My body tends to have the worst timing.
I suffer from fibromyalgia, and I also have a broken vertebra in my spine that apparently will not heal (according to the doctor that finally located it). This makes it fairly difficult for me to do many social things, and it’s usually a good day if I can manage to get out of the apartment. For this reason, the holidays are typically something I dread.
Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love being around my family, because my husband and I live far enough away from both of our families that it makes it difficult to see them on a regular basis. We typically see them about once or twice a year, those times being in November and December. The fibromyalgia makes my body tend to hate cold weather, so I always tend to feel like crap around that time. Add in lengthy travel times, and it makes for a lot of guilt. I tend to hurt too much to do much of anything for long periods of time, and the more stuff that I have to do, the worse I feel.
This year, we decided to drive.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of flying around the holidays. Winter weather can cause delays, and everyone and their sister seems to be flying, too. There are no direct flights to where we need to go, so it doubles the amount of time we need to spend in an airplane. Add an hour to get to an airport outside of Ithaca to have the best chance of our flight actually taking off (seriously, Tompkins cancels too many flights), and it becomes a massive headache. It’s less stressful and less expensive to just drive. We broke up the drive into multiple legs, which gave us a bit of leeway in terms of breaks (stopping whenever we want ftw), and we found inexpensive hotels to stay in along the way.
The day that we left, we got off to a bit of a late start, because my husband is chronically late, no matter how much I stand there, staring worriedly at the clock. I’m all about getting places on time or early. But we didn’t get out the door until about 4PM. Around here, that means that by the time we got to the interstate that would take us to our first overnight stay in Ohio, it was already completely dark. We stopped at a sweet little diner in Cuba, NY for dinner before continuing on to our destination somewhere around Cleveland. We had a bit of a rude awakening the next morning, thanks to the housekeeping staff ignoring the Do Not Disturb sign, but we left a complaint with the front desk clerk, who was very apologetic. We made it the rest of the way to our first stop in Indiana later that day. I had very little problem sleeping that night, despite the amount of pain I was in.
The next day, Sunday, we met for lunch with my father, his wife, my brother and his family, and my sister. My nephew had clearly remembered my husband from the previous year, and he begged my husband to do the worm trick with a straw wrapper. (The worm trick, I’ve discovered, is when you slide the wrapper of the straw down the straw, compressing it into almost a spring as you go. You place the compressed wrapper on the table, then suck a bit of water into the straw, hold it, and dribble it over the wrapper. The wrapper decompresses, and as it grows, it looks kind of like a wriggling worm in a puddle.) After lunch, we went back to the hotel to rest for a few hours before meeting up for dinner with my sister, brother, his wife, and my nephew. My nephew had started to come down with a bit of a cold, so he wasn’t feeling 100%, but he was definitely a trooper.
The next morning, my brother had wanted to have breakfast with my husband and I, but we managed to sleep through his texts. I woke up just before they left, though, and met them in the hallway to give them hugs before they left. As I opened the door, my nephew looked up at me and asked, “Did I wake you up?” I laughed and told him that he hadn’t, then gave him a big hug and told him to have fun up at his great-grandma’s that day. Sweet kid, that one.
We drove down to southern Indiana for the second part of our Indiana leg, where my mother lives. We stayed in an adorable cottage that was someone was renting out for a wonderful price, and we got to spend plenty of time with my mother, my brother, and his family. I even got to babysit my nephew, who by then had developed a full-on runny nose and cough that kept him up at night. We had a trip back up to the northern part of the state on Christmas day, but we had to head back early due to my back starting to give out around 2PM.
The day after Christmas, after eating breakfast and exchanging presents at my brother’s house, we started making the trek to the Baltimore area. We stopped again in Ohio, this time just across the border from West Virginia. The Hampton Inn that we stayed at clearly hadn’t originally been a Hampton Inn — not that Hampton Inns aren’t nice places to stay, but this was pretty swanky. Lovely bed to sleep in, too. We made it to Baltimore the next day, managing to get there in time to meet up with my husband’s extended family at a restaurant. I was in a lot of pain, and as we settled in to our room at his grandparents’ house, it took me a few hours to get to sleep that night. Now, I love my nephew, but he’s three, meaning that he’s not very good yet at remembering to cover his mouth when he coughs or blowing his nose really well. When I babysat for him, I became his nose-wiper, and despite all of my best efforts to wash my hands obsessively after doing so (and other times just for good measure), I couldn’t avoid everything. The next day when I woke up, I had zero voice. Of course it had to happen while I was with his family. Of course I had to develop it and feel horrendous during my time there. Add in the guilt from my body pains (and how it prevents me from really participating much), and I was fairly miserable. And like clockwork, on the day we left, I woke up with a voice again, feeling about 90% better.
I just hope that I didn’t get anyone else sick.
I’m sure that if I’d had this soup while there, I would have convalesced a bit quicker. The light broth, the chicken, and the vegetables all would have helped beat some of the coughs and sniffles I was stuck with, and it sure would have soothed my angry throat.
This soup is high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, making it perfect for anyone trying to recover from the illnesses they get from coughing nephews. 😉
Comforting, healing chicken soup.
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 2 medium carrots, chopped or sliced
- 8 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large leek, sliced (make sure to clean this thoroughly!)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, chopped
- 2 pounds cooked chicken, shredded (I roasted a whole chicken, then pulled the meat off)
- 10 cups water
- 10 ounces egg noodles
- If you haven't yet roasted your chicken, place it in a 375-degree oven for 45-60 minutes, depending on weight. You want to get the thickest part of the breast to 165 degrees. In a pinch, feel free to use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from your local deli counter. After your chicken is cooked, let it cool until you can easily handle it (I gave it about 15 minutes for mine), then shred the meat from the frame. (if you've made your own chicken, save the carcass and make stock out of it!)
- Place a large soup pot on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium. Pour the oil in the bottom of the pot, and once the oil has heated a bit, add the carrots, celery, and leeks. Season the vegetables with a bit of the salt and pepper, then saute the vegetables for about 5-10 minutes, or until they've sweated out a bit of their juices. Add the garlic in for the last 30 seconds before you add the remaining ingredients and stir, allowing the garlic to become fragrant.
- Add the shredded chicken, potatoes, and water to the soup pot, stirring to combine. Add the remaining salt and pepper, then increase the heat to medium-high until the soup comes to a slow boil.
- Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat.
- After the soup has heated, prepare the egg noodles according to the directions. If you're serving enough people that you will eat the soup in a single night, you may add the noodles during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. If you're like my husband and me, though, and plan to eat the soup over the course of a few nights, add about 1/8 of the noodles to each individual bowl, then top with hot soup.
- When you store the leftovers, you should store the noodles separately, not in the soup. If you were to add the noodles into the soup, then store the soup in the fridge, the noodles tend to get soggy, as they soak up more of the water in the soup. Soggy noodles aren't good eats! When you're ready to reheat your leftovers, add another portion of noodles to each bowl, then top with the soup mixture before reheating.