I was lucky enough to grab Jody Pardo for a GUEST POST. Even though she is sick, she took the time to give us a delicious post! If you didn't see Brea Behn's, please go check it out HERE. It's a wonderfully moving post.
I have been friends with Jody for a little while now. I had the absolute pleasure of meeting her at the beginning of the year at Buffaloes restaurant for beer and shenanigans! We had a great time hanging out with a couple more friends and deemed the meeting #buffalobitches. Hopefully, at some point, we will be able to meet up again!
So as we roll through November I keep seeing posts about things people are thankful for and it's wonderful but what about the other eleven months of the year? I guess we can't get picky. At least it's happening sometime. I have two things to share: my love of storytelling and charity.
My mother was an English teacher and always drove me to explain further, use descriptive words and share. I was an only child and she didn't want to raise a brat....sorry Mom it happened anyway, but there were no children born in my family for almost fourteen years. So it was just me on the tail end of the generation hanging with adults, my uncles and my mother's students.
Growing up around adults exposed me to the many stories and tales of family members and days gone by. I loved these stories. All too often little things remind me of these nuggets, gems and experiences although they have since passed away. Storytelling from the beginning of time has been source of entertainment and record keeping. My stories are a little bit of both. I see things all around me everyday. Some make me laugh, some make my want to cry and some remind me of how blessed I am just to be there in that moment. My writing reflects my life, things I have seen and things I want to share with others. My favorite pastime is people watching.
During my childhood I was also exposed to charity. My mother's students, and myself later on in school, had to do some sort of community service in order to graduate high school. Many kids just did fundraisers and stuck close to home and the school. My mother worked in a low income neighborhood serving school. Her students would often balk at why they should do community service when they needed help themselves. She took them to the New York City Rescue Mission, a soup kitchen and homeless shelter, and Covenant House, a shelter and program for homeless teens, to perform their service so they could see how fortunate they were for even what little they may have had. There is always someone with less.
I continue to do community service and have maintained a relationship with these two organizations from childhood to present day. Now that I no longer live in New York City, I donate to local shelters and senior living facilities in my area. I have a thirteen year old daughter of my own now and couldn't be more proud of the young woman she is becoming. She makes sandwiches and feeds the homeless outside of our local Walmart and always takes a doggy bag from restaurants and makes me take the long way home to give them to someone. Connecting with seniors is especially dear to me. These folks are often swept under the rug and put in these facilities and forgotten. They have a wealth of knowledge you just can't learn in books. I want to learn. They want company, love and not to be forgotten.
Please pay it forward this holiday season and every day. Without prompt. Without inquiry. You can't take it with you. The smile you give, a hug, a cup of coffee, can mean the world to someone. Everyone has bad days and you might be the light in someone's tunnel.
I write contemporary romance. What does this mean? Everyday relatable people. I don't write about millionaires, hard core bikers, space aliens, shifters, sparkling vampires etc. I write about nurses, neighbors, colleagues, roommates and someone you may have walked past on the street. I write from what I see and what I know. People watching makes awesome writing fodder. I hope you enjoy my stories.
Winter equals soup season! As I write this blog post, I am making a huge pot of chicken soup. Everyone has their own recipes for chicken soup but here is mine. I grew up in my grandma's apron strings and she never measured anything. So bear with me because I am cut from the same cloth.
Jody's Chicken Soup
One whole chicken cut up
One large or two small onions, diced
One green or red pepper, diced
Half a bunch of celery, diced
Half a bag of carrots, peeled and diced
Half head of garlic peeled and minced
Fistful of cilantro plucked from its stems, plucked and chopped fine
Parsley, 2 Bay leaves, Oregano, Italian seasoning blend, Cumin and a packet of Sazon
2 medium Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
32 oz container of Chicken Broth/Stock*
Noodles of choice--I use little star pastinis because I think they are cute and less slurping.
First take all skin off chicken and trim fat. Take clean pieces and put in large stock pot. Take bones and parts (not skin) and put in another pot.
Do all your vegetable prep and reserve the ends and trimming and put in other pot for stock with chicken bones and spare parts.
Put all vegetables (except potatoes) with clean chicken into large stock pot and fill with water. Season with spices. Bring to Boil.
Season stock pot of chicken spare parts, bones and vegetable scraps with same spices and fill with water. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low to simmer.
Boil both pots down to reduce by half. I pull the chicken out and shred it off the bones and put the bones into stock pot and continue to reduce. You can leave them in pieces if you want.
Drain stock and put stock into the big "clean" pot. Discard the scraps (or add to your compost or garden if you do that sort of thing)
Add potatoes. Continue to cook until potatoes are al dente. If you are a small family- cook pastini separately and add as you wish to eat because they tend to soak up all the soup liquid. If you think all soup will be consumed by your family then add pastinis right to the soup.
**If you don't want to be bothered making your own stock then use store bought chicken stock/broth. I tend to use both anyways to add more liquid as needed.