chicken.  On top of THAT, I sprinkle some chopped scallion or green onion (these are the SAME thing, right?!) and fried garlic (also from the asian store - you might be able to see a photo of it in the above grocery shopping picture).  Once you've got all your soup "toppings" all set, ladle the hot broth in.  I let it sit for a bit so that the liquid can warm and soften the noodles further and while it's hanging out getting ready for me to eat, I doctor it to my specifications.  To my soup, I add lemon juice and fish sauce and pepper.  My mouth is watering again just typing it all out - and I've just finished eating! *LOL*

VOILA!  SOUP!  That I made! Cuz I'm a GROWN-UP!  I can technically be expected to keep a human being alive and fed!  Or at least fed!  Hopefully the other stuff goes along with it.  
Once Bart has finished assuring himself that he is indeed at the correct house this evening, he will notice that I have massive fried garlic breath and I'm okay with that.  The soup was so good, it's worth it to me to forgo cuddle time tonight.
BWAHAHA, just kidding.  My and baby will be cuddled by the mister whether we have garlic breath or not.  I WANT CUUUUDDLES!!!
So there it is.  My first day of mat-leave (sans baby).  And it has paved the way for giving me things to do tomorrow because I am also one of those "cooks" who must use every utensil in the kitchen while cooking.  Which is weird because this soup is technically a one-pot wonder.  I have no idea how I ended up using all the other stuff.  But now tomorrow I have kitchen tidying duties and once that's done, I think I have earned myself a home manicure and an XBOX gaming session because I can still act like a twelve year old boy for a bit!
And with my first day of mat leave, this is also my first "food/cooking" post.  I was going to call it a recipe post, but let's be honest.  I just threw stuff in some water and boiled it and then called it soup.  I think y'all are capable of doing that. 
But if you want the recipe and the variations, here it is:
  • Put meat in a pot (any kind of meat you want, or no meat at all)
  • Put desired amount of water in a pot (any amount you like that will fit into the pot)
  • Add salt and pepper to taste (therefore, no set amount - you decide)
  • You can add a bouillon cube (if you want, however many, whichevs)
  • Put whatever vegetables you want to eat once your boiled water has turned into soup (this can include onions, carrots, celery, whatever you want)
  • If you used chicken, take the chicken out and shred it (if you want - heck, you can eat it whole, too)
  • Pick any noodle you want (cook it to package directions, or however you want)
  • Put it all in a bowl (noodles, meat, broth - this is your water that has now turned into soup)
  • Garnish as you choose (if you want)
  • Take copious amounts of pictures of your bowl of soup
  • Eat it
You're welcome.
Q: Be honest.  What were your first thoughts on this soup?  Or of the things I put in it? I swear it really is good.  Even if you're not Filipino.  Bart eats it (minus the fish sauce - he just uses regular salt)
Q: What's your favourite, go-to, no-fail soup recipe?

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