An exploration of my love of great dairy-free food and the constant struggle that is raising emotionally complex and well attached children.....
Last night was a doozy. I knew it was coming. I've known it for about 2 weeks. I've let my very happy and easy going son slide by without a lot of one on one attention from me. It's hard being the second kid, especially when your mom is working, trying to find a self-care routine and has a very demanding first-born child who requires attention from her parents the same way she needs air. So poor little E-man has been spending a lot of time with Yandy (our amazing au pair) and daddy, but not so much time with his mum.
So last night, just as I was finishing up making this delicious pot of soup for dinner, Ellis needed to let me know just how sad he was that we weren't spending more time together, how much he missed me, sadness at our lack of snuggles and no more co-sleeping, and me starting to cut down on how many times he nurses every day. He probably also expressed his jealousy over all the time I spent doing special things with his sister over the weekend. It was like if you've ever been pissed at your husband for something but you don't really talk about it, and then all the other little things that kind of piss you off or irritate you start to build up until one day you just let loose and have a really good cry, yell, argue, etc, but afterwards you make up and feel much better. Except that Ellis isn't even 2 yet. He has like 5 words. So for him, it just looks like a lot of screaming and crying and more screaming all while wanting to be simultaneously held by yours truly. For 45 minutes. He really let me know just how upset he was. And I listened and I held him and my dinner got cold. And eventually, he stopped. He felt better. He expressed all the big feelings that he needed to, gave me a kiss and went to go take a shower with his dad...
#awareparenting and #attachmentparenting are not always seemingly easy or simple, but when you remember that even toddlers who don't talk experience all the same range of emotions that you or I do without the framework or language to be able to express themselves. If you're looking for more on this particular subject, I can't recommend following this lady Kate https://www.facebook.com/katesurfsblog/ enough. And serendipitously enough she had posted an almost identical experience with her son just the day before. I really really appreciate her perspective and when I feel myself slipping into the old modeled ways of raising my children instead of the more attached and emotionally aware style that I've chosen, I read her words for inspiration.
So what on earth does this have to do with dairy-free cooking....!? Well, Nothing but also, everything. Mine and my son's relationship with dairy has been created through spending a lot of time watching my son. Being with him and seeing how he reacts. I've listened to my gut and to my son to understand the best ways to help him.
I, like all moms, just want what is best for my kids. And for me, that means beautiful, nourishing meals, every day. It's my love language and I believe that food is our best preventative medicine. But some days, I need to be nourished too. And for me, there's nothing more comforting on a cold-rainy day than a warm and easy one-pot soup that the entire family will eat without a fight.
The flavor of this soup reminds me of a dish my mom made when we were little. It was called "dirty rice" and it was basically instant rice mixed with bouillon and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup topped with chicken breasts and then baked. Delicious, yes. Healthy or best for my kids, absolutely not. So it's imminently comforting with zero guilt. And without further ado, here it is...
(vegan options will be in parenthesis)
Creamy Chicken (or white bean) and Mushroom Soup
1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or sub 2 cans of white beans, rinsed)
1-2Tbsp olive Oil
4 carrots peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 dry pints of crimini mushrooms, cleaned then sliced
2 loose cups of chopped greens like beet, chard, spinach or collards
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5C chicken or (veggie) broth. I prefer to use homemade bone broth here for its nourishing properties, but any broth will do. You can even use water in a pinch, but the flavor will not be quite as good.
3/4C rice, any rice will work. I've made it with both white jasmine and black wild, and both were super delicious
1/2C raw cashew pieces
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Salt and Pepper
1. Chop your chicken into small bite size pieces.
2. In a large pot or dutch oven (you'll see the same blue one of mine ALL THE TIME) heat your olive oil over high heat, then add your chicken seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until meat just starts to brown.
3. Dump in all your veggies and mushrooms!. Stir well, add some more salt and pepper and cook down until the volume of the contents of the pot has reduced by half. About 10 minutes
4. stir in your thyme sprig and your bay leaf. Cook 1 minute more
5. Add in your broth, stirring a few times, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes while you prepare the "cream".
6. In your blender combine the cashew pieces with 1C of water and a pinch of salt.
7. Blend on HIGH for 3 minutes.
8. Add the cornstarch to the blender and blend again on medium for about 30 seconds
9. Add the "cream" from the blender to the pot on the stove.
10. Stir in the rice
11. Bring the pot back to a boil and then reduce heat to med-low and cook for 15-20 minutes, or longer if using wild or brown rice. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
12. Soup is done once the rice has finished cooking! Serve in bowls and enjoy!!!