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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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food karma

Reports of my demise are sadly exaggerated. And no, I was not kidnapped by Mr. Jelly Belly. (I have such silly (and wonderful) friends. :) I just received a new Jelly Belly Taste Club newsletter issue in the mail yesterday, in fact! I am now determined that UT be profiled in an upcoming issue as avid Jelly Belly fans!!

Yes, I've been a bit work-stressed lately. Thanks for the smiles in blatherchat; I've needed them. :) Cancelled a planned winter cottage trip last weekend cuz I had to work; doing the same this weekend.


Jeff's been very sick with the flu recently (he's feeling better now). And of course I was torn between immense sympathy for the poor guy and a secret horror of catching the same bug. I made chicken soup from scratch for him. Problem is...I wasn't exactly SURE how to make chicken soup from scratch - I only know that it's part of the whole cold-pampering ritual, and I wanted to do something (he was in pretty bad shape on Sunday night). So I resorted to logic...what would be in chicken soup? Chicken, I assume. And soup is mostly water, isn't it? (This is how a non-cook thinks.) So I tossed some boneless chicken (still partially frozen because I didn't think of the chicken soup idea until fairly late in the day and I've never been able to successfully microwave-defrost a piece of frozen chicken because it always gets a bit cooked on the edges while staying frozen in the middle and wow, is this ever a long parenthetical interruption, apologies for that) into a pot of water, and let it boil for a couple hours (I'm sure proper chefs out there (yeah, that means you, Joel!!! :)) are horrified. I'm sure there were all kinds of other things I should have been tossing in. It ended up tasting all right (ok, I did throw in a few extra things at the end), but not the same as my Mom's homemade chicken soup.

It's amazing how food or the smell of cooking food can bring back such powerful memories, isn't it? Or maybe I'm weird that way. Homemade chicken soup fragrance (yes, even MY homemade chicken soup) made me think of my Mom. She used to make the BEST chicken soup in the entire world. So as I stirred my soup, fragrant steam curling up from the broth, I remembered my Mom. Wondered how she made her version (moms never seem to use cookbooks or write down their recipes until you force them, do they?), wondered who taught her how to make chicken soup (I have to assume that chicken soup isn't a staple in Japan the way it is in North America).

Most of all I wished she was still around, so I could ask her all these questions in person.

And then I got to thinking...what would MY food smell be, if I was going to have one? What culinary fragrance would I want people to remember me by? The answer, of course, is blindingly obvious...chocolate. :-) If I had my choice, my fragrance essence would be the scent of really good milk chocolate, just after you've unwrapped it and broken off a piece and are in that brief pre-rapturous contemplation phase. A phase which, um, is REALLY brief in my case...I'd much rather be eating than looking at chocolate, wouldn't you?. ;-)


p.s. Jeff did like the soup.

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