Friday, December 18, 2009

Exams Are Over, and All I Want For Christmas Is A Clean House. And Soup.

With so many stomach “bugs” going around, I’m wondering whether furniture can get sick, too.  Because here we are, Day Four of exams, and it appears that every desk, dresser, backpack and closet Chez Wiles has violently and uncontrollably spewed their contents. Hoo boy. This, my friend, would be a good day for a HazMat suit.

Mysteriously, it’s not only textbooks and quizzes, notecards and calculators, highlighters and writing utensils that now carpet every flat surface. It’s also laundry and blankets, soft drink bottles and bread wrappers, dust pans and tape dispensers, boots and bathing suits (bathing suits? really?), and an extensive collection of "lucky" wool socks. (I also understand that "studying" is lucky for exam-taking, but what do I know?)  

It's going to take more than a vacuum to reverse this wreckage.  More like a shovel.  Or a backhoe.  And of course, the aforementioned HazMat suit.

The kids aren’t solely to blame. In an effort to minimize distractions and maximize opportunities for exam prep, I let a lot of things slide. That ride, however, is over.  I am the Fat Lady, and I have sung.

So today, we’re back to the real world. Back to beds made before noon. Litter boxes cleaned before the cat relocates his potty to my down comforter.  Bedtime before sun up.  Shoes put away before the dog uses them as expensive – very expensive -- chew toys.

We’re also back to “mom” food.  Not that the kids have been complaining as we’ve enjoyed everyone’s favorite breakfast-for-dinner (Waffles of Insane Greatness), hard-to-argue-with Pan-Roasted-Chicken and many meals featuring the Wiles’ family favorite food group, sausage (Not So Dirty Rice, among other delights.)

A few weeks ago, when Little Sis (LS) was here (and the kids were not), she made a huge batch of avgolemono (Greek lemon egg soup) for me and some girlfriends. Tart and well-seasoned, it’s one of my favorite soups ever.  LS, of course, made it the “real” way, starting with a whole chicken and vat of water.  And that’s what I craved while the kids sat for exams and Project Exam Aftermath commenced here at home, but I didn’t have time for all that.  So, using some of the chicken stock I had stashed in the freezer, I came up with this “Greek-inspired” lemon soup.  Not authentic, to be sure, but making this quick, and somewhat more hearty, version gives me a little more time to get the house back in order.

Does this HazMat suit make me look fat?

Greek-Inspired Lemon Chicken Soup

Six cups chicken stock with chopped chicken
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup orzo (or rice)
2 eggs, separated
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring stock, bay leaf, oregano and lemon zest to a boil.  Stir in orzo.  As orzo cooks, whip eggs whites in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form.  Whisk in, individually, egg yolks.  Whisk in lemon juice.  When orzo is almost done, remove stock from heat, and remove and discard bay leaf.  Very gradually, stir in one cup of hot stock into egg mixture.  (This important step tempers the eggs, so they stay frothy and don’t curdle.)  Gently stir tempered egg mixture into stock.  Soup will be creamy-looking, and somewhat frothy.  If you want to be fancy, sprinkle fresh chopped parsley, or better still, fresh dill, on top and serve.
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