Clarissa’s Chicken Soup With Rice: A Recipe

As I mentioned before, I prefer to make complex, multi-ingredient recipes that take hours to prepare. However, sometimes one feels like creating a simple, easy-to-make old favorite. In our family, chicken soup with rice is one of such staples.

The most difficult part of making this soup is preparing chicken stock. The stock is central to this dish’s success and can under no circumstances be substituted with the store-bought kind. To make really good chicken stock (that you can use for all kinds of soups, not just this one), take some chicken meat on the bone. I only had drumsticks in the house, so I took four of them, removed the skin(nobody in hour house likes the skin) and put them into a large pan filled with water.

This is how it needs to look before you start cooking

I also added a medium-sized onion, two small bay leaves, and several peppercorns. After this is done, put the pan on high heat. It is very important that your stock never starts to boil. This is why you need to hang around as it heat up. Grey foam will start appearing on top of the stock, and you will have to keep removing it with a slotted spoon. Granted, that’s a drag, but the more foam you remove, the clearer your stock will end up looking. After the stock comes almost to the boiling point, lower the heat, add some salt, dice a carrot and add it to the stock. Now, your stock will need to remain on low heat for about 90 minutes.

This is what your stock will look like after it’s done:

The stock was so clear that I had trouble taking a picture without my reflection appearing in it

Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf and the onion after the stock is ready.

While the stock is cooking, boil some eggs and make some white rice the way you regularly make it. Make sure the rice isn’t mushy. Put a tablespoonful of rice, half a boiled egg, some chopped fresh cilantro into a bowl. Add the stock. Throw in a couple of croutons. And you are ready to eat.

Pretty, huh?

Notice how clear the stock looks. You can barely even see it. This means it was made correctly and enough foam was removed in the process.

This soup can easily be eaten as a main course.



Curious Statistics About Amazon’s Top Reviewers

A study has discovered what the majority of Amazon‘s top reviewers is like:

Seventy percent of the top reviewers are male, their median age is 51-60, and more than half hold a graduate degree. About 14 percent of those reviewers are professional writers.

As one of Amazon’s top reviewers, I’m glad to report that I’m quite exceptional in this area, too. I do have many graduate degrees but I’m neither male nor 51-60.

I Found an Alternative to Sephora!

Those of you who are not fans of Sephora will not understand how deprived one feels when separated from it for any length of time. I was so convinced that Sephora was unique that I didn’t even look for any alternatives. Then, yesterday, we went to our favorite Indian restaurant, which, as bad luck might have it, is located 50 minutes away from where we live. I’m addicted to Indian food but have the misfortune of living in such a backwards little town that it doesn’t even have an Indian restaurant. (Have you heard of any other place in the civilized world where people have to drive for an hour for Indian food?)

So yesterday benevolent forces helped me stumble upon a Sephora-like place called Ulta on my way out of the Indian restaurant. It is almost like Sephora but it has the grave disadvantage of discriminating against men. As soon as we walked in, N. observed in shock that there wasn’t a men’s section, not even a tiny little one. Probably, men in Missouri have no interest in looking good, and from what I’ve seen in this state, that might be exactly the case. However, Ulta has something Sephora doesn’t: a really huge section dedicated to hair. Curling irons, straightening irons, hair dryers, and, most importantly, a really huge selection of hairbrushes, like I’d never seen anywhere else.

Another thing this store has is an impressive selection of these facial masks you can see in the picture. I got used to them in Montreal but they are always an incredible drag to find in the US. The last place where I did manage to locate these masks was Ithaca, NY, but even there the selection was paltry. Here, it was better than in Montreal. (For Chesterfield, MO to outdo Montreal in any way is a really big deal).

The only thing I regret that I didn’t know the store existed before going there. I just found their website and it gives you a 20% discount off anything bought in the store.

Innerarity on Prophets of Doom and Gloom

From Innerarity’s Ética de la hospitalidad (Ethics of Hospitality):

There is nothing more annoying than these prophets of misery who sit there eagerly awaiting for the humanity to destroy itself just to prove them right.

Did I say this guy was brilliant, or what? I’m sure we all know such prophets of doom and gloom both in the public realm and in our own lives. They especially love musing on how everything is getting more horrible with every passing day and how humanity is doomed after a hearty meal and several expensive drinks.

Anthony Trollope’s Writing Strategy

Anthony Trollope was one of the most successful Victorian writers. He wrote over 80 very lengthy novels, travel books, and short story collections. The most curious thing about his prolific writing career, though, is that, all the time he was churning out his 800-page-long novels, Trollope had a full time job that had nothing to do with writing. Trollope worked for the Postal Service and his job often involved extensive traveling. So how did the writer manage to create so many high-quality works of fiction while working this very demanding job?

Trollope’s life-long regimen of writing consisted of writing for at least two hours a day every day irrespective of where he was or what he was doing. If his regular job required that he get to the office by 8 am, he would wake up at 6, write for two hours, and then go to work. On his extensive travels, he always managed to make a writing space for himself to fulfill his writing goal for the day. He had a diary where he recorded how much he managed to write each day. Days when no writing was done for reasons of health or family problems were also recorded.

Trollope didn’t come up with this strategy on his own. He learned it from his mother who, at the age of 51, had found herself with no money, a mountain of debt, a chronically depressed husband, and a bunch of children who relied upon her to provide for them even in adulthood. So Mrs. Trollope decided to become a writer. She would get up each morning – often as early as four am – and do her two daily hours of writing before assuming the endless duties of running a Victorian household. She didn’t create any masterpieces but the books she wrote allowed her to repay her husband’s debts, create a comfortable lifestyle for herself and her children, travel, and lead an exciting life of a bestselling author.

I gleaned these interesting facts from Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Trollope.

Scheduling Posts

I hate scheduling my posts. The immediacy of feedback is gone when posts are scheduled. Half the fun of blogging evaporates when, instead of sharing my thoughts as they come to me, I postpone saying what I want to say in this artificial way. Also, it’s hard to keep track of what was scheduled for what time. WordPress does not make it very easy to remember which posts were scheduled to appear and when they were going to come out. As a result, there are times when two or three posts come out almost at the same time which is confusing both to me and, I assume, to my readers.

The reason why I got into this whole post scheduling thing is that people started to complain that I publish new posts too often and they can’t keep up. I understand the readers’ plight and recognize that I do write a lot. Before I started blogging, I had paper diaries that I filled in very rapidly. I started my first diary when I was 11. The last time I wrote in my paper diary was the day before I got the brilliant idea to start a blog. Blogging helps me keep my BP (blood pressure) down. It makes me happy and kind to my students, acquaintances, and even university administrators.

This is why I need to be able to blog as often as I want, people. I’m sorry if the number of posts gets too much and you feel you can’t read all of them. I’m really really sorry to be inconveniencing the subscribers and the Twitter followers who get notifications of new posts every two hours. I tried blogging less and spacing the posts through scheduling but that doesn’t make me happy. And if it doesn’t make me happy, then what’s the point of the whole thing?

So, thankfully, this will be my last scheduled post.