Friday, January 11, 2013


Everyone's schedule gets a little crazy around the holidays. But this year my own life got totally out of whack. Out of balance. Out of time to get it all done. It was a collision of several things, with the biggest being a bout with pneumonia that ran nearly up to Christmas. The best I could do was just let things go. I kept thinking of the residents of Whoville and the words we've all heard for years, "It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags." Poor son-in-law didn't even get an actual gift. After six weeks of back-and-forth dealings with a store that promised they could get the one item he wanted, I got the final phone call on Christmas Eve saying, "Sorry, it didn't come. We really tried." (So I fried him chicken one night after Christmas before they headed back home.)

But Christmas came. The real Christmas. We enjoyed family time. And then extra time with Jessica and Baby Sister after Christmas while the rest of the family had some vacation away. By last week everyone was back where they belong. All the stuff that Mommy and Daddy couldn't fit into their car has been packed and shipped to them. We're about back to normal.

I have told friends that the month of January is devoted to giving myself a break—time to rest, relax, and recover. That, and cleaning. The deep down kind that means many bags of trash hauled off and boxes carried to the thrift store. The things I wish I could have managed before everyone came home. There is still more to do, but my house finally feels like it can breath again. Slowly I'm coming back. And I'm thinking that a "smaller" Christmas might be the new normal. It was kind of nice.

So what has happened in the kitchen? Not much. I've been thankful to have some things in the freezer. That's why you put them there in the first place. Easy meals when cooking doesn't fit the plan. Tonight it was Pumpkin Black Bean Chicken Chili. Just the right choice for a chilly damp night.


1 onion, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
2 (15-oz) cans black beans, rinsed & drained
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
2-3 cups cooked, chopped chicken

Put everything in the slow cooker. (I used a 5-1/2 qt. Crockpot.)  Cook on LOW for 5-7 hours. Serve, and then cool and freeze the remainder. Remember to label and date the containers.

Tonight we topped it with a dollop of sour cream. Just as good as the first time. Be smart and plan a few meals that let you stock at least a few things in the freezer. You never know when you're going to need it. 

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