soup's on!

my husband, the chef-looking guy in this picture, has a heart of gold. he works a bazillion hours for one of the casinos at sometimes horrible times of the day (like getting up at 2:00 a.m. to be in by 3:00 a.m. --- what is that about, Mr. Trump?), and keeps his complaining down to a minimum. when asked if he misses the restaurant, he usually says no, but then hastens to add how much he misses our customers and "making soup." he is remedying that situation this Christmas.

he came up with the idea to pressure can soup for our friends and relatives. at first i bemoaned the amount of work it would require, but quickly jumped on board when mr chef put his oven mitt down and said, "i don't need your help, then." oh, he so knows how to push my buttons.

(Deb & Shannon, if you are reading this, avert your eyes. thanks in advance.)

we got out our pressure canning equipment, ran the jars, seals and lids through the dishwasher, i went online to various extension programs to gather information, and he prepared his first batch: roasted chicken noodle, which was our house soup.

mind you: m2 is the research assistant, bottle gatherer, and now, support staff.

"honey, i've read in a lot of different places that say you shouldn't add noodles or any other starchy item to the soup because it will become too thick. except for Backwoods Home Magazine, who gives advice on everything from canning soup to hanging meat..."

"i went to culinary school. i know what i am doing."

believe it or not, miss m2 shut her yap and said nothing further.

fast forward to next morning, when canning is over and jars are being dried off. mr chef was wiping down the jars and lamenting over his "chicken noodle stew," in which said linguini noodles expanded to lasagne noodles in the jars.

be proud of your blog hostess: her yap remained as silent as the grave.

fast-forward to this weekend's event: vegetable beef. mr chef was up until the wee smalls pressure canning his first batch, which takes a bit longer to do as it has beef in it and you have to tack on more time. i decided when i woke up this morning, i would pressure up the next batch and let him sleep in...this is the first batch, pictured here. if you could only taste the yumminess of this soup!

there is something very earthy about "putting up" your own food. as an aside, before we owned the cafe, we both really looked forward to snow days because i would hibernate and bake homemade bread and put on chili all day. i cherished those moments because my children were all little and running in and out, tracking in mud and wet clothes, and the woodstove was on and movies or music would be playing all day. i recall feeling very content.

this week it snowed. it dawned on mr chef that it was the first time in 8 years that we would be able to actually enjoy it without worrying about the impact it would have on our business and the financial jolt it would deliver if it snowed for more than an hour or two and any accumulation was predicted. however, the children did not run in and out, tracking in mud and wet and no bread was baked, no chili put on. i am feeling a bit wistful this today, can you tell?

this morning, though, the sound of the soup bubbling merrily in the background actually helps evoke the feeling of contentment i have been missing for such a long time. while my depression has not necessarily vanished completely (i still have swings of it and isolate myself when that happens), but i feel like i am finally in repair.

and all of this nostalgia came about because my husband wanted to make homemade Christmas presents...

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