When my oldest son left to go to University 5 years ago, I felt a deep sense of grief. I got so weepy every time I passed his empty bedroom that I had to shut the door. That sense of loss passed within a few weeks and we all got back to normal. Two years later, my middle child went off to Israel for a Gap year after high school. That sense of loss returned and I felt empty again. Her bedroom door also had to be closed, but this time the cause was mostly mess and not grief! When my third child, the baby (now 19) moved out this past May, I followed him and moved in with him. No, I’m not making this up. I actually did sleep there for the first week. But that’s a story for another time!
Eventually I returned home. I must admit I enjoyed the sounds of silence in the house. However, it was short-lived. A week later, my middle one returned home from college for the summer.
But it is now September and all the chicks have flown the coop! I must admit that rather than feeling that deep sense of loss, I am filled with pride and joy in watching my kids make this transition successfully. That being said, when they all come home to visit, and the whole family is together under one roof, I just get that feeling that everything is good and right with the world. My friend Sharon says, that she sleeps better when all her little chicks are tucked in at home. I know just what she means.
For me, one of the biggest transitions has been learning to cook for just 2 people again. My husband will often come home and look at the big bowls and platters on the table and ask me who else is coming for dinner. One of my favourite strategies is to cook a roast chicken and eat half of it one night and then use the leftover in an entirely new way the next day. I will admit that even food writers get lazy and occasionally buy a Rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
With half a roast chicken as leftovers you are well on your way to creating any number of delicious dinners. I found a fantastic recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup in the Ottawa Citizen Food section (September 13). The recipe, posted by Laura Robin, was created by Foodland Ontario. . As with most soups, you start with some diced onions. In the spirit of September and back to school, here is a little onion dicing lesson.
Peppers, red bell and jalapeno, add sweetness and heat.
If field fresh tomatoes are available, use them, if not, go for canned italian plum tomatoes. There is a bit of prep work involved in using fresh tomatoes. They need to be blanched, peeled and diced. Remove the cores and cut a little “X” in the other end. Gently place them in boiling water for a minute and the skins will slip off easily.
Corn and diced cooked chicken get added during the last 5 minutes of cooking. A squeeze of lime juice gives the soup a fresh acidic vibe.
Finish off with some freshly chopped cilantro and a few tortilla chips for crunch! A perfect dinner all in one bowl.