How to Simply “Fall”

Summer went out with a hissy fit.  The last few days were hotter than blue blazes.  We sat, melting, on the sidelines of a soccer field and I drank a half-gallon of water within an hour plus I got a sunburn.

Just a week later, on the heels of a thunderstorm, Autumn moved in.  I put out my mums and scarecrows and decorated the mantel with a colorful orange and yellow-leaved garland.  The days are beginning their slow cooling, with highs in the 70’s and sunset coming earlier and earlier.  Fall is always my favorite.

There are a thousand things I love about this season.  Some physical, many symbolic.  I want to do all the Fall things, eat all the Fall foods, but you know as well as I do that it is just not possible to do everything.

I am notorious for overloading my to-do list.  Whether it is recipes to try, traditions to uphold, or activities for our family to enjoy I set high expectations and even higher ideals, only to be frustrated when I fail to meet them and another beautiful season has come and gone too quickly with me busier than I wanted to be, distracted and unable to sit and just watch the leaves turn to the glory of God.

This year we are in a new house, a new neighborhood surrounded by green hills about to explode with color and a big sky above with constellations glimmering by moonlight.   I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

So how do I simplify?  How do I make the Holiday season memorable for my family without stressing us all out?  How do we make each moment count without obsessively counting those moments and lamenting as they slip through our fingers?

Consider this idea:  Choose what you are not going to do.  I know that sounds odd.  With the advent of Pinterest and all the other social media that reminds me of the amazing things everyone else is doing (making me think I should be, too) I can misguidedly believe that my kids are missing out if we don’t do x, y or z.  But what if I say no?  What if I say lets SLOW and hey, guys, y’all go ride your bikes and meet up with friends while I finish my book on the back porch.  What if celebration means we don’t actually go anywhere to enjoy Fall, but stay right here…put down deep roots and watch the hills explode come October?

What if I pick one or two delightful Autumn treats and we only indulge on Sundays?  Maybe we don’t need four dozen cut-out and artfully iced cookies.  Maybe one dozen will do.   I have been following the Trim Healthy Mama plan since June and feel better than I have in years.  Do I really want to undo all the good health I have attained because it’s getting cold outside?  Remember how awful sugar made me feel the last time I gave in?  It’s just not worth it.  I can make a hot Trimmy and enjoy every sip without guilt.  The ingredients for healthy homemade biscuits and gravy are in my pantry right now.  Soups and stews are so easy to make without ingredients that will spike my blood sugar.  It can be done!

Pumpkin farms and petting zoos abound around Nashville.  Scenic day drives and salted caramel everything are all around me.  There is no shortage of opportunity to go and see and do and get really, really tired.  But I have two dogs who enjoy being petted.  My kids have, sadly, outgrown the pumpkin farm phase and we just buy ours at Wal-Mart.  We have seven beautiful horses living in the pasture right in front of our house.  Trees cover the hills all around us and my porch is the perfect spot to enjoy the cooler evenings with a fire going in the firepit.  Why do I think “out there” is where the fun and memories lie?  Not that there is anything wrong with ANY of these activities, but sometimes the wisest and most restorative thing we can do is sit right here and just be together.  Let the boredom creep in.  They will survive and, likely, thrive in it.  Let long stretches of silence go uninterrupted.  Sip a sugar-free mug of hot chocolate and munch on a cinnamon muffin that blesses your body while your breath fogs in the crisp Autumn chill.

Cuddle the kids.  Even the big ones.

Keep Autumn simple.  Don’t worry about what everyone else says they are doing.  You do what brings peace and rest and the presence of God into your home.  Slow down.  On purpose.

Your family will thank you.

 

 

My Mama’s Chicken and Noodles

Two recipes in a row?  Well, yes, because I wanted to be sure to share this while it’s still cold outside and our bodies are craving warm foods!

My mom makes the BEST Chicken and Noodles.  I grew up with this as a holiday staple and just started making it myself in the past couple of years because, as you probably know, it always tastes best when your mom cooks it.

Am I right?

So, last week my middle and I decided to whip up a batch for our family.  It is a little time-consuming because you do hand-cut the noodles.  BUT IT IS NOT DIFFICULT.  And the process is actually fun when shared with someone you love.

Now, before I go any further I do want to let you know that I have all kinds of pictures of the steps involved in making this goodness, but none of the finished product because…

WE ATE IT.

My apologies.

But if you make it, you will understand.

Here you go!

Mom’s Chicken and Noodles

For the noodles…serves 3-4 (I double this for my family of seven, triple or quadruple for company!  It tastes even better the next day.  Trust me.)

1 egg

1 Tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup all purpose flour (plus more as needed)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and work together until it forms a small ball.  Work in flour, kneading in thoroughly, until the dough is very dry and will not absorb any more flour.  It must be very dry and stiff.  Divide in two and roll each section as thin as possible.  Then fold it over and begin rolling from one edge until you have what resembles a Swiss Cake Roll.

Not that I eat those.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Swiss Cake Rolls defined much of my childhood…a perfect dessert after chicken and noodles, don’t you think?

Take a sharp knife and slice at alternating angles, making VERY thin slices.  I actually should have made mine thinner.  It gives you a better texture when they are cooked.Separate the noodles and lay them out on a flour-sack towel, covered with another, to dry overnight.

Doesn’t my girl have the prettiest hands?
I love that she loves to help…Beats and all:)

Covered and ready to dry out overnight.

For the soup…this is where it gets good!

1 small whole chicken (or 2 lb bone-in thighs/breasts)

1 carton chicken broth

1 teaspoon onion powder (optional)

salt & pepper

flour for thickening

Boil the chicken until the meat is falling off the bone.  Add a little salt and pepper to the water as it cooks.  Reserve and strain the broth.  Debone the chicken and either make bone broth with the leftover parts or toss ’em.

Bring the broth to a boil when you are ready to make the soup, adding salt, pepper and onion powder (if you like) to the broth just before adding the noodles.  Once the broth is boiling add the dry noodles, one handful at a time, stirring to make sure they don’t stick together.  Add more broth from the carton until the noodles have plenty of room to move around.  Taste as you go and add salt/pepper to taste.  Simmer until the noodles are cooked completely through and just firm to the bite.  If the soup needs thickening, combine 1 Tablespoon (or more if you have made a big batch) of flour with 1/2-1 cup of cold water and whisk the lumps away.  Add slowly, stirring constantly, to the chicken and noodles and simmer until the soup has the consistency you want.

Serve this simple, yummy concoction up in bowls with crusty bread and smile as your kids rise up and call you blessed.

Because they will!

If you make this, let me know what you think!

Enjoy!