Honoring with Food

Spring has sprung and the warmer temps are really invigorating. On the other hand, some spring days have a wicked chill and still call for a little comfort. Saturday was such a day and I decided to make Chicken and Noodles. It’s one of the all time great comfort foods and is not too heavy for warmer weather while still packing a comforting punch of warmth.

I love to roll out my noodles and look at them laying there on the counter anticipating there contribution to the pot later. They are not difficult to make, but you have to think ahead. You can’t just pop in the kitchen and decide to have noodles. Instead you’ve got to mix them up and roll them out ahead and let them dry and wait for their perfect timing to drop into the broth.

Every time I roll them out I think of my husband’s aunt Leola. This was her signature dish. Every single time she came to a gathering, she brought a pot of chicken and noodles. She was one of the greatest caregivers I have ever known. By the time I met her, she was in her seventies. She had already nursed and cared for a famous wealthy woman in our town, and done the same for both her mother and her father as they aged and eventually expired. She was a favorite aunt and great-aunt to many little ones who couldn’t wait for Sundays when they would sit with her in church and then ride home for a special lunch and activities all afternoon (or if they were extra lucky they would spend the night on Saturday night and get 2 or 3 meals out of her and a fun time exploring her crazy little house.) She had one index finger tip gone, cut off long ago by an accident opening the “hot” electric box, so that her famously loving hands crooked with rheumatism also had that familiar short finger. She carried a huge black “leather” bag that was appropriately filled with pictures of old and new relatives, 2 or 3 kinds of candy, lots of Kleenex, and a very small bit of cash. And lots and lots of keys. I know all of my husband’s ancestors because I worked alongside Leola when I was still in college and every day heard the tales of their history and identified the strangers in the fading black and white photographs. I know how comforting food can be and how important family signature dishes are to our sanity. I always make noodles thinking of her and hoping that I can be a happy memory too someday.

I had to perfect my noodle rolling and cutting technique. And by perfect, I mean adjust to my husband’s taste. I prefer my noodles wide and very thing and long, he on the other hand likes them narrow and short and thicker. And the latter is how I make them. Because I am making comfort food and I want them to be what he expects (except I do roll them a little bit thinner than he originally asked, but I make them short enough to not slip off the fork and narrow too.)

Here is my simple Chicken and Noodle recipe in case you don’t have one. You can add carrots to it if you want, or parsley, or peas. Try to make it taste good to you and yours. Oh, and despite my own mother’s resistance, you have to serve these over mashed potatoes. Serve alongside full salt and pepper shakers and you are good to go around here. You can make this your signature dish too if you like. Leola would be happy about that.



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