I love a good challenge. Actually, I like the word challenge because it can mean so many different things.
For the athletically minded, challenges are usually a way to inspire and motivate people to accomplish bigger and better goals. We’ve all heard people who say my next challenge will be to run a marathon or 5K. Nope, wait, athletic people don’t share that kind of stuff with me because I think I scrunch my face up as they are talking about paces and personal bests etc. (I do understand carbo-loading….that would be my only reason to run.)
There are educational challenges where we continue to expand our minds to find knowledge or understand topics. I know a guy who takes classes all the time. He really enjoys the lectures and has flipped a switch on his own personal mindset and has accepted this personal growth as a new trial to behaviors he has adhered to his entire life. (This same guy could take a home economics class and learn how to load the dishwasher but apparently that is not a challenge he would like to accept.)
I think the best challenges are things we almost take for granted and realize the need for stepping out of the box a little bit.
In my world, it would seem pretty obvious that I revolve most of my challenges around food and cooking. Some might say it isn’t a task for me to accomplish since it is such a norm in my life. But I would “challenge” you to look at my situation differently. (Wait, am I allowed to challenge someone about my challenges? Is this like duel where we slap each in other in the face with fancy little gloves? Do people still do that? I think that is considered assault.)
I digress, as a blogger there are invisible challenges that I don’t think most people understand. For one, you have to develop your food “angle” and what makes you different. Are you about healthy eating or vegetarian food? Do you only write about restaurants and places to go out to eat? Maybe you are simply a housewife who likes to cook the food your family eats? There is room for everyone.
The next demand you have to put on yourself is your “food” blog going to be stories of ONLY food or is it going to include some personal anecdotes of why you tried certain recipes. Anyone who has read more than 2-3 of my posts knows that I love to story tell. Most of what I say is babble but I’ve been told that I write like I talk. I’m not sure if it is a compliment or insult but it shows that my voice can be heard even in the written word. (And storytelling is so much fun because I can put little quips in each blog that are passive aggressive ways for me to communicate with my family and friends.)
Finally, you have to look at the trends in food. Do you want to follow the trends or get that perfect Instagram shot? Maybe you want to be the trendsetter? There are times you may want to write about a trend but you are so behind the times that by the time you write about it, it is obsolete!
There is a struggle within myself at times to be the better, popular blogger but also to stay true to who I am. The challenge for me is to continue to discover how to remain “me” while engaging YOU. So that is where nudity will soon become a huge part of this blog. For $19, you can subscribe to my all naked cooking channel on the internet. The only thing that will have a dressing is my turkey. WAIT….I’m not doing that. You see that was me being funny and seeing who actually reads the full blog.
I think the angle of finding “old” trends and making them new again is a much better fit. (And less risk of burning my delicate bathing suit parts.) There are so many great traditions in food that get pushed aside for the next great deconstructed toast or hamburger with the most extravagant ingredients. We get lost not remembering the basics just because we keep challenging ourselves to be the next great viral blog.
So as the weather starts to cool in the Midwest and our appetites change from barbeque to comfort food, this week I’m going to honor one of the best cooking challenges you can ever give yourself…. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. I think it is a dish we all take for granted but it deserves a lot of respect. There are hundreds of ways to make it but this particular version is one of my favorites. The addition of the vegetable broth to the chicken broth, gives it a little more earthiness. (Especially if you use a high quality organic vegetable broth.) And I also cheat a little and use a rotisserie chicken. The bones are wrapped in cheese cloth and seeped almost like a tea bag in the soup as I cook. It adds a little extra magic than “just” using a rotisserie bird and eliminates a little of the hassle of using raw chicken.
Have a great week and I hope you find some joyful challenges in your life.
Challenging Chicken Soup
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 stalks celery, diced (if there are leaves, add them to the soup)
- 5 carrots, diced
- 3 tsp of fresh garlic
- 4 cups (32 oz.) carton chicken broth
- 4 cups of vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- 2 cups dried egg noodles
- 1 rotisserie chicken, just pick off all the meat. (I toss the bones in the pot too and fish them out or put them in cheesecloth to add some flavor…more on that later.)
- 2 lemons
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and white pepper
Extra can of chicken broth (2 cups)
In a large Dutch oven, heat a hearty swirl of olive oil over medium heat.
Add onion, celery and carrot. Cook until the veggies just start to get tender. Give them a sprinkle of salt and dash of white pepper.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the 8 cups of chicken and vegetable broth, bay leaves, thyme, onion powder, and celery seed. (This is where I just let the chicken bones wrapped in cheese cloth into the simmering the liquid on low for a while if I have the time, not a necessary step but it does add some depth.)
Increase temperature to high so the broth is boiling. (Remove the bones if you added them)
Add the dried pasta and cook a minute or two less than the package instructs. (The big basic egg noodle I used called for 12 minutes, I cooked them 10).
Lower heat and add the chicken and parsley. Cook another 5-10 minutes on low.
Add the juice of one lemon. (You can add the zest too if you look that flavor)
Taste and season with a little extra salt if needed and more lemon if needed.
If you are a brothy person and have soup leftover, add the other can of chicken broth before cool it off. Otherwise the hot pasta is just going to bloat up with all the broth and the next day you will have a bowl of chicken and noodles and not chicken noodle soup.