Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ST. MARK THE EVANGELIST & SECRET RECIPES


St. Mark the Evangelist was an Apostle of Jesus Christ (but not one of the 12), writer of the Gospel of Mark, bishop, martyr and Patron Saint of Alexandria, Egypt. He is also the Patron Saint of Venice, Italy. His feast day is April 25.

Because Mark was a very common Latin name in ancient times, it's possible that there was more than one man named Mark referred to in the New Testament. However, it's generally believed that the writer of the Gospel of Mark was the son of a devout woman named Mary who followed Jesus and owned the house where Jesus shared the Last Supper.

After the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Disciples set out to spread the Way. Thomas, Peter, Andrew, James the Greater, James the Lesser, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thaddeus, Simon and Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot, soon became know as the Apostles. As writers of the Gospels, Mark and Luke are also considered Apostolic. There were others as well, such a Paul who considered himself an Apostle due to a powerful vision.

Mark set out on a mission journey with Paul and Barnabas, but turned back. Paul later refused to let Mark come with him on his next mission trip. So Mark traveled to Cyprus with Barnabas. After they returned, Paul let Mark travel with him to Rome where he met up again with Peter.

It's believed that Mark and Peter were close friends. In his Letters, Peter referred to Mark as “my son,” a term of affection. Since Mark was not with Jesus from the beginning, but Peter was, it is generally believed that Mark wrote down what Peter told him about his time with Jesus. 

Afterwards, Mark journeyed as a missionary to Egypt where he founded the Coptic faith and was the Bishop of the new Church of Alexandria. In 68 AD, for preaching the word of Jesus Christ and attracting many followers, pagans of Serapes (an Egyptian god) tied him to a horse and dragged him through the streets until his body was torn to pieces. He died a martyr’s death and became the Patron Saint of Alexandria.

St. Mark is also the Patron Saint of Venice, Italy, and is considered the core of their culture and faith.

How can this be if St. Mark never traveled to Venice in his whole lifetime? It is because his relics were brought to Venice.

Relics are bones or remains of saints. People attributed great value to these relics. So much so that in 828 AD, in a politically motivated move to secure the best of the best as their patron saint, the Venetian doge (chief magistrate) sent two merchants to steal or con away the remains of St. Mark from his tomb in Alexandria.

Their names were Bona da Malamocco and Rustico da Torcello and they were successful. It is believed that with his relics lashed to the mast, St. Mark quieted a dangerous storm and saved the ship during the journey back to Venice.

Possession of the relics of St. Mark elevated Venice to the highest political position. Since St. Mark was so important to the growth of Venice, he remains an integral part of the Venetian identity.

In 1968, the Vatican gave a bone fragment of St. Mark back to Egypt as an apology for the theft. It is displayed in Cairo. The Church of Alexandria displays the head of St. Mark.

It is impossible to absolutely identify these relics as St. Mark’s. But for many, it simply doesn’t matter. St. Mark the Evangelist remains the beloved Patron Saint of both Alexandria and Venice.

Sources:
James Kiefer's Hagiographies
Nat. Geo. In the Footsteps of the Apostles by Andrew Todhunter
Coptic Church Bio of St. Mark

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I'm fascinated with the life story of this man who wrote such an important part of the Bible. And I love the idea that his words have lived on for so long and will continue to live on because he wrote them down -- motivation for any writer to write. Yet, I cannot find a good quote from the Gospel of Mark to prove my point. Every time I found a good one, I realized that it wasn’t Mark’s or even Peter’s words, they were the words of Jesus Christ:

Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. Mark 4:3-8

St. Mark helped create people of good soil in Egypt in person and throughout the world by writing the words and Way of Jesus Christ.

I also admit to a certain mischievous pride at the gall of the two pirates, I mean, merchants, who stole the remains of a biblical saint, traveled back home and turned them over to be the foundation of the new Venetian Republic. In my imagination they are equal parts Indiana Jones and Captain Jack Sparrow, and I’m sure they were well paid.

My interest in the Saints isn't so much in the travels of their relics or miracles performed after death, but in their lives. What is it that made them a spiritual warrior for Jesus Christ? What is it that gave them the strength to go out in the world and spread His Word in the face of not the modern day negative judgment that prevents many of us from speaking up, but actual persecution and death?

I think perhaps I found a major part of that answer in what I and probably many others at my church experienced, at some level or another, in the month between when our Assistant Rector, Mark, announced his calling to another church and his last Sunday with us.

Mark came to our church straight out of seminary school and I’ve always known that our church was his training ground and that he was destined to “grow up” with us and then move on. But I knew it like I knew that my friend and neighbor after threatening to move to California for 18 years, would eventually move to California and I would be happy for her. And then last Monday, the “for sale” sign went up in front of her house. And when reality smacks you in the face, it hurts.

Mark began or strengthened many programs at our church – people wanted to be around him and with his encouragement, several stepped up into leadership roles. His sermons were always well prepared and enthusiastically delivered. People respond to sermons differently based on their own point of view or their current challenges. So I get that not all sermons spoke to my heart because they needed to speak to someone else’s heart that Sunday. Even so, they were always interesting and I came away having learned something valuable. On those occasions when his words spoke directly to my heart, whoa, it felt miraculous.

About a year and a half ago, I became reliant on Mark as he prayed with me for healing of a puzzling almost-fixed-but-not-quite ongoing health condition. Thankfully, the last piece fell into place in January and I’m fine now. He counseled me through the death of my sister-in-law and later the sudden death of my nephew. When asked to speak at his funeral, I turned to Mark in panic – public speaking at a funeral! I can’t do it. “Yes, you can,” he said. And with God’s help, I did.

At different times during this period, I agreed to help schedule the Acolytes, do the paperwork for the youth conferences, and began volunteering in the church office doing copyediting and clerical stuff. I enjoy this type of work and I have fun with the church staff. Eventually, not so much with Mark’s prodding but with his advice and totally on-purpose, ahem, lack of effort, I baby-stepped my way into the roll of Acolyte Coordinator.

Without really realizing it, the more time I spent with Mark, the more I needed to be around him. Yet, I could tell that he was ready to move on. And in my head I wanted him to move on to another church because it was time, he was ready and it would make him happy. I was driving to Costco when he called to tell me that he accepted a Rector position and would be leaving soon. I said, “Well, we knew that was coming.  Congratulations and thanks for calling.” Then I pulled into Costco and fueled up the car. 

(Actually I parked the car and asked him lots of questions about his new parish and I enjoyed hearing about it.)

It wasn’t until the next day that the reality started to sink in. A knot developed in my chest that wouldn’t go away even with tears. Eventually, I understood that the knot was a physical representation of “Oh my God, what am I going to do without him?”

And God answered. I realized something I knew all along but didn’t recognize -- Jesus resides comfortable and secure deep within Mark’s heart and envelops him with the Holy Spirit which radiates out to all of us.

I don’t mean to make Mark seem like a saint. He thinks that Chuck Norris jokes are funny, and he takes college football way too seriously -- proof positive that he’s just a man.

But Mark attracts people like a magnet.  He has over 800 Facebook friends.  It’s not a fan page, he’s not a rock star -- he’s a priest. And based on the almost total lack of status updates from his page popping up on the newsfeed, these 800 people requested his friendship and not the other way around.

I understood that if I asked Jesus into my own heart, I’d be okay. But I didn’t know how to do it for real and I didn’t want to bother Him.

And then my friend Blonnie died while our friendship wasn’t quite right. Two days later Maurice Sendak, children’s book author of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, also died and I became a mess of grief -- who else, and what’s next?

I turned to my priest, Richard, and the Tuesday Healing Service. I believe that when Richard does laying on of hands, he becomes a conduit of the Holy Spirit, and let me just say it was a powerful experience.

Two days later, I attended a meditative yoga class in which we happened to focus on our heart chakra. In the space of this class, where we were invited to open ourselves up to life force and spirit and include praying hands in our yoga positions, I truly gave myself to Jesus from my heart. The knot in my chest opened up and disappeared.

A week later, Mark gave his sermon about calling. It was one of those miracle sermons that spoke directly to me. Looking around at others crying in church, I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. In the sermon Mark explained how he was called to the priesthood, and to our church and to his new church. He delivered his message in a way that challenged many of us to allow ourselves to be called by God and follow his Way for us.

A few days later, I asked Mark for a copy of that sermon and then I asked him to autograph it for me, because despite what he thinks, he is a writer, and he’s good at it. Here’s the part that really got to me:

“Many times your head and your gut are telling you one thing and your heart another. Always follow your heart in these circumstances. I believe that it’s in your heart where the Holy Spirit lies. This doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. Usually the easy way is what your head and your gut are telling you. What’s right and what’s easy are not always the same. But remember that the heart always trumps the head and the gut.”

And that’s the secret about St. Mark, the other Apostles and martyrs; their hearts were filled with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When they did their important, lasting but difficult tasks, God was with them and in them.

Moving away from one’s home is difficult, but Mark goes with God. And he goes to a perfect church that’s just right for him -- it’s called St. Mark’s.


I got the idea to make this cheesecake for Mark and share it with him when my family and I had him over for a good-bye dinner.

This is the World’s Best Cheesecake. No quotes. It really is the best. In their bakery, my parents made them in batches of 50 throughout my childhood and teenage years.

Somehow, in the midst of my grief, spending an entire morning creating this cheesecake and making 15 phone calls to my parents for advice felt good and I had fun.

I made a promise a long time ago never to share this recipe. So it’s not completely written down, nor is it completely memorized – it’s a family secret.

Call or get together with someone in your family and beg them to teach you a secret family recipe. It’s a connection you’ll always have to the past and a way to maintain contact in the future.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FRIENDSHIP & CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES



This post is neither about saints nor does it contain an original recipe. It’s about my friend Blonnie Bunn Wyche, who died last Wednesday, and chocolate chip cookies.

I became friends with Blonnie in 2006 when we drove together to a spring writer’s retreat. When my schedule allowed, I joined her critique group. I looked forward to our every other week meetings where we went over each other’s work and shared ideas across the table in Blonnie’s office. “MAH-ree-AH,” she’d eventually say about my work, “It looks good. What’s next?”

Halfway through, we’d break for Blonnie’s strong coffee and something sweet. We’d take turns bringing in the treats and swapping recipes. We’d also swap stories about our lives outside the writer’s circle. And laugh. Blonnie would tell funny stories about her teaching days or her childhood. The laughter would really get going once she started complaining about the squirrels and humans who stole the pecans in her yard before she got around to collecting them herself. “Why don’t you pick them up more often?” I once asked.

Blonnie’s answer to that question and many others was, “MAH-ree-AH, I’ve got to write.”

And write she did. Writing was her priority and her amount was copious. So much so that she was routinely passing out 60 pages or so for us to critique. It got to be too much for me as my writing time was limited and I ended up spending a big part of it critiquing instead of writing. So I sent her an email asking if we could make a critique group rule limiting the manuscript pages to 30 at a time. She answered, “I love you, but your time issues are not my concern.”

I answered, “I love you, but I quit the group.”

We didn’t speak to each other for over a year.

Then one day a group member called to tell me that Blonnie was in the hospital. I sent Blonnie a card and healing prayers. When she returned home, she called me, and we arranged a time for me to visit her. She made a fresh pot of her strong coffee and I brought the sweet treats. Apologies were said, hugs were given, visits, calls and emails resumed.

She’d email me on rainy days with a promise that the sun would soon shine again. I’d email her with interesting bird sightings. A hummingbird’s visit to the butterfly bush outside my office window always prompted an immediate phone call.

Yet the friendship never fully recovered because we never said or wrote the word “love” to each other again. We had ruined it by corrupting its meaning.

“I love you, but . . .” is a dangerous expression because it means, I love you but I don’t care about you. Or I don’t really love you; I’m just saying that to soften the blow of my criticism.

I’m working on not using that expression at all. Sometimes I slip when I’m joking around, as in, “Stuart, I love you like a husband, but football is just not that important.”

Speech patterns can be hard to break. But if I don’t try to delete that particular expression, one day, I’ll find myself saying to someone, “I love you, but . . . . . . .” and it won’t be a joke and it’ll hurt.

Instead I’ll use the writer’s critique sandwich beyond the writing’s circle – praise, suggestion for improvement, praise. The praise will always be genuine and expressions of love and friendship will stand alone.

Blonnie, thanks for the coffee, laughs and advice; I promise there’ll always be something next; and I love you.

O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of your servant Blonnie, and grant her an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Now if you need more than words to express your friendship, make homemade chocolate chip cookies. But, and here’s the important thing, you’ve got to use the perfect chocolate chip recipe -- Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. Only then will your expression of friendship be truly genuine.

Okay, I’m exaggerating (slightly) and basing this theory on two episodes from the first season of Friends. The first in which Phoebe tells Rachel that Paolo made a pass at her and Rachel has to believe her because the cookies are just that delicious. The other is when Monica spends two days trying to recreate the recipe until Phoebe says the recipe came from her French great grandmother named, Nestley Toulouse. Monica says, “You mean Nestle Toll House?!”

Oh yeah. And the recipe is indeed found on the package of Nestle Toll House Semi- Sweet Chocolate Morsels:


Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cups granulated sugar
¾ cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 or 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Unless you have to contend with nut allergies, don’t skip the nuts. They add that extra bit of protein for complete satiation. My preference is walnuts, but pecans are excellent, too.

Use real butter. It makes crispier cookies. Use margarine only if you will use the cookies to assemble ice cream sandwiches. Margarine makes the soft and easy to bite through to the ice cream.

Use light instead of dark brown sugar. It provides a deep contrast in color between the dough and the chocolate chips which is appealing to the eye.

When pouring the vanilla into the teaspoon, do it over the bowl of batter, and carefully “spill” a tiny extra amount into the bowl.

Remember that baking time varies depending on your oven.

These perfect cookies are great for parties, road trips, presents, cookie swaps, with coffee and your peeps or milk and your kids. They freeze well and taste great frozen. I try to always have some on hand for my family, but they keep disappearing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ST. CONSTANCE AND HER COMPANIONS & CHICKEN SOUP


St. Constance and her Companions, the Martyrs of Memphis, are honored on September 9 in the Anglican and Episcopal Churches for their extreme dedication in caring for the sick. 

In 1878 an epidemic of yellow fever struck Memphis, Tennessee, a low lying city along the Mississippi River where the mosquitoes were thick and infectious. Although unaware at the time that the infection was carried by mosquitoes and not through the humid air, most people abandoned the city and fled to higher ground. Those that stayed were either already stricken with the disease, poor, or dedicated caregivers. St. Constance and 37 other martyrs gave of themselves completely until, one by one, they succumbed and died of the fever.

St. Constance was the Sister Superior of the Community of St. Mary and in charge of their school. Once the yellow fever struck, these sisters, trained as teachers, were compelled to nurse the sick. According to a biographer from her order, “A soup kitchen was at once begun in the Sisters' House, and during the epidemic, soups, broths, gruels, and tea were made daily for the sick, and distributed by the Sisters on their round of visits.”

Also among the 38 Martyrs of Memphis were priests, doctors and laypeople either already in Memphis or who traveled there in answer to the great need. In a letter to her Mother Superior in Peekskill, NY, Sister Constance described the terrible situation.

August 30, 1878

MY DEAREST MOTHER:

Your telegram brought me a kind of Brightness, but I cannot help a great deal of anxiety for Sister Helen and Sister Ruth, my sense of duty in the matter is so divided between the feeling that I ought to secure all the help I can for these poor suffering people, and the fear for those who come. I will guard them to the utmost; but they know and you know that they are offering their lives. I am glad to have the East Grinstead Sister. They are trained nurses, and she will be invaluable. I will not send for the Clewer Sisters if I can help it. Dr. Houghton telegraphed to know if I wanted them. But on Monday if the fever spreads I must send, for we shall want all the help we can get. Cases that are nursed seldom die. Most of the dead have died of neglect or utter ignorance on the part of their attendants. The panic is fearful to-day. Eighty deaths reported, and half of the doctors refuse to report at all.

We found one of our nurses lying on the floor in her patient's room down with the fever, another is sickening. Our ward visitor was here just now to give me some directions about to-morrow, 'For I am down,' he said. When I said something cheering he put a hand that fairly burned me on my wrist and asked me to feel his pulse if I could. He is a bright, brave young man, our opposite neighbor; his father is dying, his two poor sisters are here asleep, and I am sitting up waiting till Dr. Harris calls me to go to the old man with these two poor girls. There is little hope that the change which must come to-night will be for life, but I suppose it will not come before twelve.

Mr. Parsons had a chill this evening; I shall know before twelve whether it was the chill. I really believe that Dr. Harris and I and the two negro nurses are the only well persons anywhere near. Mr. Brinkley's gardener and his son are ill. Dr. Armstrong has shut himself up for the night declaring himself worn out. Sister Thecla and Miss Murdock are in bed worn out with last night's nursing and watching. We like Miss M., who came to us from Ohio (she has had the fever), so much. Sister H. is well; Sister F. much better; no more cases at Church Home, none at the Canfield Asylum, where there are thirty-two children gathered from the infected houses.

This is the dreariest night we have had. If anything happens to Mrs. Bullock and to me, will you take care of little Bessie? Mrs. Bullock has helped us bravely, working like one of ourselves, and never shrinking. She was with me in the most pestilential room I have yet had to enter, and I never saw her hesitate.

The calls for food and wine are incessant. I have been on my feet almost the whole day, for our old cook would not do a thing if one of us did not stay with her, whenever we could be spared from the sick.

A nurse has just been here to say that he will not stay another night with his two patients—a father and daughter—if the dead mother is not buried. The body has been there for nearly two days, and no undertaker can be found who has time to bring a coffin. We are absolutely forbidden to touch the dead even if a coffin could be found. Dr. Harris is all that earthly strength can be to us, but he is far from strong. I do not think he even hopes to get through. Pray doubly for us now, dear mother. I think of the Sisters who are coming and of those who are praying at home so constantly.

Your loving CONSTANCE, S. S. M.

Nine days later, after working almost non-stop especially in the final hours of the two priests, Drs. Harris and Parsons, Sister Constance realized that she had the fever and agreed to go to bed. Knowing that they’d have to burn it afterwards, she refused the comfortable mattress. Young, hard-working Sister Thecla refused the same mattress when she returned from her visits and calmly announced that she had the fever as well. The two died within hours of each other.

The epidemic raged on until the cold weather of late autumn finally killed the mosquitoes. The population of Memphis was so depleted that the city went bankrupt and lost it's city charter. It was reorganized as a city fourteen years later. One of the surviving sisters later reflected:

Being now released from my charge at the Asylum, I returned to the still more pressing duties at St. Mary's, where hundreds now came for relief, and calls for the Sisters to go to the sick had become so numerous, that it was impossible to attend to half of them. I remember feeling, for a moment, almost overcome with heart-sickness, as I saw some go away with the unsatisfying promise that the Sisters would come to their dying ones the next day, one day too late. We could obtain no nurses that day or the two following, for any amount of money, and the Sisters had made more promises than they had time to fulfill.

 It is sometimes said to me now: 'The Sisters worked themselves to death unwisely; why did they do so?' A look into one of those disappointed faces would have been a better answer than any I can give. 'Unwisely!' When, in each sick and dying person the Sister beheld her suffering Lord! How could she hold back, from fatigue, or weakness, or wisdom!

The high altar of St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Memphis, Tennessee, is dedicated to the memory of the sisters of St. Mary's who died. It is inscribed with St. Constance's last words, "Alleluia Hosanna."

We give you thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for  the sick and dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death: Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect, Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints

Sources: 

The Sisters of St. Mary's at Memphis
St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral History
STARS IN A DARK WORLD: STORIES OF THE SAINTS AND HOLY DAYS OF THE LITURGY by Fr. John-Julian, OJN
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I find it especially poignant to know that not all the caregivers perished. Some survived due to past exposure to milder versions of yellow fever, some arrived during the city’s recovery, and some survived because they ate and slept regularly.

St. Constance and the others hardly slept at all and ate whatever they could in between their nonstop visits. They simply could not resist the calls from those who desperately needed their help in providing liquids, food, prayer, and sacraments. As St. Constance states in her letter “Cases that are nursed seldom die.” In other words, many patients given liquids, food, and simple care, survived. St. Constance and her companions did all they could to provide this basic care to as many suffers as possible.

If they had only taken as good care of themselves as they did of their patients, they may have survived to continue their good works.

The particular irony is that it may not have been the fever that actually killed them, but overwork. It is in that irony that they became martyrs.

Unlike the Martyrs of Memphis, we can take care of ourselves so that we are able to take care of others for a long time to come. One way is to load up our freezers with homemade soup so it’s ready when needed for our family, friends, or ourselves.

I had a cold last week. And while my freezer held enough leftovers to cobble together dinners for my family, it contained no soup.

Several times I ate Raman Noodles. (A good first meal after a stomach virus as well.)  The salt restores electrolytes, the rice noodles are easy on the stomach, and the chicken broth soothes the throat, hydrates and comforts with that special something in chicken soup that’s been scientifically proven to speed recovery. In the final 30 seconds of cooking, I beat an egg into the soup for a shot of strength-providing protein.

Another alternative is to purchase homemade chicken soup locally. My favorite local source is Lovey's Market. Their soup is like a bowl full of health and it inspired me to create my own recipe of chicken soup, loaded with immune system-boosting vegetables, chicken, and yummy broth. It’s perfect for the freezer.


Caretaker’s Chicken Veggie Soup



(More Photos below.)

32 oz box Organic Chicken Cooking Stock 
32 oz box Organic Vegetable Cooking Stock 
(Or homemade chicken\vegetable stock)
3 or 4 cups water
Organic chicken (2 or 3 skinless breasts, or 4 or 5 boneless skinless thighs or 1 ½ pounds leftover cooked chicken)
1 - 12 oz can whole, stewed, or diced tomatoes (to taste)
3 large leaves of Kale, shredded
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium squash, sliced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 or 4 carrots, sliced
3 or 4 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced 
Salt and pepper to taste

1.       In a large pot, combine chicken stock, vegetable stock and water. Place on high heat.

2.       Add whole pieces of chicken. 

3.       Add tomatoes. If using whole tomatoes, cut into bit sized pieces. 

4.       Shred kale by hand into bite size pieces. Add to pot.

5.       Add zucchini, squash, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt and pepper.

6.       Boil until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and cut into bit size pieces, return to pot.  Lower to simmer for about two hours.

7.       Ladle into bowls and serve with bread or crackers.

Just because the other name for chicken soup is Jewish Penicillin, it doesn't mean it can only be slurped during illness. It's yummy, enjoy it whenever you want!

This recipe can be modified for taste, availability, and convenience. Frozen vegetables work well while garden-fresh veggies add a extra touch of Ididitmyselfness. (See St. Dominic and Garden-Fresh Tomato Sauce for cooking fresh tomatoes instructions.)

Once your freezer is full, you could always make some more to carefully deliver to a local shelter or soup kitchen where your pot ‘o goodness would be greatly appreciated by the caregivers and their clients.

Wondering what can be done to prevent diseases spread by infected mosquitoes? Check out Nothing But Nets.

Photos: