Some may say it’s a little odd to constantly want to eat soup when it’s the middle of the summer and it’s 100 degrees outside. However, the fact that it’s winter back in NY, coupled with our very strong air conditioning system, gives me the illusion of cold weather, so the soup seems quite normal and appropriate to me.
Vegetarian split pea was the first soup I made out here last year, and this recipe is similar and just as easy. There are only a few steps, and if you like it chunky, rather than pureed, you can skip the last few steps.
1 bag of dried beans
3-4 large carrots
3-4 stalks of celery
1 large onion
3-4 tablespoons chopped garlic
Fresh cilantro (or Goya cilantro sofrito)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, cajun spices (all to taste)
6 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes, and 6-8 cups water, depending on desired consistency OR 6-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
I’m forced to use dried beans because that’s all I can find in these parts. I’d imagine it would be much easier if I were using canned black beans, but since I don’t have a choice, dried beans is it!
The first step is to soak the beans for as long as possible. Most recipes I’ve seen said to soak for 8 hours or overnight, but I usually have to soak for an entire day if I don’t want to have to cook the actual beans for hours on end.
Next, thinly slice carrots. Thinly slice celery. Chop onions. Mince garlic.
Over medium heat, add olive oil, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and salt and pepper. Saute until soft, about 20 minutes.
Add beans, bouillon cubes, and water (or stock).
Add remaining spices to taste, and stir.
Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are to your desired consistency. Add water/stock as necessary if levels get too low.
If you like a chunky black bean soup, then you are done.
I like my black beans pureed, so transfer to a food processor and puree in batches until you’ve reached your desired consistency. I do like to have some chunks in my soup, so I stop shy of a complete puree.
Transfer back to the pot and if you like it a little thinner, add a bit more water/stock.
I would eat with a dollop of sour cream and avocado, but since we don’t have sour cream, I use plain yogurt.
Two years ago we were in a hotel for 6 weeks and I thought I would just about lose it. It was our first season in Argentina, and I quickly learned what would be coined “the Argentinian way.” Now I can’t be sure if we coined the term, or if it has been around for ages, but the Argentinian way insures that tomorrow means maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after, possibly next week, but really who knows. It rarely actually means tomorrow.
So flash forward to this season, and with our new team and new city we were hoping for a quicker and smoother transition, but alas, there’s just no getting around the Argentinian way. We almost broke the 6 week record, but 3 days short of it we were finally able to move! I would say that my joy knows no bounds, but the Argentinian way relates to every aspect of life, and especially with moving and settling in it seems.
It’s been just about two weeks and we are still waiting on the air conditioners, Direct tv, a dining room table, mirrors for the bathroom, a coffee table or side table (I’ll take anything at this point!) We do actually have a beautiful new microwave, but it’s not compatible with the kitchen outlets so it can’t be used. We also have a washing machine, but it’s not hooked up to plumbing or electricity so not quite useful. We also don’t have a dryer, and since we don’t have a house with lines outside to dry anymore, we’re shit out of luck.
We do have a couch, but have only actually had it for a few days because they couldn’t figure out how to get it in the apartment, so we spent the first week and a half sitting on the cushions on the floor! I basically spent the last couple of weeks saying fml on a continuous loop.
The kids, however, were just happy to be out of that hotel and to have access to their arsenal of toys, some which were just retrieved from our storage in Belgium. They spent so much time on the floor that they barely noticed we didn’t have an actual couch to sit on.
I will say that the apartment itself is big and beautiful. Was it worth the wait? Who knows, but I will say that I am happy to come home everyday. It has 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, which in itself is a Godsend with 4 poopy ass kids! It also has a pretty spacious kitchen, complete with an oven that’s actually equipped with a broiler (our first in Argentina!)
Aside from the kitchen, I’m excited to have the best closets we’ve had in years of overseas living! I have been told that I pack with a heavy hand, and while I do not agree with that assessment, I will say that I may not be the lightest of packers 😏. So while I have struggled with space in the past, this closet has managed to put a permanent smile on my face. I just love to organize and this closet has given me life! Now if I only had somewhere to go 😂😂😂.
Ok back to the apartment! The rooms have floor to ceiling windows and a large patio with a built in grill, that runs across the living room and two of the bedrooms. We haven’t put a table and chairs out there yet, and I’ve actually forbidden the kids from going outside until they put up some kind of safety net, because we’re on the 10th floor and the tiny little railing has me petrified that one of the kids will fall 10 stories down! Heck, I’m scared of falling myself because all it takes is for one bee to attack me while out there and I’m done for!
Aside from the general death trappy-ness, one of the selling points is the fact that the building has a rooftop pool, two floors up from us. So while we don’t have our own pool like we did the two previous seasons, we also don’t have to maintain it ourselves, so that’s a pretty good trade off.
We’re also on a main street, where all of the restaurants and cafe’s are (not to mention that we are across the street from the only sushi restaurant in the city 😀), so I can hardly complain about the neighborhood when all I’m surrounded by is food!
To help with the gluttony, a park with a running path is two blocks away, but I also joined the gym directly across the street for when those 100 degree days hit. All things I haven’t had in a few years, so beggars can’t be choosers, right?
When all is said and done, my family is together, we have our own space where I can cook, and teach, and clean to my liking. The kids are finally in school, making friends and learning the language, and they have full access to their toys and books at home, lovingly organized for their pleasure and enjoyment.
I’m finally able to burn a few candles and make this house a home. So even with the lack of certain modern amenities, it doesn’t get much better than that. Oh, and we have have great WiFi! The one modern amenity I can’t do without 😁😁😁
I’m finally finding time to recap our trip to Tucuman a few weeks ago.
As is the Argentinian way, almost a month after arrival, we were still sitting in a hotel waiting for them to find us the “perfect” apartment.
I was at my wits end sitting in that hotel room, but I’m not the type to sit and sulk for too long, and the kids deserved to have some fun, so I decided to take a trip the nearest big city. We needed to relax and I wanted to explore and see some more of Argentina. I wish the hubby could have joined, but one day a week is the most the guys get off, so we had to leave him behind this time.
I did feel a little crazy leaving one hotel for another, but sometimes you just need a change of scenery!
We also visited Horco Molle, which is an animal reserve where they care for and rehabilitate rescued animals. Many will live out their days here, but they do have the goal of returning them to their natural habitat.
The tickets were pretty cheap (about $3 for adults and $2 for children). With that entry fee, you get a dedicated guide that takes you around the park, explaining each animal, their food, habits, etc. We were lucky to have only 1 other person in our group so our guide took time explaining and answering all of the kids many questions. It was also a plus that she spoke English!
The other great thing is that the park isn’t so big, so the tour lasts about an hour, which is the perfect amount of time to spend walking around in the heat before the little ones start complaining. So the kids enjoyed this part of our trip very much.
In addition to the touristy activities, we did some shopping at the big mall just outside of the city, and walked around downtown, which was so big we had to split it into two days.
We also spent a good amount of time relaxing at the hotel, enjoying the cable tv and the reliable wifi. We stayed at the Sheraton hotel, which had a pretty nice playroom for the kids, as well as a gym for me to finally get a few workouts in. They also had a spa where I was able to get a much needed massage. We were bummed that the pool wasn’t yet open, as it was pretty hot during our visit, but since it is still officially springtime, most pools haven’t opened for the season yet.
The hotel was across the street from 9 de Julio park, which was huge and reminded me of central park because of it’s size. There were so many families out picnicking and lounging around drinking mate tea, and there was a big area with trampolines and bouncy houses for the kids. It appeared that people would put them up themselves and rent them out in 15 minute increments. With the prices being around $1 per 15 minutes, it was a steal, especially since they really just let the kids play as long as they liked. What a brilliant way to make money, while relaxing with family in the park!
So our trip was a success, and the fact that Tucuman is only a little more than 2 hours away, means that we’ll definitely be back.
So the main flight to Argentina was cool. I have some generally well behaved kids, so the combination of my mommy eye, the pinch, and my “behave bags” will almost always provide good results. Barely any screaming, minimal crying, and as little complaining as can be expected from 3 kids under 7, and a moody 11 yr old. Since hubby had to report to training camp two weeks ago, I was happy to have my mom accompany us on our 24 hour trip.
The fun began in Buenos Aires, where I struggled with our 14 suitcases, 4 carry-ons, stroller, and other assorted items. I’ve apparently reached the point in life where I’m in jeopardy of throwing my back out with each episode of heavy lifting. At this point in our travels, I would usually sit back and watch my strong, capable, husband toss the bags around with ease, while shouting “good job baby!” or doing some other trivial task. That was all a dream this time around, and I have a heating pad attached to my back as I speak.
Back problems aside, the team arranged for us to spend a few hours in a hotel so we could sleep/shower and relax for a few hours, since we arrived at 4am, and our next flight wasn’t until 5pm. We were told we being taken to the same hotel the team stays at while in Buenos Aires, and I was eagerly anticipating the rest after the more than 10 hour flight.
Well someone must have missed the memo because we were taken to what I can only assume is where prostitutes go to take their “friends.” It was a tiny hotel on the kind of dark alley only seen in movies. The halls were dark and the rooms were tiny and reeked of cigarette smoke. One of the rooms didn’t even have a bathroom, while the other had a tiny one with room for just a toilet and sink, with a shower head aimed over the toilet, because, you know, that’s how one showers in a whore house???
To say I was angry is an understatement. I do expect a certain amount of disfunction from teams, but we left our last team because they were heavy on it, so my threshold is low these days. Our new team has a reputation for professionalism, and this wasn’t it. Apologies flowed, “heads will roll” they said, as they promised to get to the bottom of how we ended up there. So ok, on to the next flight.
Once in Santiago Del Estero, our new home, we were brought to what would be our temporary living situation, until our permanent apartment is ready for us. Another player is currently living there, so a new place must be found for him before we can move in. This house boasted a big courtyard with the most beautiful trees and flowers, a big living room/dining room, 3 bedrooms, a pool, but of course no hot water, no working oven or microwave, a big non-working tv, a ridiculous mosquito infestation, and too far outside of town to walk (we tried, but gave up after almost an hour). This is, sadly, not a surprise, as so many teams bring the bullshit at the start of the season.
The hubs is also away playing some pre-season games for 5 days so I’m stuck complaining on my own. But what a complainer I am! After dealing with this kind of disorganization and procrastination from many teams in many countries over the years, I have become well versed in the art of complaining and telling off, and tell off I did.
The day after I went off, we were moved into two apartment-like suites in a downtown hotel, with all the comforts of home, and a few blocks from all the restaurants and shops. We were able to walk around a little yesterday, and had a pretty good dinner in the city plaza. From what I can tell thus far, it seems like we’ll be happy here, as this city already looks to be a little more lively than Formosa, our last Argentinian city. More importantly for the kids, we’ve already located a playground directly across the street, which were very hard to come by in Formosa.
The hubs will be back tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll be in our apartment by this time next week, so we can get settled, get the kids in school, and explore some more, but what a rough start! Precisely why I tell people who say that they envy my life and travels, that it isn’t just one big vacation, and certainly is not for everyone!
Anyone familiar with overseas basketball knows that most contracts are year to year, sometimes with an option for an additional year, and sometimes you’ll get a two year offer. Our two year offers have mostly been from less desirable teams, so throughout my husband’s 11 year career, we’ve always had one year contracts and have never stayed with the same team for more than a year, until now.
This past season was our second year in Argentina, and the second year with the same team. There were many firsts for us in Formosa, and as we prepare for a new season with a new team, I look back on our time there with nothing but love.
Aside from a 6 week hotel stay last year, we were in the same big, beautiful house for both seasons. It’s the first time overseas that we’ve had a house, a pool, and a yard, and it really did begin to feel like home. The kids got their hands dirty in the yard, spent their days swimming, doing school work, and playing hide and seek. Our boys learned how to swim and ride bikes in that house. All the kids became true water babies.
Our 11 year old learned Spanish and is now so fluent that she often answers my questions in Spanish and sometimes refuses to even speak to me in English, leaving me all kinds of confused!
They all made friends, and had playdates constantly, especially Maliya, who had a busier social calendar than I did. She took dance classes, Zumba classes, and spent so much time outside of the the house that we even decided to buy her her first phone. As a result, most of her time was spent at a friend’s house, or in her room talking to the friends she just saw minutes before.
Our time in Formosa also did wonders for my boys, who are extremely shy. In addition to friends from school, they were able to play with the other kids from the team, as well as the many kids running around at the games. They joined the team’s youth basketball league and had their first taste of organized ball. They also started learning the language, and will soon hopefully have two languages to communicate in.
It’s no secret that I didn’t love the city because there wasn’t much to do, but it was safe, relaxing, and the people were so warm and friendly. For the first time in years, there were a boatload of other wives, and despite the fact that all but one spoke no English, we became fast friends. We were constantly having playdates, parties, and nights at the casino and the club. For a small and pretty quiet city, I will say that the nightlife was pretty great. We found a reliable baby sitter and had more date nights than I can remember in recent years.
When we decided that we wanted a change for next season, it was pretty sad in our house. The boys wanted to stay, but it was Maliya who begged and begged. She says that Formosa is where she’s made the best and most friend’s in all of our years abroad.
When it came time to leave, the school presented each of the kids with framed photos in a beautiful little ceremony, and Maliya’s friends organized a going away party, or despedida, to send her, and us, on our way. She cried, and because I’m such a softy, I cried too, and we weren’t the only ones! A few families actually offered their homes to her if she wanted to stay there for the summer, or until December so she could finish school with her friends. To see the impact she had on so many kids and their parents warmed my heart, and actually made it difficult to leave for the first time in years. It truly is the first time we’ve felt so welcome and so connected to our international community.
We will be back in Argentina next season, and we are excited to see what kind of experiences we’ll have in a new city, and with a new team, but our time in Formosa will forever be a special part of our lives.
Chau Formosa! Hasta luego! xoxoxoxo
I’m excited to partner with ABCmouse for their semi-annual sale. You can save 50% off of the annual membership, so that’s a year for $45! This sale is valid until Monday May 29th, but I’m also including a link for a 30 day free trial that you can use at any time.
I’ve used ABCmouse for years, ever since I discovered it, when my 11 yr old was around 4. Since then I’ve used it for my 7 year old, 4 year old, and have recently begun using it with my 2 year old. It’s a fun way to get the younger ones interested in shapes, colors, numbers, and letters. For the older kids, they work on phonics, reading, science, and math concepts. As a part-time home schooler it really helps to have an alternative to sitting at a table doing work with boring old mom lol.
Here’s the link for the 30 day trial that never expires!
Last week, my beautiful and sweet boy was teased and laughed at because of his hair. He just turned 7 and is pretty sensitive as it is, so when I learned that he broke down in tears because of it, my heart just about broke.
All of my kids wear their hair naturally. My two youngest have big, beautiful hair and I usually like to keep it out in an afro, and sometimes in braids or twists. My 11 year old recently started growing dreadlocks like her daddy, and Kaden, the 7 yr old, had the same big hair until my husband convinced him to get his first haircut, much to my chagrin, two years ago. Recently he’s been expressing regret at not having the same big hair we all have, so he’s been asking to grow it out so he can wear braids and a fro like he used to, and like his brother does now.
So last week he wore it in braids for the first time in years, after begging his dad to stop cutting the top so that his mohawk would be long enough. The very next day our 11 yr old told us that the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes were laughing at him and making fun of his braids. It’s hard enough to handle teasing from a few children, but dozens of children, including his own “friends,” is heartbreaking. The fact that they were insulting him in Spanish means nothing, because he clearly understood what was going on. A teacher did tell them to stop, but not before he burst into tears and the teachers had to take my 11 yr old out of class to come and console him. When I heard this I was so angry, and so so sad for my son and his feelings.
Had this happened in the states, I would have rushed down to the school and talked to all the teachers involved, trying to pinpoint which kids were involved, and gotten those parents involved as well. Whether it’s body shaming, or any other kind of bullying, it is heartbreaking to think of the impact that dozens of laughing and teasing kids can have on a young child. When you add in the aspect of race, and the fact that there is already an assault on black hair in the states, it’s all the more troubling. Black hairstyles are being banned in schools and work places, and children are being punished for nothing more than wearing an afro at the wrong school. Just today I read about two young girls at a Boston charter school (hubby’s home city) who were sent to detention, banned from all school activities, including prom, and threatened with suspension because they refused to take their braids out of their hair. It’s disturbing to see a child disciplined and ostracized for wearing their hair in its natural state.
But being overseas has somewhat altered my thinking. I don’t respond to things the same way I used to, especially when I’m overseas. For as long as I can remember I have had an open mind, and living in so many countries has allowed me to become even more open minded and accepting. Things that would have had me in a rage at home, don’t affect me the same overseas. I try to understand that there are cultural differences at play, and many reactions and interactions are due to curiosity or ignorance of the unknown.
In Turkey, people stared and then tried to touch and grab the children. I would attack someone who randomly tried to grab my baby from his stroller in NY, but in Turkey it happened numerous times. I would calmly try to explain (in my horrible broken Turkish) that he didn’t like to be touched, to which they would smile, nod, and then pick him up anyway. They generally love babies, but they went crazy for our little brown babies, so I learned to begrudgingly accept the cheek squeezes, the constant barrage of cookies, candies, and requests for photos. I also grew to appreciate amd welcome the countless blessings they gave (“Mashallah, Mashallah” they would say). It came from a place of curiosity and of love, and I was living in their country, after all, so I learned to understand and accept that aspect of their culture. (I wrote about it here Please don’t touch my baby).
In Germany, the faces were often surly, but many were helpful and kind behind those rough exteriors. In Belgium, the stares were not quite as nice, and if you didn’t properly speak French they could barely contain their contempt. In Argentina, I have shaken maybe two hands, and double kissed hundreds of strangers, something I would never do in the states. It’s all a part of maneuvering throughout our many worlds, and I mostly welcome the experiences.
This is the first time one of those cultural differences has negatively affected anyone in the family, so I was really at a loss for what to do. It’s been a week and I’m still sad about it.
My Spanish is limited, so I decided against talking to the school director, since she doesn’t speak English and we have a hard time communicating as it is. I considered telling our son not to play with anyone who harassed him that day, but that would be petty and unrealistic, especially since he said everything was back to normal the next day, and no one said anything else about his hair. I felt conflicted because I want to stand up for my son, but I also don’t want to make things worse and bring more attention to our differences.
Ultimately, my husband and I decided to focus on him and his feelings. We needed to make sure he knows how beautiful and smart he is, and how perfect his hair is, regardless of the style in which he wears it. We tried to explain that although kids can be mean sometimes, the kids in our small Argentinian city have never seen black hair up close, so it’s new to them and they’re fascinated and don’t always know how to react. We reminded him of all the people in Turkey who used to touch his hair because they were amazed at how different it was from their own hair, and the people in Belgium who thought that him and his brother were girls if they had their hair in braids or a ponytail. We let him know that while we of course hope that people won’t laugh at us, they will always stare and ask questions because we are different and that’s ok.
We are a large family of 6. We are American. We are giants. We are black. We are so unique that wherever we are in the world, we will stand out. This knowledge should make us feel special and more confident, and I hope that he doesn’t let this one experience affect his view of himself or his beautiful hair. In the words of the amazing Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.”
I was raised as an only child, so from my earliest moments, I admit I may not be the best at sharing. I do try, but I’d really rather buy two packs of peanut butter m&m’s and give you one, than have you all up in my bag. Sorry, not sorry.
With that said, I try try my best not to snack too much anyway, or eat too late, or overindulge, especially with my metabolism slowing and summer in NYC calling. But after two years in Argentina, this lifestyle has definitely taken ahold of us. We do everything late, including eating meals, so we’re all big on snacks to get us through the day, especially the kids. Luckily for me, they LOVE fruit, and eat it often, but they are kids (big kids at that) so we have the cupboard stocked with granola bars, crackers, nuts, rice cakes, cookies, and God knows what else. Everything out here tends to be overly sweet, and while I do have an affinity for candy, I don’t care for cakes, pastries, cookies, chocolate, or any of the other needlessly sweet things they have out here.
My snacking primarily consists of things brought from home, or the rare US visitor. So nothing boils my blood more than when I sit down to a bowl of Lucky Charms or Blue Diamond smoked almonds, mixed with Trader Joe’s Sesame sticks, when one, then two, then all four damn kids have surrounded me asking for bites. It may sound harsh and selfish and rude, but whatever. I DO NOT WANT TO SHARE.
I wanted to pose this question to my mom friends but I figured they wouldn’t understand since they likely replace and replenish whatever food and snacks their kids have pillaged, so they probably would share and think I was a terribly mean mommy. Then I thought of posing the question to my WAG moms who may understand the plight of having a small amount of supplies to last 8-10 months, but I felt like only a dope would pose a question asking other moms if they were as horribly selfish with their own children as I am with mine.
Okay here’s my thing. When I sit down to have these sacred snacks, as I call them, it’s all very calculated. I make sure that the kids would have had a nice filling lunch, complete with some kind of chippy side. This is not the time for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that would fill them for all of 20 minutes. No, I’m talking tuna melts with a pickle and Doritos or pretzels on the side, or 3 egg sandwiches with fruit salads and a rice cake for good measure. I make sure they’re good and full, and I’ll often even offer an apple or banana to fill any void.
Then I create a scenario that I hope will entice, and usually does. I let the older kids play games on daddy’s Ipad, which rarely happens, so they go to a bedroom and barely look up. Then I stream ABC songs and nursery rhymes from Youtube onto the living room tv, which usually keeps the younger ones occupied for at least 30 minutes. Once I hear the singing along to “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” I know I’m golden and I quietly retreat to the kitchen to enjoy the peaceful solitude of what feels like a forbidden snack.
But make no mistake, the second I sink my teeth into the smokey saltiness of an almond, or the glorious processed cheesiness of a cheese doodle, a child has magically appeared, lustfully sniffing my bowl. Once one appears, they all appear, like lions pouncing on their prey.
Them: “What’s that sound mommy? What are u eating? Can I have a bite?”
Me: “First, how did u get here so fast? Next, why would you want some if you don’t even know what it is? But no, leave me alone”
Them: “But mommy it looks good, can I have some?”
Me: “No, you JUST ate!”
Them: “But mommy I’m hungry”
Me: “That’s impossible, I fed you like you were going off to war!”
Them: “But it looks good, can’t I just have a bite?”
Them: “Just one?”
Them: *Sad faces* “Aww”
At this point, I’m in full defense mode and every child I’ve ever had is staring down my 8 almonds and 10 Sesame sticks. Its a chorus of “why mommies?” and they try to break me down. I don’t want to yell but I want this army to retreat and they just aren’t capable of doing so until some concessions are made, but I’m just not willing to make any. They eventually leave, one by one. Each one walking away looking sadder than the last, while making sure their “aww’s” are especially poignant.
So one would think that at this point I would find a way to compromise and share a little, since we lead by example and yadda yadda yadda. Yeah, no. I fattened them up just so they wouldn’t want my food. I put baby songs and cartoons on when they should’ve been doing work, just so I could get a break. Heck I even gave them Doritos so they would feel like they were getting a treat, especially when compared to my boring almonds. But one thing I’ve learned thus far is that kids don’t care what it is,….. if you have it, they want it.
So there should be a nice moral to the story, something about me learning that my kids are an extension of me so I should treat them as I do myself. Or that snacks and food items are nothing compared to the love I have for them. Or maybe that as the parent I should put their needs first?
What I have learned is that to truly enjoy something without 8 grubby hands in my face, I have to move in silence, like a ninja at night.
Prepare. Distract. Force a nap or two. Anything to prevent my children from partaking in my rations.
So do I feel bad about going to such lengths? Define bad?
My resolve is strong.
My time in Greece wasn’t the most interesting of places I’ve lived, but the food, OH THE FOOD!!! Greek food is by far the best I’ve had overseas, and consistently so. I don’t recall ever having a bad Greek meal, so whenever I have the opportunity to eat at a Greek restaurant, or the ingredients to make something myself, I’m on it. Tzatziki, spanikopita, saganaki, chicken gyros, and Greek salads with loads of yummy feta. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
I usually have a tub of homemade tzatkiki, available for all our dipping and topping needs, but here in Argentina they don’t sell plain yogurt anywhere. If it doesn’t have some kind of flavor or sugar in it, it’s not for sale. I recently began making my own yogurt at home, so once I perfect the texture, I can resume having tzatkiki as a household staple. They also don’t sell feta cheese, so I’ve taken to making lemon chicken rice soup as the only thing remotely Greek I’m able to make.
I say it’s Greek-ish because I can’t say this is an authentic Greek recipe, and I’m sure that someone’s Greek grandmother would say it’s not her recipe, but it’s pretty damn tasty! I went searching for an authentic recipe a few years ago, and as usual, something was always missing. Some were too time consuming, called for more eggs than I would like, or didn’t include vegetables, and I always try to throw a couple veggies into anything I make. So with some trial and error, this is my pretty simple and delicious recipe.
As usual with my recipes, you can adjust the measurements, because I almost always do. Sometimes I use more carrots and less chicken, and I love lemon so I often use more than listed, and if I use seasoned chicken then I’ll use more water and less broth so as not to have a salty mess.
This recipe feeds our family of 6, with leftovers for a couple of days.
8-12 cups of chicken broth/water (I use bouillon cubes and start with 8 or 9 cups of broth and then add more depending on taste and whether I’m happy with the consistency)
1 cup lemon juice (My starting point but I usually add more)
1-2 cups chopped carrots
1-2 cups potatoes (you can omit the potatoes, but I like to make heartier soups for my always hungry kids)
1 cup Celery
1-3 cups chicken, to taste (cooked breast/rotisserie chicken/uncooked quarters)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup uncooked rice
A few bay leaves
1 cup onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine chicken broth/water/bouillon and celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and chicken legs/thighs if using uncooked chicken, in a large pot. Cook on medium until boiling, and then simmer for 30 minutes. When chicken looks done, remove from pot and shred once cool enough to do so.
Meanwhile, add carrots, potatoes, rice, and lemon juice to the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Return shredded chicken to pot, or add shredded chicken breast or rotisserie chicken if using previously cooked chicken.
I like using cooked chicken breast sometimes because I season it so it adds a bit more flavor to the soup. It also reduces the cooking time of the soup by about 30 minutes. However, I probably use uncooked legs/thighs more because the chicken always ends up more tender.
At this point the rice and carrots should be tender so I start adjusting for taste. Here is where I add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and more lemon juice if necessary.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Take a ladel and slowly add about a cup of the cooked soup broth to the beaten eggs with a whisk. This must be done very slowly so that your eggs don’t turn into a scrambled mess. Once combined, return mixture to pot. Your soup should be nice and rich at this point, but you can always repeat this step with another egg if you’d like.
I celebrated my birthday a few days ago and it was another great one, filled with love, friendship, and family. I had dinner with the kids, went out with hubby and friends, and received the most amazing and thoughtful homemade gifts from the kids. I felt so loved and it was another reminder that my blessings are great.
Yet despite it all, my mind and my heart has been heavy. Since finally getting DirectTv, I have been watching a great deal of CNN International and BBC, mostly to stay apprised of the side show that is American politics at the moment. Instead, I keep seeing the places that I’ve lived and loved being attacked and terrorized.
These past few months have had my emotions all over the place. It’s as if the world around me is imploding. I was angry about the seemingly never ending attacks on black men in the United States. I was sad about what was happening in Syria. I was angry and embarrassed about the outcome of the US election. The continuous attacks around the world have added to this sadness.
Whenever something happens in New York City I am deeply impacted because that’s my hometown and it’s where I grew up so I take it hard. I’m still not over 9/11 and I wasn’t personally affected by that tragedy. The thing about this lifestyle is the crazy attachment we often feel with multiple cities and towns, in multiple countries. When you live somewhere for one or more years, have made friends, have learned customs and languages, and have your children in school there, it’s almost impossible to not be impacted by what goes on.
So when those very places are being attacked, and hundreds of innocent people are being killed, it’s heartbreaking. I think of myself being there, I see the victims in my mind doing the same things with their loved ones as I did with mine, and I think about how selfish it is to feel thankful that we weren’t there at that moment.
We were at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, as well as in downtown Brussels, quite often. We lived in Charleroi, Belgium, where the terrorists who carried out the Paris Bataclan and restaurant attacks were from, and were arrested. It was a surreal experience to watch it unfold from our window while watching the Belgian news. We also sat at cafe’s and restaurants in Paris, just as those victims had. We were at the airport in Istanbul, many times. We were at the Christmas Market in Berlin. We lived in the Karsiyaka neighborhood of Izmir, Turkey where the latest bombs went off. One of the few times my hubby and I were able to enjoy a night out alone in Turkey, was at club Reina in Istanbul. When I saw the reports from the club after the fact, and they showed the blood stained walls and piles of abandoned shoes and purses, I immediately broke down.
Knowing how close we were to so much tragedy, and how close we are to it at any given moment is unsettling to say the least. It’s human nature to be more impacted by things if they happen close to home, or if it has some relationship to them and their lives. So this for me is so real and so scary.
The feeling of being somewhere months or years before other innocent people lose their lives is an eye opening and humbling experience, and not just for me. I’m a part of an extended group of women who live overseas just as I do. Each time there is a terror attack, someone is taking an online role call to make sure families in the affected areas are safe and accounted for. These women are supporting their men in our basketball communities abroad, and the number of bombs, gun attacks, or threats of violence is heart breaking and so scary for all of us. We have to think about whether we should return home, with or without our men, whether to pull the children out of school, and even whether to avoid going out in public, or using public transportation.
It just really puts things in perspective because while I may have the choice to pack up and leave, most people can not so easily escape such extreme and constant violence. No one should be forced to walk 8 miles because they are too scared to take a city bus for fear of a bombing. No one should fear a night out amongst friends because someone may kill them for going against what some phantom person or group feels is wrong.
As an American, I feel that we should care more about what happens in the world because we should care about humanity period. We also know the pain of terror attacks domestically, such as the recent attacks in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, so we’re all affected and it shouldn’t matter the nationality of the innocent victim.
As an American living abroad, I feel such a connection with my adopted home countries, and considering that I spend 9-10 months out of every year overseas, it would be impossible not to feel deeply affected by so much suffering. What’s worse is that we are essentially powerless to stop that deranged individual or group from carrying out a well planned attack on a random target.
So I guess I write as a way to share my sadness because I’m often alone out here and don’t always have someone to commiserate with (hubby can only listen to me say the same things over and over for so long). I also share my hope that we all begin to feel more empathy and outrage when these attacks happen, even when they happen abroad and may not affect our lives directly . One can only live in a bubble for so long.