Comfort Food

Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  This time of year often breeds that feeling with all the shopping, and doing, and holiday parties to go to.  There is a lot going on during the holidays, we all know that.  For me the feeling of being overwhelmed this time of year very quickly leads to feeling depressed because I feel like I’m spinning out of control and I should be better prepared for life.  It’s in those times that I need a little comfort food.

Comfort food, to me, is something that should be easy and fast to make, doesn’t break your budget, is preferably served hot, and is carb heavy.  This is not health food, I’m not going to sugar coat that.  But once in a while it’s ok to eat something that is unhealthy, if it helps you keep your mental health in check.  And the following recipe is one of my favorite recipes to make when I’m stressed and overwhelmed.

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

Prep time:5 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Feeds:2-6 people

Ingredients:

2 cans of Campbell’s chicken and stars soup (or the store brand equivalent.  You can also use chicken and rice, or just regular chicken noodle soup, or pretty much any soup you like.)

1 small to medium size can of canned chicken (I prefer the white meat kind , but any canned chicken will do.  Get what you can afford.  Do not drain the juice from the can before using.)

1 small bag of mixed frozen veggies (Think the mix you got in the school cafeteria when you were little:  corn, peas, diced carrots, chopped green beans, lima beans etc.  If you prefer, or already have on hand, canned veggies work just as well for this too, just remember to drain them before use.)

2 cups bisquick baking mix

2/3 cup of milk

Directions:

In a small bowl, mix the 2 cups of bisquick and the 2/3 cup of milk together until a soft dough forms, it’s ok if it’s a little lumpy.  Set this aside for a couple minutes.  Now in a large stock pot put the 2 cans of soup, the canned chicken (DO NOT drain the liquid off before hand, put that liquid gold right in the soup.), and the veggies, and bring the soup mixture to a boil.  The Campbell’s canned soup is condensed, so you should dilute it.  Usually the cans say one can of water per can of soup you use, if you do that this will come out a little thicker than “soup”, which I like.  But if you want a thinner soup (or you’re trying to stretch one pot to feed extra guests) add a third can of water to the pot.  Once you have the soup boiling for a couple minutes, spoon the bisquick dumpling mix onto the top of the soup in little ball shapes.  Make them as big or as little as you want, it’s up to you(they cook the same either way), and don’t flip out if they sink a little bit at first, they’ll come back.  Once all the dumpling mix is spooned onto the top of the soup, continue to simmer the soup on medium heat UNcovered for 10 minutes, then COVER the soup and simmer it on medium heat for an additional 10 minutes.  Now it’s done, spoon this comfort food into bowls, make sure everyone gets a dumpling, and chow down.

This is great for those nights between the thanksgiving and christmas madness when you don’t really feel like cooking, but don’t want to order pizza either.  In total you can make a meal for 6 for less than $10-$14 depending on what you have in your pantry, and what you can get on sale. This is a pretty big hit with most people I make it for, and it’s especially popular with kids.  I hope your family likes it as well too, and remember, the holidays don’t have to be “perfect” or stressful.  Just enjoy family time and don’t sweat the small stuff.

 

♥  Lizz

Incantations

Recently I’ve been thinking about my childhood and how it prepared me for my adult life.  To be totally honest, nothing can really make losing a child ok, or even prepare you for what that’s like.  But I think the experiences of my childhood helped me when I had to confront the realities of Enoch dying.

I remember when I was young, after my brother died, my mom would take me to the cemetery to clean up my brother’s head stone and take him flowers.  I think maybe it was a means of handling her grief, but she put a lot of time and energy into keeping his grave nice, and keeping flowers in the vases near his headstone.  I didn’t always understand her desire to go to the cemetery every week, but it always struck me that my brother’s grave looked really nice when there were other graves that looked just about abandoned.  They looked like no one cared enough to even visit once a year, let alone once a month.  I could understand how that would happen to a grave that was really old, like a headstone from the 1930s, but I always wondered how people could leave their relatives’ graves in such a disarray when their relative had died recently.

Especially sad to me were the graves in the children’s section that seemed abandoned.  I understand now, why a mother and father might not go to the cemetery very often after losing their baby; facing the fact that your child is dead is extremely difficult.  I know now that for some people, it’s easier to just forget about your child all together, than  to go take flowers or a plush toy and confront their death on a regular basis.  But as a child I couldn’t fathom leaving your child’s grave so poorly kept.  And it really upset and worried me that some of the kids never had any flowers or plushies on their graves.  I would often ask my mom to stop in the children’s section to visit their graves.  I usually pulled a flower or two from the bouquet we brought for my brother and would save them for graves in the children’s section of the cemetery.

When we would stop, I would read their names out loud, and read their birthdays and death days.  I like to imagine that by saying their names out loud I did something.  Like some kind of incantation, I imagined I could help them know they werent’t forgotten by acknowledging them by name.  Sometimes we would do the math and figure out how old they were when they died, but sometimes their age at death was obvious.  Because sometimes, their birthday and death day were the same day.  I wondered about those babies and their families especially.  How hard it was to not even get a full day with your baby.  I wondered what went wrong, what could cause a beautiful new baby, someone who should just be starting out in life, to die.  Now I know what can cause a baby to die.  I wish I could say I didn’t, but I do.

I never imagined as a child visiting those tiny headstones that I might one day join that club.  That I too would have a child eligible to be buried in the section marked with the statue of children playing with lambs.  But now that I’m here, I see how visiting the children’s section of the cemetery helped me prepare for losing a child.  And I think I was right: saying their names out loud is a ritual that should not be stopped.  Saying Enoch’s name, helps me feel like he did exist, and he isn’t forgotten, and I really hope that one of the parents of the kids in the children’s section found one of my flowers and said their child’s name out loud, and felt comfort that they weren’t the only one to acknowledge their child’s existence.

 

Lizz