There's nothing like a home-cooked meal after several days of hospital food. Whether your friend is still in the hospital or recovering at home, a gift of homemade food will put him or her on the mend.
Chicken Soup: The Best Medicine
Chicken soup is a lot easier to make from scratch than you might think. Plus, homemade soup is a lot better than anything you can get in the store. Try out a batch of this chicken soup (recipe courtesy of Mildred Taylor, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania) and be sure to make enough for your family—they won't be able to resist it when the aroma of homemade soup overcomes them. Present your soup in a gift basket with crackers, a new mug and spoon, and a good book or magazine, if desired.
Time frame: One to two hours to assemble the ingredients plus 11⁄2 hours for the soup to simmer
Level: Moderately easy
What you need:
Check the prescribed diet of the patient before making a gift of food. If the person's on a low-fat diet, you can substitute skinless chicken breasts in this recipe for the whole chicken. Use a low-sodium bouillon and eliminate the salt for a low-salt diet.
For Grandma's Never-Fail Chicken Rice Soup:
- One small chicken (three to five pounds)
- Stock pot
- Small onion, chopped
- Three ribs of celery
- 1⁄2 carrot, diced
- 1⁄2 cup rice
- Two bouillon cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mason jar, flat-sealing lid, and band
- Piece of gingham material and ribbon or yarn
- Soup mug
- Book or magazine
- To make the soup: Remove the package of giblets found inside the chicken cavity and discard. Wash the chicken inside and out with cold, salted water.
- Place the cleaned chicken in a stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes. Drain the chicken and refill the pot with clean water. Add the chicken, chopped onion, celery, and carrot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender, approximately one hour.
- Remove the chicken and allow it to cool.
- Add rice and bouillon to the chicken broth and simmer, covered, approximately 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pull the chicken meat from the bones and cut it into small pieces. Add the chicken to the soup and simmer again until hot.
- Pour the soup into the Mason jar and seal it with the lid. Place a six-inch square of gingham over the lid and tie in place with a matching piece of ribbon or yarn.
- Assemble the remaining materials listed and arrange them in a basket with filler. Add the jar of chicken soup. Be sure to help the recipient refrigerate the soup if it is not eaten immediately.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Great Gifts © 2001 by Marilee LeBon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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